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 Post subject: People pay Mervyn’s Bangkok booze bills
 Post Posted: Sat Jan 07, 2006 4:24 pm 
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People pay Mervyn’s Bangkok booze bills

@ Sunday Times / Sunday, January 01, 2006

Controversial MP Mervyn Silva, now Deputy Minister of Labour in President Mahinda Rajapakse's government, checked in to a Bangkok hotel as a guest of the Thai Government, reportedly consumed the liquor in the mini bar in his suite, but refused to pay the bill.

Distressed hotel staff refused to allow him to check out and contacted the Sri Lanka Embassy in Bangkok. Officials from the embassy had to come to the hotel and fork out 18,000 Thai Baht (US $ 450 or Rs. 45,000) to enable the deputy minister to return to Colombo.

In August, last year, Mr. Silva was among a group of Sri Lankan parliamentarians who were invited for a workshop in Thailand. It came in a year when Sri Lanka and Thailand were celebrating 50 years of diplomatic relations and worked on joint programmes to improve friendly relations.

The Royal Thai Government had laid out a red carpet welcome for the Sri Lankan law-makers. When they arrived at the Don Muang International Airport and they were escorted to the VIP lounge. Mr. Silva's son and a friend had accompanied him and were trying to clear formalities through the VIP lounge. However, Thai protocol officials refused them entry to this lounge and insisted that the duo clear formalities like any other passenger.

But there was more trouble when Thai authorities checked him in at a suite in Pathunvan in Bangkok. Mr. Silva had insisted that his son and friend were part of his 'staff' and hence the Thai Government should accommodate them too. The request was flatly turned down. Thereafter, Mr. Silva was forced to pay an advance to enable the duo to check in to a room at the same hotel.

He had paid their bill when it came to his departure date. He had, however, insisted that he would not pay his liquor bill -- something which the Thai Government had already said it would not meet together with international telephone calls. This is standard practice followed by many countries.

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Foreign Ministry sources in Colombo said the Sri Lankan Embassy in Bangkok had made the payment to avoid embarrassment to the Government and to avoid the bad impressions Mr. Silva's conduct would have on the country since he was a state guest.

Asked whether Mr. Silva was subsequently called upon to reimburse the amount, these sources said the matter was for President Rajapakse to decide on, but that the tax-payers have so far footed the bill.


Related Stories;
:arrow: ‘Mervyn behaved like a monkey in a circus’
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