That Sri Lanka’s External Affairs Minister G.L. Peiris loves to jet set from one world capital to another is too well known.  So much so, it was the topic of discussion when Pedro Hendrik, one time Brazil’s Ambassador to Sri Lanka, hosted Peiris for lunch in Brasilia, the capital of Brazil during the Minister’s visit [...]


Jetsetter GL gets high-flying advice in Brasilia


That Sri Lanka’s External Affairs Minister G.L. Peiris loves to jet set from one world capital to another is too well known.  So much so, it was the topic of discussion when Pedro Hendrik, one time Brazil’s Ambassador to Sri Lanka, hosted Peiris for lunch in Brasilia, the capital of Brazil during the Minister’s visit last week.

“How do you cope with it,” asked Hendrik who went on to give advice to Peiris. The External Affairs Minister, the veteran flyer, kept nodding as his less experienced host explained the need to exercise one’s muscles etc.

The conversation then changed to furniture in Hendrik’s home atop a hill in Brasilia. They were either antiques or reproduction furniture from Sri Lanka, commonly known here as “modern antiques”.

President outsmarts Indian protesters

The Government of India put in place one of the tightest security operations for a VVIP when President Mahinda Rajapaksa visited Buddha Gaya and  Tirupathi last week. When the time came for Rajapaksa to leave for the airport from the state guest house at Tirupathi after ceremonies at the famed temple there, protests had heightened. So the police closed several roads along the 43 kilometre route. Only journalists were allowed access on those roads.

Disguising themselves as media personnel, some of the protestors had lined up along the route. When a flashy Audi car with tinted windows passed by, the protestors pulled out posters from the pockets and displayed them. These posters carried anti-Sri Lanka slogans. They also shouted slogans.

It was only when the motorcade reached the airport, did the story emerge. The President was not in the Audi. He travelled in a Mahendra Jeep that followed the Audi.
Seated in the Audi were Presidential Secretary Lalith Weeratunga and External Affairs Ministry Monitoring MP Sajin Vass Gunawardena.

Minister responds fast to Hema’s plea

Housing and Construction Minister Wimal Weerwansa last week received several calls on his mobile phone from a number unknown to him. He called back and the person at the other end identified herself as Hema Premadasa. She said she wanted to make a request from him. She told the minister that recently the water tank at the Keselwatta housing scheme was painted and that a poem written by her late husband Ranasinghe Premadasa which was on display on the tank had been removed. She wanted it restored.

Weerawansa promised to get it done. He called an official and checked with him. He said the poem had been painted on a tin-sheet which was corroded now and could not be displayed. The Minister has now instructed that the poem be redone and displayed again.

Hodgepodge Cabinet: Joke about Minister of Beans soon

After the recent Cabinet reshuffle, Sri Lanka now has not one, not two, but three ministers handling similar subjects. For instance, there is a minister each for energy, renewable energy and atomic energy. There is also a minister each for education, higher education and education services. Then there is the usual duplication of duties. For example, there is a minister for aviation and another for civil aviation; a minister for health and another for indigenous medicine; there is a minister for industry and commerce and another for cooperatives and internal trade; there is one for economic development and another for investment promotion; and there is one minister for Plantations Industries but another handles Janatha Estate Development and coconut lands. Yet another is in charge of sugar plantations. There are also those portfolios that leave one confused. What, for instance, does a “Minister of Public Management Reforms” or a Minister of “Productivity Promotion” do? How does the Senior Minister for Good Governance achieve his objectives?

With all this mishmash of duties, it just goes to show that it doesn’t matter what the job is – so long as everyone has a cushy post in hand and you are after all a Cabinet Minister. Very soon, as the current joke in town goes, we will have a Cabinet Minister for Carrots, and another for Beans.

Not a fool to go to school

It was an unexpected meeting when paths crossed between one of UNP’s budding Parliamentarian’s Harin Fernando and UPFA’s Hambantota MP Namal Rajapaksa.
They ran into each other at Oddusuddan. They hugged each other before a conversation could begin. “There is a lot of development activity here.

You do not seem to be marketing them well in the foreign media,” Fernando told Rajapaksa. “Harin aiya, I am going to open a school now. Why don’t you join me,” he asked.
“Apoi, I will lose my MP-ship,” retorted Fernando as they parted ways.

Councillor comes with snake to meet CM

When a group of Sabaragamuwa Provincial Councillors met Chief Minister Maheepala Herath last week for a discussion, one of them turned up with a thick cardboard box.

“Mokkada mey pettiye? (What is in this box?),” Herath asked Councillor Hasitha Muhandiramge. “Sir meke inne sarpayek. Mal karawalaya. (Sir inside this is a snake, a Hump-nosed viper).”

Muhandiramge opened the box and showed the snake. The Chief Minister continued the meeting regardless. “Man hithuwe Sir bayawei kiyala. (I thought that you would get scared of this Sir),” Muhandiramage told Herath.  “Mama oya sarpayanta baya wena minihek nemei. (I am not one who is afraid of snakes),” said the Chief Minister continuing his meeting.

Three top world jurists furious over pro-impeachment statement 

It was only weeks ago, the International Council of Jurists ” representing top judges , Chief Justices of several countries and eminent persons” said that the recent impeachment of Chief Justice 43, Shirani Bandaranayake, was “absolutely in accordance with the prevalent laws.”

The organisation was described as including the Chief Justice of Pakistan, the Chief Justice of Bangladesh and the Honourable Lord Navnit Dhoalakala, member of Britain’s House of Lords, a former British High Court judge and a former International Court of Justice (world court) Vice President among others. The statement was issued by Dr. Adish C. Aggarwala of the All India Bar Association on behalf of the council.

Dr. Adish C. Aggarwala

Now, Pakistan’s celebrated Chief Justice, Iftikar Ali Choudhury has dissociated himself from the council’s statement. This is what he has to say:
“My concern is not the merits of the impeachment of the Chief Justice of Sri Lanka,(as to which it is not for me to judge), but the partisan and public involvement of the Association in support of one side to this high profile political dispute without prior consultation with and the agreement of the officers of the Association, and most particularly myself.

“I agreed to become vice-president of the Association in the understanding that it was formed to promote good relations between the UK and Indian judiciary and legal professions and promote legal education and exchanges. I would not have agreed to join the Association if I had known that it was to involve itself in matters such as this.

“I must also doubt whether the distinguished foreign judges and lawyers who spoke and participated in the Association’s conferences would have done so if they had known that the Association’s activities would extend to involvement in such a dispute.

“You however evidently take a different view as to the scope of the permissible activities of the Association. In the circumstances regretfully I have no alternative but to resign as Vice President. I am concerned to disassociate myself from the position taken by you in the name of the Association regarding the impeachment of the Chief Justice of Sri Lanka and I must authorise others (if they so wish) to publicise this letter and its contents.” Moreover two more of the Vice-Presidents from the International Council of Jurists say they were completely unaware of the statement and did not endorse it.

Sir Justice Gavin Lightman has also dissociated himself completely. He has resigned as Vice-President. Baron Dholakia of UK claims he has no connection with this International Council of Jurists and does not endorse this statement.

Probe on court rumpus dropped

One legal big wig tried to initiate a probe on the events that played out in the courts complex during the period when Chief Justice 43 Shirani Bandaranayake was impeached.
The big wig spoke to security types in the courts complex, one after another, to determine who were responsible for the “rowdy” scenes outside the courthouse.

Most said they did not know. But one who was promised protection and promotion came forward and identified a lawyer, a staunch anti-impeachment campaigner.
Insiders say that the matter has now been dropped.

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