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Hambantota project: Chinese firm holds back US$ 585m
Published Date: 10/06/2018 (Sunday)
The Chinese company involved in the Hambantota Port project has put on hold the last tranche of US$ 585 million to Sri Lanka over a dispute involving infrastructure facilities. The China Merchants Port Holdings Company (CMPort) Ltd is insisting that in accordance with the existing Concession Agreement, an artificial entertainment zone on reclaimed land is among the issues it wants resolved. However, Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA) Chairman Parakrama Dissanayake said the port area had been gazetted (under the SLPA Act) and would only be used for marine and port related activities. No land would be used for entertainment or tourism purposes, he said.
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Missed opportunities
Published Date: 10/06/2018 (Sunday)
I was around 25 when the ceasefire agreement by the United National Front government, with Ranil Wickremesinghe as PM, was freshly inked. Some of the most visible checkpoints in Colombo, for the first time in my life, were removed. I was part of a group of journalists who were the first to go up North on the newly re-opened A9, to meet with the LTTE; journalists in the North - including some of the first on the ground to use digital video and photography to document inconvenient truths - as well as activists in the region. Our minibus was regularly checked by young boys, facial hair just barely evident, cocking T-56s, and absolutely fascinated with the workings of the CD player. I remember the Omanthai checkpoints, the documentation, the lines, the questions and no-man’s land, overseen by the ICRC
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Questions over SLAF’s aircraft purchase deals running into a staggering Rs. 64.8 billion
Published Date: 10/06/2018 (Sunday)
The Sri Lanka Air Force (SLAF) has ambitious plans to purchase helicopters of different makes and Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) at a staggering cost of more than Rs 64.8 billion, according to documents seen by the Sunday Times. The Defence Ministry is expected to appoint a Technical Evaluation Committee for this purpose. An earlier committee ceased to function after a senior officer of the rank of Air Vice Marshal retired.
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Kleptocracy To Kakistocracy
Published Date: 10/06/2018 (Sunday)
President’s Secretary Austin Fernando has thrown in the towel. It appears that even the most experienced, patient, persevering and shrewdest of strategists cannot take it anymore. Fernando, one of the last living Humphrey Applebys in Sri Lankan civil service has lifelong training at keeping his marbles together under extreme circumstances. Even he seems to have lost it. He is no political celebrity and if at all, an outcaste in the equation of modern ethno-religious politics. At best he will be footnoted in history. But his alleged departure has serious connotations, apparently soft, yet, sinister ‘end of an era’ of sorts. According to Colombo Telegraph, the touting for a new President’s Secretary is apparently carried out by the sorry political charlatans of the caliber of Shiral Lakthilake who has approached Hemasiri Fernando with the job. Whether it is Austin Fernando or Hemasiri Fernando who continues is immaterial. The seriousness lies within the crux of the matter. Hemasiri Fernando would be
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From Soldiers To Housewives: Women Who Fought As Tamil Tigers In Sri Lanka Are Forced Into Traditional Roles
Published Date: 09/06/2018 (Saturday)
JAFFNA, Sri Lanka: After her release from a rehabilitation camp for former Tamil Tigers fighters in 2011, one former member of the women-only Malathi Brigade was presented by Sri Lankan government officials with a sewing machine. More accustomed to the rigors of warfare, the woman, who spent seven years fighting with the militant Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) after signing up as a teenager, had no interest in sewing. She tried raising chickens, but the venture failed. "I'm tired of the burden I have become to my family," said the 35-year-old, who asked not to be identified out of fear of repercussions. "Every time I go out, I have to ask my father for money. I don't want this kind of life. I would have been a commander in the LTTE by now if it still existed."
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EU recognizes Sri Lanka's progress in protecting and enhancing human rights, urges zero tolerance for religious, ethnic hate crimes
Published Date: 08/06/2018 (Friday)
The European Union recognizing the progress made by Sri Lanka in protecting and enhancing human rights and fundamental freedoms in the country has urged the government to address issues relating to religious and ethnic hatred and to maintain zero tolerance for hate speech and crimes. The third meeting of the Working Group on Governance, Rule of Law and Human Rights under the European Union-Sri Lanka Joint Commission was held in Brussels on 5 June 2018 in the context of Sri Lanka being granted better access to the EU for its exports under the EU's Generalized Scheme of Preferences Plus (GSP+) in May 2017.
