By Emil van der Poorten –
Your Ref RDD/KG/E/4/Gen
The Hon. Lakshman Kiriella
Minister of Plantation Industries
55/75 Vauxhall Lane
Payment of subsidy to rubber producers in the Galagedera area on May 16th, 2015
Subsequent to receipt of the invitation, signed by Mr. R. K. Saman Anura of the Rubber Development Department, District Secretariat, Kegalle to attend a meeting at the Galagedera District Secretariat, I arrived there, as requested, before 10 a.m. today, carrying the invitation as proof of the fact that I was entitled to be there and to receive a cheque in settlement of the subsidy for which rubber producers of the area qualified. In case there is any doubt about the bona fides of this claim, I am attaching a photocopy of that invitation.
The tone for the day’s proceedings appeared to be set by your arrival two hours late, after 12 noon.
After your arrival, those who controlled the microphone indulged in endless speeches in support of the United National Party and yourself, at least one of which informed those present that you had turned down the Foreign Affairs portfolio because of your devotion to rubber growers of our district!
The very lukewarm responses to the speeches should have provided you with an appropriate indication of the attendees’ enthusiasm for the tone and content of the proceedings.
After your address to the faithful, received with pretty thin applause as you might recall, you made your exit together with the rest of your entourage, inclusive of video cameramen. The reason for the timing of this event was soon apparent: there were dozens of rubber producers with letters of invitation to an event at which they were to be presented cheques in payment of a grant for which they had qualified, but no cheques for them!
I was subsequently informed that this had been the case in Hataraliyadda, another small community in the Central Province, where you had presided over a similar function preceding the one at Galagedera.
I would like to know why this payment was not made and if and when I and several other attendees, every one of whom marked their attendance on a register that was on the desk at the front of the room and subsequently circulated among those seated in the room in case anyone might have been missed at the door, might expect to receive this statutory entitlement?
Would you also please inform me why, if the cheques were not available and your minions had a list of all attendees, we were not informed in advance that we would not be receiving payment to which we were entitled, rather than have us spend three hours to no purpose?
An appropriate post-script to this little narrative might be the fact that a 90+ year-old rubber grower, an old friend of mine, who had climbed up the six flights of steps to the top floor of the local Secretariat, arriving even before I did, left empty-handed.
An early response would be most appreciated.
E. H. van der Poorten
cc: Mr. R. K. Saman Anura
Rubber Development Department
*Tumpane – A region of the Central Highlands of Sri Lanka celebrated in myth and legend as “backward”