Odds and Ends

Chinese delegation was not amused

Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama, who has earned a reputation for dropping diplomatic bricks, goofed once again last week when he displayed an apparent ignorance of the subtle difference between the People’s Republic of China (mainland China) and its avowed enemy, the Republic of China (also known as Taiwan).

In the presence of a heavy battalion of journalists, the Foreign Minister greeted the visiting Chinese Foreign Minister by welcoming the delegation from the “Republic of China”. As members of the Chinese delegation turned deep red with embarrassment, Foreign Secretary Palitha Kohona was seen furiously scribbling and passing notes to his Foreign Minister, pointing out the diplomatic faux pas. Welcoming Taiwan in the presence of the Chinese is like showing a red rag to a bull (in a china shop). At the UN last year, Bogollagama did one better: he solicited the Palestinian representative’s vote, although Palestine is not a full-fledged member of the world body – and does not have a vote.

New York, New York!

By the end of August, it started looking very much as though President Rajapaksa would be cancelling his visit to New York, and sending either Prime Minister Wickremanayake or FM Bogols to head the delegation instead.

For different reasons, Bogols and Secretary Kohona would both like to see President Rajapaksa heading the delegation. Kohona does not like the prospect of being a member of a team led by Bogols, because he feels he might be sidelined. Although he would be happy to go to NY if the PM heads the delegation, he still feels the President should be the person present when world leaders meet in NY.
Bogols, on the other hand, would be delighted to lead the delegation. It would be an opportunity to make a big splash, spend time with his entourage of favourites and his family, and enjoy himself at state expense.

If the PM led the delegation, Bogols would have to play second fiddle. Also, there’s a danger that Kohona may team up with the PM and start embarrassing the FM. So Bogols too would like President Rajapaksa to lead the delegation.

Meanwhile, the President took care to distance himself from both Bogols and Kohona for more than a week. Having failed to to meet the President to discuss the NY visit, Bogols went on a trip to India, while Kohona flew to Canada.

Meanwhile, talk that the Indian PM was planning to invite certain TNA MPs to New Delhi for a meeting with him has prompted a change of plans. Such a visit would, under the circumstances, be embarrassing for the President, considering what is going on in the North. Several Indian policitos, especially those in Tamil Nadu, strongly disapprove of government action in the North. It was therefore necessary for the government to botch the Indian plan. But how?

Colombo was quick to convey to the Indian authorities a message to say that President Rajapaksa was keen to meet the Indian PM in NY.

The President, who has been under increasing pressure from his colleagues to go to NY, has since expressed a “keen interest” in meeting the Indian PM in the US. Now, Bogols and his family are happy, Kohona is happy, and so are other ministers and staff who will be accompanying the President on the trip.

The story now is that the President is going to NY to meet the Indian PM at the latter’s invitation. This clever counter-move by President Rajapaksa has, for the time being, forced the Indian PM to put on hold his invitation to TNA MPs.

It is understood that the New York delegation’s trip to New York will cost about US$600,000 – all this just to “enjoy” New York and meet the Indian PM.

Cop copped inside cop station

A traffic policeman was caught in the act of accepting a bribe inside the police station itself. He was arrested while accepting Rs. 1,500 from a traffic offender in Mawanella. The day before the cop had taken Rs. 1,000 from the same offender.

The offender had informed the police, who were waiting to nab the cop when the second sum of money was being accepted.

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