Jungle Telegraph

5th March 2000

By Alia

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How did he go?

A commercial enterprise sent out an invitation to Army Headquarters for last month's Asian Aerospace 2000 (or the Singapore Air Show). They offered an all expenses paid trip and even named two senior officers who should attend.

Army Commander Lt. Gen. Srilal Weerasooriya took exception to the firm deciding on who should attend. He made the point that it was his prerogative but also, interesting enough, requested three invitations instead of two.

The firm readily accepted both. Three invitations arrived at Army Headquarters and the Army Chief was asked to make the pick.

He named three officers, two Brigadiers and a Colonel. One Brigadier gracefully opted out on the ground that he had been to the show before and let his deputy go. The three member team went to Singapore and were at the show in full uniform. They are now back in Colombo.

They have returned with the news that a fourth Army officer was also at the same air show although he was not a member of the official delegation. He was, however, not in unform.

He turns out to be one of those originally named in the firm's invitation.

How did he go? His overseas leave had also been recommended by the Army Chief.

Believe it or not

In Army parlance, they call it the Unattached Allowance a per diem senior officers are entitled to when they are on overseas stints including training.

In most instances it is customary for military institutions in the host country to provide accommodation, food, lodging or related expenses when it comes to training or during courses.

Insiders say the Unattached Allowance is only for a maximum period of 90 days.

But, believe it or not. There were those who had availed themselves of the allowance for a whole year or 365 days. That's a cool $ 54,759 US dollars or over Rs 3.8 million. That too on courses where there was hospitality afforded by the hosts.

Under scrutiny

A top official in a state bank has come under scrutiny after he reportedly authorised Rs 150 million to a private commercial enterprise without any collateral or guarantees.

The authorities are also trying to ascertain how the official concerned came to approve this, a move which, insiders say, is a prelude to punitive action.

Red herring?

An LTTE radio intercept this week is puzzling security authorities. Karuna, now the "Special Commander" of Tiger cadres in the Wanni was heard telling Nizam ( a nom de guerre) in Batticaloa that every effort should be made to minimise civilian casualties.

The move comes after eight separate explosions in buses left four dead and 166 wounded since January 30, this year.

They ponder whether this is a red herring or the result of adverse criticism against the LTTE.

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