Archive | July, 2014

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JKH to sell Union Assurance General biz control to Canada’s Fairfax Asia

Posted on 31 July 2014 by admin

  • Total non-life business valued at Rs. 4.5 b; JKH to divest 78% stake; UAL share price gain by Rs. 15
  • JKH says UAL will continue to retain ownership of the Life insurance business in its entirety

John Keells Holdings (JKH) has struck a deal to divest a 78% stake in Union Assurance Plc’s General business to Fairfax Asia Ltd. The deal will be done following the completion of the segregation of the UAL’s General and Life insurance business under a scheme of arrangement. The announcement saw UAL’s share price rise by Rs. 15 to close at Rs. 145 after it hit an intra-day high of Rs. 148.
Based on the projected financial statements of UAL as at 31 December 2014, and for the purpose of this transaction, the overall valuation of the General insurance business of UAL has been estimated at approximately Rs. 4.5 billion.
Fairfax is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Fairfax Financial Holdings Ltd., a Canadian financial services holding company, which through its subsidiaries is engaged in property and casualty insurance and reinsurance and investment management.
JKH and UAL said the transaction is subject to customary closing conditions including the successful completion of due diligence along with regulatory and court approvals and is expected to close by the first quarter of 2015.


Courtesy: Daily FT

JKH said UAL will continue to retain ownership of the Life insurance business in its entirety.
JKH holds a 88.25% stake in UAL and via Whittall Boustead Ltd., a further 7.4%
UAL’s General Business had Rs. 5.4 billion in Gross Written Premium by end 2013, up 17% from Rs. 4.6 billion in 2012. Net earned premium was Rs. 4 billion, up from Rs. 3.5 billion in 2012.
General business’ profit for 2013 was Rs. 332.4 million, down 14% as against Rs. 388 million in the previous year, which was a record.
UAL’s Life business’s GWP in 2013 was Rs. 5.5 billion, up 8% from Rs. 5.1 billion in 2012. Profit from this segment was Rs. 790 million up 48% from Rs. 533 million in 2012.
Overall UAL in 2013 posted a net profit of Rs. 1.1 billion, up 22% from 2012.

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Kandy all set for historic Esala Perahera

Posted on 31 July 2014 by admin

The relevant authorities have made all arrangements to provide necessary facilities to those who arrive in Kandy to witness the historic Esala Perahera from August 1 to 11.

There will be drinking water and sanitary facilities for the public within easy reach. All restaurants and other places providing food and drinks will be checked from time to time by the Public Health Inspectors and Consumer Protection Authority officials to guarantee that they are hygienic and prices are reasonable. Also the Sri Lanka Transport Board and private sector commuter transport services have arranged special bus services connecting various parts of the country with Kandy.

Police patrols will be in operation to nab wrong-doers in the city of Kandy and neighbouring areas during the perahera. Police are to deploy a large number of Policemen and Policewomen in the area, assisted by specialized Police officers, along with Army personnel.

Ceylon Electricity Board officials and Water Supply and Drainage Board officials will be on alert in the event of power and water failures.

Local firefighters are also ready to attend to any urgent occasion.

A large crowd of volunteers from community and non-governmental organisations will be on duty to help the public, provide first aid and attend to their requirements.

 

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Yala National Park closed till Sept.30

Posted on 31 July 2014 by admin

 

Yala National Park will be closed for the visitors during the month of September due to renovations to visitors' bungalows. The park is normally closed for tourists during the dry season, from September 1 to October 15. According to the Department, there are 62 sanctuaries, 22 wild life parks, three high conservation parks, and five natural conservation parks in the island and visitors' bungalows in all other parks have now been renovated to provide additional facilities to the visitors. The Yala and Horton Plains National Park in Nuwara Eliya bring the highest revenue to the Wildlife Department. However, Yala due to its vast extent needs a substantial amount of maintenance work.

