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  • Today English News 22/03/2011 Last update 10:00am

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    ‘Raw deal’ irks Sri Lankan locals

    Mar 22,2011

    Sri Lankan locals have one serious question for the International Cricket Council.  If India is the top ranked team in this tournament and therefore gets to play all its matches at home, then is it not fair that if Sri Lanka qualify instead, they should play the final in Colombo?

    That won’t happen, probably because of the Board of Control for Cricket in India’s clout. But the locals are right.

    Logically, Sri Lanka as co-hosts of the 2011 World Cup will get a raw deal if they have to play the final in India and not back home.

    Local malls, pubs and night clubs are planning big for the knockout stages because they’re convinced that Sri Lanka will play the final scheduled in Mumbai. The locals in Colombo are looking to cash in on the cricket craze on the island knowing that they’ll most probably be watching their team on television once the semifinals are over.

    In the quarters, there’s not even an iota of doubt in the minds of people that India are beating Australia and Sri Lanka are going past England. Anything to the contrary – at least in the Sri Lanka-England match – is bound to leave Colombo very disappointed.

    “Playing our spinners in Sri Lanka is going to be very difficult. They will be under huge pressure playing Murali and Mendis in these conditions,” says Sameera Lokahetige, among the ground-staff at the Premadasa Stadium.

    What the locals tend to forget is that their own team is dwindling as far as the batting line-up goes. Other than Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara, the rest – including Tillakaratne Dilshan and Upul Tharanga – have not been in any great form. Further, the lower-middle order has been almost listless in the tournament so far.

    But there’s no point arguing about Lankan cricket’s strengths and (particularly ) weaknesses if you’re on the island.

    Malinga’s slingers, Murali’s off-spin , Mendis’ carom ball are all that people want to talk about. At the most, they’ll allow you to discuss the “dashing” pair of Jayawardene and Sangakkara. Nothing more.

    It seems like there’s not a single billboard in Colombo that doesn’t feature either Sanga or Mahela, if not both together. They sell almost anything from tea and biscuits to jewellery, SUVs, the Colas, properties and of course a million dreams.

    If people buy the products they sell then they’re certainly serious when they’re buying the dream that Sri Lanka is winning its second World Cup. No arguments. The nightlife is already buzzing with such prospective thoughts. Book early if you want to be part of the action in Sri Lanka’s commercial paradise, Times of India reports.


    Sri Lankan youth arrested for stealing boats - Report

    Rameswaram (PTI): A Sri Lankan youth from Jaffna was arrested by ‘Q’ branch of Tamil Nadu police near here Monday for allegedly stealing two boats of fishermen of Dhanushkodi coastal hamlet.

    Police said Ravinath had not registered himself as a refugee and it was not known when he had arrived in India, reports the Press Trust of India.

    They said one boat was found near Mandapam in a broken condition and the other anchored in mid-sea off Mandapam coast.

    Ravinath was nabbed after he was found moving around in suspicious circumstances near Mandapam. During questioning, he said he had stolen the boats with the help of some other people, they said.

    He would be further questioned to ascertain why he had not registered as a refugee and for what purpose he had stolen the boats, the sources said.


    Ranil ‘dumped’ for ‘hawkish’ Mahinda said India - Wikileaks

    Ranil ‘dumped’ for ‘hawkish’ Mahinda said India - Wikileaks

    Mar 21,2011

    India believed that the LTTE ‘dumped’ Ranil Wickramasinghe at 2005 presidential elections for ‘hawkish’ Mahinda Rajapaksa in an attempt to prevent further peace talks, according to the latest revelations by Wikileaks.

    The revelation by the whistle blower website come in the diplomatic cables sent by the then US Ambassador in Colombo, Robert O’ Blake in November 2005.

    Tamil Tigers forced the electorate in LTTE-held territory to boycott the 2005 November presidential election. Many political analysts were of the opinion that the decision paved the way for Rajapaksa presidency.

