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[Last Updated = Fri, Dec 19, 2014, 10:49 pm SL Time]
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Sri Lanka opposition presidential candidate pledges to reform country's foreign relations

Dec 19 (CP) Colombo- Sri Lanka's common opposition Friday pledged to reform the country's foreign relations to reflect the government's national opinion if it wins the January 8 election against incumbent President Mahinda Rajapaksa. In a 68-page election manifesto presented to the public on Friday, the common opposition candidate Maithripala Sirisena promised to reorganize the entire Foreign Service within 100 days with professionals who have professional qualifications. "Within hundred days all political appointments and appointment of relatives attached to the Foreign Service will be annulled and the entire Foreign Service will be reorganized" the manifesto said.
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SECURITY - SITUATION

Dec 19 (CP) Colombo- Japan has deported 26 Sri Lankans including asylum seekers on Thursday, after their applications for refugee status were rejected. The government of Japan has determined that they did not qualify for refugee status rejecting each individual's application twice, a Japan Times report said.

Dec 19 (CP) Colombo- A Sri Lankan court today granted bail to Danuna Tilakaratne, the son-in-law of former Army Commander and Democratic Party leader Sarath Fonseka after he surrendered to the court Friday (19). Colombo High Court judge Iranganie Perera released Tilakaratne, who appeared in court through legal counsel, on a cash bail of Rs. 400,000 and two sureties.

Dec 19 (CP) Colombo- The lone survivor of the Sri Lanka military transport plane crash on December 12 succumbed to his injuries Thursday night at the Colombo National Hospital. Leading Aircraftsmen G.K.N. Chaturanga was being treated at the intensive care unit of the Colombo National Hospital Following the crash of the Sri Lanka Air Force Antonov-32 in Hokandara on December 12.

Dec 19 (Island) The Fort police station have arrested a 39-year-old drug addict for breaking into former national cricketer Aravinda de Silva’s Thurstan Road residence last October and removing valuables and cash.

Dec 19 (DM) The bodies of a 30-year-old woman and her six-year-old daughter were found last night near the 51st milepost at Padiyathalawa in Mahiyangana, police said.

Dec 19 (DN) Large allocations have been earmarked to provide the best training opportunities to troops here and abroad, Army Commander Lieutenant General Daya Ratnayake said.

Dec 18 (CP) Colombo- Sri Lanka's main opposition United National Party (UNP) on Thursday accused army chief Lieutenant General Daya Ratnayake of deploying troops to campaign for Commander-in-Chief President Mahinda Rajapaksa at the upcoming presidential elections.

Dec 18 (CP) Jaffna- A Sri Lankan court Thursday ordered to further remand the 38 Indian fishermen from Tamil Nadu arrested by the Sri Lankan Navy few months ago. Oorkavalthurai Magistrate has extended the remand until December 31, when the fishermen arrested on different occasions were produced before the court today

Dec 18 (CP) Colombo- A Sri Lankan court Wednesday handed out death sentences to two Pakistani men accused of trafficking heroin into the island. Colombo High Court Judge Irangani Perera Wednesday sentenced the two Pakistani men, who pleaded guilty to the charges against them.

Dec 18 (TOI) CHENNAI- The Madras high court has asked the Tamil Nadu government to consider releasing a Sri Lankan Tamil doctor, now lodged in a special camp for refugees at Poonamallee, so that he could return to his country with his family and reclaim the property they had left behind during the civil war.

More : SECURITY - SITUATION
* Two con men nabbed for duping tourist couple (18 - Island)
* Best training for troops here and abroad - Army chief (18 - DM)
* Nittambuwa claymores to be defused today (18 - DM)
More : SECURITY - SITUATION

NEWS - HIGHLIGHTS

Dec 19 (CP) New York- Sri Lanka's low tax revenues and high government debt have contributed to the country's rank at the 89th place in Forbes' ninth annual ranking of the Best Countries for Business.

Dec 18 (CP) Mullaitivu- Recalling that the past 30 years had been a period of distress, terror and darkness for everyone, Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa asked the people in the North to protect the country by casting their votes for the ruling party at the presidential election on January 8.


FINANCE

Dec 19 (CP) Colombo- Sri Lanka's national carrier and oneworld member, SriLankan Airlines, continuing its extensive wide-body re-fleeting programme, took delivery of its second Airbus 330-300, on Friday, 19 December 2014. The new aircraft named "The City of Sihagiri" will be utilized on the major Far Eastern markets of Canton, Shanghai, Beijing and Hong Kong.

