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Leave of all postal staff cancelled – Postmaster General

The Department of Posts has taken steps to cancel all the leave of its employees due to the need of maintaining the postal services, ahead of a planned strike by postal workers.

Accordingly, Postmaster General Ruwan Sathkumara stated that the leave of all postal staff will be cancelled on November 08, 09 and 10 with immediate effect.

Earlier today (07), it was reported that postal workers have decided to resort to a 48-hour token strike from midnight today, protesting against the government’s alleged decision to sell the postal offices in Kandy and Nuwara-Eliya.

Co-convener of United Postal Trade Unions’ Front, Chinthaka Bandara had said the postal workers stand ready to launch a continuous strike if the government fails to resolve this issue.

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Rs. 10,000 salary hike for state sector workers

State sector employees will receive a salary increase of around Rs. 10,000 from 2024 budget, said government sources.

An estimated 1.5 million workers will begin receiving the hiked salaries from January.

President Ranil Wickremesinghe told his ministers on 30 October that the budget would propose to raise the salaries of all state sector workers.

He asked the private sector to follow suit and provide a salary increase for its workers.

The budget for next year, Wickremesinghe’s third, will be presented to parliament on 13 November.

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Big blow to Bangladesh as Shakib out of next game

An injury to his left Index finger has ruled Bangladesh skipper Shakib Al Hasan out of the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2023.

Shakib suffered the injury while batting in Bangladesh’s penultimate league stage game against Sri Lanka in Delhi on 6 November 2023.

An X-ray after the game confirmed a fracture which has ruled him out of Bangladesh’s last match of the tournament against Australia in Pune on 11 November.

National Team Physio Bayjedul Islam Khan gave further details on the injury.

“Shakib was struck on his left index finger early in his innings but continued to bat with supportive taping and painkillers,” he said.

“He underwent an emergency X-ray in Delhi after the game which confirmed the fracture on the left PIP joint. Recovery is estimated at three to four weeks. He will leave for Bangladesh today to begin his rehab.”

Shakib hit a match-winning 82 from 65 balls, comprising 12 fours and two sixes, to guide his side to a three-wicket victory over Sri Lanka. Earlier in the day, he recorded figures of 2/57 with the ball. The fine all-round performance in a tense clash fetched him the Player of the Match award. (ICC)

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11 Sri Lankans safely arrived in Colombo from Gaza

Eleven Sri Lankan nationals from two families including two adults and nine children, who were stranded in the Gaza Strip have safely arrived in Sri Lanka early morning today (05 November).

The Consular Affairs Division of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs coordinated the arrangements for their return in collaboration with Sri Lanka Missions in Cairo, Ramallah and Tel Aviv.

Foreign Ministry officials received the returning Sri Lankan nationals this morning, upon their arrival at Bandaranaike International Airport, Colombo.

The entry of the eleven Sri Lankans from Gaza Strip into Egypt via Rafah Border Crossing was facilitated by the Sri Lankan Embassy in Cairo in coordination with the Egyptian authorities on

November 2, 2023. The Embassy officials visited the Rafah Border to receive the stranded Sri Lankans.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs facilitated the arrangements of logistics and air transportation of the returnees with the assistance of the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

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SC conveys its determination on constitutionality of Online Safety Bill

The Supreme Court’s determination on the constitutionality of the Online Safety Bill and its provisions was communicated to the parliament this morning (Nov. 07) by Deputy Speaker Ajith Rajapakse.

In its determination, the Supreme Court has noted that the Online Safety Bill could be passed by a simple majority in the parliament following Committee Stage amendments on certain clauses.

Pursuant to Article 84(2) of the Constitution, Clauses 3, 5, 7, 9, 11,12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 36, 37, 42, 45, 53, and 56 should be passed by a special majority in the parliament.

However, if these clauses are amended during the Committee Stage, the Online Safety Bill can be passed by a simple majority in the parliament, the Supreme Court has said further.

As such, the Supreme Court has arrived at the conclusion that subject to the aforementioned particulars, neither the Online Safety Bill nor its provisions are inconsistent with the Constitution.

On October 19, the Supreme Court concluded deliberation of the petitions filed challenging the much-debated Online Safety Bill, which had been tabled in the parliament by the government recently. The hearings were held before the three-member Supreme Court judge bench consisting of Justices Priyantha Jayawardena, Achala Vengapulli and Shiran Gunaratne.

