For the 56th year in succession, the Police held their Christmas Carols at their grounds in Bambalapitiya on December 19. The chief guest this time was His Eminence Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith, Archbishop of Colombo. He was received by Police Chief N.K. Illangakoon. What many were unaware is the preparations that had been going on for [...]


Police carols: How eliminators became illuminators


For the 56th year in succession, the Police held their Christmas Carols at their grounds in Bambalapitiya on December 19.

The chief guest this time was His Eminence Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith, Archbishop of Colombo. He was received by Police Chief N.K. Illangakoon.

What many were unaware is the preparations that had been going on for the event. During those weeks, those responsible for preparing the invitation cards were to literally commit murder; I mean the murder of the Queen or the English language.

One item listed in the programme and included in the invitation card for 1905 hours had this to say: “Inspector General of Police inorgrates the Carol Service by Switching on Eliminators.” Certainly not the best thing to say though Police have often been accused, sometimes unfairly, of being “eliminators” of criminals or suspects.

The cards were printed when the colossal blunder, after more than half a century of conducting Christmas Carols, was discovered.

So, the top brass assigned for the task did the next best thing – print another set of cards. This time, the item for 1905 hours said, “Inspector General of Police inaugurates the Carol Service by Switching on Illuminators.” That certainly was more face saving than branding those colourful lights as ‘eliminators.’
Crack detectives in the Police Department are yet to be assigned to investigate how “eliminators” became “illuminators.” Yet, some of the top brass were relieved that the event was projected as shedding more light than doing things in the dark. “It is like calling an event sponsored by doctors as one arranged by proctors, or vice versa” chuckled one of them.

According to Police Chief Illangakoon, the Police band was formed in 1906. The conduct of Christmas Carols was inaugurated in 1956.

This year’s Police event would make even Santa Claus blush.

MPs pay more for meals but it’s still kos  for us and courses for them

The New Year seems to be beginning on a note of bad news for Parliamentarians. The prices of subsidised meals they enjoyed in Parliament will be increased after the House Committee decided on the matter. Yet, the prices are cheaper than those a common man would have to pay to enjoy such a meal in a restaurant.
The price of a lunch which now costs Rs. 150 has been increased to Rs. 250. That is in the MPs’ Canteen. In the Public Canteen, it has been raised from Rs. 50 to Rs.100.

Restrictions have been placed on the number of guests too. Ministers will be allowed to bring in a maximum of 25 guests, that too after giving notice to the Secretary General of Parliament 48 hours ahead. The number of guests MPs will be entitled to have been restricted to five. If they want to bring in more, they will have to give two hours advance notice. Excess number of guests will be charged at the rate of Rs. 600 a meal.

During budget debates, the House Committee decided that Ministers could entertain in the MPs’ Canteen only officials assigned to their Ministries. The new increases have been notified in a circular sent out to all Parliamentarians.

It comes in the wake of severe public criticism that while the common man is asked to pay higher and higher prices for his daily food, MPs, representing these downtrodden masses are not only getting heavily subsidised meals but also demanding bacon, honey and cereals on their menu.

“Apita kos unta course” (jak fruit for us, courses for them) has been a long time slogan of the common man after electing his MP.

MP adds voice to campaign against Muslims

Actor turned politician Ranjan Ramanayake is in the eye of a storm after he criticised Islamic Sharia laws and its so-called ill effects on Sri Lankan women workers in West Asia.

“I have come here after discussing you for 25 minutes at our high command meeting,” Justice Minister Rauff Hakeem, who is also leader of the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC) told Ramanayake. He met him at a wedding on Friday night.

Groups that have started e-mail campaigns against Muslim activities in the country, particularly the practice of halal meat products etc., have drawn the attention of the Muslim community in recent times.

DIG denies links with museum robbery

Journalists were invited to attend a “special media briefing” the day after Christmas. This was to be held by Police Chief N.K. Illangakoon to brief journalists on the progress made in the probe on the museum robbery.
The Police Chief did not turn up. Instead Senior DIG (Western Province) Anura Senanayaka was present along with a few officials of the Department of National Museums.

While not many new details emerged at the briefing on the museum robbery, DIG Senanayake made it a point to emphasise that rumours circulating about his involvement in the affair were untrue.

State media report removed from PSC minutes

It was United National Party Parliamentarian Lakshman Kiriella, who sought an amendment to the minutes of the Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) probing the impeachment motion against Chief Justice Shirani Bandaranayake.

According to the official report of the Committee, the minutes related to the PSC meeting on November 16.

Kiriella said item 11 in the minutes had referred to a news report in a state-run Sinhala newspaper. It had reported on the front page that the Chief Justice had admitted to the charges preferred against her. Kiriella said it should be corrected.

Minister Anura Priyadarshana Yapa, Chairman of the Committee, directed that the minutes be amended.

Lokubandara’s pirith in the air 

President Mahinda Rajapaksa, though scheduled, could not attend the ceremonies to mark the anniversary of the devastating tsunami that hit Sri Lanka in December 2004.

Instead, Speaker Chamal Rajapaksa stepped in. Together with Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva and Sabaragamuwa Governor W.J.M. Lokubandara, they boarded a Sri Lanka Air Force helicopter from Colombo.

When it came to landing in a ground in Badulla, the pilot of the helicopter encountered difficulty. There was thick cloud cover and the VIPs on board were informed accordingly.

Governor Lokubandara began chanting pirith (a Buddhist stanza) loudly as the chopper dipped a few times and gained altitude again as the cloud cover caused a lack of visibility. The pilot soon found a patch in the clouds and landed safely on terra firma.

Others on board the helicopter thanked Lokubandara for chanting pirith and helping the chopper to land. No one thanked the pilot though.

Best European horses for big events

Traffic and crowd control are given as reasons why the Police Department has imported 21 thoroughbred horses from the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany. A senior officer said that they would be used during international events in Colombo.

Bogols coming back?

Though not a member of Parliament, former Foreign Minister Rohita Bogollagama seems to be making a comeback to the frontlines of the Government.

Weeks ago, he was a special invitee for the regular breakfast meeting President Mahinda Rajapaksa holds for heads and editors of national newspapers and the electronic media institutions.

This week, he sat by the side of Minister Anura Priyadarshana Yapa, as he held a news conference. Yapa headed the Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) that probed the impeachment motion against Chief Justice Shirani Bandaranayake.

Perahera stage collapses but not end of the world

Believers of the Mayan calendar were not only in Peru but also in other parts of the world, including Sri Lanka too.

So, when a shaky stage at a perahera in Bentota collapsed, those on it thought that the end of the world was coming. They felt the earthquake had already begun.

This included actress turned politician Geetha Kumarasinghe. The VIPs for the event were accommodated on a special stage at the Dalada Perahera in Bentota.

Kumarasinghe sensed all was not well and alighted from the stage only seconds earlier. Southern Province Chief Minister, Shan Wijelal de Silva managed to escape unhurt.

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