Saturday, August 1, 2009

Remembering Prof.Kodagaoda

The Deshamanya Nandadasa Kodagoda 12th Memorial Oration will be held on Monday the 3rd August 2009 at 5.30pm at the Sri Lanka Foundation Institute, Colombo 7. This public event is organized by the Nandadasa Kodagoda Memorial Trust to commemorate the 12th death anniversary of the late Deshamanya Professor Nandadasa Kodagoda.

Professor Nandadasa Kodagoda a well known emeritus professor in Forensic Medicine, was a one time Vice Chancellor of the University of Colombo, Dean of the Faculty of Medicine for two terms, and the Chairman of the National Dangerous Drugs Control Board also for two terms. He was a well known mass communicator, who actively engaged health awareness programmes and in alcohol, tobacco and drugs prevention work. He was the founder Chairman of the Alcohol and Drug Information Centre (ADIC).

The 12th Memorial Oration will be delivered by the Minister of Disaster Management and Human Rights Hon. Mahinda Samarasinghe, MP, on “Challenges facing Sri Lanka following the successful conclusion of the humanitarian operation”.

The general public is invited by the memorial trust to participate at this event.

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Sri Lanka’s Inflation Held Near Five-Year Low in July

By Anusha Ondaatjie

July 31 (Bloomberg) -- Sri Lanka’s inflation held near a five-year low in July, giving the central bank more room to cut interest rates.

Consumer prices in the capital, Colombo, rose 1.1 percent from a year earlier after gaining 0.9 percent in June, the statistics agency said on its Web site today.

The Central Bank of Sri Lanka on July 13 kept interest rates unchanged, waiting to see if three reductions in borrowing costs this year are enough to stoke an economic revival after the end of almost three decades of civil war. The bank this month raised its 2009 growth forecast to as much as 4.5 percent from an earlier estimate of 2.5 percent.

“Commodity prices are unlikely to offer the same cushion they provided to consumer prices at the onset of the global slowdown,” said Shivantha Meepage, senior analyst at Acuity Stockbrokers Pvt. in Colombo. “The expected economic recovery following the end of the war and the lag effect of the central bank’s relaxed monetary stance would also create demand-side pressures towards the latter part of this year.”
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National Post editorial board: Reconciliation on hold in Sri Lanka

During the recent military campaign in Sri Lanka, this newspaper was broadly sympathetic to the Sri Lankan government's goal of confronting and subduing the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE, also known as the Tamil Tigers), the guerilla-cum-terrorist force seeking to carve out a Tamil homeland in the northern and eastern parts of Sri Lanka. As in any war, there were civilian casualties -- but we urged our readers to keep in mind the fact that the LTTE was using hundreds of thousands of Tamil civilians as human shields, and so it -- not the government -- was primarily responsible for their deaths.

But the war in Sri Lanka is now over: The Tamil Tigers' last remaining forces were destroyed by the Sri Lankan military in May, and the group's leader, Velupillai Prabhakaran, was killed.
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Friday, July 31, 2009

Over 400,000 devotees expected to visit Madhu Shrine

Over 400,000 devotees are expected to visit to the Shrine of Our Lady of Madhu in Mannar to attend its annual feast. The Uthuru Vasanthaya task force in collaboration with the security forces and police has made elaborate arrangements to provide all facilities needed to cater to the pilgrims visiting the Madhu shrine to attend the annual feast, said Administrator of the Madhu church Rev. Fr. Desmond Kulas.

"Now all obstacles have been cleared, roads rehabilitated and the church well spruced up to ensure a grand and peaceful feast this year", he said.

The 12 km access road to the shrine which was in a dilapidated state is now being rehabilitated for the feast. The Government has also allocated Rs. 2 million to rehabilitate and refurbish the Madhu Post Office.
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Fishermen Scoop Up Sri Lanka’s Peace Dividend

TRINCOMALEE, Sri Lanka — It was just after dawn and the fish market beneath this port city’s clock tower was humming. Fishermen shouldering baskets laden with the night’s catch tipped their Spanish mackerel, tuna and prawns onto the slick concrete floor for buyers. Sweaty men with clipboards and wads of cash leaned in close to inspect with crinkled noses, squinting eyes and prodding fingers.

