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Appoint PSC to look into fire on X-Press Pearl ship: Ranil tells Govt

Jun 7 (DM) UNP leader and former PM Ranil Wickremesinghe called for the appointment of a Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) to look into the fire on the X-Press Pearl. "The ship arrived in the outer harbor of Colombo on the night of May 19. On the 20th of May our crew entered the ship. There they learned that there was a fire in the container boxes containing the chemicals stored on the ship. By May 25, the MEPA had informed more..

Special colour coded stickers to mark essential services vehicles

Jun 7 (AD) Sri Lanka Police has announced a colour coded sticker system to mark essential service personnel, as a means to fast-track vehicle checks being carried out at checkpoints at all entry points into Colombo. As such 11 differently coloured stickers will be used from tomorrow (June 07) to designate the different sectors engaged in essential services. The stickers will be valid until the end of the travel restriction period allowing only the number of persons specified in the stickers to travel. more..

Gampaha respiratory ward armed with sophisticated HDU

Jun 7 (ST) Remember the mass outpouring of support to the beleaguered men, women and children living along the coastal belt soon after the tsunami struck in December 2004! As the country is battered by a different kind of tsunami – COVID-19 – that fount of generosity came to the fore once again. Here the Sunday Times turns the spotlight on Gampaha which aptly blossomed and bore fruit on the thrice-blessed day of Vesak – Wednesday, May 26. The project to upgrade the HDU more..

Controversy over proposal to merge Litro with debt-ridden LAUGFS

Jun 7 (ST) A Govt proposal for State-owned Litro Gas Lanka Ltd to buy 40% equity in the private LAUGFS Gas Terminal Int'l Company (LGTIC) that operates a tank farm in Hambantota will go to Cabinet for approval tomorrow amidst controversy. The public-private partnership (PPP) deal reported exclusively in the Sunday Times last week, is seen by critics as the Govt bailing out LAUGFS whose terminal project has incurred more..

Shippers’ Council voices concerns over X-Press Pearl catastrophe

Jun 7 (FT) The SL Shippers’ Council (SLSC) has expressed concerns over the X-Press Pearl catastrophe, the extent of which is so far said to be minimal to trade but significant overall to the country. It also called for a thorough and impartial investigation into this incident, particularly one that keeps politics and geopolitics aside, so that justice will prevail. In a statement, SLSC Chairman Suren Abeysekera said the ill-fated ship was carrying many imports to the country, including more..

Data recovered as ship with chemicals sinking off Sri Lanka

Jun 7 (AP) Experts recovered the data recorder of a fire-ravaged ship carrying chemicals that is slowly sinking off SL’s capital, as salvage crews stood by to head off a possible environmental disaster, officials said Sunday. Singapore-flagged MV X-Press Pearl started sinking Wednesday, a day after authorities extinguished a fire that raged on the vessel for 12 days. Efforts to tow the ship into deeper waters away from the port in Colombo had failed after the ship’s stern became submerged/rested on seabed. more..

Quarantine measures for arriving Sri Lankans, dual citizens revised

Jun 7 (AD) Ministry of Health today (6) announced the revised quarantine measures for Sri Lankans and dual citizens arriving in the country. The new quarantine measures specified in the guidelines will accordingly be effective for Sri Lankans and dual citizens who departs for SL two weeks after obtaining the recommended doses of COVID-19 vaccines (fully vaccinated) and for those who own a residence in Sri Lanka to undergo more..

SLTDA to highlight Tourism investment projects, FDI support programmes

Jun 7 (Island) Sri Lanka Tourism will be one of the key sectors highlighted at the upcoming SL Investment Forum (SLIF) 2021, the first and largest virtual investor forum in the region scheduled to be held from 7th to 9th June 2021. Opportunities for investments in the tourism sector will be one of the key areas of the forum among 50+ sessions scheduled to reach across two time zones. SL Tourism is participating in the forum to promote and position the island as the perfect destination more..

