My Dear James Packer, I thought I must write to you to congratulate you on what you did last week. I am not sure whether you are aware of this, but you have done something which no one has been able to do in this country for the last ten years — and that is [...]

5th Column

James’ games with pack of politicos


My Dear James Packer,
I thought I must write to you to congratulate you on what you did last week. I am not sure whether you are aware of this, but you have done something which no one has been able to do in this country for the last ten years — and that is no small achievement!

I am referring to those casinos you planned to introduce to our country. When the laws required for them were presented in our Parliament, nearly sixty ruling party MPs abstained and a couple of government MPs even voted against it — and that has raised a few VIP eyebrows.

James, these are people who closed their eyes, held their noses and voted to abolish independent commissions that would have controlled the police, the judiciary and elections. They also voted to allow anyone to contest for President any number of times — but they refused to vote for your casinos!

Just in case you still don’t realise how important an event this is, these MPs are also people who voted to get rid of a Chief Justice without even so much as a fair trial or at least knowing what the charges against her were — but they refused to vote for your casinos!

And it is not as if they were enjoying their April holiday season and forgot to attend Parliament that day — they were specifically told by the powers that be that they should attend and vote for these important new laws and what did they do? They refused to vote for your casinos.

In fact, if we use the theory proposed by the Government’s own professor, it lost the vote on the casinos! That is because the good professor, when he counts votes in Geneva, counts those who abstained as a vote against what is being proposed. Fortunately though, no one takes him seriously!

Nevertheless, James, we are all puzzled by what happened. No one seems to know exactly why all these MPs abstained from voting and as a result, and in true Sri Lankan style, there are so many conspiracy theories being suggested. Why, some are even saying Satellite is behind all this!

Then again, some are saying that this is the beginning of the end for Mahinda maama because his MPs have never rebelled against him before, but I think the explanation is very simple — it is because we have a patriotic, responsible, honest and incorruptible set of parliamentarians.

Of course, none of them were patriotic enough to resign from their ministerial portfolios on this issue and only that Champika chap and the Buddhist monk from his party had the backbone to vote against the news laws — but for some, even that is as good as winning the T20 World Cup!

I think that is because the Greens as usual didn’t do much except stage a protest in Colombo. And we can’t complain about government MPs being absent to vote for your casinos, when the Green Man himself is somewhere in America and no one really knows what he is doing there either.

But, James, had you known all this beforehand, you would have offered some ‘incentives’ to our MPs, wouldn’t you? After all, when our cricketers are offered ‘incentives’ they prefer to play in the IPL than for their country, so I don’t see any reason why this trick wouldn’t work on our MPs!

Or else, you could have suggested moving the casinos to Hambantota. Then, the Mayor of Hambantota would announce that these are not real casinos but only ‘toy’ casinos and after an initial scuffle or two with the odd rotten egg thrown in, everyone will forget about the matter!

Anyway, you need not worry, James. You can trust Mahinda maama and his government to deliver on a promise and deliver he did, despite all those people who refused to vote and the two people from the ruling party who voted against the casino laws. So, all is not lost and the laws were passed.

I know that the official word is that although the laws were passed, they don’t allow for casinos, only for hotels and other ‘entertainment’ facilities. I suppose that will keep the locals happy but don’t you worry too much about that either. After all, a casino by any other name will earn you as much profit!

James, I know we will hear more about you. Your father, Kerry Packer, transformed cricket by buying all the leading cricketers of the world from opposing teams and getting them to play for him. Do you think you can do the same with our MPs, be they green or blue? I bet you think you can!

Yours truly,
Punchi Putha
PS: Can you let us in on a little secret, James, and answer a question that has been bothering so many of us? How is it that those people wearing saffron robes who storm government offices and media briefings saying they are the guardians of Buddhism chose to maintain a deafening silence on the casinos issue? Was there an incentive for them as well, James?

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