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Beyond Party Politics, three crucial issues for Lanka
Published Date: 17/02/2018 (Saturday)
Whatever the party political changes in the aftermath of the February 10 local council elections, Sri Lanka needs to focus attention on three crucial issues – poverty alleviation, the battle against global warming and a commitment to resolve crises through dialogue without resorting to war or violence. As part of the mission for poverty alleviation, President Maithripala Sirisena in 2016 launched a countrywide programme for Sri Lanka to produce our own nutritious food. We have hundreds of varieties of grains, vegetables and fruits which could be grown here at an affordable cost, instead of spending hundreds of millions of rupees on the import of junk food or fake milk. Unfortunately one of the worst ever droughts and regular floods at different times hampered this programme and Sri Lanka was even forced to import rice this year.
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Sri Lanka PM displays rare human touch, owns up to defeat
Published Date: 17/02/2018 (Saturday)
Sri Lanka’s beleaguered Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe went before a hostile press Friday, his first public appearance after the local government elections, and accepted responsibility for the drubbing. Wickremesinghe fielded questions from journalists while demonstrating unusual calm and composure. He answered the incisive and embarrassing questions without rancour and he even managed to raise a few laughs. Asked if he had given some 20 million rupees to each of the 16 Tamil National Alliance MPs to buy their support, Wickremesinghe said: "Why give the TNA. If I had 20 million, I will keep it for myself!"
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Right to Information Commission inquiry into missing report
Published Date: 17/02/2018 (Saturday)
Ashraff Commission Secretary says report was handed over to National Archives Archives says search drew a blank, but RTI commission insists on thorough search They mystery surrounding the missing report of the Presidential Commission that inquired into the death of former minister and Sri Lanka Muslim Congress founder M.H.M. Ashraff has taken a new turn, with the the commission secretary saying he handed over a copy to the National Archives.
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UNHRC to be briefed on progress achieved so far in Sri Lanka
Published Date: 17/02/2018 (Saturday)
Sri Lanka will be sending a delegation to the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva next month to brief the council on the progress achieved by Sri Lanka so far on the human rights issue. Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe told reporters on Friday that the UNHRC will be looking at the progress achieved so far and not the political situation in the country at present. “Geneva is on the performance up to date so you will have to judge on what has been done so far,” he said.
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Politics obstructs justice for children
Published Date: 17/02/2018 (Saturday)
Statutory rape of boys, age of criminal responsibility, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex children, corporal punishment, justice for juveniles, were some concerns highlighted in the recent report on Sri Lanka by the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child. However, experts in children’s rights doubt that recommendations will be implemented because of politics, religious considerations and commercial interests. One suggestion was to revise the Penal Code to criminalise statutory rape of boys and encourage the reporting of such violations. The UN said it was seriously concerned that the age of criminal responsibility — 8 years — is extremely low and that children over 16 years of age continue to be excluded from the protection of the Children and Young Persons Ordinance.
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Reconfiguring Sri Lanka’s Tamil politics
Published Date: 17/02/2018 (Saturday)
With a banner sporting a picture of Illankai Tamil Arasu Kachchi (ITAK) founder S.J.V. Chelvanayakam in the background, senior Tamil leader R. Sampanthan made a fervent appeal in an election rally in Jaffna. “Unity”, he said, “is the only weapon we have now.” Days ahead of Sri Lanka’s February 10 local government polls, the 85-year-old politician urged the northern Tamils to speak in one voice and support the ITAK. Whether it was the Northern Provincial Council elections in 2013, or the parliamentary elections of August 2015, the voters had done just that, giving the party and the Tamil National Alliance it helms an
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Lawyers for Democracy urges Lankan judiciary to look to Indian counterparts
Published Date: 17/02/2018 (Saturday)
The Lawyers for Democracy wish to express their admiration and appreciation for the action taken by the four Supreme Court judges in India last week, when they took the extraordinary step of holding a press conference to inform the public of irregularities that were happening in case administration in the Supreme Court of India under the leadership of the incumbent Chief Justice. Indian judges took this extraordinary step after informing the Chief Justice that the traditional manner in which the Supreme Court procedures were followed was being flouted by recent actions by the Chief Justice. For example, cases were being fixed for hearing without following the traditional procedures that ensured transparency devoid of bias. The judges had
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Sri Lanka President-backed putsch fails as PM rallies dissidents
Published Date: 17/02/2018 (Saturday)
A last ditch attempt by President Maithripala Sirisena to oust Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has failed due to a constitutional hurdle and more significantly the lack of parliamentary support, sources close to both sides said. President Sirisena had agreed to continue working with Wickremesinghe, but had a sudden change of heart on Thursday after meeting with his United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) and Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) seniors.