    Quoting Mohan Kumar, the Joint Secretary (Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Burma) at the Indian Ministry of External Affairs, the US Ambassador says India was of the opinion that the LTTE was looking for a leader “easier to tackle” after having used Wickramasinghe to get some concessions.

    Mahinda ‘will be moderate’

    “Kumar speculated that Prabhakaran concluded the only way out was to bring the JVP to power, bide time and convince the international community that the Rajapakse government was unwilling to come back to negotiating table,” said one cable message.

    Having earlier resigned from the UPFA protesting President Kumarathunga’s attempt to sign a peace deal with the LTTE, the JVP signed an electoral pact with Mahinda Rajapaksa in September 2005.

    The Sinhala nationalist Jathika Hela Urumaya also pledged support to Mr Rajapaksa.

    Wikileaks reveals that authorities in New Delhi were seriously concerned over the “hawkish views” of UPFA candidate, Mahinda Rajapaksa, that “may squash the last glimmer of hope,” for the peace process initiated by Norway between the Ranil Wickramasinghe led United National Party (UNP) government and the LTTE.

    India still expected Mahinda Rajapaksa will “moderate himself” after he was elected president, according to the cables.

    ‘Strengthening’ nationalism

    Mr Kumar has also said that Mr Rajapaksa’s victory at the elections was a “wake up call for India” about the motives of the Tamil Tigers whether to return to the negotiating table.

    The cables also reveal that the Trade Minister of the UNP government, Ravi Karunanayake, has thwarted an attempt by PM Ranil Wickramasinghe and President Chandrika Kumarathunga to share the defence portfolio.

    The US Ambassador in his cables sent in January 2004 reveal that the PM only wanted the president to keep the title (“the brass nameplate”) and a general supervisory role in ministry of defence.

    “If the PM is willing to give her something, he may get a deal,” the cable said.

    “If he follows the advice of hardliners like Ravi K. and insists on the entire package for himself, the result will almost certainly be continued deadlock and eventually elections -- which will solve nothing and probably exacerbate the situation by resulting in a strengthened JVP and pro-LTTE Tamil National Alliance.” BBC reports.


    Colombo Hilton not for sale - HDL PLC

    Colombo Hilton not for sale - HDL PLC

    Mar 21,2011

    General Manager of Hotel Developers (Lanka) PLC, Sudarshan Sri Rayen today in a letter to Ada Derana rejected reports that the company is holding talks with Indian gambling giant Delta Corp. last week Indian media reported that Delta Corp is in talks to acquire the Colombo Hilton Hotel.

    On March 18 NDTV reported that India’s largest gaming company Delta Corp is in talks to buy the Hilton Hotel in Colombo. The report added that the company is likely to build a casino in the hotel after the deal.

    Delta Corp has already applied for a license in Sri Lanka for a casino, the report said.

    The Colombo Hilton Hotel is owned by Hotel Developers (Lanka) PLC. In his letter Sri Rayen stated that neither the Colombo Hilton nor its owning company Hotel Developers (Lanka) PLC is for sale.


    JVP condemn attack on Libya

    Mar 21,2011

    The Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) says that they strongly condemn the attack on Libya by America and its western allied nations. Western countries that are the face of democracy are following a dual policy, the party points out in a statement.

    UPFA wins LG election in a landslide

    UPFA wins LG election in a landslide

    Mar 18,2011

    The United People’s Freedom Alliance has won the 2011 Local Government election with a majority victory over 205 out of the total 234 LG bodies. Illankai Tamil Arasu Katchchi (ITAK) comes in second winning 12 while the United National Party (UNP) only managed to secure 09 LG bodies.

    The Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC) has won 04, National Congress 02, the Up-Country People’s Front (UPF) 01 while an Independent Group has secured 01 LG body


    62% pass O/L examinations; most of the top results belong to rural students

    62% pass O/L examinations; most of the top results belong to rural students

    Mar 17,2011

    According to the Examinations Department around 62% of the students who sat for their GCE Ordinary Level examinations have passed all their subjects while 3059 students have received distinctions in all nine subjects.

