I was reading a very interesting article on the Island paper of November 2nd see link http://www.island.lk/index.php?page_cat=article-details&page=article-details&code_title=91371 by Leelananda de Silva who in the 1970-1977 Govt. was a Director of Economic Affairs in the Ministry of Planning and Economic Affairs, and attended the 1975 CHOGM in Jamaica hosted by Mr Michael Manley the Prime Minister. I recommend those interested in CHOGMs to read it, as it puts an entirely different light on the CHOGMs of the 70s and before of very intimate settings where the Heads themselves had quality time to chat and network amongst each other without aides, both human and distractions like I pads, smart phones and the Internet!!
This extremely well written, and easy to read article illustrates how different those meetings were, and in a sense more productive than the present settings, where issues of the day were tackled for the overall benefit of the Commonwealth. Nowadays it is all about grandstanding for the Media, and so the issues are already pre prepared before the meetings commence by armies of bureaucrats. Interesting they lasted longer too! Leaders are too busy these days!
I found the parsimonious conduct of Mrs Bandaranayake, who even got two of our officials in the delegation which in total only comprised of 6 to share the room, to cut down on the cost, lest she would be asked about excessive spending by Parliament! What a breath of fresh air that Parliament was considered all powerful, where the Prime Minister as Head of Government was answerable to it and had due deference to it.
This when compared with today, where profligacy has reached proportions of repugnance in a country where extreme poverty is still very prevalent and the leaders smug with unfathomable power are willing to show that grandiose settings can hide bitter truths of reality. I do wonder if people can be fooled to that degree, but I know they appear to want to try and get a wow factor that will silence all critics from the how factor of, how was SL able to pull a show of all shows? and convince a few insignificant leaders the fact there is no trouble in the Eastern Front!
I hope that at the Water Edge retreat, (they will not stay there) they will be able to get face time without aides, to talk about their pet topics and come up with a consensus, that has not already been thrashed out!!
Only then will it truly be a CHOGM in the original spirit of how it was meant to be!