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Monitor overrules principal: Lecture by top US official cancelled

The Lakshman Kadirgamar Institute, named after one of the country's illustrious Foreign Ministers, periodically arranges public lectures beneficial not only to the academia and officials but also students of foreign affairs.

The one due on Wednesday March 28 was to be from Michael J. Delaney, Assistant United States Trade Representative for South Asia. He was to speak on "The Role of Economic Development in Fostering National Reconciliation."

Delaney was US Political Advisor to NATO Southern Regional Command at Kandahar in Afghanistan before assuming his latest post. A Senior Foreign Service officer, much of his career has been devoted to the development of US trade policies worldwide.

External Affairs Minister, G.L. Peiris had to give approval for this lecture to be held. It was only a few days earlier, he spoke on "Education and Reconciliation." There were several requests from the public to attend the lecture and a packed house was expected.

However, at the last minute, the lecture was suddenly called off. A directive not to hold it has been given by Sajin Vass Gunawardena, Monitoring MP for the Ministry of External Affairs. As one wag in the EAM remarked, "what the Principal approved, the monitor has cancelled."

The reason - Mr Delaney is an American. He cannot be allowed to speak since the United States had moved a resolution against Sri Lanka at the UN Human Rights Council.

Hence, the sponsors had to apologise to those who wanted to turn up. Some kept asking whether this was new government policy and whether US visitors would face a ban.

Senior Minister berates Clinton in choice language

A senior minister was overheard berating US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton in some of the choicest language. It was over the US backed resolution on Sri Lanka This came when people were gathered for the last rites of a prelate from the Kotte Raja Maha Vihare.

The minister was most embarrassed when he realised that his remarks to a UPFA supporter were heard by a group of UNPers. The harangue stopped immediately.

Weerawansa says VOA spies at Iranawila

It was weeks earlier that Housing and Construction Minister, Wimal Weerawansa, called for a boycott of American products and services. That included Google, Gmail, Coca-Cola, Pepsi and KFC among others.
On March 22, when he was speaking at a public rally in Kandy, Weerawansa made another demand. He wants to shut down the Voice of America broadcasting station at Iranawila, north of Negombo.

Minister Weerawansa said "Iranavila thiyena, American handa yawanna one.American handa guwan viduli sampreshanagaraya palayan aragena me raten tholonji weyan! Ai mokatayei apita gahanna, apiwa sathuro hetiyata salakana ratakata, mokatada meka athule unge samprshanagara dagena thiyaganna denne?Me kalapema oththu balanne ethana."

The Voice of America Station in Iranawila must be dismantled. Take out the Iranvila VOA station from this country. Why are we keeping the broadcasting station in this country when US attacks us, when it treat us as an enemy? Spying in this region is being carried out there.

IGP reprimands lazy traffic cops

Police Chief, N.K. Illangakoon, a strict disciplinarian, was on his way back from Kandy after religious ceremonies when he saw some of his men take things easy on the road. They were a group of traffic policemen detailed for duty along the Kandy Road. They were resting on the roadside sitting on their motorcycles.

The men were summoned to Police Headquarters and given a severe warning this week. They were told to do their duty more conscientiously.

President takes pity on blind elephant

President Mahinda Rajapaksa was in Kegalle district last week attending a string of functions including handing over of houses for war heroes. There were 17 colourful pandals in the Rambukkana area with his portrait to welcome him. There, he handed over one of the thirty houses built by 'Api wenuwen api' fund.

Lunch had been arranged by the Sabaragamuwa province Chief Minister Maheepala Herath at his residence. The President was to take his Air Force VIP helicopter waiting at a nearby ground to fly to Kegalla town.

The Chief Minister whispered something to the President. “Oba thuma yana yana thenwala oba thuma deka ganna kakul deke ali porakanawa wage me kittuwa kakul hathare ali ranchuwakama innawa oba thuma enakam balanna.”

Sir, there are not only two legged elephants waiting for you. There is also a herd of four legged ones waiting to see you at a nearby place.

That was how the president paid an unscheduled visit to the Elephant Orphanage at Pinnawala. He spent an hour there and paid special attention to an elephant that had lost his sight. He also had a brief chat with the staff before going for the lunch.

Firebrand ministers absent on crucial day

On the day of the UNHRC vote on the resolution against Sri Lanka, ministers and MPs of the government staged a protest outside the parliament wearing black arm bands and displaying placards.

There were around 115 MPs and they shouted slogans too. However there were two notable absentees; cabinet ministers Wimal Weerawansa and Champika Ranawaka, the duo who are leading the campaign around the country against the resolution and the US. No one knows why.

Ranil enjoys candlelit dinner with Mrs Maheshwaran

Opposition UNP Leader, Ranil Wickremesinghe, has not lost his wit and humour despite having to cope with many a controversy within his party.

Wickremesinghe and other UNP stalwarts were in Jaffna last week. They stayed at Tilko hotel.

After arriving there in a luxury bus, Wickremesinghe and others went for dinner at the residence of Wijayakala Maheshwaran, UNP MP and the widow of slain MP T.Maheshwaran.

When they were about to sit for dinner, the power supply went off. The host hurriedly arranged some candles around the table and lit them. Mrs.Maheshwaran was worried about what went wrong.

Wickremesinghe pacified her and remarked at the candlelit dinner saying "it made the dinner a memorable one." It was a homemade vegetarian meal.

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