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The vibrant role of women in building a modern and prosperous Sri Lanka
Published Date: 08/06/2018 (Friday)
Today, despite immense progress made by enterprising, socially conscious and highly successful female leaders like social entrepreneur and philanthropist Otara Gunawardene, Ceylon Biscuits Group Managing Director Sheamalee Wickramasingha and - closer to our own industry - Nation’s Trust Bank CEO Renuka Fernando, the opportunities provided to Sri Lankan women remain limited and extremely challenging. Today it is estimated that female labour force participation hovers at just 40 percent, as compared with male labour force participation of 75 percent. Similarly, 20.4 percent of women in Sri Lanka are unpaid family workers, as compared with just three percent for men, while just one in every four Sri Lankan entrepreneurs is woman.
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The tragi-comedy of Sri Lankan politics
Published Date: 07/06/2018 (Thursday)
In times of a national crisis the ideal is for all parties to sit down and talk. Though it was finally the war that brought an end to the protracted war here in Sri Lanka even the LTTE from time to time agreed to sit down with the Sri Lankan government. Call it premeditated still it did. It is a fact that Sri Lanka is currently going through a period of gross instability. There’s indeed a crisis both economic and political. The panic-stricken average voter is left wondering how the leaders both government and the opposition can leave the country in the present state and continue to play petty political games. Daily a new episode or two is added to the unfolding political drama – the number game in parliament while the distraught voter hopes and prays
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“RTI is a non-violent way of change”
Published Date: 07/06/2018 (Thursday)
Without information we humans, the most advanced species on Earth, would be handicapped. Information is everywhere, but whether they are credible and valid remains a question. Freedom of expression and the Right to Information (RTI) have been topics tabled for decades with no proper implementation. Both these avenues have been newer expressions of the post-war era and Sri Lanka is making steady progress as at now. One year after the enactment of the RTI Act Sri Lanka recently reached third place in the Global RTI Index thus becoming the first South Asian country to achieve this target. Throughout the South Asian region the enactment of the RTI Act has been a herculean
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After Sri Lanka riots, Facebook staff to learn Sinhala insults to curb extremist content on platform
Published Date: 07/06/2018 (Thursday)
Three months after Sri Lanka was rocked by deadly anti-Muslim riots fuelled by online vitriol, Facebook is training its staff to identify inflammatory content in the country’s local languages. The social network has been seeking penance in Sri Lanka after authorities blocked Facebook in March as incendiary posts by Buddhist hardliners fanned religious violence that left three people dead and reduced hundreds of mosques, homes and businesses to ashes. Until the week-long ban, appeals to Facebook to act against the contagion of hate speech had
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Over 500 Muslim IDPs languish in capital’s ‘hell compound’ 28 years after eviction
Published Date: 07/06/2018 (Thursday)
A shocking number of internally-displaced families evicted from Jaffna region in the 1990s continue to languish homeless after 28 years of their initial displacement in a highly-unsanitary compound that borders Colombo. “Every year our religious fasting season arrives, giving us hope, but then it ends with sadness. We continue to helplessly witness it from this camp but there is no end to our suffering,” said N.M. Haniffa, a member of the Displaced Northern Muslims’ Camp at Crow Island, Mutwal (Mattakkuliya), speaking to Minister of Industry and Commerce and Wanni District MP Rishad Bathiudeen when he visited the IDP camp on the afternoon of 4 June.
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Intellectuals leaving the motherland have become a major problem – President
Published Date: 07/06/2018 (Thursday)
At present intellectuals in various fields including medical, engineering and technological fields, leaving the motherland has been a major problem, President Maithripala Sirisena said that adding that the Government is not ready to impose rules and regulations on the freedom of leaving the country, but as the citizens who nurtured as a result of free education, should commit themselves according to their conscience to fulfill their responsibilities towards the motherland. He made these remarks participating in a ceremony held at the Nelum Pokuna Theatre today (07), to present teaching appointments to 500 graduates who passed the Western Province Teaching Exam.
