ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday April 06, 2008
Vol. 42 - No 45

Odds and Ends

Last week's reference in this column to the man for all seasons, Member of European Parliament and and self appointed “Ambassador at large for Sri Lanka,” Nirj Deva or Niranjan Deva Adithya has had its sequel.

As we revealed last week, Deva together with Erika Mann, another MP of the European Parliament, are co-sponsors of a conference on “Peace and Reconciliation in South Asia - challenges and opportunities” in the Norwegian capital of Oslo on April 10 and 11. Sri Lanka is to figure at this conference. The conference website ( described Deva as “Ambassador at Large for Sri Lanka.” As a Foreign Ministry spokesman told us, there is no such official designation and we said so last week.

Soon after the report appeared, the reference to Deva as “Ambassador at Large for Sri Lanka” has been erased from the conference web site. After all, that is acknowledgement, that the busybody that is Deva, had given himself the title and chosen to withdraw it himself after an FO spokesman commented on it.

Now there is more on the conference itself. India has refused to send any Minister from the Central Government in New Delhi to take part in this conference.

Nor will its Ambassador in Norway take part. The reason - India does not wish one of her internal problems to be discussed at a non- governmental forum. Nepal and Burma, whose issues are also being discussed, will not be represented by their Governments either.

However, the Government of Sri Lanka is the only one that IS taking part officially. Youth Empowerment and Socio Economic Development, Minister Arumugam Thondaman, M.F. Farook, his Private Secretary, M.K.D.G. Meegoda, Advisor, Ministry of Youth Empowerment, M.N. Jainudeen, Co-ordinating Secretary have already left for London en route to Oslo. Also due to take part is Rajiva Wijesinha, Secretary General of the SCOPP.

It is not clear whether tickets for the participation for some from the Sri Lankan side are being bought by the Government or by Deva and his EU Parliament colleague and their organisation.

Foreign Secretary Palitha Kohonna was this week appointed Sri Lanka's new Foreign Minister. The appointment was made by the prestigious US broadcast station - VoA - the Voice of America. In one of its interviews, the following reference was made:
“Palitha Kohona is Sri Lanka's foreign affairs minister. He says the government is sincere in trying to locate those who have disappeared.”

Readers can check it out on the following website of VoA; What made the VoA make this blunder? After all, there does not appear to be any other glaring errors in the published news report.

Interestingly, although the news item is dated 2nd April, the Secretary of the Foreign Ministry reportedly returned to the island only on 3rd April after being away on his second leave of absence taken this year, after the previous instance taken just two months earlier.

For the record, the actual Foreign Minister of the country, Rohitha Bogollagama, is on an official visit overseas in the UK since 31st March and the actual Deputy Foreign Minister Hussein A. Bhaila, has been designated as the Acting Foreign Minister. But what a shame, with the Foreign Ministry Publicity Division working over-time in dishing out daily pictures of Minister Bogollagama with various world figures, the message hasn’t reached VoA yet that HE is the Foreign Minister of Sri Lanka, and not his secretary.

No prizes for guessing which Sri Lankan Cabinet Minister goes to the United States of America around this time each year. All US citizens must file their income tax returns by April 15. No prizes also for guessing whether he went there on his own private funds or on Sri Lanka taxpayers’ funds.

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