Fair bit of foreign buying from non-resident Sri Lankans

Jun 7 (ST) As far back as one would recall, the Colombo Stock Exchange (CSE) has had a net foreign outflow. While foreign investors are cashing out, non-resident Sri Lankans keep on buying, albeit in small quantities. For a Rs. 3 billion a day turnover, their contribution is a mere 2% but stockbrokers said that something is better than nothing. ”Many are salaried professionals from West Asia. Those in countries like Qatar, Oman, and Dubai are sending money to SL regularly now and more..

Postal services come to a near standstill

Jun 7 (ST) SL postal services during the pandemic, has come to a near standstill although post offices and sub-post offices countrywide have been reopened for limited services including elders’ payments, and distribution of medicines, officials said. This has resulted in a loss of income of between Rs. 1 to 2 billion for the year ending Mar 31, 2021. Normally the Postal Department incurs an annual loss of around Rs. 6 billion while more..

Major flaws in PCR testing process

Jun 7 (ST) The findings of a study by the Epidemiology Unit of the Health Ministry, Sunday Times learnt, have caused serious concerns at the highest levels of the Govt. The main finding — 91 percent of the tests for COVID-19 victims were Exit PCRs. The process is explained by health officials as follow-up tests ten days after a person in a household is confirmed afflicted with the coronavirus. Such tests, they point out, should have been carried out in 21 days instead, more..

Cricket Contracts: Deadlocked

Jun 7 (ST) The dispute over national cricket contracts took a fresh turn yesterday with players standing firm on a refusal to sign any form of agreement–central or tour–until their demand for transparency is met. Their decision came just three days before team’s scheduled departure to England for the six match limited-over series (3 ODIs and 3 T20Is). It now casts doubt over the series as SLC says players must at least sign a tour contract to go. “We have not received anything officially more..

SLC to reach a compromise with players?

Jun 7 (TM) As the ongoing player-board dispute over the newly-introduced player contract scheme for 24 national cricketers, the players in unison have told Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) yesterday (5), through their lawyer Nishan Premathiratne, that they are not going to sign the contracts until there is change in the unsystematic and unrealistic player categorisation which has not been transparent. more..

An avoidable environmental catastrophe

Jun 7 (GV) SL is currently experiencing the greatest marine disaster in its history caused by the burning and sinking of the MV X-Press Pearl in the shallow waters less than 10 nautical miles north of Colombo Harbour. It is the second calamity in less than a year, both similar nature, involving ships carrying dangerous materials. Almost a week passed before the list of materials onboard was shared with the public. Was it given to the firefighting team, and if so, at what point was it given? more..

Lessons learnt as Avishka returns

Jun 7 (Island) During the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019, several former greats who had turned expert television commentators were highly impressed by young Avishka Fernando. With an exceptional skill to pick up the loose balls early and put them away, Avishka was waiting to cash in when the bowlers erred with their line and length. He was quite handful in England where wickets in one-day games are batsmen friendly. What made him special was that he punished even the not so bad balls. more..

From France with love, but some fume

Jun 7 (FT) A group of 750 French naval personnel and officers will this week tour SL under strict bio-secure travel bubble conditions though some have raised concerns over the move amidst the pandemic. They are part of the FNS Tonnerre and FNS Surcouf naval vessels of the French Govt. The visit is a diplomatic engagement under SL-France bilateral military cooperation. The two vessels have been in high seas for the last three months more..

Vaccinating the young and small

Jun 7 (TM) It was reported last week that the Ministry of Education is planning to vaccinate school children and teachers before the resumption of schools, and that an official request has been made in this connection from the Ministry of Health. Vaccinating school children did not receive adequate attention until recently owing to the notion that if school children do not attend schools or other educational institutes, which remained closed on and off for over a year, more..

Sri Lanka’s version of Dante’s inferno and the ruination of this land

Jun 7 (ST) As the stricken X-Press Pearl lays waste to SL’s marine environment including one hundred and 25 km of prized coastline from Chilaw and Negombo to Bentota and Galle in a veritable modern replay of Dante’s Inferno, is there enough money to calculate as fair compensation? The country will feel the impact of its worst marine disaster for more than a century, experts warn as horribly disfigured dead turtles and fish with plastic pellets embedded in their mouths wash up on our once pristine more..

