Monday, October 05, 2009

Sri Lanka draws American big business after war

An American business delegation with executives from top multinationals, including Fortune 500 firms, will visit Sri Lanka this month looking for investments with the end of the ethnic war.

"This is perhaps the first large US Government business initiative since the end of the internal conflict in Sri Lanka," the American Chambers of Commerce (AmCham) in Colombo said in a statement.

"As the economic and political environment becomes more conducive for foreign investment and growth, American companies have shown renewed interest in examining the emerging investment and business opportunities in Sri Lanka."

Many of the American firms joining the delegation are Fortune 500 companies such as Coca-Cola, Caterpillar, GE, DuPont, 3M, UPS and Kimberly-Clark.

Other companies include Parsons Brinckerhoff, Sikorsky Aircrafts Corporation, Fiserv, Rockwell Automation, Western Union and Rashed Kanchan Corporation.

They represent diverse business interests which include fast moving consumer goods, infrastructure, food and beverages, healthcare, plastics such as engineering polymers, the defence sector, home care products, and military and commercial helicopters.

The visit of the business delegation, who are members of the Asia-Pacific Council of American Chambers of Commerce (APCAC) is supported by the US and Sri Lankan governments.

During their October 12-14 visit the delegation will call on Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa, Prime Minister Ratnasiri Wickramanayake and senior ministers.

"The discussion will centre around investment and business opportunities in Sri Lanka in the new business environment in the post-conflict Sri Lanka," the AmCham statement said.

"Some of the sectors, which will receive special attention during our dialogue, are infrastructure, healthcare, information technology, agriculture and food processing and financial services."

Sri Lanka's 30-year war ended in May when government forces defeated the Tamil Tiger rebels, raising hopes of an economic revival.

The delegation's visit coincides with the US-Sri Lanka Public-Private Partnership Conference in Colombo on October 13, 2009.

A 16-member APCAC-AMCHAM delegation is led by Atul Singh, Vice Chairman, South Asia of the Asia-Pacific Council of American Chambers of Commerce and chief executive of Coca-Cola India.

Members of the delegation will discuss several business openings, investment opportunities and economic cooperation projects which Sri Lanka has to offer, the AmCham statement said.

"The visit of this delegation will foster strong regional integration in South Asia and create synergies for greater regional cooperation."

The Asia-Pacific Council of American Chambers of Commerce consists of 27 member AmChams in 21 economies.

APCAC represents the growing interests of over 10,000 business entities and over 50,000 business executives in the region.

The APCAC membership manages trade volumes in excess of 400 billion US dollars and direct investments of over 300 billion dollars, the AmCham statement said.

© Lanka Business Online

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Monday, October 05, 2009

Three Indian warships arrive today Joint exercise belies anti-Lanka propaganda

Amidst allegations by some South Indian politicians that the Sri Lanka Navy attacks Indian fishermen near the international maritime boundary even after the end of the war, a combined Indo-Lanka naval exercise off Colombo is being planned.

A three-day exercise is scheduled to begin early this week in the Western Naval Area.

The LTTE collapsed on May 18 after bloody clashes on the banks of the Nanthikadal lagoon eliminated the last group of terrorists, including its leader Velupillai Prabhakaran.

Sources said three Indian warships would be involved in the exercise, the first joint naval exercise after Sri Lanka’s triumph over terrorism. The vessels are expected to reach Colombo today (October 5). Responding to our queries, an official said that India’s readiness to go ahead with the exercise was evidence that even the Centre did not take South Indian criticism of SLN action seriously.

Sources said the SLN had thrown a cordon to prevent Indian fishermen crossing the maritime boundary to poach in Sri Lankan waters and there was no truth in claims of indiscriminate attacks on Indian trawlers. The LTTE had extensively used Indian boats to smuggle in arms, ammunition and explosives and in some instances seized boats but some Indian officials and politicians always placed the blame on the SLN, sources said.

A section of the Indian press recently accused the SLN of having killed at least 50 Indian fishermen within a fortnight, a claim strongly denied by the Sri Lankan government. This was followed by a raid on Sri Lankan High Commission in New Delhi by a group of protesters, who demanded an immediate stop to SLN attacks on Indian fishermen; they also demanded Kachchativu island back.

Sources said that SLNS Sayura, formerly of the Indian Navy and SLNS Shakthi, previously of the Chinese Navy would be involved in the exercise. SLNS Sayura is the first of the three Offshore Patrol Vessels (OPVs) acquired from India while SLNS Shakthi, a Landing Ship Tank is the only one of its category with the SLN.

Meanwhile, Sukanya Class OPV INS Savitri which arrived in Colombo on Friday (October 2) will leave for the Maldives today. The Indian warship was escorting the Maldivian Coast Guard vessel ‘Hurawee’ on its way to India for a re-fit. Sources recalled that ‘Hurawee’ had been responsible for sinking an Indian fishing trawler, Sri Krishna, commandeered by the LTTE in May 2007. The Maldivians had backed Sri Lanka’s efforts to destroy the LTTE arms smuggling network by giving direct access to captured LTTE terrorists, sources said.

Commander of the Sri Lanka Navy, Vice Admiral Thisara Samarasinghe on Saturday visited INS ‘Savitri’ at the Port of Colombo, where he met the outgoing Indian High Commissioner in Colombo, Alok Prasad.

