Offering jobs and ensuring votes at the next elections are standard operating rules for politicians. Otherwise, they will not be able to return to Parliament.Education Minister Akila Viraj Kariyawasam, who represents the Kurunegala District, is just one such politician who follows this dictum to the hilt. No harm, one would say, since job opportunities are [...]


Akila’s workless jobs: Driver for school without vehicle, cooks without kitchen


Offering jobs and ensuring votes at the next elections are standard operating rules for politicians. Otherwise, they will not be able to return to Parliament.Education Minister Akila Viraj Kariyawasam, who represents the Kurunegala District, is just one such politician who follows this dictum to the hilt.

No harm, one would say, since job opportunities are available more in his Ministry than many others. That is in schools and even cultural projects which come under his purview. However, young men and women, to whom he had given appointments, allegedly receive their pay for doing nothing. One such case is from Naula in the Matale District.

The appointment given to a young man is for the post of driver at a school. However, this school does not have any vehicle. So, he only signs his name and draws a monthly salary. Another instance is how two others were appointed as cooks to a school in Dambulla. That school does not have a kitchen, nor does it serve food to anyone. Similarly, some appointments have been made to schools and other institutions outside the Kurunegala District.

After complaints were received at the UNP headquarters, Srikotha, the leadership asked former Foreign Minister Ravi Karunanayake to find out what was happening. He made an on-the-spot study and assured party supporters that he will discuss the matter with Minister Kariyawasam.

Paisley’s Post-Brexit trade talks irk SL (Tamil) diaspora
A British MP from Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), one of ten that is keeping Prime Minister Theresa May’s Government in power, is at the centre of a controversy once again over old accusations that he accepted holidays in Sri Lanka in 2013.

Mr Paisley with Sri Lanka High Commissioner Amari Wijewardene in Westminster after discussing a post-Brexit trade with Sri Lanka

The Daily Telegraph newspaper reported that he accepted holidays worth £100,000 “from a country he is now helping to secure a post-Brexit trade deal.” However, Ian Paisley Jr. denied the accusations and declared that he would go before the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards to state his case. He has also charged that the newspaper’s account was defamatory. According to the Daily Telegraph report on Thursday, “Ian Paisley Jr, one of the Democratic Unionist Party’s most prominent MPs, accepted two all-expenses-paid trips from the Sri Lankan government .”

The Daily Telegraph report states that Mr Paisley took his wife and four children to Sri Lanka and flew business class, stayed in the “finest hotels” and were provided with a chauffeur-driven Mercedes, all paid for by the Sri Lankan government. During discussions with officials, he offered to help the state broker an oil deal, saying he had “significant arrangements with national oil suppliers” in Oman and Nigeria.

“The trips, which were never disclosed in the Commons register of interests, will raise serious questions about the influence and interests of the MP, who is one of 10 DUP members relied upon by Theresa May to ensure her government can continue to function after her snap election. The Register of Members’ Financial Interests exists so that MPs can declare income, gifts or affiliations that could be construed as a potential conflict of interest with their parliamentary roles.
“Not to shy away from the accusations, this week Mr Paisley posted a picture of himself alongside Amari Wijewardene, the Sri Lankan High Commissioner, outside the Houses of Parliament captioned: “With Sri Lanka high commissioner to discuss NI-Sri Lanka trade deal after Brexit.”

Two days after the meeting in Parliament, Mr Paisley posted a picture of himself alongside Liam Fox, the International Trade Secretary responsible for negotiating post-Brexit trade deals. It was captioned: “With Liam Fox discussing our trade agreements post Brexit.” The Sri Lankan High Commission in London said yesterday that Mr Paisley was considered to be in a particularly good position to help “enhance trade relations between Sri Lanka and the UK” given the DUP’s role supporting Ms May’s Government.

Dr. Fox was at the centre of a controversy as Defence Secretary and resigned from his post during the premiership of David Cameron for allowing his former flat-mate and best-man at his wedding accompany him on 18 foreign trips and distribute visiting cards without any official position. However Mr. Fox was credited for doing an “outstanding job” as Defence Secretary.

A friend of Sri Lanka, Dr. Fox once brokered an agreement between the then President Chandrika Kumaratunga and Opposition Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe. At that time he was Deputy Foreign Secretary of Britain and the agreement was meant to ensure a common strategy towards a political solution to end Sri Lanka’s then northern insurgency.
However, the Sri Lanka (Tamil) diaspora was to take credit for the downfall of Dr. Fox and is seen behind the recent moves to discredit Mr. Paisley.

