Fifth Column

29th October 2000

Right royal fight for subjects

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"Thaaththa," Bindu Udagedera asked, "why are all the ministers fighting?"

"Are they?" Bindu's father Percy asked, "those who should be fighting are those who were not given ministries"

"There are so few of them to fight" Bindu said.

"Then, why should the ministers fight?" Percy wanted to know.

"I think they are fighting for the subjects coming under their control" Bindu said.

"But," Percy said, "I thought Satellite has already given them their subjects"

"That's true, thaaththa," Bindu said, "but now they are fighting for the subjects coming under each ministry"

"Why should they do that?" Percy wanted to know.

"Why, thaaththa, for instance Rauf has been given shipping and Ronnie has been given ports"

"And what has happened?"

"And Rauf wants to know how he can handle shipping when the ports are being handled by someone else"

"Maybe," Percy suggested, "he should handle only ships that do not enter our ports"

"That must be the way Fowzie is feeling too" Bindu said.

"Why do you say that?"

"Why, thaaththa, he earlier handled both transport and highways; now he has only highways and Dinesh has to deal with transport"

"So, technically, Dinesh must be dealing only with the railways" Percy said.

"Why do you say that?"

"Why, that is the only form of public transport that does not use the highways" Percy explained.

"Why, thaaththa, what about airlines?"

"Ah, don't worry about that," Percy said, "Satellite has thought about that before you and appointed a separate minister for that"

"Then, thaaththa," Bindu wanted to know, "what about education?"

"Why, what's wrong with that?"

"Why, Susil is the minister of education, Indika is the minister of higher education and there is Leslie handling information technology and Amarasiri is in charge of vocational training"

"So, we will be a very educated, informed and trained country at the end of this six years" Percy pointed out.

"Then, maybe the same is true for fisheries" Bindu said.

"Why do you say that?"

"Why, thaaththa, Mahinda is in charge of fisheries but Milroy is in charge of fisheries housing"

"I suppose," Percy suggested, "Milroy is either looking after the fishermen who work from home or else he is building houses for the fish"

"Then thaaththa, what about all these ministers for development?" Bindu wanted to know.

"Who are they?"

"Why, thaaththa, Ronnie is in charge of southern development, Douglas has been asked to develop the north, Ms. Ashraff handles eastern development and Seeni Bola is looking after up country development"

"Come to think of it, it's no wonder that all these areas didn't develop until now because there was no minister in charge" Percy said.

"Then, thaaththa, what about all the religions?"

"Why, there is a Buddha Saasana minister and a minister for Muslim affairs"

"So, what's wrong with that?" Percy wanted to know.

"But thaaththa, there is no minister for Christian affairs"

"Who knows, at the rate this cabinet is expanding, someone may be appointed for that subject too"

"But thaaththa," Bindu complained, "after reading the names of all these ministries, I can;t understand the job of one man"

"Who is that?" Percy asked.

"Why, Wijeyapala has been named a minister without portfolio"

"Maybe Satellite just couldn't find him anything to give" Percy tried to explain.

"Then I have an idea" Bindu said.

"What's that?"

"With all these ministries and so many ministers, he could be made the minister in charge of ministers" Bindu suggested.

"Shh" Percy cautioned, "don't say that for anyone to hear or else by tomorrow morning we will hear that Satellite has appointed him to that post"

Bindu didn't disagree.

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