තමාව මරාදැමීමේ කුමන්ත්‍රණය චමුදිත හෙළිකරයි

Lanka: The burning pearl

Jun 7 (ST) It seems as though this once thrice blessed nation has been rendered bereft of its four guardian deities and left, naked and bare, to the mercy of incessant calamities to strike at will with wanton impudence. Such has become the accursed fate of this condemned state of Lanka that even a disaster waiting to happen at sea is held suspended until it arrives on these island shores to break out with catastrophic consequences. While a natural pestilence rages throughout the length and more..

Tough questions deserving early anwers

Jun 7 (Island) We are happy to carry today an open letter to the Director General of Health Services, Dr. Asela Gunawardene, by an eminent group of academics, professionals and civil society activists. This deals with many questions agitating the minds of ordinary people on the roll out of the ongoing Covid-19 vaccination program of the govt. They have raised many matters of concern to everybody – how efficiently and fairly is the program is being carried out and also why, as is too often more..

Leaving no one behind

Jun 7 (TM) One of the main drawbacks of the previous Millennium Development Agenda, which represented the commitments of nations to reduce extreme poverty and its many manifestations: Hunger, disease, gender inequality, lack of education and access to basic infrastructure, and environmental degradation, is the complete absence of addressing the issues and challenges confronting disabled community. more..

Science today is for spirituality of tomorrow

Jun 7 (DM) We have listened to the famous quote called The science of today is the technology of tomorrow. told by Edward Teller. Now the time has come to think twice about this statement. Science, for sure, is a good thing; we do need to learn science as much as possible. Even Gautama Buddha knew science probably, 100% of the science of nature. We don’t know even a decimal point percentage as that of the Buddha and ignorance of science is the reason for all troubles that more..

Who’s to blame for Express Pearl disaster?

Jun 7 (DM) The MV X-press Pearl, a Singaporean registered vessel, was around nine nautical miles outside the port –direction Negombo- when dark clouds of smoke were seen to be billowing from it. According to reports, one of the containers onboard was leaking nitric acid at its previous stops in Hamad Port in Qatar and Hazira Port in India. CNN reported the company claimed they had not been permitted to enter as “the advice given was there were no specialist facilities or expertise more..

Judges are running scared of Gota regime

Jun 7 (CT) The conduct of members of the upper judiciary in recent weeks has drawn questions about whether judges in Sri Lanka are afraid to hear controversial cases, especially those seeking redress against executive overreach, abuse of power and vicious persecution by Prez Gotabaya Rajapaksa. Former CID Director SSP Shani Abeysekera has borne the brunt of this affliction in higher court judges. more..

Taka-Rupee swap: A deal between pride & shame

Jun 7 (CT) CBSL will swap by the end of July this year, 49.5 billion of its depreciated rupee equivalent to US$250 million, with Bangladesh Bank. Lending and borrowing are part of ordinary life, whether for an individual, institution or country, and there is nothing shameful about currency swaps, which in other words are a type of loan. Earlier, SL had similar swaps for much larger amounts with India and China. One with India was reported to have been settled, while one with China is not yet, more..

Like Humpty Dumpty, Minister Weerasekara has had a great fall: He must resign

Jun 7 (CT) Unlike Humpty Dumpty, even all the king’s horses and all the king’s men cannot put him together again. To be sure, minister Sarath Weerasekara’s alleged misdemeanours are not yet proven; however, it seems equally reasonable to conclude on the basis of the narrative set forth below that there is a serious prima facie case against him. The minister must clear himself on the basis of an independent investigation. To enable that, the minister must resign. more..

Proactive professionalism the need of the hour as public unease on the rise

Jun 6 (ST) A move to introduce a resolution before United States Congress on the same lines as the one adopted in March by UNHRC in Geneva has only drawn a coarse response from the Govt. After the full text of this resolution and the implications it portends appeared in the Sunday Times (Political Commentary) last Sunday, Ministry of Foreign Affairs reacted with a four-paragraph statement last Wednesday. more..