“They are still trying to destabilise Sri Lanka from here”, said a British citizen of Sri Lankan origin referring to the Sri Lankan (Tamil) diaspora. “They don’t want anything good to happen to Sri Lanka – and they are a tinge jealous, maybe, that the Sri Lankan government succeeded in lobbying a British MP, something they thought is their monopoly”.
Not to be outdone, the Sri Lankan (Tamil) diaspora-US branch has also been at work, this time with the Jagath Jayasuriya saga. Having successfully triggered a molehill of a story into a mountain courtesy former Army Commander Sarath Fonseka, they had their ‘agents’ at the UN press Corp ask a question about Jagath Jayasuriya, one-time UN official and currently Constitutional Council member Radhika Coomaraswamy and the SL Army serving in the UN Peace Keeping Forces.

This is basically how the Q and A went at the UN press briefing this week;
Question: And on Sri Lanka, again, maybe you may have been overwhelmed by the question, but there’s a former general, Jagath, who’s being charged with war crimes. He fled back to Sri Lanka from Brazil. Since he got back to Sri Lanka, he said that then-UN official Radhika Coomaraswamy told… quote, “told me that there is nothing against you in terms of war crimes.” So I understand that she’s no longer a UN official, but given that he is explicitly saying that she said it as a UN official, does the UN have anything to… is it… was the case that…

Spokesman: Well, I mean, it’s not… I don’t know anything about the veracity of the quote, but it’s… these sorts of charges are put forward by judicial bodies.

Question: And does that charge have any impact on the continued use and deployment of Sri Lankan…?
Spokesman: I think as we said, all Sri Lanka troops go through unit vetting and individual vetting.

Bopage for President’s media work
Nimal Bopage has been appointed as Additional Secretary (Media) in the Presidential Secretariat.
He was earlier Secretary to the Ministry of Mass Media.

Mangala sweeps Chairman who refuses to budge
Sena Suriyapperuma has been appointed by Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera as the Chairman of the Development Lotteries Board.

This was after the minister issued a Gazette notification on August 31 removing the previous chairman Romesh Jayawardena, who had refused to resign following the resignation of one-time Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake, who appointed him to the post.

Sharmila Perera, Chairperson of the National Lotteries Board, sent in her resignation immediately upon Minister Karunanayake’s resignation.
The two boards were given to Karunanayake when he was made Foreign Minister, but have now been reverted to the Finance Ministry.

Bell Pottinger, which worked for Lanka, suspended for five years

Bell Pottinger, a British-based public relations firm which the former Sri Lankan Government hired for work both in that country and in the United States, has been slapped with sanctions.

The Public Relations and Communications Association (PRCA), the professional body in Britain has declared that Bell Pottinger breached its charter and two clauses of its code of conduct.

This was over the company’s campaign for South Africa’s Gupta family and the PRCA said it was likely to “inflame racial discord.” Bell. Bell Pottinger cannot re-apply for PRCA membership for at least five years. The PRCA’s professional practices committee found Bell Pottinger‘s campaign was “likely to inflame racial discord in South Africa and appears to have done exactly that”.

PRCA Director General Francis Ingham was quoted in media reports as saying, “Bell Pottinger has brought the PR and communications industry into disrepute with its actions, and it has received the harshest possible sanctions. The PRCA has never before passed down such a damning indictment of an agency’s behaviour.

“This outcome reflects the huge importance that the PRCA places on the protection of ethical standards in the business of PR and communications.”Bell Pottinger said it acknowledges the ruling, “accepts that there are lessons to be learned but disputes the basis on which the ruling was made.” In a statement, the agency said it would continue to abide by the PRCA’s code of ethical conduct.


Identity fiasco at Sigiri frescoes
How does one prove that he or she is indeed a Sri Lankan national? The answer would no doubt be through some official documentation like for example the National Identity Card (NIC).

However, private security personnel at Sigiriya have adopted their own methods. In view of the admission rates for the historic rock fortress being different for foreign and local visitors, they keep a watchful eye on the queue.

Those whom they suspect do not “look like” Sri Lankans are taken off the queue and interrogated. In one such case a lady visitor who was subjected to the process spoke in fluent Sinhala as she was questioned. Then she was given a ticket at a lower rate.

However, when the lady was just outside the historic frescoes, the security men turned up and escorted her out. They said they were not satisfied that the visitor was Sri Lankan, not even when she held an NIC.

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