    524,000 students in total sat for the Ordinary Level examinations while 195,112 students passed while 14,961 students failed all of their subjects. The Commissioner stated that most of the top 25 students who received the best results were students from rural areas.

    The Examinations Department also stated that the results were released in the shortest period of time in comparison to the previous years.


    Special unit for complaints over LG polls

    Mar 17,2011

    A special unit has been set up at the Elections Secretariat to report any election malpractice or threats during the Local Government elections today. The Unit will take in complaints from 7am to 5pm today.


    Colombo, Gampaha, Kaluthara Districts – 0112 877634(fax)

    Galle, Matara, Hambanthota Districts – 0112 877 636(fax)

    Mullaitivu, Mannar, Vavuniya Districts – 0112 877 637(fax)

    Puttalam, Kurunegala Districts – 0112 877 640 (fax)

    Badulla, Moneragala Districts – 0112 877 641(fax)


    Lankan with links to LTTE nabbed in India

    Mar 17,2011

    A Sri Lankan suspected to having links with terrorist outfit Liberation Tigers of Tamil Ealam (LTTE), was arrested from his hideout in Navi Mumbai, India by the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS).

    The accused Rajan Silithuriya alias Rajan alias Kartik, hailing from Sri Lanka, was picked up from his hideout in Koparkhairane area of Navi Mumbai on Tuesday night. He had been shifting places in the Mumbai suburbs since the past four years, the ATS said.

    According to the ATS, Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) on April 13, 2007 had seized three kgs of heroin at the Chennai International airport.

    The concerned special court had declared Silithuriya as a wanted accused in the case and had also issued a non-bailable warrant against him.

    The ATS had received specific information that Silithuriya was staying in Navi Mumbai following which he was arrested.

    “We are probing if Silithuriya has any links with LTTE or any other group in Mumbai. Preliminary probe revealed the accused had stayed in Matunga, Chembur and Navi Mumbai areas since past four years,” said additional director general (ATS) Rakesh Maria.

    The Chennai NCB would seek his remand from the ATS soon, the ATS officials said adding further probe was on, PTI reports.


    Hand grenade blast at Aralaganwila polling station, one injured

    Mar 17,2011

    An explosion has been reported from the polling station at the Maguldamana Vidyalaya in Aralaganwila. According to initial reports a hand grenade blast had injured a police officer who was on duty at the polling booth. Aralaganwila Police are conducting further inquiries.


    Motorcyclist dies in collision with lorry

    Mar 16,2011

    A Motorcyclist died after colliding with a lorry on the Bandarawela-Welimada road in the Diganathanna area. The Motorcyclist died after being admitted to the Bandarawela hospital while the passenger at the time is being treated at the Diyathalawa hospital.

    The driver of the Lorry was arrested and is due to be presented at the Bandarawela Magistrates Courts today (March 16).


    GCE O/L results available today

    Mar 16,2011

    The GCE Ordinary Levels Examination results will be released to the public today (March 16) evening, the Examinations Commissioner stated. The O/L results could be obtained at the Department of Education website www.doenets.lk.


    Nepal denies asylum to Fonseka aides

    Nepal denies asylum to Fonseka aides

    Mar 16,2011

    Nepal has refused to grant refugee status to few close associates of former Sri Lankan army chief Sarath Fonseka residing in the country. The Sri Lankans who worked with Fonseka during his presidential campaign are reportedly staying “semi-nderground” in Kathmandu for past few months and seeking asylum in Nepal.

    The Nepal government has however turned down the request.

    “This information is news to me and this is the first time such a thing has happened. We have written to the foreign ministry to seek their directives,” Thosapala Hewage, Sri Lanka’s Ambassador to Nepal, told HT.

    “We are seeking a secure place to live and express our feeling until a point in future when we can go back and speak out,” said Santha Karunaratne, Coordinator of the “Politically Affected Families of Gen. Fonseka in Nepal.” “Following the elections, many people had to flee the country when the police started cracking down on those who they thought were anti-establishment.”

    They are seeking the status of political refugees in Nepal, which however, has been denied by the government. Government officials said they “could be arrested anytime”.

