M.I.A. speaks out against Australian asylum policy

Award winning musician ‘Maya' Mathangi Arulpragasam, better known as M.I.A., has spoken out against Australia’s policy on asylum seekers calling on the country to do more to help Tamil refugees. In an interview whilst in Australia, the Grammy and Oscar-nominated artist said, "I'd much rather take detention in Australia over detention in Sri Lanka because at least you're not going to be killed," "Letting people into Australia isn't going to kill anybody… Those people are not going back to a nice life. They're going to get tortured and they're going to basically live like prisoners and it's...

Male body found in well in Vavuniya

The body of a 68 year old man was found in a well in Marakkaarampalai on Saturday, reports Uthayan. It is believed to be that of Palaswamy Arunaasalam, who was reported missing after he set off towards Vavuniya on 2nd January. His body has been handed over to the police for a post-mortem and further investigation.

Gotabhaya to interview dual citizenship applicants

Applicants for dual citizenship will now have to face an interview panel led by none other than the Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, after having their application approved by the Immigration Department. The panel will also include the Foreign Ministry Secretary Karunatillake Amunugama and Public Administration Secretary PB Abeykoon. Amunugama said , "The panel will look into criteria such as the applicant’s professional qualifications, investment capacity and the need to obtain dual citizenship. Many of the people who are seeking dual citizenship have left the country in their youth...

Japanese govt pledges aid for flood affected

The Japanese government has pledged approximately 23 million Japanese Yen in donations for those affected by the floods. The assistance includes tents, plastic sheets and sleeping pads and will be distributed by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). In a statement, the Japanese embassy said : "The People and the Government of Japan sincerely hope that this aid would contribute to improving the humanitarian situation in the affected areas, and that this disaster will be under control as early as possible."

Govt grapples with defaulting foreign investors

In an effort to deal with the increasing number of foreign investors who are defaulting on loans from state banks, the Sri Lankan government has pledged an investigation - an international one. According to Lokuge, ten garment manufacturing factories have had to close in Biyagama, Nittambuwa and Katunayake investment zones resulting in over Rs. 5 billion in losses to state banks. The Sri Lankan Labour minister Gamini Lokuge will meet with Mahinda Rajapaksa next week to discuss what action needs to be taken.

Military makes up for 'lack of teachers' in Kilinochchi

The Sri Lankan Army has denied allegations that soldiers teach wearing military uniform in Kilinochchi schools, reports the Daily Mirror. Military spokesperson, Ruwan Wanigasuriya said that the troops who had been called in to make up for the 'lack of teachers' in the area were given appropriate training and also contracted to work in civilian clothing and not military uniforms. He also claimed that the current situation was 'temporary' and soldiers had undertaken the work in 'good faith'.

Mutilated body of young woman found in Karainagar

The mutilated body of a 27 year old woman was found in a disused well in Karainagar on Thursday reports Uthayan. The body is believed to be that of Kajenthini Rasathurai, a young woman from Sandilipai with mental health concerns. According to Uthayan , Kajenthini Rasathurai was picked up by Vaddukottai police from Karainagar temple on 7th December, after locals expressed concerns the day before. The vulnerable young woman, who was seen to be with police officers till 1am, was later reported missing.

Media ministry demands registration from websites

The Sri Lankan media ministry has sent letters to websites, asking them to register and pay the fee by January 15, reported ColomboPage. New regulations, brought in by the government last year, stipulate that websites on the island need to register and pay registration fees of Rs 25,000 and an annual fee of Rs 10,000.

It's all about China

Basil Rajapakse, Minister of Economic Development, recently told media that a number of promotional campaigns targetting Chinese tourists will be implemented this year. The ministry expects to increase the number of arrivals from China to 60,000 - up from over 22,000 in 2012 - in 2013, and so has launched several campaigns to raise 'awareness' about Sri Lanka's many tourist 'attractions'. Planned campaigns include special holiday packages during Chinese New Year, bus advertising campaigns and a three day 'Sri Lanka Night'.

'Voluntary' key to refugee return says UN refugee chief

In an interview with The Hindu, Antonio Guterres, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, highlighted the need to re-establish the confidence of Tamils so that they may return, whilst making a point of stressing that this return must be voluntary. See full interview here. Extracts reproduced below: "The number of people going back to Sri Lanka has decreased substantially in the recent past. We need to look into what are the obstacles and how the two governments of India and Sri Lanka, working together can improve the conditions and create opportunities for the voluntary repatriation of the people. Voluntary is the key word here."