Lankan PM to tame, not sack, maverick Justice Minister Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe

[ NewsIn ][ Aug 17 16:36 GMT ]

The Sri Lankan Prime Minister, Ranil Wickremesinghe, is expected to resist an overwhelming demand to sack the maverick Minister of Justice and Buddha Sasana, Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe. According to well placed sources, Wickremesinghe may not sack Wijeyadasa for speaking against the collective decisions of the cabinet on critical issues and cultivating a particular political constituency by speaking against government policies.The Prime Minister is aware of Wijeyadasa’s arrogance, but he will not take the extreme step of sacking him or even asking him to resign just yet. This is because Wickremesinghe is aware that the Buddha Sasana, headed by the three Mahanayakes, have warned that they will stop supporting the government if action is taken against Wijeyadasa. [ full story | comments ]

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Sri Lanka faulty in approach to protecting religious freedom, says US report

[ BDNews24 ][ Aug 17 14:00 GMT ]

Blemishes in Sri Lanka’s approach towards religious freedom have been pointed out in a US State Department report that lists various government decisions to provide Buddhism a “foremost place” among religions. “Non-Buddhist religious groups reported an increase in discriminatory restrictions imposed by local government officials on religious minorities. This included a requirement that evangelical Christian churches register places of worship although no law or regulation specifically requires such registration.” “The government continued to permit the construction of Buddhist statues in non-Buddhist areas despite strong objections from members of the Hindu, Muslim, and Christian communities. And it had not yet prosecuted Buddhist monks involved in attacks against Muslims and Christians in 2014,” the report pointed out. [ full story | comments ]

Corruption crippling Sri Lanka’s coalition government

[ Asia Times ][ Aug 16 17:30 GMT ]

Marred by serious allegations of corruption and mismanagement, Sri Lanka’s much-hyped coalition government appears to have very little to celebrate as it completes two years in power. The coalition government under President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe appears to be slowly losing its grip as public confidence dwindles over its failure to live up to its pledges of good governance free of corruption, despite the rhetoric during the run-up to the 2015 presidential and parliamentary elections. [ full story | comments ]

India To Sri Lanka: Forget China, We Want Your Empty Airport

[ Forbes ][ Aug 16 17:15 GMT ]

India's offer to take over the Mattala airport came barely two weeks after a landmark deal which saw a 70% share of Sri Lanka's Hambantota deep sea port being sold to China for 99 years. The port and airport are within a half hour drive of one another, and are part of the same conurbation of development. When viewed in this light, it appears as if the timing of India's offer may not have been a coincidence, and could be another move by India intended to counter China's growing presence in the South Asian region -- similar to India's prospective deal to develop Sri Lanka's Trincomalee port or a recent partnership with Japan to engage in large-scale infrastructure development in Asia and Africa. [ full story | comments ]

Sri Lanka police chief slammed over meditation rage video

[ AFP ][ Aug 16 17:05 GMT ]

Sri Lanka police chief Pujith Jayasundara, who has claimed prayer and Buddhist rituals helped elevate him to the top police job, raised eyebrows in February when he made daily meditation mandatory for the 85,000 officers and staff under his command A video showing Sri Lanka's top police officer angrily assaulting an employee who refused to participate in compulsory morning meditation sessions has ignited a firestorm of controversy in the Buddhist-majority nation. Jayasundara, who has claimed prayer and Buddhist rituals helped elevate him to the top police job, raised eyebrows in February when he made daily meditation mandatory for the 85,000 officers and staff under his command. [ full story | comments ]

Tamil woman activist campaigning for disappeared threatened with death

[ JDS ][ Aug 16 16:52 GMT ]

A human rights activist leading a continuous campaign seeking information on thousands of disappeared Tamils has been threatened with death by men who assaulted her. Two men, who came in a motor bicycle on Monday (14) night, threatened Mariyasuresh Easwary of Mulaitivu who has been in the forefront of a vigil that has been going on for over five months. Her husband has disappeared in 2009 after being arrested by the Sri Lankan Navy during the final stages of Sri Lanka's civil war. [ full story | comments ]

MR and family should be sent to PCoI: JHU

[ Daily Mirror ][ Aug 14 15:23 GMT ]

Former president Mahinda Rajapaksa and his family should be produced before a Presidential Commission of Inquiry (PCoI) over the allege misconduct which occurred in connection with Avant Garde and several other cases, Jathika Hela Urumaya (JHU) General Secretary Patali Champika Ranawaka said. At a news briefing held at the JHU head office he said as so far as the Mr. Rajapaksa was claiming that the present government was taking revenge on him this government has set a good example by not protecting the corrupt and appointing a PCoI to inquire into the bond issue with former finance minister Ravi Karunanayake resigning from his portfolio. [ full story | comments ]

Does China harbour strategic ambitions for Sri Lankan port?

