Saturday, October 24, 2009

No decision to close down Sri Lankan Airlines - Sri Lankan Chairman

Chairman,Sri Lankan Airlines, Nishantha Wickremesinghe today categorically refuted a statement in Parliament made by Opposition Leader,Ranil Wickremesinghe that attempts or decisions were being made to close down the national carrier, Sri Lankan.

Addressing a media conference in Colombo, Wickremesinghe pointed out that the Opposition Leader's reference to the Auditor General/s report was far from the truth.

Chief Executive Officer, Sri Lankan, Manoj Gunawardene stated that even at a time all airlines globally suffered a setback,the Sri Lankan Airline was placed in a stable position.

He said plans have been structured for future operations of the airline and there was a steady progress in the financial progress of the airline.

He noted that passenger had increased by 80 per cent last month and the revenue stood at a higher standard.

Explaining further, Gunawardena pointed out that flights to Europe have increased during the past fortnight while air travel to countries like Malaysia, India,Singapore and Maldives going up considerably." We plan to increase the number of flights to Milan',he added.

He added that with the restoration of peace, the number of tourist arrivals have increased creating a rapid development in air travel to the country."We are even prepared to lease out aircraft to meet the traffic", he noted.

>> Full Story

Friday, October 23, 2009

Sri Lanka war victims sue Rajaratnam in U.S. court

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Accused hedge fund billionaire Raj Rajaratnam and his family's foundation were sued in a U.S. court on Thursday over allegations that they provided $5 million to Tamil Tigers militants in his native Sri Lanka's civil war.

The lawsuit in U.S. District Court in New Jersey on behalf of 30 people who were victims or survivors of attacks by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam in the South Asian country's civil war said the money assisted "crimes against humanity."

Last Friday, Rajaratnam and five others were criminally charged by U.S. prosecutors and the FBI in New York in what they described as the biggest hedge fund insider trading case ever.
>> Full Story

You are on the threshold of a new beginning in life- President tells IDP families

You are moving on to a new life, in the company of family and friends. You will find new and welcome challenges of the future. My Government has done much to make your new life most acceptable to you, providing the needs for a quality of life to enhance your dignity as a person said President Mahinda Rajapaksa in a letter to each IDP family who are being resettled in the Vavuniya, Kilinochchi, Mannar and Mulativu Districts from today.

I am aware that the sufferings your family have undergone are many, and for very long too. These hardships were imposed on you and all other Tamil citizens who have suffered alike, by a ruthless organization that was committed to terror to achieve its narrow objectives, for which the Tamil people were made unwilling pawns. They claimed to be the liberators of the noble Tamil community. As their strategies began to fail, you were herded from place to place, and denied the food, medicine and other essentials that were sent for you. Your children, and even the elders among you, were compelled to carry arms for these forces of terror, the President said further.
>> Full Story

Thursday, October 22, 2009

UNP MP gets funds from Rajaratnam?

Colombo District UNP parliamentarian Ravi Karunanayake’s name is being mentioned about receiving funds from US based millionaire Raj Rajaratnam. He was arrested by the US Central Bureau of Investigations on allegations of defrauding the stock market, obtaining confidential information on corporate bodies illegally and also funding the LTTE front organization TRO to siphon off funds for the terrorist group before it was defeated in May.

Karunanayake and two others were indicted in the High Court of Colombo in connection with the transfer of US $ 3 million from USA to a bank account in Colombo violating the Exchange Control Act.

The trial had been fixed for hearing on February 2, 2010, by High Court Judge Deepali Wijesundara. International news networks including CNN said the hedging business conglomerate that Rajaratnam operated in the US had made access to confidential information of certain private sector companies and had made profits after studying the weaknesses of some of them. Rajaratnam was alleged to have provided US$ 3.5 million to the LTTE front.

>> Full Story

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

President opens flyover bridge at Dehiwala

Sri Lanka President Mahinda Rajapaksa and British High Commissioner Dr. Peter Hayes, ceremoniously opened the flyover bridge at Dehiwala Junction today.

The overpass, constructed to ease the traffic congestion on the main southern highway, Galle Road, at a cost of Rs.920 million was funded by the UK government.

Mabey and Johnson Company of the UK and Access Engineering Ltd in Sri Lanka constructed the 337-meter long and 7.35-meter wide two-lane flyover with the supervision of the Road Development Authority.

Ministers T.B. Ekanayaka, Susil Premajayantha, and A.H.M. Fowzie, Secretary to the President Lalith Weeratunga, and Secretary of Highways Ministry Admiral Wasantha Karannagoda were also present at the occasion.

>> Full Story

BOI signs Rs. 4 billion investment agreement with Unilever Sri Lanka

The Board of Investment of Sri Lanka granted investment approval to Unilever Sri Lanka Limited to set up a state-of-the-art manufacturing plant at the Horana Export Processing Zone. Dhammika Perera, Chairman / Director General signed the agreement on behalf of the BOI and formally presented the BOI Certificate of Registration to Mr. Amal Cabraal, Chairman of Unilever Sri Lanka.

The Rs. 4 billion investment agreement signed with Unilever Sri Lanka Limited is to establish its main manufacturing facility at Horana Export Processing Zone. The new state-of-the-art “green” manufacturing facility, established in a 26 acre area, will cater to the local demand and may also serve as a regional sourcing hub for Unilever.