“I’ll take this for 500 rupees a kilo,” nearly $5, one buyer said to an expectant fisherman, waving his chin in the direction of a large, glistening yellowfin tuna. “Can you get me more?”
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Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Three valiant Brigadiers in the Humanitarian operation promoted in rank

The Army announced yesterday (July 29) that Brigadier Prasanna De Silva, Brigadier Shavendra Silva and Brigadier Chargie Gallage, who played a key role in the recent battle against the LTTE have been promoted to the rank of Major General.

A battle hardened Infantry Officer Major General Prasanna Silva initially commanded the troops in the Mavil Aru battle and to liberate Vakarai in the year 2006 and 2007. He was later appointed as the General Officer Commanding of the 55 Division in Jaffna to command his troops to capture Nagarkovil, Kudarappu, Chempionpattu in the Eastern coast of the Jaffna Peninsula.

Later he commanded the 55 Division to capture Chundikulam and Chalai to capture the entire North Eastern coast up to Mullaitivu North. During the final battle in the Mullaitivu North Brigadier Prasanna Silva commanded the troops to capture Vadduvakkal causeway clearing the path for the civilians to escape towards military controlled area.

Major General Chargie Gallage, first commanded the commando troops in the Thoppigala liberation operation which was considered the pinnacle of the Eastern liberation operation. He was later appointed as the Task Force I commander and commanded his troops to capture Silavatura in September 2007. Later he was appointed as the Director Training of the Army Headquarters.

He was specially sent to 59 Division to overlook the operational matters. It was under his supervision the troops expanded Forward Defences in the entire Mullaitivu front which had helped greatly to lay siege on the last terrain of the LTTE in Mullaitivu North leaving no room for the LTTE to escape into Mullaitivu. Presently he serves as the GOC of the Army's 53 Division.

Major General Shavendra Silva was first appointed as the Commander of the Task Force I which was later elevated as the 58 Division, that was the second offensive Division to join the Vanni liberation operation.

He commanded his troops from the Mannar towards the Pooneryn to fully liberate the North Western coast from the clutches of the LTTE having captured major Sea Tiger bases Vidathalthivu, Iluppakadaval Nachchikuda, Iranativ, Devil's Point to reach Pooneryn.

Then he commanded his troops to advance along the Pooneryn-Paranthan road to capture Paranthan junction with the dawn of the year 2009 and later captured key strongholds of the LTTE Kilinochchi and Elephant Pass and to reach the North Eastern coast having capturing Tharmapuram, Visuamadu and Puthukudiyiruppu.

His highest achievement came on April 20, 2009 as he commanded his troops along with the Commando and Special Forces troops to liberate 117,000 people trapped inside the No Fire Zone and to contribute towards the last battle in Karyanmullivaikkal in the Mullaitivu North in which the Tiger leader Velupillai Prabhakaran was killed.

Presently he serves as the Director-Operations at Army Headquarters.
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Health conditions improving in IDP camps - WHO

Disease surveillance activities in the welfare centres in Northern Sri Lanka continue to improve, the World Health Organization (WHO) said in a recent report.

According to the WHO there were few cases of measles and mumps but no new cases have been reported from the IDP sites.

The Ministry of Health (MoH) and WHO remain vigilant about emerging and re-emerging diseases among IDPs and other health issues such as malaria, dengue, and tuberculosis (TB) as well as H1N1 infections. The MoH has a very comprehensive health information gathering system in the camps through the Cheddikulam coordination centre. Therefore the MoH is tracking the morbidity and mortality patterns amongst the IDP population, and responding immediately as needed, WHO said.

The Ministry has also established new immunization guidelines in the camps for children and the health workers, it said.

