The UPFA, we thought learnt a bitter lesson at the last election. Transporting crowds for meetings does not necessarily translate into votes. But there was no stopping it from swelling the Salgado Stadium in Anuradhapura with party workers brought in from other towns by party organisers. On the other hand, a half full; half empty [...]


Old habits die hard


The UPFA, we thought learnt a bitter lesson at the last election. Transporting crowds for meetings does not necessarily translate into votes. But there was no stopping it from swelling the Salgado Stadium in Anuradhapura with party workers brought in from other towns by party organisers. On the other hand, a half full; half empty ground was not good for the morale and was bad for the aerial video photography that was relayed Live by Carlton Sports network (CSN).

Not that the UNP doesn’t engage in the same exercise. At least now, these state buses are paid for. It is just that the usual commuters will be finding a shortage of buses in the coming month as buses are taken for political rallies to puff up crowds to listen to political leaders waxing eloquent about good governance.

Lanka seeks partnership with Millennium Challenge Corporation in the US
In a meeting with Dana J. Hyde, the Chief Executive Officer of the U.S. Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), Sri Lanka’s Ambassador Prasad Kariyawasam emphasised the desire of the Government to establish a partnership with the United States under the Millennium Challenge Corporation, the Sri Lanka Embassy in Washington DC said.

MCC grants to partner countries can reach the tune of US$ 500 million over a five-year partnership. To date, MCC has approved more than $10 billion in assistance worldwide that support country-determined projects in such sectors as agriculture and irrigation, infrastructure, water supply and sanitation, access to health, finance and enterprise development, anti-corruption initiatives, land rights and access to education. MCC selects eligible countries based on their performance in the areas of good governance, economic freedom and investment in its citizens.

Ambassador Kariyawasam briefed Ms. Hyde on the reform process in Sri Lanka and the significant progress that has been achieved by the government since its election to office in January. Sri Lanka now seeks to expand cooperation with the international community including through new partnerships with donor agencies, such as MCC to provide a tangible peace dividend to its people. Acknowledging the progressive developments taking place in Sri Lanka, Ms. Hyde said that MCC was encouraged by the reform process and would continue to closely follow developments in the coming months. She invited the Ambassador to continue interaction with MCC.

Top official allegedly bought properties  in Australia
The Financial Crimes Investigation Division (FCID) is probing a top bureaucrat, a key staffer of the previous Government, and has sought the assistance of the Australian Federal Police.

This is over the probe into the bureaucrat’s alleged money laundering activities. He is reported to have bought properties in Australia.


Shiranthi’s Prado mystery; Police going to court

The Attorney General’s Department has directed the Police to record statements from officials in the Ministry of Law and Order and the Department of Motor Traffic over two Prado vehicles now with the Siriliya Saviya.

It is an NGO under Shiranthi Rajapaksa, wife of the former President. These two SUVs have been donated by the World Food Programme (WFP) after it imported a fleet for tsunami relief work in 2004.

As revealed last week, Police investigations at the Department of Motor Traffic have revealed that there was no record of the Prados bearing Garage Number Plates CR 109 and CR 114. Police later found that the Department had issued these two numbers to the Ministry of Law and Order.

Police will now question concerned officials at the Department of Motor Traffic to confirm there was no record of these vehicles. They will also ask concerned officials in the Ministry of Law and Order to ascertain how the two Garage Number plates came to be issued and the fate of the two vehicles.

The episode of the WFP donations surfaced after one of the Prados met with an accident. It came to light that it was driven by a member of the Presidential Security Division. Though the donation was made by the WFP, it was not mentioned in a statement the WFP issued about other vehicles being donated to Government institutions. A Finance Ministry official said the WFP had not paid the taxes involved, as Customs Regulations require, before donating them to NGOs.

Last week, Ms Rajapaksa sought Police help to seek the release of the Prado that was involved in the accident. However, Police sources said yesterday they would go to courts to seek an order that Siriliya Saviya should hand back to the Police the second Prado. This is in the light of the on-going investigations, the official said.

MR changes speech on seeing A’pura crowd
Not many noticed the difference when the UPFA had its inaugural election rally at the Salgado Stadium in Anuradhapura on Friday.

All speakers addressed the gathering from one podium through a microphone. There was another on the stage for the separate use of former President Mahinda Rajapaksa. That had a teleprompter installed.

Mr. Rajapaksa had turned up with a prepared text. He was going to read it out from the teleprompter.He was, however, carried away by the crowds and chose to speak ex tempore or on the spur of the moment.

Yet, he delved in to the prepared text at the latter part of his speech. He said he had learnt from the past mistakes, would review domestic – and foreign policies, and called for unity among different communities. Then he wished Muslims for Eid-ul-fitr which fell yesterday.

Selvam breathes fire abroad
The Tamil National Alliance (TNA)’s former parliamentarians have not given up the practice of saying one thing in Sri Lanka and another when they are on foreign visits.

The latest was last Thursday and the performance came from Selvam Adaikalanathan who represents the Tamil Eelam Liberation Organisation (TELO) in the alliance.

He gave a video interview from London to Athavan News. A video of the interview is now doing the rounds. Among the things Mr Adaikalanathan has said:

“The TNA will be the deciding power in the next government.
“We will not support Mahinda Rajapasa; but we will give conditional support to any other party that forms the next government.
“Withdrawing the armed forces and finding a political solution based on a federal system will be two of the conditions for our support.

“These conditions should be met immediately. If the new government does not meet this condition, we will have to topple the government.

“Furthermore, we will urge the international community to conduct a referendum to divide this country into two. We will also be able to justify such a referendum.

“This is going to be the last chance. If our political problem is not solved and if the South deceives us again, we will have to go on our separate way from this country, with the help of the international community.”

Boss engineers his qualifications
Promotional work in the leisure industry is a subject to which every country gives top priority. After all, that is what brings the bread and butter or the millions of dollars to keep the wheels turning.

Ever heard of promotional work being carried out by the boss to give his own image a boost? Well, nothing wrong one would say. However, this was a case of the man giving himself titles and qualifications he did not have.

Sri Lanka’s engineers who gathered at an event were aghast when they learnt this boss had engineered his CV so much. He called himself the Commissioner General of a world event. When they checked, it came to light that the position was held by an Italian. They gave up on the other qualification – a doctorate. They could not find the University that gave it.

One witty engineer said those in the leisure industry take a lot of safeguards. Those visitors to Sri Lanka buy gems and a certificate is issued to guarantee the quality. He asked who checks the authenticity of qualifications, particularly when they are found to be fake.

Polls Chief shows effective way of shooting
Elections Commissioner Mahinda Deshapriya has been known to make witty comments during media conferences and meetings.
This week when he met with the media he said that to control processions during nominations week which ended on Monday he had ordered to ‘Shoot’. The media persons were puzzled over his comment.

He quickly clarified that he had issued instruction to officials to ‘shoot with their cameras’ and collect as much evidence on those violating orders not to go in procession after nominations ended. The evidence is now being collected to file action against those who have violated the laws by conducting processions. The first few cases, based on the evidence collected are to be filed next week.

He said that this way of ‘shooting’ was a more effective way than using tear gas, water cannons and using force.

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