    A report in Tuesday’s The Kathmandu Post stated that the asylum seekers who had fled Sri Lanka following Fonseka’s electoral loss and amid fear of retribution by the present regime could be arrested soon.
    They thought that Nepal was the ‘easiest’ place for asylum seekers. Of the 14 who were staying in Nepal reportedly under “unofficial protection” of UNHCR for the last few months, one died of heart attack, one managed to fly to Canada and five other disappeared. Remaining seven are seeking asylum.  UN sources confirmed that the asylum seekers have received unofficial protection but because of their illegal status they would not be called refugees unless Nepal approves so, Kathmandu Post and Hindustan Times reports.


    UNP and UPFA supporters clash at Iranawila

    UNP and UPFA supporters clash at Iranawila

    Mar 14,2011

    A clash is reported to have occurred in the Iranawila area between two fractions of UNP and UPFA supporters. A group of UPFA supporters had initially crashed into an UNP public rally and had disrupted the event resulting in the conflict situation.

    Afterward several United National Party (UNP) activists had entered a propaganda meeting held by the United People’s Freedom Alliance and seized a UPFA Puththalam District Organizer. 

    The individual had later been released while the firearm of the security officer was handed over to the police.


    Blast strikes Japan plant; 2,000 bodies found on coast

    Blast strikes Japan plant; 2,000 bodies found on coast

    Mar 14,2011

    FUKUSHIMA, Japan (Reuters) – A hydrogen explosion rocked the earthquake-stricken nuclear plant in Japan where authorities have been working desperately to avert a meltdown, compounding a nuclear catastrophe caused by Friday’s massive quake and tsunami.

    The core container was intact, Jiji news agency said, quoting the plant operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO), but the local government warned those still in the 20-km (13-mile) evacuation zone to stay indoors . Seven people, six of them soldiers, were missing in the blast, Jiji said.

    A TV station also reported a new tsunami on Monday but it turned out to be a false alarm.

    Japan battled through the weekend to prevent a nuclear catastrophe and to care for the millions without power or water in its worst crisis since World War Two, after the huge earthquake and tsunami that likely killed more than 10,000 people.

    Kyodo news agency said 2,000 bodies had been found on Monday on the shores of Miyagi prefecture, which took the brunt of the tsunami.

    The government had warned of a possible explosion at the No. 3 reactor because of the buildup of hydrogen in the building housing the reactor. TV images showed smoke rising from the Fukushima facility, 240 km (150 miles) north of Tokyo.

    TEPCO had earlier halted injection of sea water into the reactor, resulting in a rise in radiation levels and pressure. The government had warned that an explosion was possible because of the buildup of hydrogen in the building housing the reactor.

    A badly wounded nation has seen whole villages and towns wiped off the map by a wall of water, leaving in its wake an international humanitarian effort of epic proportions.

    As the country returned to work on Monday, markets began estimating the huge economic cost, with Japanese stocks plunging around 5 percent and the yen falling against the dollar.

    Prime Minister Naoto Kan said the situation at the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant remained worrisome and that the authorities were doing their utmost to stop damage from spreading.

    “The earthquake, tsunami and the nuclear incident have been the biggest crisis Japan has encountered in the 65 years since the end of World War Two,” a grim-faced Kan had told a news conference on Sunday.

    “We’re under scrutiny on whether we, the Japanese people, can overcome this crisis.”

    Officials confirmed on Sunday that three nuclear reactors north of Tokyo were at risk of overheating, raising fears of an uncontrolled radiation leak.

    Engineers worked desperately to cool the fuel rods in the damaged reactors. If they fail, the containers that house the core could melt, or even explode, releasing radioactive material into the atmosphere.

    The world’s third-biggest economy also faced rolling power blackouts to conserve energy, and Tokyo commuters reported long delays as train companies cut back services.


    Indo-Sri Lankan JWG on fisheries to meet on March 28

    Mar 14,2011

    After a gap of over five years, the Indo-Sri Lankan Joint Working Group on fisheries will meet in New Delhi on March 28 to discuss issues of fishing in the narrow Palk Straits and the Gulf of Mannar and related problems.

