Monday, December 16, 2013

The Kenyan safari was a wasted junket – costing the taxpayer US$1700 per night for just one person, and that is for the crew on the aircraft as well!

The apparent dishonor brought on Sri Lanka by the President visiting South Africa for the Mandela Memorial, was further exacerbated by the uninvited visit of a huge delegation of hangers-on including a snatched Sri Lankan Airlines plane at state’s expense to Nairobi.

The 40 to 50 strong delegation (only 4 needed max) to buy loyalty staying at the Villa Rosa Kempinski in Nairobi where the normal Business Suite costs US$1,700 just for B&B is a travesty of unimaginable proportions.

Any fool will tell you that this was a hastily organized trip, and not planned at all. Firstly let me say that any President worth his self respect WILL NOT go to a country less than a month after their President snubbed the CHOGM, and sent the Foreign Minister instead. I found that surprising too! So it came as a shock to the Kenyan authorities that the Sri Lankans wanted a Presidential visit at the time they were celebrating 50 years of Independence and could not be bothered with a Sri Lankan state visit as they had their hands full with the terrorist threats and many African Heads of State arriving for the celebrations.

LET ME CLEARLY STATE that Sri Lanka was NOT invited by Kenya and it took a while for the Kenyan authorities to OK the trip not wanting to offend the Sri Lankans!  Just ask the senior official in the Kenyan Foreign Ministry who was tasked in the end to sort the mess.

All the official duties were hurried affairs, each and every one. The UN compound in Nairobi is only the second largest of UN compounds holding many UN Agencies. The visits there too were brief impromptu affairs, just to fool the public in Sri Lanka, and so was the tree planting in that compound.

Proof of the chaos can only be further evidenced, as there is no currently serving Ambassador in Nairobi. There are hardly any staff in the Embassy TO ORGANIZE THIS hurried visit and the official meetings with the Kenyan Govt. were just photo opportunities for the Sri Lankan papers and TV to show that the President is in fact on an official trip. The 8 agreements signed were ALL nebulous, not worth the paper it was written on. The Kenyans were peeved when SL offered to help with counter terrorism, citing the defeat of the LTTE as proof!!  No time was spent at these meetings, just check it from the Kenyans.

To add insult to injury, the Kenyans were forced to throw an impromptu state banquet in the President’s honor, and they showed their disgust by the style of the banquet. Anyone of our delegation who went can corroborate that it was quite a non event, with BOTH Presidents and first ladies on a small round table no different to the other guests at the dinner!

The real purpose was to go on a safari to the Masai Mara at huge expense where it costs about US$1,000 per head per day. The cost of the whole junket is estimated at US$2M including the use of the aircraft and opportunity cost of a plane. This Rs260M for 4 days is NOT justified as nothing came out of it, of any benefit to Sri Lanka. It may have been the first official visit of a Sri Lanka Head of State to Kenya, but what a way to do it, without even an Ambassador!

Kshenuka Seneviratne, what were you thinking when you hopped on the plane for the joy ride?  Protocol was not followed either, and when you finally get called to account for this when a future investigation is made, do not plead ignorance like you were asked to come, or that you did not know who was authorizing the unconscionable expenditure. I have the bill from the dinner at the Italian Restaurant at the Kempinski where the free loaders had dinner on the day after  and I do know none of the delegates knew what they ate.

Just ask the Buddhist priest at the Vihare where the President went to meet with Sri Lankans. He did not meet with any of the waiting throng of garment workers or other Sri Lankans, he just did his Ayubowan trick and sped off. Ask the Priest how long he spent in the Vihare? Not even a minutes thank you!

Just remember everything has just become a photo opportunity for the local gallery and it is all bogus, as the real extravagance, the cost of the trip, and the wasted resources of the people’s money by all of these people’s servants could easily have been more efficiently spent, and more productive output achieved if this trip was properly planned for the benefit of the Country, and NOT for the trippers who participated at state expense.

Sri Lankan delegations are creating a bad name for wasting the Country’s resources, and like the last visit to Tanzania, at the time Obama was also in the area earlier this year, that was another junket of massively expensive proportions, with nothing achieved again.

It is clear that the ANC would only prefer to see LTTE representatives at Mandela’s funeral as they helped train the LTTE, and so they invited a GTF person from London. Remember it was ONLY the TNA that was invited for the ANC centenary celebrations in South Africa. What is our Govt. playing at?            

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