COVID: 40 new victims take death toll to 1,696

Jun 6 (AD) SL has reported 40 more deaths related to the COVID-19 pandemic on Monday (5). As per the Dept of Govt Information, the reported deaths had occurred between May 21 and June 05. They are identified as residents of Hasalaka, Mawanella, Eravur 02, Kurunegala, Galle, Haliela, Batapola, Dikoya, Dangedara, Imaduwa, Atakalampanna, Kelaniya, Yakkala, Kinniya, Colombo 10, Maggona, Hikkaduwa, Menikhinna, Balangoda, Batticaloa, Polgampola, Dodangoda, Nuwara Eliya, more..

SMS asking ’Kohomada Sudu’ sent by neighbour’s wife leaves two men in hospital

Jun 6 (DM) At least eight people have been injured after a brawl between two neighbour families in Borella following an SMS reportedly sent by a woman to her neighbour, a male, asking Kohomada Sudu (How are you darling). Sources in the Colombo National Hospital said that both the husbands of the families were admitted to the hospital with stab injuries. According to hospital sources, the woman had sent the SMS to her neighbour & her 35 yr-old husband had found more..

Sri Lanka's England tour in jeopardy after players refuse to sign contracts

Jun 6 (CI) Sri Lanka's tour of England has been cast into serious jeopardy after the players expected to be selected refused to sign the tour contracts offered by Sri Lanka Cricket. This is as part of the men's cricketers' larger resistance to SLC's new annual contracts scheme, which they believe lacks transparency and does not adequately compensate senior players. Although players have not been centrally contracted since more..

One million plus letters/parcels pile up due to travel restrictions

Jun 6 (Island) More than one million letters and parcels have piled up at the Central Mail Exchange (CME) and at provincial level due to the prevailing travel restrictions which have hampered normal delivery, Post Master General (PMG), Ranjith Ariyaratne said. He said that only the Postal Dept’s courier service and cash on delivery facility are operational. “We cannot deliver normal and registered letters under the present circumstances”, he noted. PMG said that sorting of letters more..

All CPC unions oppose plan to allow private sector to import, refine and distribute fuel

Jun 6 (ST) All Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC) trade unions, including pro-govt unions, have called on Energy Minister Udaya Gammanpila to withdraw plans to permit the private sector to import, refine and distribute fuel. Eight trade union leaders signed a letter which was handed over to the minister on Friday. The unions included the pro-govt Progressive Workers’ Union of Commerce and Industry, UNP-affiliated JSS, JVP-affiliated Petroleum Common Workers’ Union & Executive Officers Union. more..

Rights probe on SL: UNHRC suffers setback

Jun 6 (ST) The UNHRC’s move to set up a separate secretariat to enforce matters relating to the resolution it passed on Sri Lanka in March this year has suffered a setback. Foreign Minister Dinesh Gunawardena said, “We have learnt that the UN Headquarters has cut down by more than 50% of the amount the Council sought.” He said, he was now awaiting a full report from the SL Permanent Mission in New York. more..

Pet dog leads rescuers to the family it lost

Jun 6 (ST) The heaviest thunderstorms of the year devastated most areas in Sri Lanka in the past few days with floods and landslides displacing tens of thousands of families. In one tragedy, a family pet dog is seen digging the area where four family members were buried in a landslide at Devanagala, Mawanella. Earlier, rescue workers looking for the victims had chased the pet dog away when it came to the scene, but it returned and started clearing the mud with its front paws. more..

Official on Pearl fire: loading conflicts on dangerous goods are usually detected

Jun 6 (EN) Terminals and vessels have checks to ensure that dangerous goods are safely stowed, an industry official said in response to questions whether a loading conflict could have triggered a fire on board the SL bound X-Press Pearl. Ships are loaded based on International Maritime Dangerous Goods (IMDG) code requirements. “When stowage planning is done by each terminal, they have segregation requirements & separation requirement, if not it will show up (in the software)” more..