The treat for the local corporate leaders took the form of a tea party where they brushed shoulders with President Mahinda Rajapaksa, Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces. The occasion was to raise funds for “Api Venuven Api”, the fund for the welfare of security forces personnel. When the short eats and tea session was over, each participant held out to President Rajapaksa sealed envelopes. They contained cheques as donations. TV cameras rolled to screen the footage to the public later that evening.
When the guests had left, the hosts opened their envelopes. They found one of them to be blank. There was neither a cheque nor even a piece of paper. The identity of the donor was traced.
A telephone call went to him. They told him politely that there must have been a mistake. His envelope had been an empty one. To their horror he owned up that he had given a blank envelope despite enjoying the gracious hospitality.
This was not the first time it had happened to the Government leaders. On a previous occasion, the same corporate boss handed in a cash cheque for five million rupees. When told by an official that it would be advisable to give a crossed cheque, the boss’ accountant had urged that the cash cheque be accepted. Within days the cheque bounced.
Perhaps that was why the boss gave a blank envelope this time. His name has been struck off the list of future contributors, a Government source said yesterday.