Columns - Talk at the Cafe Spectator

Premier surgeon without scalpel

Prime Minister D.M. Jayaratne shocked physicians, surgeons and other visitors alike when he was in Dambulla to open the operating theatre of the public hospital there. He wanted to be attired in the garb of a surgeon before declaring open the operating theatre.

Hospital officials rushed from room to room looking for a sterilised surgeon’s gown and headgear.

They found one that suited him. Soon Premier Jayaratne looked a surgeon from head to toe as he declared open the new operating theatre.

A witty surgeon later told a reporter, "No, no we did not give him a scalpel. He did not want to conduct any surgery."

Added a witty nurse, "We hope he will not ask for a swimming trunk to declare open a swimming pool."

Polls bowled out

President Mahinda Rajapaksa during a breakfast meeting with editors of newspapers at Temple Trees was telling them how people have lost focus on the local elections in view of the on going world cup matches.

"When our candidates go out campaigning to the houses the people tell them to leave the propaganda material on a table in the verandah. They even do not have time to come out to collect the material," he said.

"They are not just only watching the Sri Lankan matches, but watching the other matches as well and have no time to concentrate on elections," he added.

One editor asked the President, "So is that the reason the elections are being held to coincide with the matches?" The President responded with a broad smile.

Big racket in cricket ticket

Sri Lankan expats in the United States who are planning a visit to Colombo for the cricket matches believe they are either being ripped off or taken for a ride in their quest for tickets -- specifically for the Sri Lanka-Australia match on March 5.

A group of about 25 to 30 expats from New York alone have forked out $200 a piece (more than Rs 20,000) for an air-conditioned box seat when the face value of the ticket is only 6,500 rupees.

"We don't mind paying the $200 -- as long as it finds its way to the official coffers", one of the expats said. "But we suspect it is going to line the pockets of some unscrupulous official there." These expats are already paying more than $1,400 for the airline ticket US-Sri Lanka. That's a lot of moolah to watch a cricket match.

Bodhi’s final triumph for Premadasa camp

Sajith Premadasa, a contender for the leadership of the United National Party (UNP), had bad news on Thursday morning. His veritable Chief of Staff, Bodhi Ranasinghe, a veteran party member had passed away in his sleep.

On Wednesday night, before retiring to bed, Ranasinghe had made his last telephone call to Premadasa. He had said he had some "very good news" that would make Premadasa happy (Santhosa Vena aranchiyak). Six members of the electoral college (those in the Working Committee and the Parliamentary Group) who he never would expect were going to support his candidature. Premadasa asked who they were. "They will come and see you Sir," replied Ranasinghe.

However, he was not present to witness the event. Premadasa, who is now doing the campaign round for the upcoming local polls had taken to the habit of singing Clarence Wijewardena's song Malata Bambareku Sey (the flower draws the bee).

He was alluding to how the flower was drawing the bee. It was a reference to requests by party candidates and supporters for him to address election rallies. Reports that late Clarence Wijewardena's family had objected to his use of this song prompted Premadasa to remark at meetings that he had obtained their permission.

Who gave her new vehicle?

A leading member of an opposition party has become the talking point after the luxury Prado vehicle she was travelling was damaged during an incident. It turned out that the Prado she imported had been sold or given to another party. The question being asked now is who gave the politico another brand new vehicle.

JVP furious over arrest

Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) leaders are furious that one of their party supporters has been arrested by Police on spurious grounds. They say that the man in question carried a Sinhala poster which asked "where is the promised Rs 2,500 pay increase? Bring down the Cost of Living." They say the man is now being charged in courts.

Lift surprise for Dilan

Weeks earlier, I referred to Dilan Perera, Minister of Foreign Employment and Welfare, ordering a female visitor out of his office at the Central Bank.

The woman from Kegalle had wanted him to help her secure a property that belonged to her but was occupied by another party. In return, she offered him a ten-acre tea property as reward.

This week, Mr. Perera entered the lift in his office to come to the ground floor. Three girls hugged him. It shook the Minister who wondered what was in store for him.

It turned out that he had helped the three girls obtain employment abroad. They had come to meet him but found the Minister was busy. They were waiting for the lift when he joined them.

Police boss annoys UNP

UNP stalwarts were not happy that Police Chief Dr. Mahinda Balasuriya walked out of a meeting they attended with Elections Commissioner Dayananda Dissanayake.

Perhaps the busy Police chief had other engagements. However, UNP leaders say they wanted to raise the issue of how ballot boxes will be transported from the polling booths to the counting centres when local polls are over on March 17.

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