Last year, the Yala National Park earned revenues of Rs. 30 million and the Park also recorded the highest revenue of Rs. 2.5 million on a single day earlier this year on February 13th After the end of the war in 2009, tourists have been flocking to the Yala National Park which is one of the best known nature reserves in the world and a popular tourist destination. (KH/ST)

 

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Chandimal’s century powers SL ‘A’ to 275 runs

Posted on 31 July 2014 by admin

 

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Dropped Sri Lanka player Dinesh Chandimal top scored with a century for Sri Lanka ‘A’ to score 275 for nine wickets in their tour match against Yorkshire in Headingley yesterday. Chandimal put on a second wicket stand of 101 runs with opener Danushka Gunathilaka who scored 65 runs.Chandimal scored eight fours and a six in his innings while Chathuranga de Silva and Ramith Rambukwella added brisk 20s. In their essay Yorkshire were 236 for eight wickets in 43 overs when this edition went to press.

Scores: Sri Lanka ‘A’ 275 for 9 in 50 overs (Danushka Gunathilaka 65, Dinesh Chandimal 100, Chathuranga de Silva 29, Ramith Rambukwella 23n.o; James Wainman 3/51, Adil Rashid 4/57)

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CRICKET: Sri Lankans star in Highest partnerships by wicket

Posted on 31 July 2014 by admin

Given below is an analysis of the highest partnerships in world cricket. It is interesting to note that Sanath Jayasuriya was associated in a 2nd wicket 576 run partnership with Roshan Mahanama way back in 1997, 17 years back. 9 years later Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene entered the record books with their mammoth 624 run 3rd wicket partnership. Jayawardene was yet again associated with Thilan Samaraweera in 2009 for a record 437-run 4th wicket partnership. Now that Jayasuriya, Mahanama and Samaraweera have retired from the game and with Sangakkara and Jayawardena retiring this year – what happens to Sri Lanka cricket and our cricketers in the future? Do we have the potential to come up with two batsmen who will break any of the records below? Well, we hope so and the next few years will tell the story. We wish our youngsters well and hope to see their names on the records list below.

Highest partnerships by wicket
 
Wkt
Runs
 
Partners
Team
Opposition
Ground
Match Date
 
1st
415
 
ND McKenzie, GC Smith
South Africa
v Bangladesh
29 Feb 2008
 
2nd
576
 
ST Jayasuriya, RS Mahanama
Sri Lanka
v India
2 Aug 1997
 
3rd
624
 
KC Sangakkara, DPMD Jayawardene
Sri Lanka
v South Africa
27 Jul 2006
 
4th
437
 
DPMD Jayawardene, TT Samaraweera
Sri Lanka
v Pakistan
21 Feb 2009
 
5th
405
 
SG Barnes, DG Bradman
Australia
v England
13 Dec 1946
 
6th
352
 
BB McCullum, BJ Watling
New Zealand
v India
14 Feb 2014
 
7th
347
 
DS Atkinson, CC Depeiaza
West Indies
v Australia
14 May 1955
 
8th
332
 
IJL Trott, SCJ Broad
England
v Pakistan
26 Aug 2010
 
9th
195
 
MV Boucher, PL Symcox
South Africa
v Pakistan
14 Feb 1998
 
10th
198
 
JE Root, JM Anderson
England
v India
9 Jul 2014
 
 

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Kaley Cuoco and her Big Bang Theory co-stars holding out for huge pay raises as production start is delayed

Posted on 31 July 2014 by admin

Kaley Cuoco, Johnny Galecki and Jim Parsons reportedly want their salaries increased from $325,000 to $1 million per episode.

The unresolved contract negotiations have caused Warner Bros. TV to delay the start of production on the show's eighth season, according to both The Hollywood Reporter and Variety.

Kaley, Galecki and the Emmy winning Parsons, who also receive a 0.25 point share of the series profits, are also said to be demanding a larger slice of that back end, Deadline.com reported.

 

 

Castmembers Simon Helberg and Kunal Nayyar are also locked in contract negotiations and demanding big salary increases.