Sources said that Sri Lanka was grateful for the opportunity given by India for SLN personnel to train onboard their vessels.

A few weeks ago, a Pakistani warship arrived in Colombo on a goodwill visit.

© The Island

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Monday, October 05, 2009

President's rally causes one death

Delay causes death to mother of two at President’s rally held at Matara Sanath Jayasuriya play grounds.

Monica Manamperi, a forty two year old mother of two daughters had to pay her life due the delay in transferring her to Matara General hospital from Bathigama hospital.

The driver of the ambulance carrying the serious heart patient has pleaded the organizers in vain to send the vehicle without being delayed.

According to the doctors of the hospital her life would have been saved if she was admitted earlier without causing much delay on the way.

© Lanka Truth

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Monday, October 05, 2009

Wife of jailed SLankan reporter accepts award

J.S. Tissainayagam, a Tamil reporter and editor serving a 20-year prison sentence in Sri Lanka, was awarded the first Peter Mackler Award for Courageous and Ethical Journalism on Friday.

His wife, Ronnate Tissainayagam, accepted the award, named for a 30-year veteran of Agence France-Presse who died last year, at a ceremony at the National Press Club.

Tissainayagam was honored by the US branch of Paris-based media rights group Reporters Without Borders and Global Media Forum, a company founded by Mackler to train journalists and non-profit organizations to use the media as a tool for social change.

"For the last 20 years my husband has endeavoured to pursue the goals that Mr. Mackler believed in as a journalist," Tissainayagam's wife said.

"Like Peter, my husband was never too busy to encourage those who wanted to learn to write and has helped many in journalism," she said. "Today my husband is continuing to teach me courage and grace in difficult times.

"For him, no matter what the circumstances are, there is no excuse for unkindness," Ronnate Tissainayagam said. "No matter what the circumstance, fellow human beings must be treated with dignity."

Marcus Brauchli, executive editor of The Washington Post, delivered the keynote speech at the award ceremony paying homage to journalists around the world working under repressive regimes.

"Doing such good journalism as the Peter Mackler Award encourages takes courage," Brauchli said.

Tissainayagam, who wrote for the North Eastern Monthly Magazine and Sunday Times and founded, a website that focused on the island's minority Tamils, was arrested in March 2008 on terrorism charges.

He was accused of receiving money from the rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam and causing racial hatred through his writings about Tamils affected by the LTTE war for a separate homeland, charges he rejected.

"I never advocated violence," he said in a statement in court. "My objective was to generate non violent means of resolving the conflict. My research, writings and work was towards achieving this."

Cited by President Barack Obama as an "emblematic example" of a persecuted journalist, Tissainayagam was sentenced in August to 20 years of hard labor.

The Peter Mackler Award for Courageous and Ethical Journalism was founded in June 2008 to honor the memory of Mackler, who died of a heart attack that month at the age of 58.

Mackler covered wars, elections and other notable events around the world during his career at AFP and was key in transforming the agency's English language service into the international competitor it is today.

The Peter Mackler Award rewards journalists who fight courageously and ethically to report the news in countries where freedom of the press is either not guaranteed or not recognized.

The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists has also selected Tissainayagam as a recipient of a 2009 International Press Freedom Award.


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Monday, October 05, 2009

Lankan envoy justifies Tamil scribe's jail term

Sri Lanka has likened the charges against Tamil journalist J S Tissainayagam, sentenced to 20 years in jail for links with LTTE, to any European scribe accepting al-Qaeda funding.

Sri Lanka's Ambassador to Belgium, Luxembourg and the EU Ravinatha Aryasinha told Human Rights sub committee of the European Parliament in Brussels that he wondered "whether journalists in Europe accepting a cheque from Al Qaeda would be acceptable".

Aryasinha said the committee members gave the impression that Tissainayagam was convicted by the Colombo High Court for writing two articles, which in the view of the prosecution had the effect of inciting communal disharmony.

"They forget the more serious charge proved (against the Tamil scribe) which was that he had accepted funds from the LTTE," the Embassy of Sri Lanka in Brussels quoting the official said in a release.

© Press Trust of India

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Monday, October 05, 2009

MPs and Journalists attacked

A government minister along with supporters from Beliatta attacked opposition campaigners alleges the United National Party (UNP).

Speaking to BBC Sandeshaya, UNP general secretary Tissa Attanayake said “we were campaigning in Beveraliya Estate, Deniyaya on Sunday when we came under attack by Minister Dilan Perera and his supporters”.

“When we were using a road built by the state funds through Beveraliya Estate, our vehicles were stopped in front of a mansion by its owner.”

“We told him this is a public road but he told us it’s a private road,” Attanayake said.

“Then Minister Dilan Perera came with some people from Beliatta and attacked us”.

Journalists attaked

"Journalists were also attacked and their equipment damaged during the commotion. More than ten vehicles were damaged as well,” the general secretary added.

Journalists Chandika Jayawardana, Krishan Jeewaka Jayaruk, Kelum Jayaweera and Shaman Chanuka were among those beaten.

“If this road was built by using public funds, how is it not a public highway?” the UNP parliamentarian questioned.

Political parties in Sri Lanka are campaigning for the Southern provincial council elections due to be held on the 10th of October.

© BBC Sinhala

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