cat'S eye :
Big Apple here we come!
What a sharp and very welcome contrast President Maithripala
Sirisena's trip to New York was/is to address the UN General Assembly
from those undertaken by the former President. MS travelled with just
the few really necessary persons, probably taking a commercial flight.
According to news reports, those who went along with him are: Mangala
Samaraweera (FM); Justice Minister Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe; Mahinda
Samarasinghe - Skills Development Minister, but more importantly
diplomat; and Minister D M Swaminathan. (No favouritsm, all fair and
square). Pictures of his departure showed Arjuna Ranatunge only one half
step behind him but newspaper items mentioned only those I have cited
here as accompanying the Prez.
Maybe Arjuna R was there to wave goodbye. Mrs Sirisena was not seen
in the picture nor mentioned. So probably she did not accompany him. It
seemingly is not in her nature to doll herself up and accompany her
husband, the President, just because it's a free trip.
How was it in previous years when Mahinda Rajapaksa's travelled to
address the UN at this time of the year? The contingent grew larger and
larger, more family members were included and entire suites of the
Waldorf (or whichever very upmarket hotel they stayed in) was booked for
the Sri Lankan group.
In such sharp contrast then to the Indian delegation which was
comparatively small and booked into a reasonable hotel. This cat used to
spit venom in a certain newspaper but was made to shut up by warnings a
white van could call at her doorstep. More than fear, what shut her
lamentation was that it was simply useless.
No one took the slightest notice of public opinion, least of all the
ex-Prez who did just as he wanted. So tickets to New York and back with
fun over there were distributed freely to those who showed extra
licking-slipper-ability and flotsam and jetsam as his mood took him. The
only precaution was not having cameras with too wide ranges.
Only he, his Lady, and a couple of others were shown in the
entourage. His eldest son accompanied him often and once we espied Sashi
Weerawansa in the group going to a closer destination. She surely would
not have gone as a Lady in Waiting, so what was the justification for
her being included in the official list of visitors?
Vehicles were hired from a certain agent so each member or couple was
given free unlimited travel, certainly not from the hotel to the UN
building. They scattered themselves all over: shopping, casino visiting,
eating and drinking.
We now hear of one bod, VVVIP who apparently spent much of his time
luxuriating in his hotel bed, munching and imbibing the best and
watching the worst videos that cost the world - all astounding bills
paid by the government of Sri Lanka.
So Haramanis paid from his water tax, Jane Nona from the sugar she
bought and most others from amounts deducted from salaries, even
pensions. Never mind at all that there were people starving at home.
This spendthrift bod has got his due desserts - remand jail food, though
I am sure he wangles better. FLASH: he is out on bail.
Describing the scattering of members of the contingent that
accompanied the previous Prez to the Big Apple, my informant cited gembo
patau jumping all over the place when released, when he emailed me about
the junketing of the vast number taken across in a chartered plane, no
All that has changed, and what a mercy! Though the size of the
Cabinet of Ministers, Deputies and State Ministers of yahapalanaya was a
depressing shocker, at least Maithripala Sirisena has not taken along
drug dealers, ethanol importers, bookies and fluffy nonentities who were
favoured previously. He will never do that.
This cat is reminded of an actress cum model who said she contested a
PC election because Namal Aiya told her to do so, though she could
hardly address election meetings in Sinhala. Well, she accompanied the
said Aiya and the then Gov of the Central Bank when they went somewhere
- Trinidad? - to submit the SL application to hold the Commonwealth
Games here, some years ago. Such people come in useful in more ways than
one - one being to dance in a line with hands on the shoulder of the
person in front.
We used to call it the Conga in our school days. Correct this cat if
the name is wrong for that long dancing line. Memory is not the forté of
Ha Ha predicament
Poor dear Hirunika was in a pickle. No, not having to decide on a
husband nor which side of Parliament to sit on. She has made firm
decisions and commitment on these two issues. Her problem, which she
aired publicly, was how to address Mahinda Rajapaksa now that he is a
mere MP just like her and others who warm seats in the House by the
Was she to address him as Manthri Thuma, Sir, or former President (Hitapu
Janadipathi)? What a cross to bear! Well, there were plenty people to
help who SMSed or emailed a column in the Daily Mirror.
One suggested she go back to addressing him Deveni Thaththa (or
whatever) she pronounced when sitting cheek by jowl with eldest son
Namal, very cosy and all that. She did say Rajapaksa Snr was a second or
foster father to her when her father was so tragically murdered in a
street brawl like in Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet.
The comparison fitted then. Anyway, what this cat wants to make out
is that humour is alive and kicking in this land of ours, though we are
burdened with a near hundred Ministers and Deputies and Lesser Ministers