Accordingly, the judge bench’s confidential verdict regarding the relevant petitions was communicated to President Ranil Wickremesinghe and Speaker of Parliament Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena.

During the October 18 parliamentary session, the Speaker revealed that 45 petitions in total had been filed against the proposed legislation.

Petitions were filed by many parties including social activist and independent journalist Tharindu Uduwaragedara; Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith; the Socialist Youth Union (SYU); General Secretary of Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) MP Ranjith Madduma Bandara; SJB’s Rehan Jayawickrama; former BASL presidents Saliya Peiris and Geoffrey Alagaratnam; National People’s Power (NPP) MP Dr. Harini Amarasuriya and Freedom People’s Congress (FPC) member Prof. G.L. Peiris, challenging various provisions included in the legislation, alleging that the relevant bill is in violation of the fundamental rights of freedom of speech and expression guaranteed by the Constitution.

The petitioners had sought an order determining that if the relevant bill were to be passed, it must be approved by a two-thirds majority in parliament, followed by a referendum.

The Online Safety Bill, published in the government gazette on September 18, aims to ban online communication of certain statements in the country, prevent the use of online accounts – both authentic and inauthentic – for the use of prohibited purposes, to suppress the financing and other support of communication of false statements and other related matters.

However, the Bill has come under fire for some of its problematic aspects, with the Asia Internet Coalition (AIC) which consists of multiple tech giants including Apple, Facebook, Google, Amazon, and Yahoo, the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ), the Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL), and the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka (HRCSL) voicing concerns.


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President lectures CC on IGP appointment

President Ranil Wickremesinghe has informed the Constitutional Council in writing that he has recommended only incumbent C.D. Wickramaratne to be the police chief, reports ‘Deshaya’.

This week, he wrote to speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena, the chairman of the CC, after it asked the defence secretary for a list of four probables for the position of IGP.

In his letter, the president quoted the relevant constitutional clauses and questioned the legal basis for the CC’s request.

Also, there are several court rulings that highlight presidential powers with regard to matters of national security, he wrote further.

Thereafter, Abeywardena got in touch with the Presidential Secretariat and noted that with the CC having twice recommended Wickramaratne, it would not object if the president names him to be the IGP.

According to sources at the Presidential Secretariat, the president intends to keep him in the position until the presidential election is held.

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Angelo Mathews ‘Timed Out’ for first time in international cricket

Sri Lankan all-rounder Angelo Mathews was dismissed in a controversial manner in the 2023 ICC World Cup match against Bangladesh.

The 2023 World Cup playing conditions state a new batter needs to be ready to face their first ball within two minutes of arriving.

He did not face a ball within the stipulated time and Bangladesh appealed for him to be given out. The former Sri Lankan captain tried to explain some to the umpires but to no avail.

As per the rules, a new batsman has to be ready to face the ball within three minutes. Mathews was out on the field but there was some issue with his helmet. The star all-rounder wasn’t ready to bat due to the issue with his gear.

Bangladesh decided to appeal against Mathews and the umpire had no option but to adjudge him out. The on-field umpires can only give a batsman out if the opposition players appeal. Mathews would have stayed in the middle had Bangladesh decided to withdraw the appeal. He is the first player to be given Timed Out in international cricket.

It has happened only six times before in any format, all in first-class cricket.

Mathews walked back to the pavilion without facing a delivery. His wicket left Sri Lanka reeling at 135/5. Dhananjaya de Silva has joined Charith Asalanka in the middle.

Earlier, Bangladesh won the toss and opted to bowl first. They got an early scalp of Kusal Perera, who managed a score of 4. Pathum Nissanka took the onus after the fall of early wicket and added 61 runs for the second wicket with Kusal Mendis (19).

Sadeera Samarawickrama also played a crucial knock of 41 before getting out. It was after his dismissal that Mathews came out to join Asalanka. But he ended up getting dismissed without facing any delivery.

With just 2 wins from seven matches, Sri Lanka are placed at the seventh spot in the points table. They are in contention to qualify for the semi-final. With just one win from seven matches, Bangladesh are at the ninth spot. They have crashed out of the tournament.