 

The show's other stars, Mayim Bialik and Melissa Rauch, already reached mutually agreeable deals with the network that include blockbuster raises too.

Everybody was supposed to be back at the studio to read through the season's first script, but with some of the stars' financial situations still up in the air that table reading has been shelved for the time being.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

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Global apparel label and packaging giant to set up BOI joint venture with Printcare

Posted on 31 July 2014 by admin

Royal Pac Printcare Lanka (Private) Limited has signed an agreement with the Board of Investment (BOI) to establish an operation for the manufacture of apparel labels and packaging material for the apparel industry of Sri Lanka, Dilip Samarasinghe, Director (Media and Publicity) of the BOI said on July 12.

r-pac International Holding Co., the foreign investor in the new venture, is a company based in New York, USA, and is one of the largest label and packaging material suppliers to the global apparel industry. It currently has operations in over 25 worldwide locations including the Americas, Europe, Middle East and Asia, and currently enjoys an exceptionally large retailer contact base with particular access to the US market. With worldwide accreditation, r-pac International has also been experiencing continuous and steady growth in South Asian markets such as Bangladesh and India.

The company has a highly advanced manufacturing technology process including significant technological advances in RFID technology which is increasingly deployed in apparel packaging and its supply chain. These attributes coupled with the company’s innovative approach and intense focus on customer service has made it a preferred and leading supplier of apparel labels to the global apparel industry.

The local partner, Printcare Packaging Pvt Ltd, a fully-owned subsidiary of Printcare PLC, one of the largest and most sophisticated printing operations in Sri Lanka, is a leading provider of innovative printing and packaging services to export industries in Sri Lanka.

Mr. PradeepSugathadasa, Director, Royal Pac Printcare, said that this collaboration between the two majors is a great opportunity to add value to the apparel industry. “The new joint venture is a timely investment and will significantly contribute to the Sri Lankan economy, while enhancing the competitiveness and flexibility of the apparel sector by making available a wide variety of apparel labels and packaging products”. He also added that, “The locally produced apparel labels and packaging material will be made available to the apparel sector at competitive prices and faster lead times.” The new venture will enable local apparel manufacturers to reduce their reliance upon imported labels and packaging products, while generating significant foreign exchange savings. The joint venture will also greatly enhance the opportunity for indirect exports, resulting in further corresponding foreign exchange inflows into the country.

The apparel industry in Sri Lanka accounts for over 40% of exports and is therefore the leading export sector contributor to the country’s economic growth. The current annual value of this industry is estimated at USD 4 billion, and the industry is projected to achieve further significant growth in the next few years due to various changing factors in the global apparel industry. Sri Lanka has a strong backward integration in the industry, geographic location and the concurrent economic benefits of market access and an advanced manufacturing base which facilitates better product development and penetrative marketing capability. The prevalent labour standards and compliance with ethical requirements of the industry are also deemed as factors influencing the projected growth of the industry.

“The apparel label industry has directly benefited from this growth. The prevailing positive business climate indicates excellent potential for growth of the apparel label industry in Sri Lanka and ideal market conditions for a strong, well-networked, branded label supplier to enter the market, thereby facilitating competition and contributing to further growth of the industry,” Mr. Sugathadasa added.

 

 

 

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Elephants Stroll Past Temples on Once-Forbidden Sri Lankan Coast

Posted on 31 July 2014 by admin

 

With the civil war now ended, the island nation's east and north have opened up for the first time in a quarter century. St. Martin's Seminary in Jaffna is shown here. Although Sinhalese Buddhists make up 74 percent of Sri Lanka's population, Catholics are a significant minority.

 

With the civil war now ended, the island nation's east and north have opened up for the first time in a quarter century. St. Martin's Seminary in Jaffna is shown here. Although Sinhalese Buddhists make up 74 percent of Sri Lanka's population, Catholics are a significant minority. Photograph: Simon Norfolk/Bloomberg Pursuits

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“You’re going to Jaffna? Don’t worry!” My tuk-tuk driver in the Sri Lankan capital of Colombo, upon hearing that I plan to visit the northern capital of Jaffna, feels compelled to offer reassurance.

