Opposition political parties supporting Gen. Fonseka allege that the Cabinet decided to buy 35 gantry cranes at US $ 600,000 higher than the lowest purchase price. However, it had not been effected so far.
They also allege that a member of the family of a powerful politician received the contract to supply branded computers to Divisional Secretaries at US $ 15 million. Each computer was to cost Rs 150,000. However, the going price of such a computer at city outlets was only Rs 50,000.
There is apparently a post script to the story last week about the ''grand dame of Geneva'' who is adept at playing politics both for her survival and for her rise to the top.
When the UN human rights special rapporteur Philip Alston sent his letter to our UN mission in Geneva seeking clarification on the alleged cold-blooded shooting of Tiger leaders at the tail end of the war last year, that letter should have been rightly forwarded to the Foreign Ministry and the Human Rights ministry for action.
But our envoy in Geneva, apparently in an attempt to win political plaudits, forwarded the letter to the Presidential Secretariat breaking the chain of command. The other two relevant ministries only played second fiddle. As one Foreign Ministry official put it: "she found the letter to be politically cashable in the current electioneering environment."
The letter also helped to convert her private visit to Colombo into ''duty leave'', with provision of air fare.
Politicians and their lackeys are known for making vows and promises but not honouring them.
The latest is from Dr. Mervyn Silva, non-Cabinet Minister of Labour. He was on a TV talk show and the subject turned to alleged corruption in the Rajapaksa administration.
If any charges of corruption are proved with documentary evidence against the "Rajapaksa Samagama" or the Putra Samagama (son's company) I will go in front of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) headquarters with a can of petrol, douse myself and then set myself on fire. I will definitely do it," he said.
Now that the Police are aware of a suicide threat, it is likely they may take measures to prevent one occurring at Colombo's Darley Road.
A physician, a staunch supporter of the administration was cheeky enough to say those who threaten suicide do not carry it out. Those who want to do so, never give advance publicity to their actions.
He may be right not only on suicides. It was a week earlier, Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation (SLBC) Chairman, Hudson Samarasinghe, said he would walk out of his office on his knees if General Fonseka becomes the opposition's "common candidate."
Gen. Fonseka did become the opposition's candidate. But Mr Samarasinghe did not fulfil his vow. He was too weak kneed, said an opposition backer.
Banquet without the king
Among the long list of invitees to the Presidential buffet at "Temple Trees," with the polls campaign in full swing, were those owning or running employment agencies.
Their first meeting with President Rajapaksa was cancelled and the Foreign Employment Agencies Association was told another date would be given. It turned out to be last Wednesday evening.
The Ministry responsible for the agencies phoned managements and asked them to call over and collect their invitations. Most feared, they would fall on the blacklist if they did not turn up. So almost all of them made sure they took delivery.
On Wednesday evening, they turned up but found that Mr. Rajapaksa was otherwise busy. Instead it was UNP pole vaulter S.B. Dissanayake who addressed them. Senior Presidential Advisor Basil Rajapaksa was present on the occasion. He kept a safe distance away from the stage fuelling speculation that he was maintaining a low profile during the campaign. The event ended with a buffet dinner.
More groups are due to be invited to Temple Trees. Among them will be past pupils of leading schools.
Political cocktail at State bank ball
Wall Street may crash sending the whole world into economic freefall and Sri Lanka's Golden Keys and Sakviti's may also collapse sending hundreds of depositors to despair, but the State banks in this country seem to soldier on regardless.
With the end of year balance sheets looking healthy (they could be healthier, but who cares), they decided to have a ball this festive season. We all know that banks, like finance companies, run on other people's money, but then who cares too. The venue was the grand Cinnamon.
To make it appear a little 'official', Dr. Ranjith Bandara, a consultant to the state-run Strategic Enterprises Management Authority (SEMA), was asked to speak to senior general managers and board directors of these state banks. Sorry, no prizes are offered for what he said. What he said was that the Opposition's Presidential candidate Gen. (retd.) Sarath Fonseka's election promise of a Rs. 10,000 hike for public servants is pure balderdash.
He rattled off stats and calculations to show that this was not possible, and made no bones where his vote was and where the bankers should wage their bets.
No sooner he finished, in true form the whispering campaign started. One senior professional banker was to tell another that the money for the pay hike could indeed be found if Mihin Air was grounded, the jumbo Cabinet pruned; waste and corruption curtailed.
Another way, one smart-ass at the party butted in to say that if they served coconut arrack instead of the finest of Gold Label Scotch whisky that was on offer, Mathata Thitha nothwithstanding, it might also help.
Different species of animals are not being spared by rivals in the ongoing Presidential Election campaign.
It was National Freedom Front (NFF) leader Wimal Weerawansa who publicly invited main opposition candidate Gen. Fonseka for a debate. The latter's co-spokesman, JVP's Anura Kumara Dissanayake said that a lion would not debate with a pig. Wimal hit back by adding, "send a nariya (jackal) or even a crow if the lion cannot come."
That drew an acid response from the candidate himself. He said he would not debate with dogs that suck bones.
There was also a tart response that came from another Fonseka campaigner to Namal Rajapaksa's Thaarunayata Hetak (Tomorrow for Youth). He said the name was Thaathata Hetak (Tomorrow for the Father).
US to hook crooks
With charges of human rights abuses and war crimes being recklessly flung at our politicians and senior government officials, it may be increasingly difficult for them to obtain visas to visit the United States.
And now there may soon be an additional hurdle to pole vault: charges of corruption. The US State Department plans to rigidly enforce an existing federal law and a 2004 presidential proclamation that bars entry into the U.S. of any foreign official and/or family members accused of corruption and misappropriation of public funds.
The US legislation requires ''only credible evidence of corruption, not a conviction of it."
As one cynical Foreign Ministry official points out, if the US decides to enforce this legislation, most of our crooked politicians and government officials may have to forget visiting the US -- ever.
Sarath joins Sarath
Former Chief Justice Sarath N. Silva yesterday made clear he had entered active politics. This is when he joined the opposition's common candidate Gen. Fonseka on the campaign tour of the Jaffna peninsula.
Others in the entourage included UNF leader Ranil Wickremesinghe and JVP leader Somawansa Amerasinghe.
The hills shake
A senior Cabinet Minister, a hill country MP and a brother are among those billed to cross over from the UPFA to opposition ranks soon.
Insiders say deals for them have been worked out. They say a couple more are to follow suit thereafter.
More talks, more bets
It happened during the tea break. Jathika Hela Urumaya's Udaya Gammanpilla and UNP's Western Provincial Councillor Sujeeva Serasinghe were debating who would win the Presidential election.
Naturally, Gammanpilla said it would be President Mahinda Rajapaksa. Serasinghe strongly disputed the claim.
They took a bet that if their favourite candidate does not win, they would quit politics. That is one of the side shows during the upcoming Presidential election.