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Aimed at Ranil, it fell near MR

Officials closely went through video footage of Parliament proceedings on budget day. The purpose was to ascertain the trajectory of a water bottle. It had landed near President Mahinda Rajapaksa's feet splashing some water on him.

The President thought it had come from the public gallery and told the Sergeant-at-Arms to investigate. But it came to light that it had been thrown by an MP from the Gampaha District.

Even funnier was the find that the water bottle had been aimed at Opposition United National Party leader Ranil Wickremesinghe. However, it fell near the President.

“Vidde hawata, Wadune pandurata,”cracked a parliamentary wag, quoting an old local saying to mean fired the arrow at the rabbit, but it hit the bush.

Birthday surprise in US for Mavai

There were some unusual moments when a delegation from the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) met officials in the Department of State in Washington D.C.

At one meeting, officials had turned up with a cake with a few candles on it. It turned out that Parliamentarian Mavai Senathirajah had turned 69.

When all of them finished singing "happy birthday to you," Senathirajah was to remark that he had never celebrated his birthday. So year 69 was something special to him.

Who was heady at the sporty dance?

President Mahinda Rajapaksa was among those who turned up to celebrate the 47th birthday of Sports Minister Mahindananda Aluthgamage. He spent more than an hour and a half and things seemed quiet.

No sooner he had left, the dancing began. Young Parliamentarian Namal Rajapaksa was to remark to his colleagues that he was dancing without having any drinks. Those who had taken drinks had withdrawn from the dance floor.

A quick rejoinder came from Uditha Lokubandara MP. He said that the MPs were somewhat heady because they had eaten carrots and potatoes. The vegetables had contained arsenic and that was the cause for it. The party went on till the wee hours of the morning.

Coffin joke at Budget party

President Mahinda Rajapaksa was in a jovial mood when it came to the tea party after his Budget speech as Finance Minister.

Referring to the protest and walkout by the main opposition United National Party (UNP) MPs, he said they would have to do such things. However, when he was in the opposition, they had even brought coffins into the house.

He said since the coffins would be noticed by the security, the planks were brought into the House piece by piece.

There was a tricky issue when they had to assemble it inside a toilet. When the nails were being driven, it made a loud noise.

He said they found a way out to prevent detection. Every time a nail was driven, the toilet door was shut. It made a loud noise and the nailing noise was drowned.

Fishy discussions between the two

At a tree-planting ceremony near the Parliamentary complex in Kotte-Sri Jayawardhanapura,His Excellency President Mahinda Rajapaksa ran into Colombo's Mayor His Worship A.J.M. Muzammil.
With greetings over, he asked the UNP Mayor whether he was making arrangements to bring the fish market to the former Race Course premises.

"No, no. I have no such plans," said Muzammil. President Rajapaksa was alluding to comments made by UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe during last month's local polls campaign that the St. John's market (within Colombo Municipal limits), which was shifted to Peliyagoda would be brought back to the city.

Bitter pill for award winner at Chamber show

Though the Revival of Underperforming Enterprises or Underutilized Assets law is now a fait accompli, some of those affected have not given up. Daya Gamage, whose Daya Group, owned Sevanagala Sugar Industries was angry last week when his request for a five minutes speech at an event organised by the Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FCCI) was turned down on the grounds that it was not in order.

The FCCI was having its annual Entrepreneur of the Year Award at a five star hotel in the city. He had wanted five minutes during the annual event to speak on how unreasonable it was for the government to take over his business enterprise. An FCCI official said it was not customary to allow such speeches during the ceremony though Gamage himself had won the award in the 1990s.

A senior official of the FCCI, who was present at a meeting where six trade chambers held talks with President Rajapaksa before the take-over law was passed, quoted a reference to Sevanagala after the request for a speech was turned down. Rajapaksa had told the trade chambers, "Why don't you all go to Sevangala and ask the sugar cultivators. When the harvest is made, the weighing scales at this sugar industry break down."

Right man; wrong time

First it was the Commonwealth Games and then the just concluded cricket series with Pakistan. Now comes the unpublicized (in Sri Lanka that is) news of another defeat for Sri Lanka in the international arena -- and this time it happened in New York on November 17. It was the failed re-election bid of former Foreign Ministry legal eagle, Dr. Rohan Perera, who is also a member of the LLRC, to the International Law Commission.

While Dr. Perera was elected and re-elected with comfortable margins in 2001 and in 2006, he finished 11 votes from re-re-election (or was it 5.5 votes as per the logic of Governor/Central Bank in the aftermath of the Commonwealth Games defeat!). The Asia-Pacific region was entitled to 8 seats in the 34 seat Commission. Dr. Perera came 9th in the 'manape' vote.

The 8 elected were from Thailand, South Korea, India, Indonesia, China, Japan, Jordan and Qatar. Word from the corridors of the UN in New York to the Republic Square in Colombo is that while Dr. Perera had unimpeachable credentials, which he truly did, to continue serving on the ILC, having even served as Chairman once, the international credentials of the country is so low at the Glass House (UN headquarters) even someone of Dr. Perera's standing could not make it.

Colombo-based officials handling the subject matter never bothered to follow things up vigorously. Did someone say that some of those 'senior officials' in New York and Colombo have their own sights set for assignments in the Glass House or affiliated agencies?

The 38th enterprise that got away

Was a 38th "underperforming" enterprise included in the Schedule and later left out from the "Revival of Underperforming Enterprises or Underutilized Assets" Bill rushed through Parliament this month?

Insiders say that the enterprise was a property outside a house near the lake located in the city. The large extent of prime land was given to a starry eyed businessman to develop a modern car park complex. They say he got wind of the move and was successful in having the establishment left out. There was also speculation yesterday that one of the enterprises listed no longer existed.

Caribbean tamasha: More inside stories soon

The multimillion rupee tamasha in the Carribean island of St. Kitts to win support for Hambantota to host the Commonwealth Games ended in failure this month. Now comes the rumbling. Some of the 160 participants are complaining the per diem allowance was not paid to them.

They complain that such monies were paid to even those who had all three meals per day free of charge.
However, those who did not receive the daily payment admit that their hotel bills were paid. That is all, they complain. Soon, more of the sleazy things that went on will be out as the group prepares to protest.

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