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The boss gobbles doubles

Weeks ahead of the World Cup cricket series which began yesterday, Police Chief Mahinda Balasuriya has been very busy on matters relating to this big event.

He has chaired conferences with his senior officers almost every day. They lasted several hours. A leading five-star hotel was given the order to provide short eats to the participants.

If each of them received one item each from a variety of short eats, the IGP had a standing order. He wanted two each served on his plate.

Money laundering: Bank manager in dirty linen

The Colombo branch manager of a foreign bank from an Asian country has come under investigation over allegations of helping in money laundering.

The man, arrested and later released on bail, had been asked by the Customs to freeze the funds of a local account holder until investigations into a string of irregularities were completed.

Customs sources claim the manager in question tipped off the account holder enabling him to withdraw all the funds before the account was frozen. The arrest sparked off an appeal through diplomatic channels for the release of the manager.

However, Customs investigations are now continuing with the assistance of the Central Bank which has a special unit to deal with money laundering and related issues.

President pops in at media unit party

It was the birthday party of a staffer of President Mahinda Rajapaksa's media unit recently. The birthday boy had chosen to invite only a handful who had known him for more than two decades. That too in a secluded area at the Taj Samudra.

However, one of the invitees who had not known the host for two decades was President Rajapaksa. He not only arrived without his usually large security contingent but also made it a point to chat with most of the guests.

Warning from cardboard Mubarak

The gun-toting politico was waxing eloquent again, this time over the political turmoil that ousted President Hosni Mubarak in Egypt.

He was incensed that United National Party (UNP) leaders were trying to draw parallels between Egypt and Sri Lanka.

"Mehe eka keroth, magey pistoleyin thamai palavenima ekaata vedi thiyala maranney," (If they hold protests here in Sri Lanka, it will be from my pistol that the first protestor will be killed), he warned.

Chairman not ‘camera shy’

The official record of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC), posted on its website ( lists the names of persons who have testified before it.

One such person is the chairman of one of the top most companies in Sri Lanka.
Here is what the preamble to his representations to the Commission said:

Chairman C.R. de Silva: "……Being very busy mercantile executives, you have found the time to come over here and share your experiences with us, and we are extremely grateful to you. Now before we commence, Mr. (so and so), I must outline the procedure adopted by this Commission.

You are entitled to make your representations, either in public or in camera. The choice is yours. At the conclusion of your representations, we are entitled as Commissioners, as the Members of the Commission to ask you certain questions to clarify matters arising out of your representations, or any matter that is relevant to the Warrant, and you are permitted to respond either in public or in camera. The choice is yours. That's the procedure.

The Company Chairman: Thank you Mr. Chairman, I have no problem with cameras. Let me thank you for inviting me.

SLAF hot seat in the air

Who will be the next Commander of the Sri Lanka Air Force?

It has become the talking point in defence circles as the current incumbent Air Chief Marshal Roshan Goonetilleke reaches 55 years at the end of this month (February 28).

Insiders say ACM Goonetilleke, who is also Acting Chief of Defence Staff, would have his services extended at least until the 60th anniversary celebrations of the Air Force are over.

The Chief of Staff of the Air Force, Air Vice Marshal G.M. Premachandra retired from service on February 1. He is tipped to take up a top appointment in the Ministry of Defence.

The next in line for Chief of Staff is Air Vice Marshal H.D. Abeywickrema. The next senior most is Air Vice Marshal K.B. Gunathilake.

Gota's elephant worry

It was an unusual meeting for Defence Secretary, Gotabaya Rajapaksa last Navam Poya Day.
He was at the Gangaramaya Vihare for the annual perahera (procession of dancers and elephants). Together with him to place the dathu karanduwa (relics casket) were opposition leader Ranil Wickremesinghe and UNP parliamentarian Ravi Karunanayake.

For a brief moment, they found time to discuss the LTTE rump that is operating overseas. Secretary Rajapaksa rattled off a few names of persons who are still active carrying out Tiger guerrilla propaganda.
Wickremesinghe left after a while but the Defence Secretary chose to remain and watch the perahera. When it moved, Mr. Rajapaksa asked former UNPer and now UPFA supporter, Dharmasiri Ameratunga, who was seated next to him: "Why are so few elephants parading this time."

"Sir, they are becoming rare not only at peraheras. They are becoming rare all over the country even in politics," quipped Ameratunga, a former Mayor for Dehiwala-Galkissa. What he should have said was that many are Cabinet Ministers now.

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