Jaffna, a former stronghold of the rebel Tamil Tigers, was off-limits during long stretches of the country’s brutal civil war. My driver says he recently made the trip himself, on a freshly paved highway, and that the city and its surroundings are indeed, at long last, safe.

“Most of the mines have been cleared,” he adds.

In recent years, as peace has finally taken hold throughout Sri Lanka, the island nation has become a mainstay on travel magazines’ annual lists of hot spots. Yet, as Bloomberg Pursuits magazine will report in its Autumn 2013 issue, less than 1 percent of foreign tourists venture to the battle-scarred north, and only slightly more visit the east coast, despite these regions’ extraordinary cultural and natural riches.

Jaffna and the rest of the Northern Province, located 50 miles (80 kilometers) off the southeast coast of India, have 1,448 Hindu temples, along with important Buddhist sites, restored Portuguese forts, crumbling colonial villas, an intensely vibrant and welcoming Tamil population — and no tourist office. As yet, there’s not even an official street map of the city; if you’re lucky, a hotel clerk will offer to print something off the Internet.

Many of the island's 3,000 elephants have been domesticated for use in logging, construction and temple work. Photograph: Simon Norfolk/Bloomberg Pursuits.

 

Many of the island's 3,000 elephants have been domesticated for use in logging,

 

Many of the island's 3,000 elephants have been domesticated for use in logging, construction and temple work. Photograph: Simon Norfolk/Bloomberg Pursuits

 

 

 

 

 

East Coast

Meanwhile, Sri Lanka’s hard-luck east coast, which bore the brunt of not only the civil war but also the 2004 tsunami, is a patchwork of fenced-off military camps, bombed-out homes — and many of Sri Lanka’s most pristine beaches. In one small pocket on the coast, near Batticaloa, a cluster of upscale resorts is already in the final stages of construction, hinting at the kind of large-scale development that might soon take root. However, in many areas, you can still wander for days without seeing a single tourist.

Given the ferocity of the civil war — possibly more than 100,000 Sri Lankans lost their lives — and the many scars that remain, this isn’t yet the best destination for a carefree beach holiday. For adventure-minded travelers, however, a trip here offers a chance to explore a fascinating place in the early stages of a long-deserved rebound.

Sinhalese Buddhists

I fly to Jaffna on a commercial flight operated by the Sri Lanka Air Force, which departs three days a week from the heavily guarded, palm-fringed air base in Colombo. After landing, I head to the bustling suburb of Kokuvil to speak with Seenivasagam Kalaiselvam, who until recently was director of the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority.

Central Jaffna, a former stronghold of the Tamil Tigers, is today a lively mix of storefronts, villas, temples and churches. Photograph: Simon Norfolk/Bloomberg Pursuits.

 

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Like most residents of the Northern Province, Kalaiselvam, 59, is a Tamil-speaking Hindu whose ancestors are from southern India. He was one of only three Tamils among the 400 staffers at his agency; most of the rest were Sinhalese Buddhists, who make up 74 percent of Sri Lanka’s population. Muslims and Catholics are the other significant minorities — evidence of Sri Lanka’s past as a trading hub and colonial outpost of the Portuguese, Dutch and British. Now retired, Kalaiselvam is overseeing an unofficial effort to rehabilitate the tourism infrastructure in Sri Lanka’s north. Asked if he’s expecting any funding from the government of Sinhalese President Mahinda Rajapaksa, Kalaiselvam laughs and shakes his head.

“They have other priorities,” he says.

Expatriate Tamils

In Kokuvil, we visit a neighborhood shrine dedicated to the god Karthikeyan, one of hundreds of temples here that were damaged or neglected in the war and are now undergoing painstaking restoration. The head priest, a heavyset man in a sarong, tells me that the funding is coming from expatriate Tamils as well as local families, some of whom could afford to donate only a single roof tile.

