No international conference is perfect. Some are just better than others. It is important nevertheless for the Organizers of such a lavish and extravagant event, to justify to the Sri Lankan people that the money spent was indeed worth it, and if there were areas that could have been improved what were they?
I was not directly involved in this event, so I am commenting purely on the exchanges of conversations I had with those who participated, especially those who were our guests from overseas. Hence the observations are anecdotal and it is for the Organizers to completely refute my critical allegations.
Suffice to say that my two previous blog entries were very critical about the opening ceremony being held in Hambantota, and I will just finish that issue, simply by saying that at yesterday’s event where we hosted a group of Nepalese and Finland delegates at our Electorate, to show them some daily rituals and New Year Events, the delegates were laughing and also quite annoyed that their most unproductive time was the day wasted on the Hambantota event. They were in fact furious that their short time in Sri Lanka could not be better spent meeting people from Sri Lanka and exchanging their views. After all 9 delegates from Nepal represented 9 different Political Parties and their youth wings, and hence held a cross section of views themselves.
What they found really funny was the fact that they referred to Junior Rajapaksa (Namal) not being present despite being a VP of the Organizing Committee as being insulting, and worse was the fact that the Master of Ceremonies, spent a full three minutes singing his absent praises! Which was totally lost on them as he does not mean anything to the delegates of the WCY14, and hence were trivialized by this reference, which should have been excluded in the first place.
However does one believe that the post mortem will have the courage of their convictions to recommend the exclusion of unnecessary sycophancy in the future of any other international events in Sri Lanka?
I was at the BMICH on Friday morning as my Boss, was a featured speaker at one of the events, and his speech was well received and delivered to the point, and in accordance with the subject matter on the brief supplied to him, and personal experience from his current political work was drawn out to give another perspective of the problems faced by youth who migrate from rural areas to urban locations in search of employment.
While we were seated at the VIP lounge, Mahinda Samarasinghe a Minister in the Govt. was also seated, and when he said he was in a plenary session talking about Governance issues, the irony was not lost on my Boss who pointed out how he would like to be a fly on the wall listening to him justifying his position under the present state of non-governance let alone lack of governance.
When questions were asked on Disabled, Gay and Transgender issues, one has to be careful in what is said as matters are taken completely out of context for reporting purposes, and thankfully I have the full video version of the events, in case of false innuendo!
Last evening from 4pm to late was spent in hosting the Nepal delegation at our Electorate. They really enjoyed the outing though I am sure they were exhausted at the end of it, needing to leave at dawn to catch a morning flight back home today.
We first took them to small temple, the Bodhi Pooja and meeting he priest who tied the Pirith Noola on them. This priest graciously hosted a tea party with cakes, fruit and juices also. Then we went to an Avurudhu Festival in part of the Electorate and they participated in the pass the hat musical chairs type game and the now universal tug-of- war competition.
We then took them to a big temple, which no doubt looked impressive and well funded in a large ground, showing the stark contrast between different Buddhist temples. I am sure the irony of empire building in Temples was not lost on the guests. We then hosted them to a string hopper dinner. I don’t know why we felt we needed to serve beer to them, and strong beer at that, but I guess that was what was available in the vicinity.
Finally we took them to a Musical, which has now become part of any festival in Sri Lanka where people spend a lot of money for singers, bands, lighting and stages, with none costing less than Rs500K! Even a song had been written especially for them before sending them back to their Colombo Hotel exhausted and a few hours late.
The time with us, and the youth from the Electorate was probably the highlight of their visit, and NOT part of the conference proper. This says a lot for those who just came for the conference, as the events were not sufficiently unique to garner the interest of youth who are always looking for NEW experiences, which was probably lost on the Organizers who actually are NOT youth!!