Land laws to be amended to 'exclude conflict period'

The land laws are to be amended to exclude the past 30 years, citing the armed conflict. Justifying the move, Justice Minister Rauff Hakeem said , “When we try to resettle some people we find that their lands have been occupied by others, who have resided in these areas for more than ten years, during the conflict. Therefore we are in the process of amending the law to exclude the conflict period.”

Chinese hit back at power plant criticisms

The Chinese engineers who constructed the faltering Norochcholai power plant have struck back at criticism of the plant, stating the Sri Lankans have not been following proper maintenance practice. Zhao Wenxue, from the Northwest Electric Design Institute that designed the plant labelled the accusations as unfair, stating , "The Norochcholai coal power plant is not as bad as one makes it look. It is just overused, tired and needs a break to rest like any other equipment does." " The plant was forced to work beyond its required limits and keep supplying electricity to the whole country.” "Questioning the quality of the equipment used in the project and pointing fingers at China Machinery Engineering Corporation is without basis.” " According to normal practice in China, a thermal plant should undergo a one month maintenance period annually… Only then can the unit be more reliable and efficient and expected to perform well. "

Sri Lanka to receive over $1 billion in loans from China

The Sri Lankan cabinet has approved proposals by the government to obtain loans from China totalling over $1 billion. Minister of Finance and Planning Mahinda Rajapakse, who is also President, Minister of Defence, Minister of Ports and Aviation, and Minister of Highways and Road Development, forwarded the proposals to the cabinet. The loans, financed by China’s Exim Bank, will be used to fund the second phase of the Hambantota Harbour project in Rajapakse’s home town, and the southern rail line expansion project. See here who benefits from Chinese loans to Sri Lanka . Another Chinese project...

Sri Lanka’s ‘glorious’ revival

Delivering the keynote address at a university symposium, Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa claimed that Sri Lanka was experiencing a “national revival that will restore it to its rightful place on the world stage” and that the government’s challenge was to “facilitate this resurgence”. Of course, the Defence Secretary need not have worried. With the government’s capacity to protect and foster Sinhala Buddhist nationalism , Sri Lanka will ensure its rightful place on the receiving end of international criticism. Asserting that “several international agencies, Non Governmental Organisations...

Indian fishermen – ‘Government has let us down’

The South Indian Fishermen Welfare Association has lamented the lack of action by the Indian government, after 6 more Indian fishermen alleged that they were attacked by the Sri Lankan Navy on Wednesday. K.Bharathi, President, South Indian Fishermen Welfare Association told India Today , "This government has let us down. Look at the behavior of the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. When Sikhs were killed in a shootout in the US he immediately took action. But here even after the repeated atrocities nothing had been done. He is a PM for all of us, then why he behaves like that?" The further...

UN - ‘Significant unmet humanitarian needs in North’

Marking World Humanitarian Day, the United Nations has stated that there is still much more that needs to be done in the North, at a ceremony in Sri Lanka. UN Humanitarian Resident Coordinator Subinay Nandy told an audience, “ There remain significant unmet humanitarian needs among communities in the north. These range from basic assistance such as clean water, shelter and food security in resettled areas to more sophisticated issues such as sustainable assistance to obtain livelihoods, rights and return to more normal life as part of durable solutions on par with international standards ”. Acknowledging that Sri Lanka received more than $1 billion in humanitarian assistance from 2006 , and $89.9 million from the UN in 2011 , Nandy said that contributions were now beginning to dwindle and called for more. However, simply throwing money at the problem will not make it disappear. See our comment from Dec 2010: ' The state is the main obstacle to developing Tamil areas '

Government shuts down universities

The Sri Lankan government has shut down most universities on the island, after an ongoing row over government interference saw widespread strikes by teachers. The Minister for Higher Education S.B. Dissanayake announced the decision after consultation with university officials not involved in the trade union action and accused the FUTA (Federation of University Teachers Association) of trying to provoke a political crisis in order to get regime change. He said the government had already met five of FUTA’s six demands, but their spokesman denied this. Mahim Mendis told the BBC that the "...

Claiming the moral high ground

The actions of the French tourists posing with a statue of the Buddha , have led to much outcry. The police spokesperson, Ajith Rohana told AFP: " If we had not arrested them and prosecuted them, they would have taken the pictures abroad, published them and gloated ." "They had not only broken Sri Lankan law, but they have also violated universally accepted norms of respecting religious symbols of others . We condemn this and urge tourists not to make religious offence."

GL Peiris briefs Japan on the ‘reconciliation’ process

The representative of the Japanese government for peace building, rehabilitation and reconstruction in Sri Lanka, Yasushi Akashi, held discussions with External Affairs minister, GL Peiris, to review the progress of the reconciliation process and other issues related to the conflict. Peiris briefed Akashi on the measures taken by the government on the reconciliation process, including the launch of the trilingual language capability initiative, the appointment of an all part Parliamentary select committee to address issues, the resettlement of internally displaced persons, the infrastructure...

Tourists convicted for insulting Buddhism

Three French tourists have been handed down suspended jail terms for taking allegedly insulting photographs with a Buddha statue. Police were alerted after a photographic laboratory in Galle discovered photos of the tourists offensively posing with the statues, including imitating the pose of the Buddha and pretending to kiss one of them. A magistrate sentenced two women and a man to six months in prison with hard labour, suspended for five years, and also levied a fine. The conviction came under a section which outlaws the intention to wound or insult “the religious feelings of any class or...