Nearby, scores of carved deities adorn the massive tower marking the entrance to Nallur Kandaswamy Kovil, one of the most impressive Hindu complexes outside India. Following custom, I remove my shirt and shoes (women remove only their footwear) for the afternoon puja, a spectacle of prayers and chants accompanied by drums, flutes and incense. During festival celebrations in July and August, as many as 30,000 worshippers swarm the grounds, some walking on coals or piercing their skin with metal skewers in ecstatic displays of devotion.

A few blocks away is the extraordinary archaeological site of Kantharodai, where a cluster of several dozen partially restored stone dagobas lie beneath towering palmyra trees, watched over listlessly by two armed soldiers and a stray cow.

Stone Dagobas

Dating back more than 2,000 years, the circular structures are so old that no one is quite sure who built them or why. In the surrounding streets, newly restored homes alternate with hauntingly ruined ones, many roofless and overrun with foliage.

“You can tell how long ago a house was bombed or abandoned by the age of the trees in its rooms,” Kalaiselvam says.

In addition to its enormous death toll, Sri Lanka’s 25-year civil war, which ended in 2009, left hundreds of thousands wounded and many more displaced. The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), in its quest for an independent homeland, pioneered the use of the suicide bomb, carried out multiple civilian massacres, regularly abducted Tamil children in order to train them as soldiers and was blamed for the assassinations of two heads of state: Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi in 1991 and Sri Lankan President Ranasinghe Premadasa in 1993.

The Sri Lankan government, whose open discrimination against the Tamils had helped provoke the revolt, employed its own ruthlessly violent tactics. Extremists orchestrated much of the damage on both sides, while the majority of the victims were innocent bystanders.

International Sympathy

“The government and the LTTE appear to be holding a perverse contest to determine who can show the least concern for civilian protection,” Brad Adams, Asia director at New York-based Human Rights Watch, said in 2009.

Throughout the conflict, international sympathy has tended to favor whomever was on the wrong end of the most-recent atrocities, and, lately, that’s been the Tamils, many of whom were no fans of the LTTE to begin with. According to Human Rights Watch and other international organizations, Sri Lanka’s government has a long record of human rights abuses; its army has been accused of killing thousands of Tamil civilians during the final stages of the war.

One afternoon, I have tea with Rajaram Rasaratnam, a prominent Jaffnan who’s spent years overseeing Tamil aid organizations. In 1993, when his family home in a comfortable suburb suddenly came under shelling, he and his wife fled on their bicycles, leaving a pot of boiling water on the stove.

Heirloom Jewels

They were finally allowed back 13 years later, which is when, with the help of a Sinhalese soldier, they recovered the heirloom jewels that Rasaratnam’s wife had presciently buried under a bush.

One thing many outsiders don’t realize, Rasaratnam says, is that Sinhalese and Tamils coexisted amicably for long periods in the past and that, even today, individuals from the two ethnic groups generally get along.

“It’s the politicians who ruin everything,” he says.

After exploring an enchanting enclave of faded villas and churches in central Jaffna, I eat lunch at a vegetarian restaurant, Akshathai, that’s been open all of five days. At the next table, a woman in a sparkling aquamarine sari decides that my order of rice and curry — an assortment of vegetarian plates that is a national specialty — is taking too long and marches over to the manager to scold him. Within seconds, my meal appears (sans utensils, since Sri Lankans eat with their hands).

Incipient Boom

The woman, an insurance agent, tells me she has just returned home to Jaffna from Colombo to be part of its incipient boom.

“Some people are finally moving back, now that the roads are good,” she says. “Others need a little more time to be convinced that peace will actually last this time.”

Off the coast of the Jaffna peninsula lie a series of starkly beautiful islands that offer further evidence of longtime neglect, as well as enormous potential.

On Karaitivu, which is linked to the mainland by a long causeway lined with shrimp beds, I stop by a small fishing village where, as usual, most everyone within sight comes over to greet me and to chat.