Dec 19 (Reuters) COLOMBO- Mithripala Sirisena, who is challenging Mahinda Rajapaksa's bid for a third term as Sri Lanka's president, will cancel a casino licence given to Australia's Crown Resorts Ltd if he wins the vote, his party's manifesto said.

Dec 19 (Reuters) Sri Lankan stocks ended at their highest in two weeks on Friday led by blue-chips, amid political worries ahead of the Jan. 8 presidential poll, stockbrokers said.

Dec 19 (Island) The Sri Lanka operations of GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) won four National Business Excellence Awards (NBEAs) including the award for the overall runner-up among all awards recipients at the 2014 edition of this prestigious annual awards event.

Dec 19 (DN) The Joint Apparel Association (JAAF) has identified a consortium of key players in the logistics services who have played a major role in the import| export areas of the apparel sector and recognised them as "Preferred Partners" f

Dec 19 (LBO) The listed debenture issue of Sri Lanka’s Siyapatha Finance Limited, was oversubscribed on the opening day (18) as per the disclosures made to the CSE by the registrars to the debenture Issue.

Dec 18 (CP) Colombo- Sri Lanka's John Keells Holdings (JKH) said, it has entered into a deal with the Standard Chartered Bank to obtain project funding for its Waterfront Development Project.

** Related Story ::Sri Lanka's John Keells commences construction of waterfront resort after parliamentary approval

More : FINANCE
* Sri Lankan stocks recover from 3-week lows; telecoms lead (18 - Reuters)
* Senok Automobiles introduces Audi A3 (18 - Island)
* Air China, China Eastern airlines to call Colombo (18 - DN)
* CA Sri Lanka holds inaugural convocation for Chartered Tax Advisors (18 - DM)
* Sri Lanka's Singer PLC's debenture oversubscribed (18 - CP)
More : FINANCE

POLITICS - GENERAL

Dec 19 (CP) Colombo- Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa will not participate in a debate where there are no facts and figures, the Minister of Mass Media and Information Keheliya Rambukwella referring to the challenge extended by the common opposition candidate Maithripala Sirisena for a debate.

Dec 19 (CP) Colombo- A peaceful candlelight vigil to commemorate the innocent people, who lost their lives in the terrorist attack in Peshawar, will be held Friday, 19 December,2014 at 6:00 p.m. at Viharamahadevi Park, opposite Colombo Municipal Council (CMC).

Dec 19 (CP) Colombo- Sri Lanka's common opposition candidate Maithripala Sirisena has presented his election manifesto this morning at the Viharamahadevi Park amid disruptions to the program. Read the opposition candidate's election Manifesto in English/Sinhala

Dec 19 (Island) Election Commissioner Mahinda Deshapriya yesterday ordered all heads of public institutions that they prevent their premises being used for any sort of election propaganda activity.

Dec 19 (DM) The Catholic Church in Sri Lanka is not in a position to ask Pope Francis to cancel his visit to Sri Lanka next month, Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith said yesterday. “The church cannot just ask the Pope not to come visit Sri Lanka after inviting him in the first place,” the Cardinal told a media briefing yesterday.

Dec 19 (DN) Political stability in Sri Lanka is very marked, compared to other countries, External Affairs Minister Prof. G.L Peiris said. Addressing a press conference at the SLFP headquarters yesterday, Prof. Peiris said a stable government is the prime need to build a developed nation.

Dec 18 (CP) Colombo- A Chinese firm has come forward to invest US$ 20 million to establish a saline production facility in Sri Lanka by mid-2015. The Chinese investor will be part of an entourage of 132 businessmen and six government representatives from the Sichuan Province that will be visiting Sri Lanka for networking purposes.

Dec 18 (CP) Divulapitiya- The common opposition presidential candidate Maithripala Sirisena reiterating his call for the Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa for a debate on good governance and democracy, asked the President to stop violating election laws.

Dec 18 (CP) Colombo- Sri Lanka's first mass media outlet targeting the country's 1.9-million strong Muslim community was unveiled on 16 December at the Kingsbury Hotel in Colombo under the patronage of Minister of Industry and Commerce Rishad Bathiudeen.

Dec 18 (CP) Colombo- In a renewed effort aimed at fostering a stronger culture of corporate governance and sustainable corporate performance in the country, the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Sri Lanka (CA Sri Lanka) together with the Securities and Exchange Commission of Sri Lanka (SEC), recently paid tribute to ten distinguished Chairpersons of Public Listed Companies for demonstrating visionary leadership and governance in achieving sustainable corporate performance.

Dec 18 (CP) Colombo- Construction of houses for those who were displaced by the massive landslide in Koslanda Meeriya Bedda estate in Badulla district will begin today, according to a local government official.