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Sri Lankan Born ‘Container King’ Ian Kiru Karan Becomes German Minister
Published Date: 07/06/2018 (Thursday)
From rags to riches: BILD.de documents the progress of Hamburg’s flagship entrepreneur, Ian Karan Kiru’s career, as he becomes Hamburg’s Economic Senator. Ian Kiru Karan who was born in Point Pedro in 1939, moved to Germany in 1970 after studying in the United Kingdom — where he went on to build one of the world’s biggest container leasing companies in Hamburg. He was recently sworn in as Senator for Economic Affairs in Hamburg.
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Seven Questions to Consider When Promoting Gender Justice in Sri Lanka
Published Date: 07/06/2018 (Thursday)
In October 2016, The Asia Foundation’s Sri Lanka office began a project to make that country’s formal justice system more responsive to victims of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV). Seventeen months later, and after five decades of working with security and justice institutions and promoting women’s rights in Sri Lanka, here are our insights on working with the formal justice sector in a South Asian context. SGBV against women and girls is a hidden issue in Sri Lanka—only a fraction of incidents are officially reported—but anecdotal evidence and media reports suggest rising rates of domestic violence, sexual abuse, and rape, including statutory and gang rape, around the
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MS and the 100-day-programme
Published Date: 06/06/2018 (Wednesday)
Who would have thought President Maithripala Sirisena was not in agreement with the 100-day-programme marketed by those who toiled to see him as the President following the 2015 election? This has been the case, according to the President himself, who broke the news last week. President Sirisena dumbfounded the entire country, perhaps including his family members, at a function held last Wednesday at the Sri Lanka Foundation to commemorate the 76th birth anniversary of the late Ven. Maduluwawe Sobitha Thera, when he questioned as to who compiled the 100-day-programme. He said with only 47 UNP MPs in Parliament, a programme
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Promise of ‘15 Presidential Election shattered…
Published Date: 06/06/2018 (Wednesday)
Politicians are the same all over. They promise to build bridges even when there are no rivers. ~ Nikita Khrushchev We are fast approaching the end of the first term of this Presidency. The lofty ideals expressed so abundantly on the Maithripala Sirisena/UNP platform have come out empty. The looming end result of efforts to establish Yahapalanaya seems not only self-destructive, it looks thoroughly unworthy to a set of politicians, who have been nurtured and nursed by a culture, so steeped in corruption, nepotism and incompetence.
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Sri Lanka to draft new laws to implement Ottawa Convention
Published Date: 06/06/2018 (Wednesday)
Sri Lanka is to draft new laws to implement the Ottawa Convention on the prohibition of the use, stockpiling, production and transfer of anti-personnel mines and on their destruction. Cabinet has approved a proposal by the Minister of Justice and Prison Reforms Thalatha Atukorala to advice the Legal Draftsman to drat legislations enabling the provisions of the convention in Sri Lanka. Commonly known as the Ottawa Treaty, the Convention was concluded by the Diplomatic Conference on an International Total Ban on Anti-Personnel Land Mines at Oslo, Norway on 18th September 1997. There are currently 163 State Parties to the Treaty
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Sri Lanka hires Singapore firm to draw plans for Southern development
Published Date: 06/06/2018 (Wednesday)
Sri Lanka has hired Singapore government-owned Surbana Jurong for $990,000 to draw up plans for urban development around a Chinese-funded Special Economic Zone that will straddle the Southern districts of Hambantota and Monaragala. The 12,000 acre Sri Lanka-China Logistics and Industrial Zone which will cover the China-controlled Hambantota Port and parts of nearby Monaragala District will be developed by China Harbour Engineering Corporation in three phases. The Chinese-government owned construction giant has hired to Surbana Jurong to design plans for the first two stages which will include housing, schools, community and entertainment infrastructure.