When I ask one man about the local alcoholic drink known as toddy, which comes from the palmyra palm and ferments on its own within hours of being tapped, he dispatches a friend to scale a 25-foot-high (8-meter-high) trunk, extract some of the sweet, milky nectar and pour me a glass.

Former Jail

During the war, he says, the village’s population went from 300 to zero; it’s now back at 35 — and rising. Next to the village is a poignantly weed-ridden Gothic chapel, stripped bare, its windows still adorned with peace doves and the Latin word pax in gold letters.

One freshly restored attraction that looms in the waters off Karaitivu is the 17th-century Portuguese-built Fort Hammenhiel, now a luxury boutique hotel owned and operated by the navy. In addition to four air-conditioned rooms, lower-cost beds are available in the former jail cell, where radical leftist leader Rohana Wijeweera spent six years in confinement.

On the night I stay, I am the only guest, and my arrival by motorboat is greeted with a military salute by three soldiers, one blowing a bugle. The next morning, I arrive at the dock for my scheduled excursion to the island of Nainativu, where the Buddha is said to have landed during one of three visits to Sri Lanka, to discover that I’ll be making the trip in a decommissioned gunboat, with eight navy shipmen as my chaperones.

War Tourism

Sri Lanka’s armed forces aren’t known for their subtlety, and their continued heavy presence in the north and east has done much to validate many Tamils’ claims that the government is more interested in triumphalism than in reconciliation.

“In their view, we are the losers, and they are not letting us forget it,” says one Jaffnan.

There has also been a controversial boom in so-called war tourism, with busloads of mostly Sinhalese travelers heading north to visit the district of Mullaitivu, where the army has opened the underground bunker of slain Tigers leader Velupillai Prabhakaran.

Some locals question the propriety of the navy’s dabbling in the hospitality business at Fort Hammenhiel. In any case, the previously inaccessible site is now open to everyone, and it’s a rare privilege to spend the night in one’s very own citadel and to wake at dawn to observe rows of migrating pelicans soaring past the watchtower.

Few Westerners

During three days in the north, I’ve spotted only one other Westerner — a Frenchwoman snapping photos in a temple (just beneath a “no photos” sign) — so it’s jarring when, after flying from Jaffna to the east coast town of Trincomalee, I see several young European couples sprawled in lounge chairs at the Jungle Beach Resort.

Opened last year on a deserted cove 18 miles north of town, Jungle Beach is like scores of other well-run resorts throughout Asia, where honeymooners can spend a week without leaving the property or putting on shoes. One difference I notice during a morning walk on the empty beach is the abundant wildlife, which has thrived during the war’s de facto construction freeze. Hundreds of tiny crabs dart across the sand, while countless black-shafted terns glide overhead, occasionally swooping down to pluck a fish out of the transparent sea.

Religious Procession

On the main road closer to town, blaring south Indian music signals the approach of a religious procession in which hundreds of Hindus in traditional costume, some carrying huge baskets of flowers and leaves on their heads, walk for several miles under the blazing sun. In a self-mutilation rite that’s intended to offer proof of devotion, three men dangle from poles by metal hooks inserted in their backs.

Nonetheless, the vibe is block-party festive as young girls from the neighborhood smilingly offer fresh papaya juice to the passing crowd. In the procession’s wake, I witness a lone cobra poised in the middle of the road, its head raised and hood flared.

South of Trincomalee, the newly resurfaced road hugs the eastern shore, passing several Muslim fishing towns and clusters of international aid-financed brick homes, built for families displaced by the tsunami. Outside the city of Batticaloa, in Passekuda, sits one of Sri Lanka’s officially designated tourism zones, a mini Cancun, Mexico, in the making, where more than a dozen new hotels are slated to open by the end of next year.

