The President gambled and won. CHOGM will be held in Colombo, and his luck has not yet run out. Despite the hue and cry about alleged HR abuses, the main stickler, he has been able to ride over the hurdles with aplomb, and stick his two fingers up at his detractors, of whom there are many.
Looking at it another way Sri Lanka IS THE MOST SENIOR Commonwealth Country, not to have hosted CHOGM and so after more than 65 years in the Club, it was time. One must be clear that the rules of behavior are loose and change from time to time, on a whim, and no one is regretting the demise of the LTTE, so for him to claim rightly that he has eviscerated one of the most dangerous and ruthless terrorist organizations, the world has ever seen, there can be few who can beat that especially as the US is still in the Taliban quagmire.
All the pressure against MR is from the Diaspora as far as CHOGM is concerned, and therefore it has become more a domestic issue for Canada, UK and India the most affected, which has not bothered the MR camp one bit.
As with all things Sri Lankan we like a big show, and we are pulling out all the stops to showcase SL to the world and hope the journalists comply, and not act like sour grapes just harping on the negatives.
Fortuitously for MR, the BMICH refurbishment funded by the Chinese is complete and ready to host the main events. The Chinese built Nelum Pokuna is also at its gleaming best to host the opening Ceremony a building that looks good for the TV coverage, even if it is one of the most impractical and acoustically challenged white elephants in the heart of Colombo, where a wonderful Cricket Ground once stood. (I hope all our capital’s wonderful cricket grounds do not disappear for such excuses!)
I still rue the day our wonderful City Center Horse Race Track turned into a hotchpotch of buildings, when all of them could have been located elsewhere and this kept as a park with the Grandstands used in a similar fashion as at present. I remember an exhibition was held when it was first desecrated and the Planetarium built. The roads and parks have all been spruced up for the big event, and I trust they do not crumble soon after, and remain well maintained hence. Even the Water’s Edge Area and the Battaramulla area where the exhibition will be held all have come to fruition right bang on time.
The Hotels have unashamedly raised their rates for CHOGM hoping to make a killing from the press and delegates. In the end the Delegates will be here only for the event and as it is part of their job have little time for R&R. It is then left to the Media to showcase or not, some of the Country. It is ONLY if the latter is done fairly will Sri Lanka receive any benefit economically from the CHOGM.
The Investment Forum is NOT going to bring a penny more than normal, as it is just an excuse for already interested parties to come and try to squeeze a few more concessions from the Govt. showing them that the conditions in SL are really not ripe for investment as the enforcement of the Rule of Law is still a question, especially after the State grabbed some supposedly non performing Private investments thereby destroying the faith any future investor would have on the value of ANY assurance given by the BOI. It is a chance for the big boys in SL to rub shoulders with some small boys from Overseas as there are NO big names scheduled to attend except the Eponymous James Packer hoping to squeeze a few more concessions from the easily fooled SL Rulers knowing dollar bills are enough to sort their greed for an approval signature in return.
The other fringe events are not worthy of mention as they will do nothing for the prosperity of this country. Actually this event is so short, we would hardly notice their arrival and departure as the security will be tight, and few people will even attempt to come to Colombo during this period.
So journalists, it is completely over to you if you want it to be a plus for SL! I know you have come to report on a non Event, as there will be no real proclamation, it is already been drafted by the foreign ministers and is not at all controversial. With no Queen in attendance for the first time, you may report on Charles’ fitness for the top job in how he handles his stay.
Did you know there is an almighty auction for the coveted tickets to Prince Charles 65th Birthday party on 14th November, at the UK High Commissioner’s Residence on Wijerama, which can only hold a limited number? It is things like these that Colombo gets excited about, not about any anti MR reports in foreign press. So don’t think any negative reports will have any effect, on the contrary they will be used to his advantage with the local gallery pointing to Western Double Standards, so better avoid giving him more juice for his Dictatorship.
So what is all the fuss about? this CHOGM will be remembered as the first time a future King, will become an Old Age Pensioner before ascending the throne. So much for any talk as Chairman of CHOGM, what’s that? Why? No Big Deal!!
One thing though I bet even you have not seen the 54 Mercedez 400S class 2014 Hybrid Benzes imported for the event. What a waste of a cool Rs1Bill!! to impress whom I might ask. We are like Gulf Emirates, we are flush with money after all, so it is chump change from our 2 mill Gulf workers who eventually pay for this with overvalued exchange rate! Don't you think Colombo is pretty darned expensive? and that's why, so we could import the Benzes shortchanging the Housemaids, by giving them like you fewer rupees for their dollars.
Hey you can come back and do a report, line by line as to who has been given each of the cars! I am sure that would be a very interesting postscript to this. We don't care a toss on the cost of maintenance of these behemoths, or the unsuitability of them on our roads, only on who lined his pockets on this deal! Its all paid for by the Public of Sri Lanka as is everything.