Tuesday, November 5, 2013

CHOGM 2013 – Would you rather a new Benz or a Renaissance Man?

A renaissance man is defined in the Free Dictionary as a man with broad intellectual interest and is accomplished in the areas of both the Arts and the Sciences.

I was discussing with an A level student this morning about what it would be that a Head of Government would prefer to confront when he arrives in Sri Lanka.

It would definitely be a Renaissance man or woman to act as their Liason Officer/ Guide/ Chaperone one for each delegation. This person would be well versed with all the particulars of the VIP, his family’s full names including the names of the pets in their homes, and about their country and its Government and a little bit of history and current affairs in that Country of the past 3 months.

This person would also be well versed in Sri Lanka’s history, and the current political dynamics and have the Statistical Pocket book of SL 2013 with him at any time to give exact figures of population, by province, ethnicities etc. Needless to say the command of the English Language must be sufficient enough to be able to communicate unambiguously with the foreign delegation.

It would be best to know what kind of accent that delegation has by spending some time with the local High Commission of that Country, to understand the various nuances, so that communication will be made easier. I would give these Officers a 6 month paid (min of Rs50K a month) traineeship to get up to speed about the Country to which they will be attached, thereby giving them sufficient time to prepare for this very interesting, but no doubt important task of making Sri Lanka not only look good to the outsider, but also as a nation that really knows how to take care of their guests!!

Ask yourself, who are the people who will act in this role presently? I wish some protocol officer would read this, and ensure the people assigned to the delegations, get some basic training on matters referred to above as well as a whole host of related topics such as the agenda, and what has been laid out for them. We are good at assigning security Defender jeeps manned by 8 fierce gun toting Forces Personnel. (Their own personal security has been banned from accompanying them) If I was David Cameron, who is NOT used to this kind of back up, I would be a little wary of this protection! (He often walks from his house with his little daughter to take her to her Montessori in the morning)     

Instead of all the more important aspects of Protocol referred to above we know for sure that the Govt. in their desire to impress are thrusting a new 2014 model Hybrid Benz 400S on him, to travel in. It’s Sticker price of US$100,000 or Rs 13.3M. See Link : http://www.extremetech.com/extreme/161832-2014-mercedes-s-class-review-the-best-most-technologically-advanced-car-you-will-ever-drive means Rs 718M  which if they (GOSL) were smart enough would have got it from Daimler Benz with a discount of at least 25%, that is about Rs500M for the 54, if they had used me to negotiate with them, and I was able to persuade them(Benz) that it would definitely be a head of state or Govt.(HOG) would go in it for the first time, they would give it to me for US$75K, that is only vehicles that I can prove a HOG has used to get this rebate. It is simply because then when he gets back home, they can purchase one if they want, bullet proofed for the African Dictators, and is simply a sales promotion. Alas that is not what happened!

When it is the Country’s money, the importer would have got a big commission and the person in Govt. who agreed to the deal in with it, and so the loot would be shared without the Country benefitting or getting a massive discount! Benz is getting a free sales pitch (gratis) thanks to Sri Lankan ineptitude and greed. I must confess if the fixer has not already taken the discount to himself, it is possible and shared it with you know who! So no wonder Benzes make more sense than Humans to them.

Please remember the import of cars was discussed for months, with the Govt. promising not to incur an expense instead breaking it clearly in this instance, and lying, knowing a deal to make a cut was already in place for this import!!

It is sad that again the fixers are more interested in Deals than in what Sri Lanka has always been known for, namely that we treat our guests like Royalty from time immemorial (throughout the 2500 year history) but with local products, and not imported ones.  

We have enough raw material in Bright Young and personable people to fulfill this role. I saw an ad in the paper for them to be involved, but I do not think they were going to be paid, nor were they going to be given a training like I have suggested here, where each country has a specialist assigned to that delegation, that leads to a good networking opportunity for that young person if he shines, with that Country for their future needs if that ever arises.

We talk about showing our country off to visitors, but have NO clue how to! What better way of using the best resources we have at our disposal that we are proud of, namely of our Youth. We have wasted them for the youth conference in Hambantota, instead of using them for the big event in Colombo.   


Anonymous said...

how can we be sure that there will be no escort for the visiting delegations? also how would we be sure the escorts would be able to penetrate the army of businessmen and bureaucrats that accompany the delegation leader to be able to provide these services?

it's a good idea though.

regarding the benzes, i think you have to be a bit more realistic. what are the alternatives for head of state transportation? a bus? a locally made car? a toyota corolla? an army jeep? if there were commissions, you need to be able to show some evidence, even possibly heresay, before stating it as fact.

suggest you not criticize for its own sake. celebrate the successes, agree with the logical, and criticize that which deserves it.

Ratmale,Minneriya,Sri Lanka said...

You are imagining the size of delegations based on the Sri Lanka habits. In general apart from a few exceptions, the delegation coming with leaders, don't amount to more than 15, others come for other events.
Those who are currently being trained have not been assigned a country. So the finesse I was hinting at will not be there.

With regards to the Cars, a wholly unnecessary evil, as it is only for three days, and just in the State pool new Benzes, Beemers are aplenty with less than 5000 miles on the clock. OK they are E class and 5 series so what the heck! A billion even without the 2 Bill duty is still a bad precedent.

Anyway the Govt has enough friends in high places willing to lend their posh cars just to say President so and so or PM so and so rode in it. You know the SL mentality surely. Easily done.

Anonymous said...

i appreciate your creative approach to saving some state funds. i'm sure some of the lankan higher ups would like to lend their personal vehicle to some foreign heads of state with a few plastic explosive accessories under the seats

Ratmale,Minneriya,Sri Lanka said...

HA HA good one, only they would not be told who would be riding in it! Friend or Foe or are they all foes?

They wouldn't dare, as they owe their obeisance to MR in the first place.

If you want a pada show of our wealth in cars, that is very easy, all the hundreds of super luxury cars can be shown off at a slip of the wrists!

We are not short of new luxury cars in Sri Lanka, you know that.

Ratmale,Minneriya,Sri Lanka said...

A very timely article about the waste arising from the purchas of unneeded Benzes when just the Govt. posses new super luxury vehicles to give each of the leaders of every country on earth not just CHOGM!

Article is worth a read and reinforces my opinion.


Anonymous said...

the way the opposition is going to have to play the commissions issue is to wait until income inequality becomes plainly obvious, vulgar, and grotesque so that the envy of the masses can be exploited. until then, the masses are enjoying the benefits of the new infrastructure and won't be bothered about commission rumors

Anonymous said...

The papers in Sri Lanka report on this Benz issue on a daily basis as being the most unjustifiable cost of all the excesses of CHOGM

I am surprised commentators think it is OK. Are they not worried about excesses as they are just used to the way the family do business? Perhaps hoping for one of the cars to fall into their laps!