Sri Lankaâ€™s ex-first lady spent millions to watch Vesak in Paris
ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s former first lady, Shiranthi Rajapaksa, spent 25 million rupees to watch Vesak from the Presidential Suite of the King George V hotel in Paris and for a quick luxury limousine ride to Lourdes for a Catholic pilgrimage too.
She was representing Sri Lanka at the 2014 Vesak celebrations organised by the UNESCO in France and stayed the hotel run by the super luxury Four Seasons group where her suite cost a whopping 63,945.50 euro from May 20 to 24 without breakfast.
Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera disclosed details of her Paris visit in May 2014 that cost Sri Lankan tax payers 41,650 euros for the hire of two limousines that were used to transport her around Paris and to Lourdes.
"King George the Fifth had stayed in this hotel, but Queen Elizabeth does not stay there because it is too expensive for her," Samaraweera said. "But for our queen, the cost is not a problem."
Shiranthi was accompanied by her aunty, Daisy Forrest, who by comparison stayed in a modest room costing 6,924.45 euro for her stay without breakfast. Aunty Daisy recently shot to fame after former president Mahinda Rajapaksa’s second son Yoshitha Rajapaksa claimed she had gifted him a multi-million rupee palatial home in Mount Lavinia.
Aunty Daisy and the first lady also used the mini bars in their rooms extensively, according to the bills submitted to the Sri Lankan embassy in Paris, the minister said.
The drinks in the minibar had to be replenished thrice during their stay.
On May 22, Shiranthi’s mini bar bill was 253 euro and on May 24 there were two mini bar bills for 221 euro and 371 euro. There was also a modest charge of 130 euro for spa products.
Even the bath is like a spa. "The splendid marble and Baccarat crystal bathrooms offer a rain shower, a Turkish bath and an ice fountain – turning your bathroom into a luxurious personal spa," according to the hotel website.
It noted that the Presidential Suite came with fabric-covered walls, crystal chandeliers, French School paintings, exclusive contemporary artworks and creatively arranged fresh flowers.
"The sophistication of those (Presidential) suites melds classic with modern," it said of the accommodation used by Sri Lanka’s first lady who had also been a beauty queen in Sri Lanka in 1973 and a contestant of the Miss World pageant at the Royal Albert Hall in London in the same year..
The grand tab for Sri Lankan tax payers for her 2014 Vesak visit to Paris was 137,396 euro, or about 25 million rupees, according to the Foreign Minister.
(COLOMBO, May 5, 2017)