28th September 1997

The Jungle Telegraph

By Alia

Fruit cake getting nutty

Sri Lanka Air Force Police were very busy again early this week. This time they were not trailing scribes to track down their sources.

They want to find out who gave the Voucher No 31 of August 15 (for Rs 49,604) for the purchase of pineapples to Alia, which was reported in these columns last week.

The pineapples purchased from airmen’s contributions to Service Institute Fund, together with 2,000 coconut from trees at the base, were flown by the Shaanxi Y 8 to an Asian capital from where military hardware was airlifted.

They were gifts to military colleagues from top brass in Colombo, though some embarrassed SLAF boys now say it was meant for staff of the Sri Lanka diplomatic mission in that country.

If the latter assertion was correct, the entire Embassy Staff would have found it difficult to consume all the coconuts and pineapples, not even if they ate them three times a day for the rest of their tour of duty.

The old saying goes that one should not look a gift horse in the mouth. Well, Alia went into this only because the men whose money was used to buy the gifts never got anything in return. Not even a piece of kebab. That’s not all. Neither the Export Control nor Customs knew about this special airlift of gifts.

Who cares about laws anymore !!

Maybe they will think of gems as the next gift. That will not fill cabin space like coconuts and pineapples.

More for military museum

Those Mortar Locat- ing Devices acquired by the Sri Lanka Army in 1995 - 24 units for 15 million US dollars (or around Rs 870 million) - have not worked for more than four or five days since they arrived in Sri Lanka.

A senior military official was annoyed at reports that they packed up after six months. “It did not work for even six days,” he thundered. No wonder.

It now turns out that they were of World War II vintage, ones made in the pre-transistor era. They say the only suitable place for this expensive purchase now is a Military Museum.

But one wag in uniform remarked. “That wont be easy. There were many other items procured that were awaiting a place...”

Peace talks soon?

Word is out in the grapevine that another round of peace talks is in the offing as the Government prepares to introduce the devolution package.

Insiders say one powerful section is of the view such initiatives should not hinder ongoing military efforts. Like in Northern Ireland, talk to them at the table while troops tackle them at the battlefield, they say.

Return to the Editorial/Opinion contents page