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Plastic bottles outlawed at FM - Kariyawasam
Published Date: 06/06/2018 (Wednesday)
Marking the World Environment Day, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs switched to the use of glass bottles for water instead of plastic as their contribution to combat global plastic pollution. Sri Lanka is ranked in the fifth position out of 20 countries identified for dumping polythene and plastic to the oceans. Secretary to the Ministry Prasad Kariyawasam tweeted a recorded video message thus: “Marking the World Environment Day since yesterday (5), the Ministry will be discarding
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Efforts underway to extradite Mahendran – says Ranil
Published Date: 06/06/2018 (Wednesday)
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has said in the Parliament that steps are being taken to bring back Former Governor of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka (CBSL) Arjuna Mahendran to Sri Lanka according to the Extradition Law. Wickremesinghe made this remark while answering a question by Chief Opposition Whip and Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) Leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake. Dissanayake queried as to what steps had been taken from the Government’s side to produce Mahendran to the relevant local Court thus far.
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Thoothukudi Massacre – When State becomes Predator: Bobby Kunhu
Published Date: 06/06/2018 (Wednesday)
On 22nd May 2018, in what cannot be imagined even in a dictatorial regime, the police in Thoothukudi, Tamil Nadu – a South Indian state opened fire to kill, on a group of peaceful protesters marching towards the district administration office demanding denial of permission for expansion and closure of the existing copper smelting plant of Sterlite. Sterlite is a subsidiary of the London based corporation Vedanta, which has been dumping toxic waste all over this town since 1998 resulting in widespread health hazards including increase in reports of cancer. This massacre is unimaginable even in the worst dictatorial regimes, because not only were known national and international legal norms and protocols in crowd/riot control
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Balancing the Chinese presence in Sri Lanka: India and Japan’s game of the stag hunt
Published Date: 06/06/2018 (Wednesday)
The rivalry existing between China and India is based on a long historical trajectory dating back to the epoch of the silk route. More recent conflict emerged at a time when both states strived to emerge as nation states after facing colonial encounters for centuries. Nevertheless, the present-day antagonism between the countries mainly arose as a result of the border dispute and later converted into the respective quest of each to be a super power. In the recent past both China and India have emerged as new powers in terms of economy, political stability and military strategy. This newly developed status of both countries has simultaneously fed a mutual suspicion of each other, which is why India keeps a watchful eye on the Chinese influence in South Asia
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‘Sri Lanka Goebbeled’- My Article That Never Got Published!
Published Date: 05/06/2018 (Tuesday)
The following piece was written by me in 2007. This was a time, when the media in Sri Lanka was terrorized to such an extent, that Journalists and Writers needed to be armed with cold courage, to function. All those Editors I sent the following piece to, who never said “No” to any of my articles before and after, refused to publish it in their newspapers, and one warned, “No way Sharmini, this will get us both killed!”
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The Subversion Of Our Democratic Political Spaces & What It Means For Sri Lanka’s Future
Published Date: 05/06/2018 (Tuesday)
Since Independence in 1948, Sri Lanka has witnessed three unsuccessful armed struggles. Two of these (1971 and 1987-89) have been confined mainly to the Sinhalese South. The last one in the North and East of Sri Lanka waged an armed campaign for almost 30 years until the Tami Tigers were defeated in 2009. The manner of the Sri Lanka’s state victory created acute political wounds and left unresolved the fundamental problems that gave rise to Tamil militancy. The devastating effects of all three armed campaigns conducted by the state and non-state actors have scarred democratic governance in the country and its commitment to pluralism. These violent struggles have torn apart Sri Lanka’s social fabric and hindered economic wellbeing of its citizens. It has damaged the continuing efforts to create a healthy and pluralistic democracy for our young and fragile nation.
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Omphalos Syndrome
Published Date: 03/06/2018 (Sunday)
Given the trend of tirades, it is not unreasonable to expect that President Sirisena will wake up one of these days and disclaim everything he did and said in 2015. The change maker is clearly out, though the charlatan arguably never left. The hope around and pegged to him is long gone. There is, short of a miracle, nothing progressive that he was the face of, and championed, when first seeking office that will now come to pass. This includes, above all else, a new constitution. There is an increasing manic tinge, of someone increasingly unhinged, that colours his pronouncements. A video last week of him disavowing any
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