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Sri Lanka Magic Circle 1922 – 2022 Celebrates a Century of Magic!

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Founded on 18th February 1922 as an Association of Ceylon Magicians, headed by Gate Mudaliyar A.C.G.S. Amarasekera, with Harold Holden, T.G.R. Goonewardane, Simon Perera, Linden de Alwis, Herbert E. Gonsal, and Vivien Abhayaratne, the Association progressed in the cultural entertainment field up to the 1950 era and thereafter galvanized itself into creating a niche in the entertainment field. In 1953 the name was changed to Sri Lanka Magic Circle (SLMC) which attracted many enthusiasts interested in the performing art of magic. These were students, many members from the government service, mercantile service, Army, Air Force, Navy, Police, Engineers, Doctors, Education department, Medical Research Institution and Judicial service, Borah and Sindi communities to name a few.

Regular monthly meetings and magic workshops were held throughout, initiated by the diligent council members. Many magic performances were held island wide, most of which were in aid of fundraising charitable causes, which was one of the social obligations of the SLMC, even as at date. The quality of the performing art was raised by conducting regular workshops and by holding annual magic contests since 1961 to date and thus improved professionalism in presentation.

This Magic Circle received the blessings of the State throughout its long history.  Sir Oliver Goonetilleke graced the magic shows conducted by the Circle The Golden Jubilee celebrations were held at the President’s House with the blessings of the late William Gopallawa. In 2002 the Tower Hall Theatre Foundation, in association with the Cultural Ministry, under then Minister the late Monty Gopallawa, gifted a block of land at the Kalapola zone at 156 Templars Road, Mt.Lavinia in recognition of the cultural impact by the Magic Circle, on which the ground floor headquarters has been constructed.

The Department of Cultural Affairs recognized the efforts of the magic circle and granted it the status of a ‘National Arts Society in March 2021. Due to the tremendous effort of the SLMC as a cultural society, a Centenary Postal Stamp and a First Day Cover is to be issued on the 22nd April at the International Magic Convention at the BMICH by the Postal Department.

Today the Sri Lanka Magic Circle is one of the very few globally recognized Magic Clubs in the world which has had a glorious marathon century run to date!

Several events has been planned for 22nd and 23rd April which includes a full day International Magic Convention at the Lotus Hall, BMICH, with lecture demonstrations, Senior and Junior Magic Competitions open to local and foreign magicians, awards ceremonies and magic dealer sales counters. On the 24th April from 5.45 PM an evening of a fabulous Gala Magic Extravaganza is scheduled for VVIPs and invitees at the Bishop’s College Auditorium by local and foreign magicians.

About 40 foreign delegates have already registered and the Magic Circle has promoted these delegates to tour Sri Lankan tourist sites, after the events, thus boosting the tourism industry.

Local magicians and members of the public interested in joining the events or to obtain membership in the Sri Lanka Magic Circle, could email Lt. Col. (rtd.) Ronald de Alwis on magicana@sltnet.lk for inquiries.



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Weerawansa’s wife sentenced to RI

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Lawyers appearing for Shashi Weerawansa, MP Wimal Weerawansa’s wife, yesterday (27) appealed against a Colombo Magistrate’s Court decision to sentence their client to two years rigorous imprisonment.Colombo Chief Magistrate, Buddhika Sri Ragala found her guilty of submitting forged documents to obtain a diplomatic passport circa 2010. The Colombo Magistrate’s Court also imposed a fine of Rs. 100,000 on Mrs. Weerawansa. If the fine is not paid she will have to serve an extra six months.

Additional Magistrate Harshana Kekunawala announced that the appeal would be called for consideration on 30 May.The case against Mrs. Weerawansa was filed by the CID after a complaint was lodged on 23 January 2015 by Chaminda Perera, a resident of Battaramulla.

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Unions predict end of energy sovereignty

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By Rathindra Kuruwita

A government decision to allow all privately-owned bunker fuel operators to import and distribute diesel and fuel oil to various industries was a rollback of the nationalisation of the country’s petroleum industry and another severe blow to energy sovereignty of the country, trade union activist of the SJB Ananda Palitha said yesterday.Earlier, Minister of Power and Energy, Kanchana Wijesekera Tweeted that ‘approval was given to all the Private Bunker Fuel Operators to Import and provide Diesel and Fuel Oil requirements of Industries to function their Generators and Machinery. This will ease the burden on CPC and Fuel Stations provided in bulk’.Commenting on the decision, Palitha said that according to the existing law those companies only had the power to import, store and distribute fuel for ships. Those companies did not have the authority to distribute fuel inside the country, Palitha said.

