Odds and Ends

Tightly hugging their diplomatic privileges

When Sri Lankan diplomats retire at the end of their overseas missions, one of the first things they are expected to do is turn in their diplomatic passports, along with the passports of all their family members. But one particular diplomat and his entire family continue to cling to their privileged passports, even though the career diplomat retired from service more than a year ago. The diplomat concerned now holds another government job, but one that certainly does not carry with it the diplomatic privileges of the foreign service.

When the roof falls in

Recently, the Foreign Boss appointed a new face as Protocol Boss at the Foreign Office. After a lacklustre performance and a couple of faux pas at certain top-level engagements, the man, nicknamed “Big Roof”, gets the instant chop from the Big Boss. The Foreign Boss, ordered to find a more suitable replacement, immediately promotes a Big Lady (who has just returned from the City Famous for Big Ben) to be the Big Chief. Not so fast, says Big Boss, and the order goes to appoint a returnee who had served under the Big Lady in the Land of the Queen. We guess that Two is better than One. Meanwhile, Big Roof has fallen into a section aptly named “CONS”.

Neither here nor there

Popular tuition master Upul Shantha Sannasgala was in the news last week when it was reported that he may soon be entering the world of high-level politics. When asked, during a radio interview, whether he would accept the UNP’s invitation to contest as the party’s chief ministerial candidate for Sabaragamuwa Province, he said: “I am neither accepting it nor rejecting it.” For someone whose job as a tutor is to explain matters and put things clearly, Mr. Sannasgala’s reply is curiously ambiguous.

Figure this out

Minister Mahindananda Aluthgamage has a way with facts and figures. Speaking at a recent public rally, he said America had a Cabinet of just 14 members and that the country’s economy was in a far worse state than the Sri Lankan economy. One reason for the comparative success of the local economy, he said, was that we had more than 100 Cabinet, non-Cabinet and Deputy Ministers. And to think that some of us felt that that 100-plus army of extra well-paid public officers was the very reason for this country’s economic woes.

Start on a minor note

The President recently appointed a Cabinet sub committee to look into the grievances of media personnel, in the wake of escalating attacks on journalists. The first person to go before the committee with a complaint was a Lake House employee who moaned that his contract had not been extended.

Better late than never

A certain retired military personage speaking from opposition podiums who was fiercely critical of the war has suddenly gone silent. We thought that he too had had his fill of the Green Leader, but now a little bird tells us that he has gone silent since he was given a promotion that he felt he should have got a long time back. So better a Colonel late than a Colonel never. Mahinda Mama sure knows how to make folk happy.

Fax, fox and sour grapes

A scurrilous fax is doing the rounds alleging a sell-out of all flying rights of grounded budget carrier Mihin Lanka to a Malaysian firm by Minister of Aviation Chamal Rajapaksa and his acolytes for an under-the-table deal worth US$2.5 million. This can only be a case of sour grapes in some quarters. The big question is how does one sell off exclusive landing rights just like that? Besides, who on earth would want to invest in an airline so crushed under a mountain of debt, a mountain that keeps growing through bad management, even though the man blamed for much of the airline’s woes is now out of the picture?

Grounded whiz kid on a new high

Quite forgetting the Shahrukh Khan-led Bollywood extravaganza in Colombo that ended in tragedy when someone lobbed a grenade into the crowd watching the December 2004 concert, a failed “whiz kid” is said to be busy trying to stage a similar star-studded event here to coincide with the forthcoming SAARC summit. Since coming down to earth with a thud after a certain high flying venture (or adventure), this person is said to be now looking for fresh ventures, also at the poor tax payers’ expense.

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