Towering towers and sinking hopes;plus a toe testing the presidential water


The Lotus Tower was inaugurated/opened by HE the President at the very beginning of the week under review and glows gaudily during the day and exaggeratedly at night. To Cass’ jaundiced eye this is another vanity construction along with H’tota harbour, airport and cricket field. She was told it was not a mere tower like the Kadugannawa one she marveled at as a kid in Kandy. It was to be a great asset to the telecommunication system of the island. As reported in The Island of Tuesday 17 September it is multi-functional but of what great value? Within will be "a telecommunication museum, a restaurant, supermarkets, food courts, conference halls with seating for 400 people, a 1000 seat auditorium, luxury hotel rooms, ballrooms and an observation gallery."

That quote on the amenities within the Lotus Tower has to be commented on. Do we not already have a surfeit of supermarkets, restaurants and food courts? Who on earth goes ballroom dancing nowadays? Only sugar daddies and faded dames, and they soon will be housebound not zooming up towers and waltzing around. The BMICH suffices very well as an auditorium. Surprise! Surprise! Luxury rooms on rent; But no telecom apparatus and stations so high in the air; only a museum. So what ultimately is the use of this horrendously expensive building? We well know this tower was conceived and construction started during the Rajapaksa regime with Chinese aid and expertise, like the Port City. Lots thought of it a waste of money but kept mum. As Prez Sirisena said at the opening, "We paid Rs 2 billion to ALIT but this sum is missing from records. In fact ALIT is a fake company." The 2 billion is solid money so it has to have gone somewhere or to some people’s pockets. Not peanuts by any means. So much public welfare could have been done with that 2 billion. We continue to be in debt and who pays the debt for some building we never wanted: us the public.

To Cass, used to a rather frugal life but living in dignity and even helping others, this Tower is money down the drain in a country that can ill afford extravagance, and needs every cent to help the millions who live at poverty level. Schools and hospitals are grossly under-furnished. Countries as rich as Dubai and Malaysia are justified in sending vanity towers up into the air - to claim being the highest; But Sri Lanka? Who on earth of right thinking persons is proud of a tower that is highest in South Asia, but has depleted the country of so much precious money and serves no great purpose either. Cass has never gone to the Nelum Pokuna; she will never zoom up the Lotus Tower. Pointing it out to an architect living abroad, with pride then, believing it to be a telecom tower, she had him condemning its structure, design and colours outright.

Post script: The President’s speech at the commissioning of the Lotus Tower has roused many hornets in their nests. The stinging has started with hot denials of those who were originally in the Tower construction. Let’s sit back and watch the hullabaloo, advices Cass. But if you expect results, like returning of illegally stashed away money or having people pay for their sins of omission or commission – forget the thought. Corruption is brought to light in this country, some of it stupendous in extent and in billions, but never does it bring punishment, except to low-on-the-scale bribe takers and now Mahendran and his son.

All news in one page

Cassandra found that page 1 of The Island of Monday 16 September gave sufficient grist for her writing wrist and material to spit her venom on, or praise.

"PSC to ask President why he ignored warnings of Easter attacks." This is a pertinent question that requires a full answer. Another question is why the Prez condemned the Parliamentary Select Committee sittings and said he would not respond to their summons. The usual No and next a Yes, repeated. We await the Q&A session with images imprinted in the mind and stories remembered of the mass murder of so many innocent people due to negligent carelessness – not taking due notice of warnings emanating from a very reliable source.

"TNA not yet ready to accept Sajith as Prez candidate". Many others agree since Sajith seems to have jumped the gun. However, considering those who support him and back his claim, who are we to approve or condemn. The only pity is that the UNP that stuck together through thick and thin may be rent asunder. Why? Mere self interest; overriding ambition. We are not to believe the fairy tale spun around that it’s all done for us the people.

"President cannot sack me – SB" Ass Bee is a cork! Bobs up and is unsinkable. I suppose the Prez cannot forget his promising a majority to the Opposition when made the government in October 2018 and then having him suffer egg on his face; all because he swallowed Ass Bee’s hollow bait.

"Lanka’s living standards could drop over climate change – UN". Yes, with floods in the South and drought in the North; farmers not able to sell their produce and all that litany of woes. But even more potent than the change in climatic conditions due to global warming et al, is the action of our own politicians and even the government. Consider the extravagance of tamashas, advertising that continues with greater force. You see daily Sajith’s mug in the newspapers opening this or that village; Useless ads; waste of money.

"Buddhist monks want Karu to become Prez, abolish executive presidency". The suggestion or advice does not come from an ese mese group of Buddhist monks but "from the three nikayas" who have forwarded the request to the Prime Minister and Leader of the UNP. Cass’ tiny voice has always asked for Karu J as UNP’s presidential candidate. It will settle matters amicably and the people will vote for him. But is Sajith willing to accept this decision? He should, as time is on his side; he can wait.

"Karu dips toe in" is the title the Editor of The Island of 18 September chose to head his editorial with. Speaker Karu Jayasuriya has, as the editor succinctly states "dipped his toe before throwing his hat into the ring". He means the ‘ring’ of UNP presidential candidates. The gist of the lead article is that Karu J’s "willingness to run for president for the sole purpose of abolishing the executive president" is insufficient and inadequate as the principal point of an election manifesto. When the time comes for presenting a manifesto, we are sure Karu J will have a manifesto approved by those who will vote for him, and will be just and fair to the people of the country.

We the ordinary plebs of this wondrous land plead with Karu Jayasuriya not ever to think of withdrawing that experimental toe though it be received with cold or heat. We want him to immerse his total self and become the UNP’s presidential candidate. The first good will be that he will keep the UNP together (hopefully) being akin to the Middle Path so propounded as best to follow by the Buddha. Karu J will maneuver the middle between the extreme of Sajith who has really not got much to offer the people and the country as of now, and RW who does not appeal to many a Lankan. How can we push Karu J into the water or ring or whatever? It is left to the UNPers to grab the offer, and the cooperating political parties to push this through.

Let’s wait and see. Cannot with bated breath; so breathe easy. Collective wisdom of the stolid elephant herd will come to the fore, or we are lost for a long, long time to come!

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