WHO said the Sri Lankan government has developed a 180-day plan for rehabilitation and resettlement of IDPs. Based on this, the Health Ministry has also developed its own plans for the rehabilitation and reconstruction of the health facilities in the North.

WHO along with other organizations including UNICEF, UNFPA, IOM, ICRC, MSF (Holland), MTI, Handicap International, Muslim Aid, Sarvodaya, SewaLnaka, MercyMalasiya, and CARE International assured assistance to Health Ministry's efforts to provide health care services to the IDPs.
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Bahrain commends President’s lead in defeating terrorism

The defeat of terrorism in Sri Lanka under the leadership of President Mahinda Rajapaksa was both admirable and commendable, as well as an example to other countries facing this threat to freedom today, said the Bahrain Prime Minister Shaikh Khalifa Bin Salman Al-Khalifa at the meeting with President Mahinda Rajapaksa at the Presidential Secretariat, today, July 29.

The Prime Minister of Bahrain made these observations when President Mahinda Rajapaksa apprised him of the situation in Sri Lanka after the defeat of terrorism and current steps being taken to resettle and rehabilitate more than 280000 persons internally displaced following the humanitarian military operations to defeat terrorism.

President Rajapaksa described the many steps being taken by the Sri Lankan government, together with United Nations and international relief organizations, to expedite the resettlement and rehabilitation of the IDPs, and the massive reconstruction work involved in this process. He said the government was working to a plan to resettle these people expeditiously and also provide them with suitable livelihood opportunities.

The Prime Minister of Bahrain appreciated the work being done for resettlement of the IDPs and the manner in which the government of Sri Lanka was proceeding with reconstruction in a large area of the country, destroyed by terrorism.

He said that Bahrain would have discussions with other countries of the region as well as the larger world community to keep them informed of the commendable work being done by Sri Lanka and the need to give assistance to Sri Lanka for this purpose.

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Sri Lanka to chair Group of Fifteen

B. Muralidhar Reddy
COLOMBO: Sri Lanka has accepted the Chairmanship of the ‘Group of Fifteen’, a coalition of 18 developing countries established to develop potential for greater and mutually beneficial cooperation among developing countries, especially in the areas of investment, trade and technology, Colombo said here on Tuesday.

The Foreign Ministry said the nation was invited by her predecessor, Iran, to take over the chair at a “critical time in the global economic and financial environment”.

The Group was conceived as a small cohesive body of developing countries, whose composition was fairly representative of the diverse levels of economic development and interests of all developing countries.
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Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Sigiriya Museum a treasured gift from Japan - President

As a nation we believe in providing our people the opportunity to view all things of historical value. Therefore the donation of this museum from Japan to the people of Sri Lanka is a gift to our tradition of protecting and viewing the treasures of history, said President Mahinda Rajapaksa addressing the opening ceremony of newly constructed Sigiriya Museum, today, July 28.

Since independence Japan has contributed much to help us rise as a free nation. They have helped us to protect our sovereignty. The Japanese are a courageous nation. We have a strong friendship with them as Asians.

Japan is also assisting us in carrying out the major development work in the North, after the defeat of terrorism, the President said.

President Rajapaksa thanked the former Prime Minister of Japan Mr. Yasuo Fukuda for his presence this occasion and for the Japan’s gesture of friendship in funding of the Sigiriya Museum which will preserve for our people and to foreign visitors the treasures of this historic site, which is also one of several World’s Heritage sites in Sri Lanka.
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Monday, July 27, 2009

Sri Lanka to Focus 2010 Budget on Rebuilding After Civil War

July 27 (Bloomberg) -- Sri Lanka plans to focus spending in the government’s 2010 budget on rebuilding areas liberated from Tamil Tiger rebels after the end of 26 years of civil war.

“Improving living conditions and restoration of economic activities through accelerated resettlement, rehabilitation and reconstruction programs” will be given priority, the Ministry of Finance said in its budget circular to ministries and other state institutions.

