Canine species are often referred to by politicians of all hues to drive a point home. Years ago, the late retired Major General Sarath Munasinghe joined the People’s Alliance Government. Then President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga made him Deputy Speaker of Parliament. Months later, rumours floated that he was to cross over to the United National Party [...]


When politicos clash, dogs get crushed


Canine species are often referred to by politicians of all hues to drive a point home. Years ago, the late retired Major General Sarath Munasinghe joined the People’s Alliance Government. Then President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga made him Deputy Speaker of Parliament.

Months later, rumours floated that he was to cross over to the United National Party (UNP). Maj. Gen. (retd.) Munasinghe, in a bid to scotch them, declared “even if my dog crosses over, I will not.” Yet, the one-time Military Spokesperson did cross over to the UNP. The witty and lively former Information Director Ariya Rubasinghe was to remark “Eya giya, balla nang Innawa” or “he left but the dog is still there.”

Just last week, Deputy Transport Minister Rohana Dissanayake (was to declare “it is not that politics have gone to the dogs. Dogs have come to politics.” He was addressing a meeting after handing out letters of appointments to Grama Niladharis in the Matale District.

Though a colleague, his political archrival and Deputy Higher Education Minister Nandimitra Ekanayake was also on the stage. He had fired a broadside when he spoke earlier. He declared that some people had to sing praises in order to get into various positions.

Like the Grama Niladharis, those present at the meeting were aware of the rivalry between the duo. Mr. Dissanayake was to assert that if people cannot engage respectfully in politics without engaging in vituperative remarks, they should quit. A witty Grama Niladhari was heard to remark “Aney apey ballonta katha karanna puluvang nam, monava kiyai da.” (If our dogs could talk, what would they say?)

Elephant hunt raises identity problem
Wild elephant attacks are a common problem in the villages around Karuwalagaswewa but in recent times the villagers have been troubled by one particular elephant prompting them to urge the Wildlife Department to send a team to capture the elephant and move it to another location.

So a team of Wildlife officials arrived and followed the foot prints and other attributes and zeroed in on one elephant and was about to catch the pachyderm when the villagers protested saying it was the wrong elephant. Although the one identified also roamed the village, it was not the elephant with violent tendencies, they said.

The Divisional Secretary of the area was called in to assist in the matter. In all his wisdom, the DS ordered the Wildlife Department to abandon the mission immediately. He said they should come back another day, capture the violent elephant and stage an ‘identification parade’ so that the villagers can make positive identification if it’s the right animal they captured before removing the animal. And if it is not the right animal?
Then the Wildlife officers are to immediately release the elephant to the wild again.

Presidential poll after Papal visit, MR gives nod for Fonseka
A casual remark made by President Mahinda Rajapaksa that former General Sarath Fonseka could contest any poll has been the talking point in ministerial circles.
The reference came by chance after a weekly ministerial meeting was winding down. One Minister, who did not wish to be identified, said the remarks might be a hint that Fonseka, who now leads the Democratic Party, could contest the upcoming Presidential polls.

The timing for these polls is being pushed back further. Now, with Pope Francis due to visit Sri Lanka from January 13 to 15, Government sources say the Presidential poll is likely in March next year.  In some political circles, the papal visit has raised eyebrows. They point out that such a visit is usually not timed to coincide with elections.

However, Rev. Fr. Cyril Gamini, spokesman for the Catholic Church, declared: “The Vatican has now decided that Pope Francis will visit Sri Lanka from January 13 to 15. The Government too would have been informed of this decision. Therefore, it is up to the Government to decide on the dates of elections accordingly.” He added, “Later this month we will start getting ready for the visit.”

It may be recalled that Mr. Fonseka cast his vote at the Western Provincial Council elections. Later, when the issue was raised at a news conference held by the Elections Commissioner Mahinda Deshapriya, he replied that no polling agent had objected. He also said the opinion of the Attorney General had been sought.

Hulugalle news spin amid diplomatic shakeup
He made headlines after two reported attempts at suicide, the result of a love tryst. Even if he denied them, Lakshman Hulugalle, had to quit office as Director General of the Media Centre for National Security (MCNS). As head of this powerful body, Hulugalle oversaw the dissemination of news to the media on the now ended separatist war.

