My dear Green Man, I thought I must write to you when I heard that you were planning to set up another ‘national’ government with the help of a few others who wish to prop up the Greens. Considering what happened to the last national government you had with the Blues, I must say I [...]

5th Column

What promises?


My dear Green Man,

I thought I must write to you when I heard that you were planning to set up another ‘national’ government with the help of a few others who wish to prop up the Greens. Considering what happened to the last national government you had with the Blues, I must say I was surprised.

I don’t know whether you remember, Green Man, you promised at the last election to limit the number of Cabinet ministers to 30. You argued that having dozens of ministers with ridiculous sounding portfolios did not help the country at all, and only cost the government more money.

You also said, along with Aiyo Sirisena, that the subjects assigned to ministries would be scientifically determined. So, we ended up with ministries such as Highways and Higher Education linked together, probably because many of our university students spend most of their time protesting on the roads!

Still, we had nearly four dozen ministers – and another four dozen deputy ministers, state ministers and ministers without portfolios – all in the name of a ‘national’ government that had a two-thirds majority which you said was necessary to push through constitutional changes that made us more democratic.

The only constitutional change that you managed to push through was the 19th Amendment. That may have its flaws, but it did bring in a few checks and balances such as the Constitutional Council. It also clipped the wings of Aiyo Sirisena who, in those days when he was sane, agreed to those changes.

If you care to look back, you will recall that around this time last year, Aiyo Sirisena was busy plotting your political demise. So, he did nothing to discourage a motion of no-confidence against you. Fortunately, the Greens – even those who didn’t like you that much – rallied around you. You survived.

At that time, you were full of remorse. You told us you will mend your ways. You said you will listen to what was said about you. You promised to change the way you conduct the affairs of government. You promised to address the grievances of people instead of trying to please the ‘tie coat’ gentry.

Unfortunately, you didn’t. After you overcame that crisis you forgot about even those in your own party who supported you. It was business as usual for you. You went back to governing the country in your own way, as if nothing had happened. You forgot the promises you made to change your ways.

Six months later, Aiyo Sirisena decided to take matters into his own hands and sacked you arbitrarily. You survived again only because everyone else in the opposition rallied around you and also because Karu and those sitting in the highest court in the land had the courage to do what was right.

Miraculously, you had been given another chance, despite not keeping your promises after surviving the no-confidence vote. Even those who were not Greens – such as the rathu sahodarayas – openly supported you not because they love you more, but because they didn’t want the Constitution violated.

Again, we heard a familiar tune: You wanted to make a fresh start with a new government. You said you will use the remaining year of your term for the benefit of the people. After getting a taste of Aiyo Sirisena and Mahinda maama’s shameless attempts to grab power, people still wanted to support you.

We thought you had learnt your lessons by then. Many wanted to see a new Cabinet with young faces and new ideas. Instead, we got one with the same old people desperately hanging on to their jobs, instead of going into retirement. You even gave Bond Ravi a place at the cabinet table again!

Now we hear you want to form another national government. To do so, you have to get together with a chap from Rauf’s party and, at most, a few rats deserting Aiyo Sirisena’s sinking Blue ship. All this jugglery is to enable more people to call themselves Cabinet ministers and enjoy the perks of office.

Do you really believe, Green Man, that the people will support this move, when they can hardly make ends meet? Do you think they will vote for you just because you have appointed 48 Cabinet ministers, 5 non-Cabinet ministers, 30 deputy ministers and 15 state ministers?

Do you honestly believe that your proposed mega-Cabinet will usher in unprecedented development in the next 10 months? Do you remember that your Uncle JR’s Cabinet 40 years ago which gave us ‘udaagam’ ‘mahapola’ and ‘mahaveli’ had just 20 ministers apart from JR and Preme?

Whenever Aiyo Sirisena makes a statement now, we take it with a pinch of salt because he speaks with forked tongue. Yet, when he used his Independence Day address to rubbish your proposal for a national government, most people agreed with him. So, think about that again, will you, Green Man?

Yours truly,

Punchi Putha

PS: The Greens with you in charge remind me of our cricketers in Australia. They had the best chance to beat the Aussies because their top men were disgraced and sacked for ball tampering. Yet, our chaps somehow ensured that we lost. You had the perfect chance to return because Aiyo Sirisena and Mahinda maama were disgraced for tampering with the Constitution. Yet, your latest actions are ensuring that one of them will return. Now, with our cricketers, we sacked Chandimal, didn’t we?

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