Japan to boost Lankan ties

Japan and Sri Lanka today discussed developing new ways of further strengthening economic ties between both countries, the President’s office said.Japan’s Minister of Internal Affairs and Communication Yoshitaka Shindo called on President Mahinda Rajapaksa at the President’s House this morning. Shindo also thanked Sri Lanka for its support and assistance in the aftermath of the tsunami in 2011, noting how much the people of Japan appreciated it. In March of this year, during a visit to Japan, President Rajapaksa held bilateral discussions with Prime Minister of Japan Shinzo Abe. The Japanese government committed to a total of Rs. 57.8 billion in development aid to Sri Lanka. Since then, this is the second high-level visit of a Japanese government official. In May of this year, Japan’s Deputy Prime Minister Taro Aso visited Sri Lanka and met President Rajapaksa.Minister of Mass Media and Information Keheliya Rambukwella, Monitoring Member of Parliament of the Ministry of External Affairs Sajin de Vass Gunawardena, Secretary to the President Lalith Weeratunga, Secretary to the Ministry of Mass Media and Information Charitha Herath, Acting Secretary of the Ministry of External Affairs Kshenuka Seneviratne and Sri Lanka’s Ambassador in Japan Admiral (Rtd.) Wasantha Karannagoda also joined the discussion. (Colombo Gazette) The discussion focused on existing collaborations between the two countries while also developing new ways of further strengthening economic ties, including in the communications sector. read more

Hillcountry Tamils dont want to be called Indian Tamils

Meanwhile, the Kandy Forum, a body of Muslim intellectuals, has also expressed its opposition to the merger of the two Provinces.At the same time, it has also termed the demand for a non-contiguous separate Muslim territory in the East as “politically and pragmatically not suitable” to the needs of the community. Such a demand would only “further complicate the existing ethnic problem”. Highlighting the issue of identity, a report prepared by experts on the initiative of the Tamil Progressive Alliance, a coalition of three parties representing the hill=country Tamils, has suggested that the community be called “Indian-Origin Malayaha Thamilar (IOMT).” The experts, who include P. Muthulingam, the head of the Kandy-based Institute for Social Development, also talk of creating a district by re-organising the existing district of Nuwera Eliya (Central Province) and linking it with other contiguously-located areas of other districts where IOMTs have higher concentration. [Throughout Sri Lanka, these Tamils constitute 4.1 per cent, a figure disputed in certain quarters]. The report also suggests the establishment of non-territorial council for IOMTs, consisting of elected and nominated representatives of the community.On the contentious issue of merger of the Northern and Eastern Provinces, the document is for retaining the present structure of nine Provinces, which means that it does not favour the merger. As for the adoption of federalism, another long-standing demand of Tamils in the North and the East, the document describes Sri Lanka as “a union of Provinces/regions”, while seeking maximum devolution. Hill-country Tamils in Sri Lanka do not want to be called “Indian Tamils” anymore. This nomenclature of theirs has been “a source of political and administrative discrimination and social antipathy”, besides carrying a “historical baggage.”Making use of the ongoing process of constitutional reforms, the community wants the issue of identity to be resolved. It is particular that its identity should refer, wholly or partially, to a territory in Sri Lanka, even though certain sections of the community are not in favour of disowning their roots completely, The Hindu newspaper reported. read more

As peace in Angola paves way for aid access UN finds severe

“We are finding people suffering extreme hunger and malnutrition in the interior of the country,” said Ronald Sibanda, WFP Country Director for Angola. “WFP is already making arrangements to start feeding programmes in new areas.”Last week, the agency trucked food aid along 130 kilometres of precarious roads from Huambo to the remote village of Bunjei, where it said a “frantic” crowd of more than 10,000 people greeted the convoy. That was first aid to the area’s people, who for the past four years have been avoiding fighting by hiding in the countryside, many dying of hunger-related diseases.While welcoming its expanded ability to provide emergency assistance to thousands of needy internally displaced people, WFP warned that stocks in Angola are reaching “dangerously low” levels.”We have no choice but to reduce rations for some groups of people to make sure we can feed others who are more desperate,” said Mr. Sibanda. “It is absolutely vital that new donations are made urgently.”WFP, which needs $52 million for the next six months, warned that with the present stock levels, essential food commodities would start to run out in June and July, and by September, there will be no food available. read more