ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday March 9, 2008
Vol. 42 - No 41

Odds and Ends

Head of the troubled budget carrier Mihin Air, which has now run up a loss of more than two billion rupees in less than one year of operations by taking ad hoc decisions without sticking to the carefully prepared business plan for the carrier may have come to the end of his tether with the Company unable to pay last month’s salaries of its employees up to last Friday. An “anjanam eliya” tells us that come next month the budget carrier will be absorbed into SriLankan, the official national carrier, as a subsidiary and this self proclaimed whiz kid will flee into exile. In order to avoid a rebellion within SriLankan against such absorption the Government will have to write off the massive existing loss.

We are not offering any prizes, but can you guess the name of the VIP who uses the Lakshman Kadirgamar Institute of International Relations and Strategic Studies to get his hair cut with a barber being brought there especially for the purpose.

Remember our story last week headlined “White collar crime does pay”. We are now informed that one of the beneficiaries of that perfect crime staged by a former Director General of the Telecommunication Regulatory Commission was a point man of a former VVIP lady. This week the CJ asked what happened to the monies they got for disposing of the Gas Company. This point man was also involved in that gas company deal and the sale of the stake in the national carrier. He is now gaily singing Waltzing Matilda.

The Foreign Service has certainly become a gravy train for all and sundry. The next to jump on this gravy train, according to foreign office watchers is a Media Director at the Palace, now earmarked to be posted to Rome and consultant to the Foreign Minister, Lal Kumara Gamage to Moscow. Both are to be made second tier diplomats. In addition, the Ministry is also swamped in recent months by SLAS officers, now totalling nearly a dozen. And at least five SLAS officers are already given foreign postings or are about to be posted overseas.

Since of late, our HC in London was coming into a great deal of criticism due to various issues. In the meantime, our Lady was getting roundly criticized by the Diaspora for continued British statements against SL. When she made a call to MR in late January, the Prez tore into her on this issue. She tried her best to wiggle out of it but when the Prez quipped, “Oya monawath karan na-ne?” she wanted to know what (else) she could do. MR had told her, ‘Ok. Start briefing the people [diaspora] there.” Since that was a task she found quite difficult to do to the satisfaction of the Prez, she inquired whether she could send some people to SL for such briefings. MR had given one of his customary nods before hanging up, “Hondai, hondai, ehema karannako…” She immediately got through to RB but with a version that sounded more like a ‘directive’ from MR. RB too had given his blessings saying to ‘go ahead.’

Then of course, the Lady wanted the MFA to foot the bill for the visit of the Diaspora team. The FM, in the absence of the Secy (who was away in Washington & NY), immediately authorized all payments for the visit to take place going by the ‘Presidential directive.’

Sources now inform that the rough sum incurred for the 10-member Diaspora team amounted to --- 10 return air tickets, 5-star accommodation for seven nights (incl. all meals), luxury bus for travel, a plane ride to Jaffna, security throughout the visit --- a minimum of Rs. 3 million. (With millions of Sri Lankans all over the world, many are now querying as to why they cannot be invited to SL for briefings at State cost!)

No sooner the defence establishment got wind of the visit, the higher ups blew a fuse as one of the participants had given evidence against the State at the Karuna trial in London recently. As a result, half of the itinerary got chopped off, also thanks to an intervention made by Douglas D, who was on a ‘territorial dispute’ with the lot.

When the entire thing blew up, poor MR and the country was left with the letter written by the group, published in a local newspaper. MR was naturally livid at how he was dragged into this without proper consultations at the level of high officials, especially of the defence establishment. How did our Prez react in the aftermath of the Diaspora Disaster? “Maywata thamai kiyanne, panala deela, illan kanawa kiyala.” And with both new nominations, i.e. London & NY, getting official sanction since then, things seem to have whittled down at the SLHC to the Court of St James.

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