Last week, he was at the centre of another controversy. It all began after the Government Department of Information said in a news release that Hulugalle had been appointed as Sri Lanka’s High Commissioner to Australia. Naturally, the mobile phone of High Commissioner Thisara Samarasinghe continued to ring after the media ran the news release. To make things worse, the real envoy was in Singapore taking part in the regional security conclave better known as the Shangri La Summit.

Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa had led Sri Lanka’s delegation to the event. Whilst assuring callers that he was very much Sri Lanka’s High Commissioner in Australia, the one-time Commander of the Navy rang the Ministry of External Affairs. An equally embarrassed official was to say he was helpless since the news release was not issued by the Ministry.

It took another day for the story to unfold. It came to light that Hulugalle himself had written the news release and forwarded it to the Director General of Information, Ariyaratne Athugala. He had forwarded it to an official in the Department and asked him to issue a press release. Who made Mr. Hulugalle the High Commissioner in the news release is not known.

In reality, Mr. Hulugalle has been appointed as Sri Lanka’s Deputy High Commissioner to Australia. To accommodate him, A.L. Ratnapala, a career foreign service officer, has been transferred to Nigeria as acting Ambassador. In another development, the head of a Sri Lanka mission posted for a three-year stint is giving up early.

A.S.P. Liyanage, who operated a property sales company in Sri Lanka, was posted as Sri Lanka’s Ambassador to Nigeria. He is calling it quits at the end of 12 months. No reasons have been given, at least officially.


New Colombo 7 restaurant in PHI soup
The Colombo Municipal Council’s Public Health Department has filed a case against a newly established Colombo 7 restaurant serving local northern and southern cuisine. Public Health Inspectors (PHI)s of the CMC have found frozen and cooked food stored together, an official said.

“Legal action has been taken, and the case is to be heard next week. The officers have been also verbally abused by an overseas chef at the restaurant,” he said.
The manager of the restaurant declined comment, saying the matter was before courts.


Wimal’s song: Evidence destroyed in the air
“Enna Enna Rata Hadanna” (Come, come to rebuild the country) was the title of a song which Wimal Weerawansa composed wheh he was a Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) stalwart. It was ahead of the 2005 Presidential election campaign. The composing was done literally in the clouds, when a Sri Lanka Air Force (SLAF) helicopter was taking him for a public rally.

Since JVP rules were strict, Mr. Weerawansa could not hand it over in his own handwriting. So he got Dullas Allahapperuma, who sat next to copy it in his own handwriting and send it to the singer and the group. Allahapperuma not only copied it, but also destroyed Mr. Weerawansa’s note. The story came to light only last week when Mr. Allahapperuma spoke about it.

NFF’s status within UPFA: Decision after President returns
President Mahinda Rajapaksa, now in Bolivia, will decide on the fate of the National Freedom Front (NFF) in the UPFA when he returns to Colombo.
This week, Gamini Senarath, Chief of Staff in the President’s Office, telephoned NFF leader Wimal Weerawansa to ask whether he and other members could be ready for a meeting within two hours. He replied that it was not possible since he was travelling to Kandy for events organised by the party.

That had included a workshop to explain to party cadres the issues the NFF has raised. Mr Senarath was to reply that a new date would have to be given only after President Rajapaksa’s return. The call to Minister Weerawansa was made after the Sri Lanka Freedom Party’s (SLFP) Central Committee meeting ended last Tuesday.

The Committee appointed six ministers to study the NFF’s 12 point “reform proposal” and be ready to respond. The ministers are Basil Rajapaksa, Maithripala Sirisena, Nimal Siripala de Silva, Susil Premajayantha, Anura Yapa Abeywardena and Dullas Allahapperuma.


‘Bombay Velvet’ special show for first family
Well known Indian film Director Anurag Kashyap who shot his film ‘Bombay Velvet’, at Ranminithenna Mahinda Rajapaksa National Tele Cinema Park, has decided to have a special screening of the film for Sri Lanka’s first family in November, Indian media reported.

The special screening is to show his appreciation for the painstaking work done by the Sri Lankan crews with the support of the authorities to recreate Mumbai of the 1950s and 60s as the film is based on a book titled ‘Mumbai Fables’ which chronicles the story of how the city became a metropolis.

“The event will be attended by President Mahinda Rajapaksa, among others. It will be held in November, a few days prior to the official release,” a media report said.

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