Dec 18 (CP) Colombo- In response to the complaints lodged by some political party candidates, the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka (HRSCL) has advised all local government authorities to obey the election laws saying that the Commission will be compelled to take legal action against violators.

Dec 18 (HP) Sri Lanka is an island dappled with stunning landscapes, fascinating wildlife and a tumultuous history. Geographically close to India, but distinct in its culture, traditions and monuments, Sri Lanka is a country quite unlike any other.

Dec 18 (DPA) Colombo- Abilash Jeyaraj, a 10-year-old boy living in an village eastern in Sri Lanka, says his only ambition is to become an engineer when he grows up.He was lucky enough to survive the deadly tsunami waves that hit Kalmunai

Dec 18 (Stuff) Women sashay past, saris fluttering and hips swaying rhythmically to the thumping drums. The high-pitched whining of a wind instrument draws me like the call of the Pied Piper. I'm swept along by the crowd of spiritual devotees circling a massive white stupa at Anuradhapura in Sri Lanka's Cultural Triangle.

More : POLITICS - GENERAL
* Shirani: ‘I’m still CJ, will remain politically neutral’ (18 - Island)
* ‘President Rajapaksa will be the last Executive President’ (18 - DN)
* JHU says G’pila harassing them (18 - DM)
More : POLITICS - GENERAL

SPORTS

Dec 19 (ESPNCI) Left-arm spinner Rangana Herath has been ruled out of Sri Lanka's first Test against New Zealand by the hamstring tear he suffered last week, team manager Michael de Zoysa has confirmed. Herath had damaged his upper, inner left thigh while training ahead of the fifth ODI against England, and though team management had initially been hopeful for a quick recovery, he will now likely be out for at least three weeks.

More : SPORTS

Dec 18 (SLC) Sri Lanka National team left the island for New Zealand this morning for a tour which will get underway on Sunday (21st)with a practice game against NZ A in Queenstown Dec 21. The team is to play 2 Test matches and 7 ODIs. Christchurch will host the opening Test match of the series on December 26.

Dec 18 (IANS) Indian cricket went through another tumultuous year on and off the field with a controversy that shook the very foundation of the game's governing body in the country - the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) - that refused to die down and spilled over to the New Year after raising several tough questions for its beleaguered president, N. Srinivasan.


WORLD

Dec 18 (BBC) India has successfully launched its largest rocket and an unmanned capsule which could send astronauts into space. The 630-tonne Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (MK III) blasted off from Sriharikota in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh on Thursday morning.

More : WORLD

Dec 18 (BBC) A New Zealander and two Burmese men have pleaded not guilty to charges of insulting Buddhism in Myanmar. The trio, who ran a bar in Yangon, are accused over a flyer promoting a drinks event depicting Buddha with headphones.

Dec 18 (BBC) A man accused of masterminding the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks has been granted bail by a court in Pakistan. Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi is one of seven men facing trial over the attacks in the Indian city, which left 165 people dead. Nine gunmen were also killed.


About Sri Lanka ::-
Introduction to Sri Lanka ::-

Sri Lanka is a beautiful island paradise in the Indian Ocean with white sandy beaches lush greenery, exciting adventures, amazing wildlife, cascading waterfalls and a rich heritage. The island of Sri Lanka is roughly pear-shaped. The total area of Sri Lanka is 65,610 sq km. Sri Lanka’s coastline is about 1,340 km (about 833 mi) around.

The people in Sri Lanka are warm and friendly. Sri Lankans are known for hospitality in all over the world. People in Sri Lanka ethnically fall into four main categories. The population of Sri Lanka is about 20 million. Sri Lanka has a tropical climate. Sri Lanka has a democratic government. Sri Lanka is mainly an agricultural country. Colombo is the commercial capital of Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka gained independence in 1948. Sri Lanka was known as Ceylon.

In the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, Sri Lanka became a plantation economy, famous for its production and export of cinnamon, rubber and Ceylon tea, which remains a trademark national export. By 1996 plantation crops made up only 20% of export, and further declined to 16.8% in 2005 (compared with 93% in 1970), while textiles and garments have reached 63%. The GDP grew at an average annual rate of 5.5% during the early 1990s, until a drought and a deteriorating security situation lowered growth to 3.8% in 1996. The economy rebounded in 1997-2000, with average growth of 5.3%.

Sri Lanka, with an income per head of $1,350, still lags behind some of its neighbors including Maldives and Mauritius but is ahead of its giant neighbor India. Its economy grew by an average of 5% during the 1990s during the 'War for Peace' era. According to the Sri Lankan central bank statistics, the economy was estimated to have grown by 7% last year, although inflation had reached 20%.

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