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Highly taken up but badly let down

Thank god there were no photographers around. Otherwise there would have been much embarrassment, remarked Health Minister, Maithripala Sirisena, during his first official visit to the Lady Ridgeway Hospital in Borella.

He had got into a lift to travel to the ninth floor. However, instead the lift carried him up and down, much to the embarrassment of his officials and hospital staff.

Mr. Sirisena's bodyguards found a way out. They brought the Minister to the eighth floor. However, as the lift doors opened, there was another door that was padlocked. A hacksaw was used to cut the lock and walk their minister through rotting metal frames and damaged beds.

More Deputy Ministers soon

UPFA circles are talking about more deputy ministers being sworn in. Names mentioned include four who won the Parliamentary elections on the UNP ticket but crossed over to the government. They are Paba Ganeshan, Sri Ranga Jeyarathnam, H.M.M. Harees and V. Digambaram.

PR disaster for Papa Doc

The son of a controversial minister is in the soup again. This time it is over the alleged assault on workers engaged in the Chinese-funded Colombo-Katunayake expressway. The young man, a visitor to many a social club, had been supplying soil for the project. Allegations have been made that the young man had demanded extra "payments" or "gratification."

When it was not forthcoming, five men had allegedly set upon some of the employees working for the project. The men are part of those assigned by a Police arm for his father's security.

The original investigation into the incident was being carried out by the Peliyagoda Police. When it turned out that the wheels of justice were not moving, orders had come from the top for the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) to take over the case.

None other than Police Chief, Dr. Mahinda Balasuriya and senior Police officials were at the Peliyagoda Police on Friday to personally ensure a full probe is carried out. This is amidst doubts by some sections of the khakied tribe that investigations will go on but little or nothing would happen.

They say the young man may go scot free so he may set up papa's guards to fight again. Papa in the meantime is said to have travelled abroad. The news will no doubt be a public relations disaster for the man who wants to build bridges with the people.

Monterro for besieged Ranil

Opposition United National Party (UNP) leader Ranil Wickremesinghe received a New Year's eve present.
On Friday evening, a brand new Montero vehicle was delivered to his office at Cambridge Terrace. That was a marked change from an old bullet proof Mercedes Benz he was using.

The black automatic vehicle, besides other features, has a state-of-the art music system. There are speakers on every door panel besides the front and rear. If that is sound all round for Mr. Wickremesinghe, Ministerial Security Division sleuths protecting him will also have additional responsibilities. This is with feuding within the party reaching new levels.

High flier in a fix

It has become customary now for Sri Lanka Air Force second pilots to fly Mihin Air aircraft. One of those so assigned suddenly discovered that he was continuing his service after retirement date.

A request was hurriedly made to seek an extension of service. However, it was turned down by the authorities. Now, the flyer is in a fix. He has to pay back the salaries he drew on the assumption that his service would be extended.

CCTV begins with a bag

Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa officially launched the citywide CCTV monitoring programme on Wednesday. He switched on power in the Control Room at the DIG's office in Olcott Mawatha from where a plethora of cameras would monitor movements of men and traffic.

Once the power came on, the camera fixed at the Maradana junction showed an unattended travel bag on the sidewalk. Having zoomed in on the suspicious bag, the Defence Secretary asked the IGP Dr. Mahinda Balasuriya to send someone to check it out. Two traffic policemen approached the bag.

They shouted asking people nearby by to come forward if they were the owners. A man came running across the road saying it was his bag and was identified as a ‘nattami’ (a labourer who carries loads). He had left the bag and gone to attend to some work. The angry policemen berated him for leaving his bag unattended and dragged him away from the scene.

Those in the Control Room had the opportunity to witness the entire scene from the confines of their air-conditioned room.

Where stands Karu?

Supporters of Sajith Premadasa, contender for the post of United National Party (UNP) leadership, hosted a select group of media personnel to a New Year breakfast yesterday. It was at the political office of his close ally, Bodhi Ranasinghe, at Polhengoda Colombo.

Curious journos questioned on whose side deputy leader Karu Jayasuriya was. Premadasa dialled Jayasuriya on his mobile phone, switched on the loudspeaker and let them listen while he talked.
He was trying to prove that Jayasuriya was sympathetic to his cause.

Bullseye on Indian egg

Co-operatives and Internal Trade Minister Johnston Fernando went to inspect the first shipment of Indian chicken and eggs that had arrived in Colombo.

Officials were stunned when he inspected an egg and remarked, "In India the egg production is advanced."

He was of course referring to the seal placed on each egg. That gave the date on which the egg was laid and an expiry date before which it should be used.

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