Goddess Kali

Far more edifying is my visit to another crowded festival at a Hindu shrine that I discover by chance after noticing that a side street is festooned with colorful flags. Outside the Mavadivembu temple, dedicated to Kali, the goddess of death, scores of kids notice me approaching, and the sight of a white guy with a camera unleashes such a frenzy that I feel like Justin Bieber making a surprise visit to a Midwestern middle school dance. Clusters of children run after me, laughing with delight, while a few try out their English: “How old are you?” “Where are you going?” “I love you!”

There’s an aura of ineffable stillness and tranquility at my next stop, the jungle hermitage Buddhangala, which dates to the third century B.C. A family of toque macaque monkeys cavorts in the chestnut trees as I enter a cave stocked with ancient relics, a human skeleton and other props, displayed to remind meditators of the transience of life.

Later, in a hut overlooking a vast plain, I meet the man who is perhaps Sri Lanka’s unlikeliest religious figure: the former army general Ananda Weerasekera, now a baldheaded monk who rises daily at 3 a.m. to don his maroon robe and sit for morning meditation.

Serene Charms

With his wry smile and courteous manner, Weerasekera, 70, embodies many of Sri Lanka’s serene charms and baffling contradictions. He explains that after being widowed and retiring from the military, he read the Buddha’s original sermons and realized he’d found his true path.

“All wars and conflicts — whether ethnic or regional, between kings or presidents — begin in the mind of man,” he says. “Therefore, you need to treat the mind. Kingdoms, power, wars, love: All these things are impermanent. And meditation is the key to realizing that.”

I ask Weerasekera about Sri Lanka’s notorious group of radical Buddhist monks, who’ve joined anti-Muslim mob protests.

“Even during Buddha’s day, there were monks not following the Buddhist principles,” he says.

However, he makes no apologies for his service as a hard-line military commander, overseeing operations in this very region.

‘Protect My Country’

“I had to protect my country,” he says, going on to explain that some reports about the army’s human rights violations have been exaggerated.

Before taking my leave, I ask if he has any regrets about giving up his past life of power and privilege.

“Do I look unhappy?” he asks and lets out a long, deep laugh.

Just an hour’s drive south, on a long, palm-lined cove, sits Arugam Bay, the east coast’s premier surf spot. With its $10-a-night thatched cabanas, reggae bars and Ayurvedic boutiques, it’s a pleasant place to relive your post-college backpacking days, especially if you have a high tolerance for stray dogs and dirty feet.

The only town in the east that remained accessible during much of the civil war, Arugam Bay has long been prized as a mellow alternative to Sri Lanka’s ever-more-crowded south and west. Here you can still spot crocodiles by the roadside as you ride in a tuk-tuk to an uncrowded right-hand point break that’s flanked on both sides by hundreds of yards of empty beach.

Whiff of Hucksterism

Longtime regulars say there’s a new whiff of hucksterism on the town’s only street, where restaurant workers stand in doorways and pitch their menu specials in English to passersby.

Nonetheless, there’s plenty to recommend this place — including herds of wild elephants. You can see them by taking a hired jeep into nearby Kumana National Park, the remarkably seldom-visited bird and animal sanctuary, or simply by driving along the main road to Colombo in the late afternoon. When you start noticing toppled road signs and trampled bushes, look over at the grasslands to your right.

Before leaving Arugam Bay, I sit down for a talk with one of its most-admired figures: Ranga Krishnarajan, a wild-bearded 49-year-old Tamil in a plaid sarong.

Krishnarajan fled here from his native Jaffna during the war to open a small hotel — a cluster of thatched bungalows called Beach Hut. At 8:30 on the morning that the tsunami rolled in, flattening Arugam Bay and killing 30,000 people throughout Sri Lanka, Krishnarajan was serving breakfast when he saw one of his employees rushing toward him, screaming: “Ocean coming! Run! Run!”

Coconut Palm

At first Krishnarajan thought it was a joke. Swept up in the torrent seconds later, he ended up in a coconut palm, naked, watching his refrigerator float below him as the waters receded.

Krishnarajan climbed down to find that his wife and 10-year-old daughter had survived unharmed but that six of his guests, along with his daughter’s best friend, were gone. Within weeks, he had moved back and started rebuilding. His wife and daughter, not yet ready to return, remained farther inland for another four years.

