Rajapaksa gives immediate facelift to Embilipitiya fair It has been a gruelling schedule for President Mahinda Rajapaksa as he campaigned for the September 8 provincial council elections in the North Central, Eastern and Sabaragamuwa Provinces. When it came to a rally in Ratnapura, large crowds had gathered at the Sivali Grounds but Rajapaksa had not [...]


Talk at the Cafe Spectator


Rajapaksa gives immediate facelift to Embilipitiya fair

It has been a gruelling schedule for President Mahinda Rajapaksa as he campaigned for the September 8 provincial council elections in the North Central, Eastern and Sabaragamuwa Provinces.

When it came to a rally in Ratnapura, large crowds had gathered at the Sivali Grounds but Rajapaksa had not turned up. It transpired that he waited till the GCE Advanced Level examination which was under way ended at 4.30 p.m.

With the rally over, he chose to spend the night at the presidential retreat in Embilipitiya. There, he had arranged for a meeting of UPFA candidates in the Ratnapura District.

One of the participants raised issue over the poor state of the weekly fair at Embilipitiya where farmers bring their produce to sell. Most were surprised when Rajapaksa, a stickler for hard work, arrived at the scene of the fair. He saw things first hand.His first telephone call from the spot was to Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa.

He requested that the grounds where the fair is held be taken over by the Ministry of Defence and Urban Development. It was until then under the Embilipitiya Urban Council.Thereafter, President Rajapaksa made a second telephone call. This time, it was to Basil Rajapaksa, Minister of Economic Development.

He requested that funds be allocated to develop the grounds as well as the environs. The happiest were the candidates. They claimed they had proved to voters that the UPFA could get a job done in no time.

Air-conditioned racket on Kuliyapitiya bus

Complaints by private bus commuters that they are being ripped off by unscrupulous bus crews are being probed by officials.
Certain errant crew members on a particular route are known to short change passengers, speak rudely to them and drive recklessly.

One such incident took place on Friday. An air-conditioned private passenger coach, owned by Praveen Travels and bearing registration numbers 63-2645 left the Colombo Bus Terminal at 4.15 p.m. for Kuliyapitiya.The fare in this so called luxury bus from Colombo to Kuliyapitiya is Rs 210 exactly double when compared with the fare in the normal bus simply because it offers A/C comfort to the passengers.

But what happened on Friday was a nightmare for the unsuspecting passengers who were forced into a horror ride while the bus crew ran all the way to the bank laughing. A few minutes after the bus had pulled out of Pettah and after the conductor had collected the fares from the packed vehicle the A/C went on the limb and gradually faded away.

There were no apologies from the crew and even worse, there was no refund of the extra charge but instead the bus drove on as the passengers were forced to fret, sweat and bear the uncomfortable drive all the way to Kuliyapitiya.
This is not the first time that such incidents have taken place on this particular route.

Passengers believe that the A/C is intentionally switched off to save on fuel and the bus crew makes it look like a mechanical failure.Not only that, the fare of Rs. 210 is charged even if a passenger gets down at any halt before reaching the Kuliyapitiya junction. It is a flat rate, they say.

Last month we reported how a private bus on this same route was stopped by the Police at Bothalagama after the driver was found to be incompetent and did not possess any valid licence thereby putting the lives of passengers at serious risk.
National Transport Commission (NTC) Chairman Roshan Gunawardene said he was investigating the complaints and the flying squad has been deployed on this particular route.

Vegetarian Namal goes with Kapilavastu relics

Being a strict vegetarian, it was the responsibility of parliamentarian Namal Rajapaksa to escort the sacred Kapilavastu relics to different parts of the country. This is in addition to his tight schedule campaigning for the North Central, Eastern and Sabaragamuwa Provincial Councils elections.

Cabinet reshuffle possible after polls

Some senior government officials documenting the various subjects coming under different ministries have sparked off rumours again that a Cabinet re-shuffle is round the corner.

UPFA sources speculate that such a reshuffle might take place after the September 8 provincial council elections.
These sources said some of the subjects closely studied related to education, higher education and petroleum industries.

Dayasiri plays hide and seek with Ranil

United National Party Parliamentarian Dayasiri Jayasekera (Kurunegala District) is now facing disciplinary inquiry against him. The UNP leadership wants to take him to task for “violating party discipline.”

