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25th April 1999

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Sliding chair

A presidential or prime ministerial chair is often the pipe dream of any politician though only a few are destined for that honour.

The other day, it was All Ceylon Muslim Congress leader, M.H.M. Ashraff, who revived memories of this maxim.

Dubbed the Emir of Sri Lanka's eastern province, Mr Asharaff drove to Rosmead Place on April 17 to wish Prime Minister, Mrs Sirimavo Badaranaike, happy birthday.

Deputy Speaker, Anil Moonesinghe and a host of other well wishers were already there waiting for the grand dame of Sri Lankan politics to emerge. So did

Mr. Ashraff who sat on a chair that was prominently placed.

Mrs Bandaranaike arrived and her security officials were busy paving the way for her wheelchair. It was only then did a security man notice some one had taken the Premier's chair. That was Mr. Ashraff.

He walked up to him and politely requested that he vacate the Prime Ministerial chair.

Before one could say QEQ, Mr. Ashraff stood up. He later wished Mrs. Bandaranaike and left.

Those who were still behind had a hearty laugh at Mr. Ashraff's ascent or was it descent to the prime ministerial chair.

Fun, it wasn't

The fund raising was over long months ago but one of the men who organised it is now raising hell.

This was the United National Party's fund raising gala event in Los Angeles last year. The event in a star class hotel, where one of the attractions was dancing girls, brought in a few thousands of dollars. It was fun(d) raiser all right.

There was a furore, however, when the promised cheque arrived in Colombo. Some complained it had bounced and the grand old party was penniless after the gala event. The cheque had been signed by one person and the bank had called for the second signatory.

That was done and the money went to UNP coffers much, much later.

Now the man who styled himself as Chief Organiser is staking his own claim. He wants money for the expenses (and even efforts) he put in. No payment has yet been made.

As one UNPer put it sourly, there is no big money in this like the Galle Port deal !!

Up the sarong

The late Bevis Bawa, the well known humourist he was, once threatened to walk into a star class hotel in Colombo wearing a sarong and let it drop if he was stopped at the entrance. He was then reacting to newspaper reports that sarong clad customers were not being allowed entry at that hotel. No wonder sarongs (or lungis as some would like to call them) were not in demand then.

But times have changed. Sarongs are much in demand and this week Barbara Sansoni's, known for their elegant "designer" sarongs, found their stocks were all sold out.

The man who made that happen in one stroke was cricketer Aravinda de Silva. For his wedding reception at a luxury residence in Nawala, he invited his friends, men and ladies to come in sarong. Most did.

Security guards checked the invitations before allowing invitees in. It was not a security requirement but they did not want gate crashers.

Many praised Aravinda for promoting the traditional sarong. Yet, the master batsman had his limitations. He has to opt for a pair of trousers to be at his best in the game he excels - cricket. No sarongs please for 'flannelled fools'.

Jungle Telegraph

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