The ministry called for better utilization of “foreign resources” and containment of recurrent expenditure to help narrow the budget deficit to 6.6 percent of gross domestic product in 2010 from an estimated 7 percent this year.

President Mahinda Rajapaksa will in November present the government’s 2010 budget after ending the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelams’ quest for a separate homeland with record defense spending. The International Monetary Fund and Asian Development Bank last week announced increased lending to Sri Lanka to help revive the war-ravaged east and north of the island.
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IMF defends Sri Lanka loan amid human rights worries

WASHINGTON, July 27 (Reuters) - The International Monetary Fund defended a $2.6 billion loan to Sri Lanka on Monday saying it is aware of human rights concerns by donors but the funding is needed to prevent a devastating balance of payments crisis.

The loan was approved by the IMF board on Friday with opposition from several countries including the United States, Britain, Germany, France and Argentina, which expressed concern at human rights abuses in Sri Lanka.

"In Sri Lanka's case they have been hit by the global crisis and the IMF's mandate is to address and ward off balance of payments crises," IMF mission chief to Sri Lanka, Brian Aitken told reporters on a conference call.

"The balance of payments crisis sounds rather dry but it really would have a devastating impact on the economy and on the people, particularly the most vulnerable," he added.

Aitken said the IMF was in regular contact with humanitarian groups and diplomats over human rights worries.
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CPA and other NGOs had no interest in next of kin of deceased - Commission Report

Conspiracy by counsel to discredit the commission
The justice Udalagama Presidential Commission (COI) report on human rights violations, in its recently released report, states that NGOs such as the Centre for Policy Alternatives and INFORM etc., "were more interested in satisfying their paymasters'', the foreign INGO ACF (....whose employees, 17 aid workers were shot and killed, which was one subject of the commission investigation....) "than securing compensation for the victims.''

The commission report cites in detail the subterfuge of the NGOs such as the Centre for Policy Alternatives, which in furtherance of their "well known'' agendas are alleged, according to the commission report, to have had a one-track objective, which was to "attempt to discredit every possible institution and authority of this country before the Commission, and attempt to hold one party responsible for the gruesome crime. ''

The commission report states that the Centre for Policy Alternatives etc., went to great lengths to discredit the security forces, and was not interested in finding who was responsible for the crime except to pin it on their "targeted group."

At one point the commission report states that "it appears from the above that there had been a preconceived plan or a conspiracy to discredit the Commission by making false allegations and or exaggerating and twisting the truth to suit their purpose in order to achieve the long term objective of interested parties including their paymasters to discredit and disrupt the Commission for the consumption of some of the international organizations.''

In a stinging indictment on counsel who appeared for the NGOs such as CPA, the report states at one point ".....false positions were) taken by Counsel who withdrew from the Commission thereafter, which enables them to make irresponsible statements and then run away.''

Pinpointing various instances where "counsel repeatedly took up matters obviously to cater to other interests'' the report states that the counsel for these NGOs had a "conflict of interests'', manifest by a "narrow outlook'' to pin the blame on the security forces. Counsel are also faulted for 'making wild allegations'' at various times, and at times against the officers of the Commission to discredit their credibility. Below are some of the relevant extracts of the Report:
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Sunday, July 26, 2009

Uthuru Vasanthaya, a trust building exercise

The Uthuru Vasanthaya rebuilding and rehabilitation program of the North was a trust building exercise that had to go a long way but the response from the people in the North was encouraging District Secretary Jaffna K. Ganesh told the Daily News yesterday.

Senior Presidential Advisor and Parliamentarian Basil Rajapaksa who is also the Chairman of the Uthuru Vasanthaya was in Jaffna yesterday to review the progress of the program and to remedy any shortcomings, official sources said.

Transportation, education, road development and other infrastructure development work that had started under the Vadikkal Vasantham or Northern Spring had brought confidence to people in Jaffna and it had started to benefit Sri Lankans in the North and South and other parts of the country as well, senior official said.

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