    Apart from senior officials of the External Affairs Ministries of India and Sri Lanka, the delegations which will take part in the talks will include representatives from the Ministry of Fisheries, Ministry of Defence, the Attorney General’s Department, Immigration and Armed Forces.

    The meeting of the group was revived consequent to a meeting between Indian Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao and the Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa, in end-January. She had rushed to Colombo following the killing of two fishermen from Tamil Nadu in Sri Lankan waters.

    A joint statement issued at the end of Ms. Rao’s visit decided to revive the Group at “an early date.” The Group would also address the proposed Memorandum of Understanding on development and cooperation in the field of fisheries. “It was decided as well to enhance and promote contacts between the fishermen’s associations on both sides, since such contacts have proved to be mutually beneficial,” the statement had said.

    India and Sri Lanka are also working on modalities for visit of delegations of fishermen from either side, The Hindu reports.


    Govt. relaxes curbs on TN fishermen visiting Katchatheevu fest

    Govt. relaxes curbs on TN fishermen visiting Katchatheevu fest

    Mar 12,2011

    RAMESWARAM: The Sri Lankan government has accorded permission for fishermen from Tamil Nadu to visit Katchatheevu islet on March 19 and stay there for a day to attend St Antony’s festival the next day.

    “In a previous communication, the Sri  Lankan navy had said that devotees from Tamil Nadu participating in the annual feast at the Katchatheevu islet, ceded to Sri Lanka in 1974, would be allowed to visit only on the morning of the festival on March 20.” Ever since the islet was ceded, Tamil Nadu fishermen were permitted to visit Katchatheevu during the festival and for drying nets.

    The Sri Lankan government has assured that devotees would be allowed on March 19 itself as usual, said Ramanathapuram Parish priest Fr Michael Raj, organizer of the festival.

    Devotees, mostly families of fishermen from the coastal Rameswaram district, would take a four-hour boat ride across the Palk Strait and throng the islet every year a day before the festival. Though Sri Lankan fishermen too visit the islet during the festival, their numbers dwindled after the ethnic war broke out in 1983. Gradually the Lankan fishermen almost stopped visiting Katchatheevu until last year when they participated in the fest.

    This year, even as fishermen from Ramanathapuram were gearing up for the festival, the Sri Lankan navy had instructed that they could land on the islet only on March 20.

    “The Sri Lankan navy had earlier instructed that fishermen would not be allowed the previous day. But the issue was taken up with the Sri Lankan government through Indian embassy in Colombo. Subsequently, the Lankan government has agreed to allow devotees the previous day itself,” Michael Raj said.

    “Usually we go there two days ahead of the festival to make preparations. We were terribly upset when there were reports that we will be allowed only on March 20,” said N J Bose, secretary of Tamil Nadu Mechanised Boat Fishermen Association, who has been participating in the fest for more than three decades.

    Fishermen from Tamil Nadu who participate in the fest would have to register themselves with the district administration and obtain a written permission that would be verified by the Sri Lankan authorities before they are allowed to land in Katchatheevu, the Times of India reported.


    CPC to end concessionary fuel rates for CEB next year

    Mar 12,2011

    The Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC) will only supply fuel to the Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) at the concessionary rate until the end of the year, the Petroleum Industries Ministry stated. The CPC will hike the price of a litre of heavy fuel from Rs.40 to Rs.82 next year for the CEB.

    This announcement comes following a statement from the CPC which revealed that 80% of the CPC losses came from supplying the CEB with fuel at a concessionary rate after the CEB had announced making profits of Rs. 5 billion in 2010.

    Meanwhile, Minister of Power and Energy Patali Champika Ranawaka stated that if the CPC increases fuel prices for the CEB, Electricity tariffs will also have to be increased similarly, adding that he was saddened at the fact that some parties were unable to cope with the fact that he had bailed the CEB out of its long standing debts.