[ SCMP ][ Aug 14 15:16 GMT ]

Sri Lanka says it’s a way for it to help claw its way out of debt. China says it’s a strictly commercial deal for one of its state firms. But analysts say the Hambantota port on the southern tip of Sri Lanka is part of Beijing’s bigger push to challenge US naval dominance in the Indian Ocean and New Delhi’s influence in the region. “We told China that we can’t allow the port for military use and that 100 per cent responsibility of security matters should be with the Sri Lankan government,” Sri Lankan Ports and Shipping Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe told Reuters in last month. “The port, when fully developed, will affect the present US dominance in the Indian Ocean. [ full story | comments ]

Sri Lanka's war widows trafficked as slaves to GulfAmantha Perera

[ Reuters ][ Aug 11 13:58 GMT ]

According to the Sri Lanka Bureau of Foreign Employment, over 1,000 women from the north - many from female headed homes - sought jobs as maids in Gulf nations in 2015 and 2016. Central Bank data shows only 300 went in 2011. Sri Lanka is in its eighth year of peace after a 26-year conflict which ended with the defeat of the separatist Tamil Tigers in 2009. Yet despite the government pumping billions of dollars into infrastructure development in the north, little has been done for the estimated 90,000 women who lost their husbands, fathers and brothers during the conflict, say activists. [ full story | comments ]

Court orders police to take AG's advice on Gnanasara Thera

[ CDN ][ Aug 04 15:13 GMT ]

The Colombo Chief Magistrate's Court today ordered the Organized Crimes Preventive Division of the Police to obtain the Attorney General's advice regarding Bodu Bala Sena (BBS) General Secretary Ven. Galaboda Atte Gnanasara Thera. The charge relates to a complaint he had allegedly committed number of offences including obstruction of police from discharging their duties recently. At a previous occasion, the Colombo Additional Magistrate Buddhika Sri Ragala reprimanded police for applying a lenient stance against Gnanasara Thera as they withdrew serious allegations that were mentioned in the first B report. [ full story | comments ]

Number of drought affected rises to 1.66mn

[ News First ][ Aug 04 15:07 GMT ]

The number of those affected by the drought has risen to 1.66 million. The Disaster Management Centre has said the District of Kurunegala remains the worst affected, with over 163,000 people suffering the consequences of the drought. Close to 139,000 have been affected by the drought in the district of Puttalam. Jaffna, Mullaitivu, Kilinochchi, Vavuniya, Mannar, areas in the Northern Province and Trincomalee, Batticaloa and Ampara in the Eastern Province are also facing the challenges of the drought. [ full story | comments ]

No threat to national security: Army Commander

[ Daily Mirror ][ Aug 16 17:33 GMT ]

Army Commander Lieutenant General Mahesh Senanayake said yesterday that despite several incidents being reported from the Northern Province, those incidents were not a threat to national security.The Army Commander while replying to a question raised by a journalist at a press Conference held in Colombo, that there are around 200 ex-LTTE members who had not been rehabilitated in the Northern Province, stated that those ex-LTTE members were not involved in the recent attacks. "Only one ex-LTTE member involved in an incident in Jaffna where a police constable attached to the security detail of the Jaffna High Court Judge, was shot dead recently" he said. The Army commander asserted that none of the ex-LTTE members were involved in the activities of the north-based 'Awa' group. [ full story | comments ]

As rural Sri Lanka dries out, young farmers look for new job options

[ Reuters ][ Aug 16 17:29 GMT ]

Scorched by a 10-month drought that has killed crops and reduced residents to buying trucked-in water, Adigama’s young people are voting with their feet. At least 150 youth have left this agricultural village 170 km northwest of Sri Lanka’s capital since the drought began, looking for jobs in the country’s cities, or overseas, village officials say. Few are expected to come back, even when the rains end. “If they get the lowest paying job overseas, or in a garment factory, they will not return,” said Sisira Kumara, the main government administrative officer in the village of 416 families. [ full story | comments ]

Sri Lanka's Debt and China’s Money

[ Diplomat ][ Aug 16 17:13 GMT ]

The former Sri Lankan regime led by then-President Mahinda Rajapaksa is in part responsible for China’s growing ownership of Sri Lankan debt. Rajapaksa was not a popular leader amongst Western countries, but was a close ally of China, and was not hesitant to borrow from Beijing and invest in infrastructure projects. As the saying goes, “When money comes your way, do not ask questions.” Rajapaksa didn’t; the questions came later. The Hambantota port, a major portion of which was leased to China for 99 years, was one such infrastructure project financed by China and constructed during the Rajapaksa regime. It was not originally meant to be leased to Beijing, although it was constructed using debt obtained from China. [ full story | comments ]

