Columns - Talk at the Cafe Spectator

Supporters hired for Rs. 2,500

In the run up to yesterday's local council elections, President Mahinda Rajapaksa, attended a UPFA rally in Kopay on Tuesday. Even the weekly Cabinet meeting last Wednesday was called off because of the high pitched UPFA campaign, Large crowds turned up for the rally which was in full gear. When it ended, some of the crowds did not leave. Instead, they began queuing up before Grama Niladharis and others who had arranged the meeting.

They wanted the promised Rs. 2,500 for taking part in the meeting. The GN and other organisers declared, "We don't have it.

You will have to go and ask Minister Douglas Devananda." He is the leader of the Eelam People's Democratic Party and is alleged to have given a promise to pay the fees to those who took part.

Bus services in the area on Tuesday evening had to be curtailed. This is because of crowds having to be transported to the venue of the rally.

Oil and the blazing love triangle

The oily bureaucrat is in the news again. This time, it is not over contaminated fuel but a fouled love affair.

Insiders say that a junior official, who keeps the files, saw the oily man in a compromising position with a lass in the same organisation.

The junior was angry since he too was in love with her. Angered by what he saw, the man released some of the files to the trade union boys. The rest is history.

Diaspora raises money in Malaysia for Tamils here

The Tamil Diaspora in Malaysia held a charity dinner with a target to raise a million Malaysian Ringgit to help fund humanitarian efforts in Sri Lanka's war-affected Wanni and Tamil refugees in Malaysia. It was organised by the members of the Tamil Forum Malaysia (TFM).

A dinner at the members only Golf Club saw performances exclusively by Tamil refugee children. Half a million Ringgit was raised. Datuk Seri S Samy Vellu, Malaysian Government's Special Envoy for Infrastructure to South Asia, who has also been a cabinet minister for more than two decades, was the chief guest.

He made a donation of 100,000 Ringgit. Rev. Father S.J. Emmanuel, President of Global Tamil Forum (GTF) was present as guest of honour.

Moragoda on US path

Selected invitees locked themselves inside a hall at the Galle Face Hotel on Friday. Their purpose was to find ways and means of evolving measures to address Tamil grievances. Backing the exercise was a US professor.

The task was undertaken by a so-called Pathfinder Foundation which is said to be linked to former Cabinet Minister Milinda Moragoda, who is now one of the many Advisors to the President.

The meeting has raised questions in sections of the government. They say that President Rajapaksa wants a Parliamentary Select Committee to work out the formula to address Tamil grievances. His Advisor, Mr. Morgoda, they say, has sought a "Made in USA" solution. That too in secrecy.

Roving diplomat: He is more here than there

The External Affairs Ministry, which keeps track of the movements of its diplomats posted overseas, has discovered that one of its ambassadors based in a Western capital has visited Colombo at least 13 times -- mostly on private jaunts or ostensibly accompanying tour groups.

This diplomat who claims links to the country's First Family was missing in action last week when Sri Lanka was politically crucified at a public meeting in the Western capital where he is based. The envoy has visited Sri Lanka so often that one ministry official says rather sarcastically that he should be rightly designated as our ambassador-at-large based in Colombo.

Two versions from two Ganesans

Brothers Mano and Prabha were on the opposite side when it came for canvassing votes in the north for the local polls.

Mano Ganesan, the leader of the Democratic People's Front, charged that EPDP leader Douglas Devananda, had claimed there were no civilian casualties when the LTTE was defeated militarily. Prabha, who is now with the UNP, however, countered that lives were lost because of the wrong guidance given by the Tamil National Alliance (TNA).

Minister on rampage

Police have received complaints that a minister in the hill country allegedly assaulted both UPFA and UNP candidates.

One complaint the Talawakele Police station refers to is an assault on a UNP candidate allegedly under the influence of liquor.

Former SLAF pilot as world peace advocate

When Oxfam International made a strong push in its UN campaign for an international treaty to control and monitor the global arms trade last week, it sought the backing of not only disarmament advocates but also survivors from the world's war zones in Asia and Africa.

One of them recounting the horrors of war -- and boosting the need for an arms trade treaty -- was Prasanna Kuruppu described as a former pilot from the Sri Lanka Air Force.

After his injury during the war, Prasanna became a disability and a disarmament researcher, according to Oxfam International. Now, he is an advocate for arms control and disarmament as the President of the Disability Organizations Joint Front and Vice President of the Foundation for the Rehabilitation of the Disabled.