As of today, Unilever Sri Lanka has 70 years of manufacturing history in this country and produces 95% of all the products it markets in Sri Lanka. This significant investment reflects Unilever’s commitment to its markets in Sri Lanka. The investment will ensure that Unilever will continue to provide Sri Lankan consumers with their favourite brands while adding substantially to the nation’s economy.
>> Full Story

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Eastern province experiencing massive development - President

Today the Eastern province is experiencing a massive development as a result of the "Negenahira Navodaya" programme (New Dawn in the East) and the establishment of the Provincial Councils protected the democratic rights of the people in the East, said President Mahinda Rajapaksa while stressing that protecting this victory over terrorism as an obligation of all citizens in this country.

The President pointed out this today (20) at the inauguration ceremony of the Kinniya bridge which is the longest bridge constructed in Sri Lanka across a lagoon linking Trincomalee with Kinniya, enabling civilians to cross the Kinniya lagoon to reach Kinniya and Muttur areas.

President Rajapaksa further said that there is no need to engage in communal politics in this country in the future and it is the responsibility of everyone to take intelligent decisions on behalf of the motherland.
>> Full Story

Monday, October 19, 2009

President launches the project of building Nine Stupas

President Mahinda Rajapaksa inaugurated the project of building Nine Stupas in the Nine Provincials today (19 Oct) at Anuradapura.

The President has pledged to mark the triumph over terror which had gripped the country for almost Three decades by building Nine Stupas in the Nine Provinces.

The Secretary of Defence, Heads of the Three Forces and several Ministers also participated at the occasion.

>> Full Story

We are always committed to defend our war heroes with dedication - President

Our war heroes fought to defend the Nation and we are always committed to defend them with dedication and we would never back down from that responsibility, said President Mahinda Rajapaksa addressing the gathering at the Central Province War Heroes’ felicitation at the Aluvihare temple premises in Matale.

In the face of many hardships, the people contributed to this victory without any differences. They correctly understood that we had launched a proper battle to defeat terrorism. Our mothers and fathers sacrificed their children to the armed forces, police and civil defence corps as never before seen in our history, he added

>> Full Story

From Hero to Zero: The Fonseka fallout

from Sunday Times Political Column

...Soon after he assumed office as Commander of the Army, Lt. Gen. Jayasuriya declared, at a meeting of officers that "though I was not rewarded then, I have now been rewarded by the highest in the land by President Mahinda Rajapaksa." During his parade to mark the Army's 60th anniversary, on October 10 Lt. Gen. Jayasuriya said, "I am happy that I made a contribution in the final phase of the humanitarian operation, as the Commander Security Forces of Wanni."

Lt. Gen. Jayasuriya added: "The leadership provided by President Mahinda Rajapaksa as the Commander in chief of the armed forces will go down in the history of the country. I wish to note that his promise given to the public and the dedication, which no other leader had helped to achieve this victory. We salute the Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa who has the experience in the battlefield for the guidance provided. We cannot forget the commands given by him which were implemented through the efficient officers on the field."

The third and perhaps the most significant element are references Gen. Fonseka made to Defence Secretary, Gotabhaya Rajapaksa. He said in the very last paragraph of his speech,"I wish to thank the President for the leadership and Defence Secretary for the necessary support provided to end the war which lasted against the LTTE for the last 30 years. I also thank the war heroes, their families and all people in the country."

Quite clearly, what he said about Lt. Col. (retd.) Rajapaksa was far from commensurate with what he (the Defence Secretary) had done. Some facts are well known whilst the others are less: In his first year in office, President Rajapaksa, had wanted to replace Gen. Fonseka. It was the Defence Secretary who fought tooth and nail to obtain for him an extension amidst severe pressure not to do so. It was the defence Secretary who was instrumental in putting together a team, with the support of his brother Basil Rajapaksa, that 'worked on' India and managed to turn them around. He was the one who was able to have a direct link with the Commander-in-chief and make requests on behalf of the Armed Forces, including the raising of the numbers almost by two-fold, and it was he who stood firm in the face of external pressures holding the President's not to yield. It would be grossly unfair to say the Defence Secretary just provided "necessary support" to end the war. It is well known he did much more.

The entire wherewithal needed for the war effort- both men and material - was provided by the Defence Secretary. His influence as the President's brother opened doors for him both in Sri Lanka and abroad. He made several secret missions abroad to ensure that the supply lines for the war effort continued without disruption. Without this, leave alone winning, but fighting a separatist war would not have been possible. He was also instrumental in having the armed forces commanders rewarded for their role in militarily defeating the guerrillas. Gen. Fonseka was given a prime plot of city land worth Rs 90 million. He also received a duty free vehicle said to be worth as much as Rs 40 million.

>> Full Story

Sunday, October 18, 2009

WSJ: Rajaratnam Surfaced in U.S. Terrorism Probe

WASHINGTON -- The hedge-fund billionaire charged as part of a vast insider-trading case surfaced in an earlier, separate probe into U.S. fundraising by a Sri Lankan terrorist group, people familiar with the probe said.

As part of that investigation, federal agents said they uncovered documents showing that Raj Rajaratnam, founder of the Galleon Group, was among several wealthy Sri Lankans in the U.S. whose donations to a Maryland-based charity made their way to the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, according to people familiar with the probe.

Raj Rajaratnam, the billionaire founder of Galleon Group, exits federal court in New York, U.S., on Friday. Rajaratnam was among six people charged in a $20 million insider trading scheme.

>> Full Story