Lately, Arugam Bay has been getting a little too busy for Krishnarajan’s taste. He plans to relocate to a second property, a few miles up the coast, on a spectacularly deserted stretch of beach known as Lighthouse Point.

“For me, the most important thing right now is peace,” he says. “And quiet.”

Despite having watched a 30-foot wave erase his home and business, Krishnarajan, who also spent a quarter century living through a ferocious civil war that he’d rather not discuss, seems to be less concerned about the hazards posed by nature than those posed by man.

His place in Arugam Bay is just a few dozen yards inland, and his future home will be even closer to the shore.

Getting Around

Even Sri Lanka’s top travel specialists are just beginning to discover the country’s north and east. A reputable agent such as Miguel Cunat at Colombo-based Sri Lanka in Style will be instrumental in navigating the still-limited options for lodging and transport.

Many visitors book a car and driver/guide for their entire trip; it’s helpful if your driver has some knowledge of Tamil, the main language spoken in these parts. In the cities, at least, you can expect essentials such as ATMs, pharmacies and Internet access.

In August, Cinnamon Air inaugurated long-awaited seaplane service, with scheduled and charter flights from Colombo to Jaffna, Trincomalee and other northern and eastern locales.

 

 

 

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South Africa’s Jacques Kallis retires from International Cricket

Posted on 31 July 2014 by admin

Jacques Kallis, South Africa’s highest cricket run scorer, said he will retire from all international forms of the game and won’t play in next year’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.

The 38-year-old’s “dream of playing in a World Cup was a bridge too far,” Kallis said in an e-mailed statement today. The squad “is an amazing one and I believe they have a good chance of bringing the trophy home in March.”

The all-rounder scored 13,289 Test runs, third on the all-time list behind Sachin Tendulkar of India and Australia’s Ricky Ponting, and compiled 45 centuries. He took 292 Test wickets and 200 catches, according to the ESPN cricinfo website. He retired from the longer Test form of the game in December and played his last limited-over international matches on the tour of Sri Lanka this month.

“I am not retiring from all cricket as I have a two-year contract with the Sydney Thunder and, if possible, to help the Kolkata Knight Riders defend the Indian Premier League we won earlier this year,” Kallis said.

Courtesy: Kamlesh Bhuckory in Johannesburg

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Sri Lanka could attract Japanese investments

Posted on 29 July 2014 by admin

 

 

 

Minister Rajapaksa exchanging a token with the visiting Japanese State Minister.

 

Sri Lanka has one of the fastest growing economies in Asia and will have the fastest growing economy in South Asia next year, said visiting State Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry of Japan, Kasuyoshi Akaba.

The Japanese Minister expressed his deepest appreciation to the Government of Sri Lanka for hosting him and his delegation. He agreed that there was a pressing need to develop avenues to enhance FDI inflows from Japan to Sri Lanka. Present at the forum were all Japanese companies which are members of JCCISL based in Sri Lanka and operating under the BOI, leading State agencies such as Finance Ministry, Power and Energy, immigration, Inland Revenue, customs and the Japanese Embassy and other Japanese agencies such as JETRO and JICA.

At the forum, a wide range of subjects of interest to Japanese investors in Sri Lanka were discussed in the areas of labour relations, taxes, electricity tariffs, immigration issues, BOI approvals and government information available to investors.

Many of these matters were discussed in detail and solutions were found to resolve such issues in a speedy manner. In this regard the Sri Lankan state agencies extended their co-operation to the maximum extent.

The meeting was conducted in a cordial manner. Minister of Investment Promotion, Lakshman Yapa Abeywardana also addressed the event.

Minister Abeywardana briefed Minister Akaba on Sri Lanka's considerable potential for investment, and also expressed confidence that Japanese FDI will grow over the next few years. He added that Japanese investment would increase productivity in the country and also result in significant technology transfers.

 

 

Courtesy: Daily News

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