Thus, campaigning for the upcoming provincial council elections has become a difficult task for him. Last week he was seen having a hurried lunch with Parliamentary colleagues Thalatha Athukorala and Gayantha Karunatilleke en route to Embilipitiya. He rushed thereafter to address a UNP rally and departed before his leader Ranil Wickremesinghe arrived.

Radha’s anti-social media 

What makes M.K. Radhakrishnan, the Colombo Correspondent of India’s prestigious The Hindu newspaper different from his predecessors? The answer: He is not only accredited by the Government Department of Information in Colombo to report to the Chennai-based national newspaper.

There is another role he plays for which no accreditation is required. He makes gossipy comments on Sri Lankan media and Indian diplomats available to anyone interested to know what is not fit for publication in the venerable Hindu — the use of a social media website, often to give vent to his likes and dislikes.

Once he wrote about one of his own foreign correspondent colleagues in seemingly unprofessional terms. But the colleague, who was not a Charlie’s angel, was forgiving enough and ignored it.

Last week, the man lambasted a senior official of the Indian High Commission casting aspersions on his personal conduct. So much so, some New Delhi TV networks which read the account were checking with their own sources in Colombo whether the Indian diplomat was involved in a sex scandal and would be recalled to New Delhi. The story, as Indian High Commission officials knew, was baseless and the work of disgruntled and jealous ‘insiders’. It was a poison e-mail, to say the least. But for Radhakrishnan it was juicy enough to post on his site.

Last week, Radhakrishnan wrote about The Sunday Times political commentary of August 19. This is what the man says: “The Sunday Times srilanka has not seen/heard Colombo Indian High Commissioner’s speech on I-day. It’s same each year, with minor changes! “Hanging a 3000-word hypothesis on one line? The Sunday Times never attends the Indian I-Day function, I’m sure. I’ve heard that line last year. “What do you do when you don’t have a story to fill up a huge political column? You make one up. Have seen it so many times in Sri Lanka. “How many Colombo journos believe press guy at Indian HC worse than last 1? There should be a limit to getting personal The Sunday Times.”

It is not customary to comment on the learned Radhakrishnan’s own mighty reportage to The Hindu, which no doubt he may think, is the last word, perfect and beyond reproach. However, his comments on the Sunday Times warrant a rejoinder.
Whether a Sunday Times correspondent was present or not, is not the issue. What is important is if the reportage is accurate. In this instance, there has been no denial or clarification from the Indian High Commission. So, what’s Radakrishnan’s beef? The Sunday Times stands by the accurate account that was published. Like The Hindu, all other media outlets in the world, covered the late Neil Armstrong’s landing on the moon in 1969. However, no Hindu correspondents accompanied him to the moon.
Even today, a meeting of the Union Cabinet in New Delhi (where the media are not allowed) is still covered by Indian journalists. As for the “press guy at the Indian High Commission” being worse than his predecessors, the answer simply lies in the fact that he cannot deliver to the local media the text of a speech by his own High Commissioner. Isn’t that his job? Why is he blacking out his own boss?

This man is however entitled to defend his handler at the High Commission, but his judgement on other issues deserves little comment, for it would only dignify his conduct on bitching about Sri Lankan media. This is where the man differs from his predecessors.

President and Sobhitha Thera recall the past

President Mahinda Rajapaksa made a surprise visit to the Bodhiraja temple in Hinguare in Embilipitiya while he was campaigning for the PC polls in Sabaragamuwa.

The chief incumbent of the temple is Ven. Omalpe Sobhitha Thera, leader of the Jathika Hela Urumaya (National Heritage Party).

During a friendly chat both recalled their past days at the University of Sri Jayawardhanpura. Rajapaksa worked there when the Ven. Sobitha Thera was a student.

The President recalled how the Ven. Thera helped him to be elected to Parliament in 1970. Ven. Sobhitha Thera was posted at a school in Beliatta during the time.

“Oba thumata udaw kala kiyala mata 77n passse daduwam maruwak dunna(I was transferred as a punishment after 1977 polls because I supported you),” the Thera said.

“Oba wahansewa Bibilta neda maru kale (Reverend Sir, weren’t you transferred to Bibile?),” the President asked.
“Oba thumata sehena honda mathakayak thiyenawane. (You have a very good memory, haven’t you?),” the Thera said. “Deshapalangnayan unahama api atheethaya amathaka karanna honda nehe. (We shouldn’t forget the past as politicians),” added Rajapaksa.

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