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Team sent to bring Udayanga return empty-handed
Published Date: 17/02/2018 (Saturday)
The special seven-member team which was sent to Dubai to bring back former Sri Lankan Ambassador to Russia Udayanga Weeratunga had returned home empty-handed on Tuesday (13), a senior official of the Financial Crimes Investigation Division (FCID) said. Speaking to the Daily Mirror, he said the special team comprising officers from the FCID, Criminal Investigation Division (CID), Foreign Ministry (FM), Attorney Generals’ Department and Department of Immigration and Emigration was sent to Dubai to bring the former ambassador back.
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Country first, despite divisions and disputes - EDITORIAL
Published Date: 16/02/2018 (Friday)
We have stressed repeatedly that the February 10 local council election results were largely a shattering protest vote against the National Government for what most of the people see as its failure or slowness to fulfil most of its pledges as well as its inability to deliver all-important development or reduce the cost of living. But it is also important that the country’s stability be maintained so that the vital, large-scale foreign investments will come in and the sustainable economic development plan with its eco-friendly and all-inclusive strategy could be effectively implemented. In this context the United National Party (UNP) -- which has a majority of seats in Parliament -- yesterday
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Parliament, others responsible for drafting LG election laws blamed for present crisis
Published Date: 16/02/2018 (Friday)
Parliament and those involved in the drafting of the Local Government Authorities Elections (Amendment) Act were responsible for the chaos at local government bodies over the question of accommodating the 25% female quota, election monitors claim. Head of the Elections Commission Mahinda Deshapriya said on Wednesday there were quite a few local councils that would find it extremely difficult to form administration due to the women’s quota. The Elections Commission would meet political parties to discuss whether they should allow the establishment of local councils without having to fulfil the 25% female quota under the present circumstances, Deshapriya yesterday said.
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Cabinet illegal, Prez has power to appoint PM: Sarath
Published Date: 16/02/2018 (Friday)
In another conundrum to the present gridlock in governance, former Chief Justice Sarath N. Silva argued yesterday that the entire Cabinet including the Prime Minister stood illegal at the moment as the two year period stipulated for the national unity government had ceased. The former Chief Justice told the Daily Mirror that the Cabinet should be restricted to 30 and the number of deputy and state ministers to 40 in terms of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution.
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Iran proposes air link with Colombo to attract tourists from there
Published Date: 16/02/2018 (Friday)
Daily direct flights between Sri Lanka and Iran are necessary for promoting tourism to ensure that Sri Lanka receives a significant number of Iranian tourists, Dr. Abdolreza Farajirad, Director General of the Strategic Council on Foreign Relations, who is in Sri Lanka on the invitation of Pathfinder Foundation said yesterday. "Each year around nine million Iranian tourists visit other countries. Right now they mostly go to Turkey and the EU thought Sri Lanka is only five hours away and has the potential to attract a lot of them," he said.
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China debt worries grow in Sri Lanka as ex-president regains clout
Published Date: 16/02/2018 (Friday)
Sri Lanka is poised to become even more indebted to Beijing with the return of pro-China ex-President Mahinda Rajapaksa, after his newly formed Sri Lanka People's Front won a landslide victory at Saturday's local government elections. The victory for the party could see Sri Lanka flip back into the arms of China, Rajapaksa's favorite lender and builder. The current government had leant toward India and Western powers but this dynamic could now be tested. Already, as a legacy of Rajapaksa's government, Sri Lanka owes China $8 billion of its total $65 billion of debt, equivalent to over 70% of its gross domestic product.
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Iran's Navy Flotilla Berths in Sri Lanka
Published Date: 16/02/2018 (Friday)
The Iranian Navy's 50th Fleet of Warships berthed in Sri Lanka on a training mission in a bid to bolster professional relations between the two countries' navies. Iran's 50th Flotilla is comprised of Naqdi and Bayandor destroyers as well as Tonb logistic combat warship. The Iranian flotilla's visit is aimed at reinforcing ties between Iran and Sri Lanka and also promoting peace and friendship culture.
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Brigadier Priyanka Fernando: a (suggested) wider context
Published Date: 16/02/2018 (Friday)
The recent furore over the throat-cutting gesture by Brigadier Priyanka Fernando in London aimed at demonstrating Tamils led me to the subject of soldiers in general. That the Brigadier pointed to his army insignia and then made the gesture suggests he believes this is what soldiers do: they kill. The gesture can be understood as a synecdoche standing for different forms of violence, murder included. The word “soldier” etymologically has its roots in “payment”, and payment is related to “professional”. A soldier is a professional; someone paid to endanger his
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Back to the chessboard? The political crisis in Sri Lanka will likely end in a reconfiguration of coalition forces
Published Date: 15/02/2018 (Thursday)
Sri Lanka’s local government election held on February 10 has become more than a mid-term poll that usually helps the opposition. Rather, it has led to an immediate political crisis of sorts, threatening the stability of the present government. While the disunited ruling coalition, jointly headed by President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, has lost the election badly, the newly formed Sri Lanka People’s Front, unofficially backed by former President Mahinda Rajapaksa, has secured a sweeping victory in provinces except in the north and east.
