UPFA leaders and their counterparts in the main Opposition United National Party (UNP) met last Monday for talks on constitutional reforms.
When the meeting at Temple Trees ended, there was a photo opportunity for the official cameramen. It came just when UNP leader, Ranil Wickremesinghe asked External Affairs Minister G.L. Peiris,
"Why didn't you sit when I offered you the chair and speak to your former leader?" Those present broke out in laughter and that made the front page photo in most newspapers.
I reported in these columns last week that Dr. Peiris had attended the wedding of a relative. Both Mr. Wickremesinghe and former President, Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga were seated at the same table. When Mr. Wickremesinghe offered his chair to Dr. Peiris to sit next to his former leader, the External Affairs Minister had 'taken to his heels'.
The message from the massage
A senior UN official who visited Sri Lanka recently to investigate allegations relating to child soldiers left a Rs 30,000 hotel bill which landed on the lap of the Foreign Ministry. It included charges for massages: a code word that covers a multitude of sins.
The question in ministry circles is: should the government foot this bill or should it be transmitted across to New York.
With former US Vice President Al Gore's encounter with a masseuse making headlines in the US, this should be news to the UN too; except that there is no evidence of the UN official behaving the way Gore did.
On the other hand, since UN officials are known to have their egos massaged occasionally, this may well be a legitimate official expense.
The arrest and remand of the officer in charge of the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) over a suspected murder has led to another overhaul in this premier institution.
Some of the senior, experienced Inspectors who held a good reputation for their investigative skills have now been brought back to the CID.
It was only months earlier, they were moved out.
Diplomatic poetry on Kohona's kennel
A note distributed among those in the External Affairs Ministry by a so-called native diplomat contains the following poem:
"Dr. Palitha Kohona took my beloved country to NAM
With a view to bringing UN Secretary General to shame
For setting up, on accountability issues, an Advisory Panel
But, hardly has he realized something else at the end of the tunnel
"He went to Jordan, and even to Egypt, Lebanon and Syria
Had it suited, he would have even gone to North Korea
He topped up all this with free travel from UN to Lisbon
To save for my motherland, there he only ate daily a fish bun
"The name of the game is peace building and conflict resolution
Yet when it comes to visibility, it is but one of high resolution
Here an interview, there an interview, on anything he's a view
And the breaking news: "on flotilla attack, he's heading to Tel Aviv"
"The Committee on Israeli Practices became, so sudden, a Panel
For publicity, to inquire into Israeli attack beyond Suez Canal
All that his predecessors did in the committee's forty year history
Was forgotten, and for the Government, he's hero, that is mystery.
"He had learnt the art of diplomacy and law from Down Under
From there he went to UN, honing his skills, no wonder
Brought then to Colombo, to serve my country amidst much thunder
All his skills couldn't help bring it back from where it was put asunder
"Oh Lord, Kohona has got my motherland into the agenda of NAM
Making it a subject of fun with the loss of its remaining fame
Hardly has he realized some thing else at the end of the tunnel
"That is, it's my country he has put into doghouse, or call it a kennel".
trigger traffic flow
Police have moved in swiftly with new measures to ease traffic congestion in the city.
The move came after senior officials of the Ministry of Defence were trapped in a traffic jam. One of them immediately got in touch with the Police Chief, Dr. Mahinda Balasuriya.
Even some of the bus halts along city routes have now been shifted to ensure there is smooth flow of traffic.
UN barb on Bandula-Buhne
In polite diplomatic confrontations, expulsions of diplomats, for whatever reasons, are reciprocal.
The longstanding rule is: If you expel our diplomat, we will expel yours. So the joke doing the rounds at the United Nations is that when Sri Lanka's deputy permanent representative Bandula Jayasekera was "recalled'' from New York, the UN "retaliated'' by recalling its own man, UNDP Resident Representative Neil Buhne, to New York "Now, we are even", wisecracks one UN official in New York.
Karu leads party black coats
Among the new responsibilities that have fallen on United National Party (UNP) deputy leader Karu Jayasuriya was to head a team of lawyers who are parliamentarians, though he is no lawyer himself -- just a law-maker -- for a meeting with the Attorney General Mohan Peiris.
This week, they met Mr. Peiris to seek the release of their Kalutara District MP, Palitha Thevarapperuma.
Mr. Peiris has assured the delegation that he will consult President Rajapaksa on this matter and take necessary action.
Mr. Thevarepperuma is now in remand custody.
Last week's reference in these columns to a bank boss who reportedly sought a place in the National List from UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe has drawn a response. He says he has made no such request.