Stories written by Feizal Samath

Warm-hearted Sri Lankans

Scene 1: As a visiting tourist goes through the aero bridge outside the flight gate into the Bandaranaike International Airport lobby, walking past airport officials and smartly-clad SriLankan Airlines’ ground staff, the mood is anything but welcoming. They are greeted by glum or stern faces.

Fountains of Knowledge

It was a very intriguing topic. Earlier this month, Don Carlson, an education specialist from Microsoft Singapore visiting Colombo, and I were discussing education into the 21st century when we came to the point of: Will teaching as a vocation, survive this century?

Of Meet-ups, Start-ups and Bootstraps

Confused by the heading? Well, this is the golden age of the millennials. Many moons ago while discussing small and medium scale businesses with a young entrepreneur, he referred to start-ups and a new ecosystem.

Maldives Talks Condoms

For an orthodox Islamic country, the Maldives has made remarkable progress in halting the spread of HIV in the Indian Ocean archipelago through bold awareness programmes and the distribution of condoms.

Rights Issues Mar Sri Lanka-EU Trade

Sri Lanka is in for some hard bargaining when it negotiates a new aid pact in 2013 with the European Union (EU), which withdrew a key trade concession  two years ago over this country’s human rights record.

Child Rape on the Rise in Sri Lanka

A spate of child rape cases in Sri Lanka has angered child rights activists and moved the government to consider tightening the relevant laws and making the offence punishable with the death sentence.

Archaic Laws Stymie HIV/AIDS Work in Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka has long enjoyed a low 0.1 percent HIV prevalence but, as the number of fresh infections rises steadily, experts are calling for a change in the country's archaic laws that make sex work illegal and criminalises homosexual activity. 

Back to the Future With Local Rice Seeds

By coaxing a bumper 3.2 tonnes of rice out of each acre on his organic farm in this district famed for its ancient Buddhist monasteries, Charitha Wijeratne has convincingly proved that using indigenous seeds does not affect productivity.

War Widows Turn to Sex Work in Sri Lanka

On May 18, some 800 women in Sri Lanka’s northern region will hold Hindu religious ceremonies for the welfare of thier husbands who disappeared or surrendered to the military as it moved in to mop up nearly three decades of armed Tamil separatism.

Maldivian Women Fight for Rights

Maldivian women, long used to taking a backseat in the Muslim-dominated Indian Ocean country, say they are determined to ensure that they are not deprived of their rights under the new regime of President Mohammed Waheed Hassan.

SRI LANKA: Saudi Death Sentence for Maid Shakes Govt

The Sri Lanka government is considering a further tightening of age restrictions on women leaving the country to become domestic workers. But some analysts say this is a quick-fix solution to the problem of women running afoul of the law abroad.

MALDIVES: Mining ‘Smoking Mountain’ of Rubbish for Energy

Most visitors to the Maldives – a string of islands southwest of Sri Lanka – won’t miss the so-called "smoking mountain" made from local residents’ trash as well as the garbage tourists leave behind in resorts nearby.

SRI LANKA: Plan to Host 2018 Commonwealth Games Opposed

Sri Lanka plans to host the Commonwealth Games seven years from now and spend two billion dollars, in what politicians and economists slam as another extravagant adventure aimed at boosting President Mahinda Rajapaksa.

Sri Lanka: NGOs Face Funding Gap and Government Scrutiny

Lack of donor funding, state phobia against western NGOs, and restrictive work permits for foreign aid workers have together hit the operations of several dozen Sri Lankan NGOs and their foreign counterparts.

DEVELOPMENT: Support Piles Up for Millennium Consumption Goals

Suggestions are pouring in from all corners of the world on how the world’s rich could reduce climate-damaging consumption habits, called Millennium Consumption Goals (MCGs), envisioned to be the flipside of the eight-point Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) set for the poor.

Workers at a garment factory outside Colombo.  Credit: J. Weerasekera

SRI LANKA: Garment Industry Woos Women Workers

Sri Lanka’s garment industry has launched a multi-million rupee campaign to bring in female workers shunning the country’s most profitable sector for better paying jobs.

SRI LANKA: Domestics Court Risks, Defying Age Bar

Sri Lanka has raised the age requirement for women wanting to leave the country to work as domestics abroad, but recruitment agents say this won’t prevent younger women from joining the exodus.

DEVELOPMENT: Now for ‘Millennium Consumption Goals’

A Sri Lankan scientist is calling for the drafting of "Millennium Consumption Goals" to force rich countries to curb their climate-damaging consumption habits, in the same way the poor have Millennium Development Goals to get them out of poverty.

SRI LANKA: Economy Going Nuts

At a marketplace near Colombo, consumers scramble for coconuts being sold from a state-owned truck. Sri Lanka is the world’s fourth largest coconut producer and a major exporter; but a crop shortfall and a drought have forced the country to import coconuts.

SRI LANKA: Anger Rises Over Torture Case, But Solution Unclear

The ordeal of a Sri Lankan domestic worker whose Saudi Arabian employer allegedly drove nails and metal wires into her body has sent alarm bells ringing among government officials and activists, but how such abuses can be stopped remain far from clear.

MALDIVES: Political Tensions Simmer in Tourist Paradise

Tourists taking in the sun and sand in the idyllic Maldives may be forgiven if they are unaware of the political developments in this country, even when President Mohamed Nasheed’s government teetered on the brink of collapse recently.

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