ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday October 7, 2007
Vol. 42 - No 19

Beverly Hills blitz and billion dollar nurses

Jaliya Wickramasuriya, Consul General of Sri Lanka in Los Angeles, has sent us the following statement in response to our last week's Page 2 lead story:

Jumbo team fumbles into diplomatic jumble

As the Consul General of Sri Lanka in Los Angeles, it is my responsibility to bring the following to your notice:- Your article stated that I am a cousin of President Mahinda Rajapaksa. I wish to inform you that I am not a cousin of the President.

You had also stated that the President had been booked to a hotel in Beverly Hills and stayed in a Presidential Suite. Although he is entitled to a Presidential Suite, he did not stay in a Presidential Suite. The hotel rates you had mentioned were also incorrect. He did not pay anything even closer to the amount mentioned in your article. The room rates for the other guests were also incorrect.

I would also like to state that although several past Presidents and Prime Ministers of Sri Lanka have visited Los Angeles on private tours, President Rajapaksa is the only President who took the time, from his busy schedule without taking any rest to meet over 2,000 Sri Lankans and attend a series of meetings with high level authorities which will benefit Sri Lanka. His Los Angeles trip built an immeasurable image for Sri Lanka and he managed to update those he met with the current and correct situation in Sri Lanka.

Allow me to explain. Following his meetings with the World Affairs Council and the Board of Supervisors in Los Angeles, 10-15 companies have already decided to establish closer linkage with the business community in Sri Lanka. One key sector is that of nursing where properly trained and dedicated Sri Lankan nurses will be gainfully employed in the US and will help to bring billions of US dollars to our motherland.

As for being keen to take the President to the abodes of Gotabhaya and Basil, who now live in Sri Lanka, I leave it to the intelligence of your readers to judge.

Jaliya Wickramasuriya,Consul General of Sri Lanka in Los Angeles

Note by Our Diplomatic Editor: Thank you for seemingly confirming that President Rajapaksa stayed at "a hotel in Beverly Hills" during his stay in Los Angeles, but we cannot accept your denial unless you — or anyone in the Government — can really give us the official break-down of expenditure incurred with these kind of visits.

And another thing, we did not say that President Rajapaksa stayed at the Presidential suite of the plush Peninsula Beverly Hills hotel. As you know what these rooms rates are, and how much was paid from state coffers, why are you shy to say the amount?

Should you do so, please be careful with the figures given your propensity to be rather cavalier with figures, when you say that properly trained Sri Lankan nurses will be gainfully employed in the US and able to remit "billions of US dollars" back to Sri Lanka.

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