    The Minister further stated that neither the CEB nor the CPC were established to make profits but to serve the public while the CPC’s problems stem from inefficiency, the failure of additional projects and an inadequate capacity.


    Following aftershocks another quake hits Japan - Reports

    Following aftershocks another quake hits Japan - Reports

    Mar 12,2011

    An estimated 6.6-magnitude earthquake has struck Nagano and Niigata prefectures in Japan, Kyodo news service reported a short while ago (around 1.20 am Saturday, Sri Lankan time). This is in addition to the 8.9 magnitude quake that hit the country’s East Coast of Honshu on Friday morning.

    According to the Sri Lanka Geological Survey and Mines Bureau, the Friday morning earthquake in Japan was recorded in Sri Lanka at the seismic stations in Pallakale, Mahakanadarawa in Anuradhapura and Hakmana 14 minutes after it occurred. However, the Bureau said that there was no threat to the island from the tsunami waves.

    The official death toll stood at 151, with 539 injured and 351 missing, according to Kyodo, citing police, but that death toll seemed almost certain to rise, according to Japanese TV NHK, which cited police as saying the victims may have been struck by a massive tsunami. Kyodo said the death toll is likely to surpass 1,000.

    Friday’s quake is the strongest in recorded history to hit Japan, according to U.S. Geologic Survey records. The previous record was an 8.6 magnitude earthquake that struck near the Chubu Region near southwestern Honshu on October 28, 1707, that may have killed 5,000 people, according to CNN meteorologist Sean Morris.


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Growth in the UAE non-oil private sector economy climbed to the fastest pace seen since February 2015, bolstered by sharp expansions in new orders and output, according to the latest UAE PMI survey. The survey, sponsored by Emirates NBD and produced by IHS Markit, contains original data collected from a monthly survey of business conditions in the UAE non-oil private sector, and says that new export orders rose for the first time in three months, with other GCC countries being mentioned as key sources of international demand. The ongoing upturn in new business translated into job creation across the non-oil private sector, while increasing output requirements prompted firms to engage in purchasing activity, which contributed to a record rise in inventories. Meanwhile, firms continued to face upward cost pressures. In contrast, output charges stabilised during August. Commenting on the survey, Khatija Haque, Head of MENA Research at Emirates NBD, said, "The August PMI survey shows a strong expansion in the non-oil private sector, underpinned by sharply higher output, new orders and inventories. Firms have indicated that new projects and competitive pricing are supporting demand and activity in the non-oil sector. This is in line with our view that investment ahead of Expo 2020 will be the key driver of the UAE’s non-oil growth over the next few years." The headline seasonally adjusted Emirates NBD UAE Purchasing Managers’ Index is a composite indicator designed to give an accurate overview of operating conditions in the non-oil private sector economy. It climbed to a 30-month high of 57.3 in August from 56.0 in July. In addition, the overall upturn in the non-oil private sector outperformed the long-run average. The improvement in business conditions was driven by an increase in new orders. Moreover, the rate of growth was the sharpest in 30 months. Firms frequently linked new client wins to new projects, enhanced marketing initiatives and good quality products. A sharp rise in business activity also contributed to the overall improvement in the UAE’s non-oil private sector. Where an increase was registered, firms commented on favourable economic conditions. New export orders rose for the first time in three months. The rate of growth was marginal, however. Surveyed companies cited other GCC countries as key sources of international demand. The ongoing upturn in new business continued to translate into job creation during August. The rate of expansion was only marginal, however. Companies engaged in purchasing activity during August, in response to greater output requirements. Consequently, inventories held by firms rose at the most pronounced rate in the survey’s history. This reflected firms’ forecasts of further improvements in market demand, according to panellists. On the downside, firms continued to face intense input cost pressures, which mainly emanated from higher purchasing costs according to underlying data. In contrast, output charges stabilised during August as firms were reportedly unable to pass on higher cost burdens amid intensive competition. This ended a four-month sequence of falling output prices, however.Lastly, business sentiment remained positive despite dipping to the lowest in three months. Business confidence was rooted in projections of further improvements in market demand and economic conditions.
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