By Emil van der Poorten –
This time around, rather than compose copy dealing with the burning issues of the day, I thought it might be useful to make some appropriate comments on a few items of interest from the web editions of one day’s worth of English-language newspapers from May 17th. I hope that this will provide an appropriate snapshot of life in our Resplendent Isle
So here goes!
From the Daily Mirror
Rolls Royces and BMWs to be imported for CHOGM
The External Affairs Ministry is making arrangements to import 12 Rolls- Royce cars and 100 BMW cars for the use of the heads of state who are scheduled to visit Sri Lanka to participate in the 23rd Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in November, sources said.
However it is not known whether these vehicles are to be re-exported after use.
No one knows who is importing these cars, although the External Affairs Ministry is involved in the matter.
The price of the Rolls- Royce Ghost car varies between US$ 246,500 and US$ 290,000. (Rs.31,500,000 and Rs. 37,000,000). A Rolls- Royce Phantom Car costs between US$ 399,000 and US$ 470,000.(Rs.51,000,000 and Rs. 60,000,000).
A BMW 5 Series car costs between US$ 58,000 and US$ 70,000.( Rs.7,500,000 and Rs. 9,000,000). A BMW 7 Series costs between US$ 73,000 and US$ 140,000 (Rs.9,000,000 and Rs. 18,000,000).
It is usual to import Rolls Royce and BMW cars for such events.
The prices mentioned do not include customs duty and shipping costs.
What is of particular interest in this piece is what looks suspiciously like the insertion of a piece of government propaganda where it states that this is the “usual” arrangement. There is no effort to prove it. One can but hope that this claim will be substantiated with, in addition, a clear statement of what is going to happen to these ultra-luxury vehicles once the “main event” is over!
From Ceylon Today
A Costly Shutdown
The Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC) will have to bear a loss of more than Rs 50 million a day, as a direct result of shutting down the Sapugaskanda Oil Refinery, a CPC trade union official alleged. General Secretary of the Jathika Sevaka Sangamaya (JSS) Petroleum Branch, Ananda Palitha, questioned CPC Managing Director, Susantha Silva’s statement pertaining to the repairs to be done at the Sapugaskanda Refinery beginning today, an occurrence that coincides with the delay of the crude oil carrying ship from Dubai. This has been cited as the initial reason for the shutting down of the refinery.
“Last year, repairs were supposedly carried out on the refinery as well, and it was shut down on four separate occasions. If such repairs were successful, what is the need to carry out repairs this time? The CPC has claimed the shutting down of the refinery would have taken place anyway, and that refined fuel was available at the moment. A refinery is not shut down for repairs at all.
Rather, it is supposed to work while repairs are taking place, and there is no need to shut it down for a 10-day delay in the arrival of a crude oil consignment,” Palitha noted.
He also stressed the daily loss incurred due to the halting of operations at the refinery, which according to him stands at over Rs 50 million, would “…never be recovered even after resuming refinery operations, as the output of refined products would remain the same.”
……. A CPC official, commenting on the matter assured, the refinery would recommence operations soon.
….He confirmed that all nine of the crude oil storage tanks at the Sapugaskanda Oil Refinery, were empty, and the lack of storage space had never been a problem to the CPC.
Minister of Petroleum Industries, Anura Priyadarshana Yapa, and CPC Managing Director, Susantha Silva, were not available for comment.
I have reproduced most of the article because it covers all the bases and the final para displays the stereotypical conduct of senior government functionaries who were, typically, “not available for comment.” Were they too busy looking for someone to impeach that they couldn’t answer questions vitally important to the economy of this country?
From the Daily News
Protests about politics not ‘light bills’
Leading Trade Unions yesterday accused opposition political parties for attempting to promote their political agendas in the guise of protesting against the electricity tariff hike.
Sri Lanka Nidahas Sevaka Sangamaya Secretary Ranjith Hettiarachchi told a press conference that the objective of the JVP and other parties organising trade union action is not to reduce electricity bills, but to gain political mileage and ‘create an environment for forces hostile to Sri Lanka including NGOs to reverse the post-conflict gains achieved by the country.’
He said NGOs that have run short of foreign funds too find this situation an ideal opportunity to ensure the flow of foreign donations.
Hettiarchchi said the members of the Joint Organisation of Trade Unions would not allow these sinister forces to achieve their vile objective.
They stressed that the agenda behind the strike was to reverse the gains achieved by the country with the defeat of terrorism.
Does everything and anything critical of this government or any action that seeks relief for a population burdened by the millstones hung round its collective neck by its rulers constitute yet another “plot? The fact that there is an element of our society allegedly WANTING to be hit with power rate increases suggests that Sri Lanka is the only country in the world where Masochism is the preferred religion and where its rulers would prefer the practice of that faith!
From The Island
SLFP Mayor declares war on Weerawansa
*Pushes IGP, Polls Chief, AG to act on HRC report
by Dhammika Salwathura
Kaduwela Mayor G. H. Buddhadasa yesterday vowed to launch a protest campaign, involving 1,000 people, at the Kaduwela junction, unless the government initiated immediate action against National Freedom Front (NFF) leader Wimal Weerawansa and SSP Deshabanda Tennakoon, accused of election malpractices during the last parliamentary polls in April 2010.
Kaduwela Municipal Council is controlled by the SLFP-led UPFA.
Addressing the media, at the Kaduwela Municipal Council, Buddadasa said that after investigating a complaint lodged by him, the Human Rights Council of Sri Lanka (HRCSL) had ruled that Weerawansa and Tennakoon, as well as several other police officers, had violated elections laws.
The veteran politician said that there had never been a previous case in the HRCSL finding fault with a minister for violating election laws.
Responding to a query by the media, Buddadasa said that it was the responsibility of the IGP, the Attorney General and the Elections Commissioner to initiate action against minister Weerawansa.
Buddadasa said that unlike Weerawansa, he wouldn’t stage a bogus hunger strike like the one opposite the UN mission in Colombo. Instead, his protest would continue until those responsible for law and order took action against Minister Weerawansa.
While internecine warfare is the rule rather than the exception in the Mahinda Rajapaksa government, when push comes to shove, these “differences” will be buried in the common quest for loot from the National Treasury. On what do I base this prediction? On the fact that past conduct is the best predictor of future behaviour.
From the Daily Mirror
‘Mahasen’ reported to the CID
An organisation that goes by the name National Council for the Protection of Historical Irrigable Cultural Heritage had lodged a complaint with the Criminal Investigations Department against the naming of the cyclone that recently went past the Island ‘Mahasen’.
In a letter addressed to the Director of the CID, the organisation urged that a comprehensive inquiry be conducted and a national apology be tendered by the Meteorological Department regarding the naming of the cyclone.
Meanwhile at a recent news conference, the organisation Bodu Bala Sena had also found fault with the decision to use the name ‘Mahasen’ for the cyclone and praised the act of lodging a complaint with CID, adding that the department had no right to use an ancient King’s name to name an act of nature. (Sanath Desmond)
This, my friends, hardly requires comment except that it could legitimately be considered a clarion call to those interested in setting up a Sri Lankan edition of the Ignobel Prize for the benefit of those with a capacity for monumental arrogance coupled with a similar abundance of stupidity!
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