“Only the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC) and Lanka Indian Oil Corporation (LIOC) can distribute fuel inside the country. There is a controversy about the licence given to the LIOC as well. If the government wants other companies to import fuel, it needs to change the laws. The Minister does not have the power to make these decisions. A few months ago the Gotabaya Rajapaksa administration used to rush Bills that adversely affected the country through Parliament. Now, since they don’t have a majority in parliament, they are using the Cabinet to make decisions that are detrimental to the country’s interests.”

Palitha said that the controversial government move would further weaken the CPC, and that the ultimate aim of the Rajapaksa-Wickremesinghe government was to make the Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) purchase fuel from private distributors. With a weakened CPC and a CEB under the mercy of private companies, the Sri Lankan state would have little control over the country’s energy sector, he warned.

“The CEB already can’t pay the CPC, and therefore how can it pay private companies? It will have to sell its assets. This is another step in the road to fully privatise the energy sector. When this happens no government will be able to control inflation or strategically drive production through fuel and energy tariffs. The people will be at the mercy of businessmen and the government will only be a bystander,” he said.

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Modi government moves to ‘solve’ Katchatheevu issue

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The Narendra Modi government is mulling restoring the traditional rights of Tamil Nadu fishermen in Katchatheevu, an uninhabited island of 285 acres, sandwiched between India and Sri Lanka in the Palk Bay, with the BJP hoping the move could lift its political fortunes in the southern state.The government will push Sri Lanka to implement “in letter and spirit” the 1974 agreement reached between Indira Gandhi and Sirimavo Bandaranaike, then prime ministers of India and Sri Lanka, on the island.This will have to be done by withdrawing the “Executive Instructions” issued in 1976 without questioning Sri Lanka’s “sovereignty” over Katchatheevu, sources aware of the internal discussions in the BJP told the Indian newspaper, Deccan Herald.

Sources added that the discussions were “ongoing” at “various levels” including reaching out to Tamil political parties in Sri Lanka. The recent visit of TN BJP chief K Annamalai to Sri Lanka is also part of the outreach. Many feel the instructions issued in 1976 “superseded the provisions of the legally valid” pact between India and Sri Lanka, thus making Katchatheevu a subject of dispute in the Palk Bay.While the 1974 agreement gave away Katchatheevu, which was part of the territory ruled by the Rajah of Ramanathapuram, to Sri Lanka, the 1976 pact drew the maritime boundary between India and Sri Lanka in the Gulf of Mannar and Bay of Bengal.

“We cannot disturb the agreement signed in 1974. We are now finding ways and means to implement the agreement in letter and spirit. All we plan is to ask Sri Lanka to invoke Article 6 of the Katchatheevu pact. If Sri Lanka agrees, the issue can be sorted through Exchange of Letters between foreign secretaries of both countries,” a source in the know said.Another source said the time is “ripe” to push forward on the issue. “With fast-changing geopolitical situation in the region, we believe Sri Lanka will slowly come around and accept the rights of our fishermen,” the source said.

“The opinion within the party is that time is ripe to push this cause, with Sri Lanka beginning to realise that India can always be relied upon, given PM Ranil (Wickremesinghe) is pro-India.”

Articles 5 and 6 of the 1974 agreement categorically assert the right to access of the Indian fishermen and pilgrims to Katchatheevu and state that the “vessels of Sri Lanka and India will enjoy in each other’s waters such rights as they have traditionally enjoyed therein”.

However, fishermen from India were prohibited from fishing in the Sri Lankan territorial waters around Katchatheevu in 1976 following the signing of an agreement on the maritime boundary. The battle for fish in the Palk Bay has often ended in Indian fishermen being attacked by Sri Lankan Navy for “transgressing” into their waters.The BJP, which is yet to make major inroads in Tamil Nadu, feels a “solution” to the long-standing issue will give the party the much-needed momentum ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha polls and provide a chance to get into the Tamil psyche. Political analysts feel that it might also allow the BJP to needle the DMK and the Congress by pointing out that it has restored the rights “surrendered by them,” to Tamil fishermen

Senior journalist and Lanka expert R Bhagwan Singh said: “If BJP succeeds in its efforts, it will certainly help the saffron party in the coming elections.”

But a source said the move will “take time”. “We don’t want to rush and create an impression we are forcing Sri Lanka. We will take it slow. We will take every stakeholder into confidence and reach an amicable settlement with Sri Lanka. All we want to do is restore traditional rights of our fishermen,” the source said.CM Stalin also raised the issue at an event on Thursday, telling Modi that this is the “right time” to retrieve Katchatheevu.

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