Ministry of Defence to oversee acquired businesses

After the appointment of “Competent Authorities” to handle the running of 37 enterprises taken over by the government, it has now been announced that the Defence and Urban Development Ministry will oversee five of these institutions. The move comes as the government appointed several different ministries to oversee the running of the “ Competent Authorities ” and the enterprises they are now running. The other enterprises will be handled by other ministries, namely the Ministry of Economic Development, the Ministry of Productivity Promotion and the Ministry of Finance and Planning. The “...

Diaspora groups pledge to continue fight for justice in 2012

Tamil diaspora organisations across the world pledged " renewed commitment to work together to bring justice and peace " to Tamils in Sri Lanka, in a statement released to coincide with the new year. Reiterating their united stance against the " pogroms, war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide " faced by the Tamil nation at the hands of the Sri Lankan government, they resolved to continue the campaign for an independent, international investigation into crimes committed during the armed conflict. The full list of signatories included: Australian Tamil Congress, British Tamil Conservatives, British Tamil Forum, Canadian Tamil Congress, Center for War Victims & Human Rights (Canada), Global Tamil Forum, Ilankai Tamil Sangam (USA), Maison du Tamil Eelam (France), National Council of Canadian Tamils, Norwegian Council of Eelam Tamils, Swedish Tamils Forum, Tamils For Labour, Tamils For Obama, Tamil Forum Malaysia, Thamil Creative Writers Association (Canada), Transnational Government of Tamil Eelam, United States Tamil Political Action Council and USA World Thamil Organization.

‘Political pressure’ leads to uncontested cricket board elections

Elections for the Sri Lankan Cricket board ended farcically, after all opponents bar one withdrew from the first elections held for seven years. The only post that was contested was for that of assistant treasurer. Mohan de Silva, one of the candidates for vice-president, told reporters that along with other opposition candidates, "We were carrying out a successful campaign in the beginning until we came under political pressure ." He went on to say , "Most of our member clubs and associations brought to our notice that there was undue pressure put on them to change the delegates [who would vote]." "This is not an election held for a government institution. This is an independent institution. So it becomes a farce. Therefore all of us decided this election is not conducted in a free and fair manner. " "We had a lot of hope that we are returning to democracy with the election. But all that hope is shattered." Businessman Upali Dharmadasa, who was president of Sri lanka Cricket (SLC) from 1996-1998, was re-elected to the post on Tuesday after the other candidate Thilanga Sumathipala withdrew at the last minute. A source told AFP that, "Thilanga was hoping to lead SLC, but he did not have the blessings of the government and without that he did not want to be a candidate." Sri Lanka Cricket has been under pressure from the International Cricket Council to hold elections, after issuing a directive calling for all national boards to have held independent elections free from political interference, before June 2012. Since 2004, Sri Lanka Cricket has been run by nine interim committees, all of which have been government appointed.

Reaching for the stars...

Sri Lanka will today sign an agreement to build the tallest tower in South Asia. The Lotus Tower Building will be 350 metres tall and situated in the heart of Colombo. The tower will provide ‘facilities for 50 television services, 50 broadcasting services and ten telecommunication providers’. It will be 11 storeys high and a revolving restaurant will take up the fourth floor. Construction will be managed by a government-owned company, run by the Telecommunication Regulatory Commission. The proposed tower will be financed by Chinese state-owned Exim Bank, which will provide a $100 million loan.

More rape incidents of tourists emerge

Following an “attempted rape” of a 23-year old Swedish tourist in Negombo, further details of rape and sexual harassment of foreign tourists in Sri Lanka in the last few months have been revealed by the Sunday Times . According to an eyewitness , during the murder of 32-year old British tourist, Shaikah Zaman, his Russian girlfriend was also raped, with the eyewitness commenting the attackers, " stripped and raped her mercilessly although she was bleeding from her head. Later I saw Zaman [British tourist] lying on the lawn next to the restaurant but did not know whether he was dead or alive...

'Tanglish' Gaana song goes viral

‘Why this kolaveri di?’, a song sung almost exclusively in 'Tanglish' (a mix of Tamil and English) to a Gaana backdrop, has become a worldwide viral sensation. Posted on Youtube on the 16th November it has been viewed over 30 million times. Appealing to Tamil youth and youth across the world, the song was spread rapidly through social networks, with the hashtag, #kolaveri, being the most popular Indian trends on Twitter. The speed of its success led to the video receiving Youtube's, 'Recently Most Popular Gold Medal Award' in early December 2011, and being named CNN's 'Top Song of 2011' . [...

Teacher trade unions unite against transfer scheme

Three of the most prominent teacher trade unions, the Ceylon Tamil Teachers Association, Ceylon Democratic Teachers Union and Ceylon Islamic Teachers Association, came together against the proposed transfer scheme in the East, reported Tamilnet . In a letter to the Eastern Provincial Minister of Education, Wimalaweera Dissanayake, the trade unions protested that they had not been consulted on the transfers made till now, and ultimately the transfer scheme would violate their 'fundamental rights', as well being set up on a racial basis.

Sri Lanka denies Indian pressure

The head of the Sri Lankan delegation currently in talks with the Tamil National Alliance has denied it is under pressure from India to devolve power to the provinces. Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva told BBC Sinhala the agreement to discuss land and police powers, an ‘apparent u-turn’ from their previous position, has nothing to do with influences by other countries. "No no no no, there was no pressure. Neither India nor other country can dictate how our country is governed ," he said in response to a question by BBC Sandeshaya. The government, he said, is " always prepared to discuss land...

Waiting on the King's whim

The past few days have seen rumours that General Sarath Fonseka, sentenced for implicating the defence secretary in war crimes , would receive a pardon from Sri Lanka's president, Mahinda Rajapaksa. The reports, said to have emerged from the Presidential Secretariat sources, alleged that the pardon would be announced on New Years Day. According to the country's constitution, the president can “grant a pardon, either free or subject to lawful conditions, grant any respite, either indefinite or such period as the President may think fit". No such presidential pardon materialised.

Genocide continues unabated

Writing in The Platform , Mario Arulthas a member of the TYO UK (Tamil Youth Organisation UK) argues that the end of the armed conflict has not brought peace, but instead as the ruling regime "attempts to consolidate the Sinhala-Buddhist fascism that has plagued the island for decades", the genocide of Tamils "continues unabated". " Two and a half years have passed since the armed conflict between the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam and the Government of Sri Lanka ended, but Tamils have seen neither justice nor freedom from the Sri Lankan state’s deliberate and systematic destruction of the...