So, despite all the talk of war crimes, there is also a more positive fallout from the Sri Lanka conflict -- particularly if it helps the creation of a long outstanding global arms trade treaty.

Adding to the mess in Washington mission

In the wake of yet another terrible diplomatic defeat with the US House Foreign Affairs Committee voting to cut aid to Sri Lanka, External Affairs Minister G.L. Peiris has appointed the Ministry's chief accountant K.D. Ranjith to the Washington mission as minister.

This is in spite of having a senior SLAS woman already at the mission as minister, and a Deputy Ambassador. A wag in Washington asked if this accountant has been sent to count the number of Congressmen who once supported Sri Lanka and now are its bitterest critics.

At a time when the Minister should have sent two trained Foreign Service officers to strengthen the political work, at the cost of maintaining two Ministers the mission can have three FS officers at the level of First Sec/Counsellor.

That is simple accounting. A good Political Officer at least would have been able to alert the mission to the Congress bombshell that came this week and gathered forces to at least avert it or even dilute the resolution, but no -- despite all the dollars being spent with PR firms to do our bidding, this is what we have ended up with. The local recruit of the PR firm is busy showing off his Porshe and running his bar in DC while all this happens.

When asked what on earth the Government was doing at a time US-Sri Lanka relations had hit the lowest ebb in memory, a Government Minister replied saying, "so what -- the UNP had two Ambassadors at one time under the Premadasa regime (accredited Ambassador Dr. Ananda Guruge and 'Ambassador Milinda Moragoda')".

And so, the 'jobs-for-the-boys' (and relatives) recruitments at the Sri Lankan Foreign Office goes on merrily whatever the consequences. Jayawewa!

Lankan rebuttal gone with Oslo bomb

It was nothing more than a co-incidence that in the days just prior to the Oslo bombing and shooting spree on Friday, Sri Lanka's Ambassador to Norway, Rodney Perera had occasion to write to a leading Norwegian newspaper, Aftenposten and draw attention to several recent articles that it had published including one titled "Norway's Deafening Silence", written by staff writer, Kristoffer Rønneberg.

Yesterday’s Aftenposten website

The article expresses the opinions of a writer with limited firsthand knowledge of Sri Lanka. He cites videos shown by a TV channel in a foreign country, a report by some persons not affiliated with the UN and comments made by a former UN spokesperson who offers different versions after having completed his tenure in Sri Lanka.

The writer fails to cite anyone or any source who or which gave any opinions to the contrary, and there have been many, from persons not only from the Government of Sri Lanka, but others as well, including senior UN authorities who have described some of this material as incorrect, unverified and unreliable.

Ironically, Ambassador Perera has had occasion to point out that "Sri Lanka is a multi-ethnic, multi-religious and a multi-lingual society and has been so for generations" and gone on to say that the newspaper's writers are "casting aspersions not only on the growing list of positive developments Sri Lanka continues to experience in the aftermath of a separatist war based on ethnic cleansing, but also on the friendly relations between two pluralistic states, viz Norway and Sri Lanka".

Ambassador Perera has asked the Aftenposten to publish his rebuttal, but the newspaper itself has been a victim of Friday's bombings and had to move out of the city centre on Police orders. Ambassador Perera's letter must have moved with it.

A Maldivian Israeli

The Maldives has continued to warn the world at large that sooner or later a sea level rise may wipe the Indian Ocean island off the face of the earth.

But that has not prevented an Israeli fugitive convicted of a double murder in Belgium from travelling the world over on a fake Maldivian passport. According to the New York Times, the Israeli on-the-run has apparently used the passport to travel to Thailand where he is in hiding. We wonder whether the Israeli is fluent in Divehi to prove he is an authentic Maldivian down to his fingerprints.


Top to the page  |  E-mail  |  views[1]
SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend
Other Columns
Political Column
US builds closer, strategic ties with Tamil Nadu
5th Column
Tell me what to say………
The Economic Analysis
Improved international ratings and assessment of the economy
Opposition quest for whodunit meets with more hedging
Focus on Rights
Reflections on political and other dictators
Talk at the Cafe Spectator
Supporters hired for Rs. 2,500
From the sidelines
Not issued on this week


Reproduction of articles permitted when used without any alterations to contents and a link to the source page.
© Copyright 1996 - 2011 | Wijeya Newspapers Ltd.Colombo. Sri Lanka. All Rights Reserved | Site best viewed in IE ver 8.0 @ 1024 x 768 resolution