Well what do you know! Sri Lanka’s president with a penchant for legal lynching of convicted drug dealers and the corrupt many has gone nuts-metaphorically speaking — over the cashew served by the national carrier. So the Sri Lankan president is after SriLankan Airlines for serving him cashew nuts which he thinks were not even [...]


Presidential ire and playing pandu with cricket


Well what do you know! Sri Lanka’s president with a penchant for legal lynching of convicted drug dealers and the corrupt many has gone nuts-metaphorically speaking — over the cashew served by the national carrier.

So the Sri Lankan president is after SriLankan Airlines for serving him cashew nuts which he thinks were not even fit for dogs. Now I know little of the dietary habits of dogs (even those that hang around at 5-star hotels) and whether canines do partake of cashew nuts.

All I know is the constant howl I hear from some inhabitants of Sri Lanka that the country has gone to the dogs. The recent koloppan called “Jana Balaya Kolombata” which found some participants literally ‘floored’ and others up lamp posts is a clear sign of the intensity of feeling at the country being handed over to the four-legged while the real dogs of war, their uniforms of yesteryear hanging in closets, are bristling with anger and barking at each other.

Why Sirisena had to spill his woes to the farmers in the south and even ask them who at the airline is responsible for ordering such putrid nuts, is surely puzzling.

How would the farmers know about the purchasing deals of SriLankan — if anything there works at all except perhaps its human resources boss who wants us to believe he is Numero Uno and the one who employees due diligence.

The poor goviyas have hardly been inside a plane, unlike Sirisena who accumulates so many air miles that he would soon have enough to get a free ride to Mars if Richard Branson makes it there.

Now it is rumoured that besides the annual pilgrimage to the UN, Sirisena is planning a visit to Trumpland when even America’s allies are shunning this bumptious American president for his boorish outbursts and outrageous personal behaviour. The man is so clearly unfit to be president that even his staff are said to thwart or ignore his orders.

With Sirisena playing Nero while Sri Lankans burn with anger, the two presidents would surely have valuable information to exchange over nuts.

Sophocles in his play Antigone said, “Evil appears as good in the minds of those who gods lead to destruction”. Trump is not the only leader who appears to be heading in that direction.

Perhaps Sirisena complained to the farmers hoping they would rush to their fields mammoties on their shoulders to plant cashew (or cadju as they call it) so that one day SriLankan, if it survives that long, will be able to serve our own nuts to our own constantly airborne worthies instead of depending on a supplier in Dubai. That is a long way to go for your cashew when Cadjugama at Pasyala would do.

One could well imagine what President Premadasa would have said. After all Premadasa told an engineer at a meeting one day that if the job given to him is too difficult for a qualified engineer he could get a ‘baas’ at Panchikawatte to do it.

This might also serve as a lesson for the president to be more humble and fly economy, as he is said to have done in the early days, instead of business class in which the inedible cashew had been offered to whet the presidential appetite.

One thing, though, intrigues me. Does SriLankan have commercial flights to Nepal? If not had Sirisena chartered the plane in the manner of his predecessor and ended up with canine-rejecting cashew nuts?

But this is not the only thing rotten in the State of Sri Lanka. For quite some years things have been rotting in the country’s cricket administration. The latest scandal is the alleged attempt by some high up in the financial section of the cricket board to divert some $5.5 million due to Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) for media sponsorship to a private off-shore account. But with all that, SLC is refusing to divulge the name of the person.

Financial shenanigans in cricket board circles are just one aspect that has haunted our cricket administration. Power-hungry politicians with deep pockets have played pandu with the administration of the game that rakes in more money than any other game played and witnessed by Sri Lankans.

Those interested in the game are well aware of the tinkering that has gone on to appoint more clubs into the top tier of the game. This would give them voting rights and could be cajoled or even coerced to vote for those who want to turn the administration into their personal fiefdom.

My former colleague in the Daily News, Sa’adi Thowfeek, who followed in the footsteps of his father M.M. Thowfeek into sports journalism, laid the blame for what has happened and continues to happen at the door of Sports Minister Faiszer Musthapha.

He said, “Why the Sports Minister is reluctant to appoint a management committee as required by the International Cricket Council (ICC) to run cricket in Sri Lanka until the elections are held is certainly mysterious.” The ICC has given February 9 as the deadline for SLC to hold elections.

“It is needless to say that once a management committee is in place, they are bound to investigate all the financial dealings that have taken place during the past two years of the previous committee and there are several skeletons in their cupboards.”

Without adhering to the ICC requirement why is the minister delaying the appointment of an independent committee? Is it to buy time in order to put in place changes prior to the elections that would benefit his parliamentary colleague Thilanga Sumathipala — to dominate the cricket board, it is being asked .

Minister Musthapha is fast earning a reputation for delaying elections as he did with the local government polls, tinkering with laws that needed drafting more than once. More recently he allegedly quoted in a cabinet paper a provision of the Sports Law that did not exist.

Seems like another right Royal dodge by one of the Race Course Avenue cabal. Reminds one of the Mirissa clean-up that was somehow thwarted.


President’s Counsel Tirantha Walaliyadde wrote last week referring to my August 26th column raised issue with a letter to President Sirisena from Ven. Iththapane Dhammalankara Thera of the Kotte Sangha Sabha. It was a veritable defence of the notorious Galagoda Aththe Gnanasara Thera who was imprisoned on charges of Contempt of Court.

Walaliyadde PC says his comments are no reflection on my opinions. But some of his remarks do venture into areas that do impinge on what I have said. To reply ‘in extenso’ to those would take more space than this newspaper would provide. So some brief responses would have to suffice. Lawyer Walaliyadde’s tagline for his comment is “The Maha Sangha bows down to no political authority.” Maybe not. But why Gnanasara Thera finds himself in the present predicament is because he disrespected the law — whether made by political authority or not –and violated the law.

That law should apply equally to all, no matter who they are, as the verdict in the Bandaranaike assassination case showed. Learned Counsel wonders why I wrote “Everybody is equal before the law- or so we have been told…” He says I am in a quandary. I am in no quandary, believe me. My cynicism is the result of decades of experience in journalism and what I have encountered and read.

President Sirisena summoning an emergency cabinet meeting last week over the CID investigations into the role of Admiral Wijegunaratne in a suspected abduction and murder case and the highest-ranking military officer’s imminent arrest, is a case in point.

As George Orwell said some are more equal than others. Has Walaliyadde PC with all his years at the bar heard of such a hurried and unbelievable grotesquerie that is tantamount to perverting the course of justice and undermining the rule of law Sirisena and others pledged to uphold? This is more akin to President Trump’s White House antics.

Non- interference in investigations and transparency were solemnly promIsed to the country. Does this seem like non-interference by the Sirisena government?
Even more disgusting is that this defence officer is sent to Mexico as an official representative.

If a government in power has at last long brought Gnanasara thera to justice, it is not because it wants to shut his mouth (which would not be a bad idea) as Walaliyadde claims but because the thera has shown such disdain for the law, insulted the judiciary and made a mockery of Buddhism by using the saffron robe to cloak his obnoxious and abhorrent conduct.

One question for the learned counsel who refers to” truth.” Does the utterance of truth, if it is truth indeed and not an expression of mere opinion, obviate the need for proper, respectable and lawful conduct. If monks do not bow to political authority (thought some would like to exercise such power), surely they should bow to the vinaya they have undertaken to observe. Why is it that sangha sabhas or those with the power to act against intransigent monks who clearly transgress the vinaya turn a blind eye to such deplorable conduct thwat disgraces the very teachings of the Buddha?

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