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Workers on the move; the quest for social justice
Published Date: 15/02/2018 (Thursday)
While the country awaits the decision of the high-level special committee appointed on Tuesday, to determine the future course of the national unity or consensus government, responsible citizens should also focus attention on the creation of a just and fair society which the current administration pledged to do but has shown little progress. This may have been one of the other major reasons for the huge protest vote against the national government’s two major parties at the February 10 elections to 340 local councils. Next week the United Nations marks the World Day of Social Justice and in a statement the UN says, social justice is an underlying principle for peaceful and prosperous coexistence within and among nations.
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Sri Lankan family allowed to stay in Queenstown
Published Date: 15/02/2018 (Thursday)
A Sri Lankan family which won the support of the Queenstown community in its fight against deportation has been given a reprieve and will be allowed to stay in New Zealand for another year. Clutha-Southland MP Hamish Walker, who has been supporting Sri Lankan family, Dinesha Amarasinghe, Sam Wijerathne and their three boys Senath, Subath, and Binath, said the Immigration and Protection Tribunal (IPT) ruled they should be allowed to stay in New Zealand for the next year on humanitarian grounds, while their residence application is assessed.
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New Constitution now a dream - Tilvin
Published Date: 15/02/2018 (Thursday)
The Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) has pointed out that one of the important reforms, that had been peddled by the Unity Government – the introduction of a new Constitution – will continue to remain a dream given the current political instability in the country. The JVP has noted that the country is currently facing a political crisis due mainly to the failure of both, the President and the Prime Minister, to honour the pledges given by them. The JVP emphasized that despite the prevailing political instability, the Party would continue to win the demands on behalf of the people, even from a weak Parliament.
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JO alleges US, India seeking to save UNP, SLFP ‘marriage’
Published Date: 15/02/2018 (Thursday)
The Joint Opposition/Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) yesterday alleged US and Indian efforts to save the Sirisena-Wickremesinghe administration in the wake of latter’s Feb. 10 drubbing at local government polls. Addressing the media at Dr. N.M. Perera Center, Cotta Road, Borella, JO/SLPP spokesmen, MPs Dallas Alahapperuma, Shehan Semasinghe, Sisira Jayakody and Thenuka Vidanagamage alleged those who had spearheaded 2015 project to oust President Mahinda Rajapaksa were busy trying to save the coalition.
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Over 2,200 Lankans sought refugee status in Japan last year
Published Date: 15/02/2018 (Thursday)
Over 2,200 Sri Lankans sought refugee status in Japan last year, the Ministry of Justice in Japan said. Japan approved only 20 out of a record 19,628 applicants for refugee status last year as authorities reject appeals they suspect come from job-seekers, Nikkei Asia reported. Last year saw an increase of 8,727 people applying for refugee status from 2016 levels, the Ministry of Justice reported. The total number set a record for the seventh year in the row. The greatest contingent of 2017’s applicants came from the Philippines, the figure climbing 250% to 4,895 people. Vietnam came next at 3,116, followed by Sri Lanka with 2,226.
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Minimum age of criminal responsibility to be increased
Published Date: 15/02/2018 (Thursday)
Sri Lanka is to amend the Criminal Procedure Code Act for increasing the minimum age of a child who is considered as responsible for a crime up to 12 years. The current minimum age of criminal responsibility in the country is 8 years. Justice Minister Thalatha Athukorala had submitted a cabinet paper for the Amendment of Criminal Procedure Code Act No – 15 of 1979 for the above purpose. Co-cabinet Spokesman Gayantha Karunathilake toady said that it was decided to publish the prepared bill in gazette and present it in parliament for approval.
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Lack of Tamil translators hindered election process
Published Date: 15/02/2018 (Thursday)
A chronic lack of bilingual officials at district election offices and at the Government Printer had become a serious hindrance to the smooth functioning of electoral processes, Head of the Elections Commission Mahinda Deshapriya said yesterday. That had led to the delay in issuing several important documents to election officials, Deshapriya said. "We have been telling successive governments about this issue. For example there are no Tamil proof readers at the Government Printer and we wanted to send the names of candidates appointed for each ward to voters and we realized, halfway through, that there is
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JVP will build people’s center to fulfill aspirations of 8th January
Published Date: 15/02/2018 (Thursday)
“Ranil – Maithri administration, instead of managing the economy for the benefit of the people, continued with the old, gluttonous economy. The result of 10th February election is the people’s response to their idiotic moves. As such, the President or the Prime Minister can no longer fulfil the aspirations of the people. Only a people’s movement led by the JVP would be able to fulfil the aspirations the people expected with the 8th January change. We would assure that a political centre lead by the JVP would be built fulfil the aspirations of 8th January,” says the Leader of the JVP Anura Dissanayaka.
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