Release the list of all those who surrendered or were detained during and after the war

[ Change ][ Aug 16 16:57 GMT ]

In the baking sun. Through the cold of night. Amid the dust and pollution of the roadside. And against the trials of old age, trauma, and sorrow. For approximately half a year, family members of those who disappeared during and after Sri Lanka’s civil war have been protesting continuously at various locations across the North and East of the country. This petition is in support of them. The protestors are seeking answers as to the fate and whereabouts of their loved ones, many of whom were disappeared during the war, including after being taken into the custody of the Sri Lankan authorities in its final stages and immediate aftermath (2008-2009). [ full story | comments ]

US Homeland Security staff return to Manus Island for resettlement interviews

[ ABC ][ Aug 16 16:49 GMT ]

Staff from the United States Department of Homeland Security have returned to Manus Island to interview refugees about resettlement in the US. Refugees in Australia's offshore detention centre on the island have been told that interviews will resume this week. Immigration authorities at the centre provided a notice to the men telling them only some will be interviewed. "Don't worry if you do not receive an appointment slip," the notice said. "Further visits are anticipated in the coming months. [ full story | comments ]

Sri Lanka ICTA head Muhunthan Canagey tenders resignation

[ LBO ][ Aug 14 15:18 GMT ]

Sri Lanka’s head of ICTA Muhunthan Canagey has resigned on Monday after a request from the president. “I have been asked to resign by His Excellency the President Maithripala Sirisena which was communicated to me by the Hon. Minister Harin Fernando,” he wrote in a letter to the board and staff. His resignation is over the issue of spectrum worth USD25 million being given to Maharaja’s without a public auction or tender. “As you all know I am a person who has built my career by pure hard work and maintained the highest levels of professionalism and integrity.” “I will never be part of aiding and abetting any fraud or corruption or delay in any implementation of Digitization in Sri Lanka.” [ full story | comments ]

Sri Lankan military officers on study tour

[ New Times ][ Aug 11 14:17 GMT ]

A delegation of students and staff from the Sri Lanka Defence Service Command and Staff College is in the country for a two-week geo-strategic international study tour. After visiting Kigali Genocide Memorial, the 16-person delegation headed to the Ministry of Defence where they were briefed on the roles and functions of Rwanda Defence Forces. Col. Kithsiri Ekanayake, who led the delegation, explained that Rwanda is a country Sri Lankans need to learn from. “Rwandan Defence Forces was established right after the 1994 Genocide. Within a period of 23 years, they developed professionally and made unique achievements that we can learn from,” he added. [ full story | comments ]

Sri Lanka foreign minister resigns over corruption chargesShihar Aneez and Ranga Sirilal

[ Reuters ][ Aug 11 13:50 GMT ]

Sri Lanka's foreign minister resigned on Thursday over corruption charges in an investigation of alleged irregularities in government bond sales, maintaining that he was not guilty of wrongdoing. The resignation of Ravi Karunanayake, a former finance minister, follows demands for his removal by both the government and the opposition, after the panel looking into the sales found his apartment rental was paid by an official being investigated. "I have never done anything wrong, and I resign with pride to create a new political culture in Sri Lanka and ensure good governance," Karunanayake told parliament in a statement after announcing his resignation. [ full story | comments ]

Why is only my father blamed? : Onella

[ Daily Mirror ][ Aug 04 15:11 GMT ]

Foreign Affairs Minister Ravi Karunanayake's daughter Onella has made an impassioned plea on her Facebook page asking why it was only her father to blame “in such a huge Government?”. “Just ask yourself? Why only one man’s name comes up all the time in such a huge government?” she asked, making comparison to her father's testimony. Minister Karunanayake while testifying at the Bond Commission also asked the same question from the Attorney General when questioned about the undated and un-referenced letter sent under his signature. “Why am I the only one to blame? There was collective responsibility,” he said. [ full story | comments ]

DCM Hilton opens US funded refurbished school in Jaffna

[ Sunday Times ][ Aug 04 15:03 GMT ]

Deputy Chief of Mission of US Embassy in Colomb Robert Hilton inaugurated a newly refurbished building at the Jaffna Hindu Ladies’ College on July31that that will support reconciliation and stabilization and provide girls in Jaffna with opportunity to study in a modern facility. Coordinating closely with the Sri Lanka Ministry of Education and the Northern Province Ministry of Education, the U.S. government invested 91 million rupees to build the three-story addition that will reach an additional 180 students. Chief Minister of the Northern Province C.V. Wigneswaran joined DCM Hilton and the principal of the College, Ms. M. Vimalanathan, in lighting the traditional oil lamp and cutting the ribbon on the new facilities. [ full story | comments ]

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