Source: Times Now


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Dengue on the rise; number of high-risk zones up to 36

The National Dengue Control unit said that the number of Dengue high-risk zones is on the rise.

Its Director Dr. Nalin Ariyaratne stated that the number of high-risk zones has increased up to 36.

He adds that dengue breeding spots have been discovered from public places, and Government and Private institutions, in addition to houses.

The National Dengue Control Unit informs school students to refrain from wearing clothes that expose their skin, to protect themselves from the dengue mosquitoes.

69.0008 dengue cases have been reported from across the island so far in 2023.

The National Dengue Control Unit says that 4,000 dengue cases were reported in October 2023.

Almost 500 child dengue cases have been reported in the last three days of November alone.

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Veteran singer Athula Sri Gamage passes away

Veteran singer Athula Sri Gamage, aged 60, passed away while receiving treatment at the Sri Jayawardenepura General Hospital, family sources said.

During his career, Athula Sri Gamage had several popular songs, including "Athmayen Athmaye," "Hima Meedum," "Paradeesaye," and "Susuma Vee Mage," which gained immense popularity among the people.

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COP28: Sri Lanka to bring 'Climate Prosperity Plan' to secure Net Zero by 2040

Sri Lankan President Ranil Wickremesinghe told a forum in Colombo that the country's economic model would be built on competitiveness, digital transition, energy transition and the transformation to a green economy.

Speaking at the first International Climate Change Forum at Temple Trees on Friday (3), Wickremesinghe said that Sri Lanka is making notable strides towards combating climate change and transitioning into a green economy.

He pointed out that the country’s small size could be advantageous, given its potential for excess green energy, including solar, wind power and hydrogen.

The President also said that in order to address the lack of expertise to formulate detailed plans for this transition, Sri Lanka is reaching out to multilateral development banks and bilateral partners to obtain the necessary knowledge and support.

He also noted that Sri Lanka would be presenting a Climate Prosperity Plan at COP28, with goal of reaching net zero emissions by 2040.

"This ambitious endeavour, while necessary for the planet’s well-being, comes with a substantial cost of over $100 billion USD over 20 years," the President said, as quoted by the President's Media Division.

"To meet these financial challenges, Sri Lanka is committed to raising a significant portion of the required funds through commercial means," said the President.

President Wickremesinghe revealed plans to establish the International Climate Change University (ICCU), emphasizing that it should be an international stakeholder university rather than a solely Sri Lankan institution.

The government has already allocated 600 acres overlooking the Kothmale reservoir for this purpose.IMG 20231103 WA0007

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Minister orders transfer of Viharamahadevi Park administration to CMC

Minister of Urban Development and Housing Prasanna Ranatunga has issued directives regarding the administration of Viharamahadevi Park in Colombo 07.

Accordingly, he has instructed the Urban Development Authority (UDA) to transfer the administration of the park to the Colombo Municipal Council (CMC).


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USD 15 Mn from India to bolster Buddhist ties

The Government of India provided a grant of USD 15 million to Sri Lanka to bolster the longstanding Buddhist connections between the two countries.

The exchange of bilateral documents in this regard took place in Colombo on Thursday (2) in the presence of Sri Lankan President Ranil Wickremesinghe and Indian Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman.

President Wickremesinghe and Hon Finance Minister of India Nirmala Sitharaman engaged in lengthy bilateral discussions during this event, said the President's Media Division.

The grant could be allocated towards various initiatives, including the construction and renovation of Buddhist monasteries, capacity development, cultural exchange, archaeological cooperation, reciprocal exhibition of relics and other areas of mutual interest.

In recognition of the evolving economic landscape in Sri Lanka, both countries have agreed to recalibrate the grant amount from Sri Lankan Rupees to Indian Rupees, aligning it with the prevailing market conditions.

This adjustment is being formalized through diplomatic Letters of Exchange and Acceptance, signifying a shared commitment to further enhancing these ties.

High Commissioner of India, Gopal Baglay and Secretary of the Ministry of Buddhasasana, Religious and Cultural Affairs, Somaratne Vidanapathirana, exchanged these documents.

The first project to be initiated under the USD 15 million grant is the solar electrification of religious sites across Sri Lanka, with an allocation of USD 10 million.

The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for this significant project was jointly finalized by the governments of India and Sri Lanka.

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