The Fifth Column

13th July 1997

The Mangala magi

My Dear Mangala,

First I must congratulate you on taking on Dharme’s media portfolio in the reshuffle. That makes you an automatic choice for the race for the No. 2 slot. Dharme, if you recall was a contender for PM three years ago when you were just a ‘Podiyen’ in politics. So, you have come a long way in a short time....

Anyway, Mangala, this new job of yours is a tough one. Yes, you have the chance to get your young face on the TV almost everyday, but these media chaps take you to task for the slightest mistake, like for instance, when you say they can be bought for a bottle!

But, to start with, you seem to have blundered a bit about reforms in the media, saying you will inplement those proposals by R.K.W Goonesekera. Now I don’t need to tell you that RKW has also proposed that criminal defamation laws be scrapped. What will Satellite say to that because as far as criminal defamation goes, it is one down, four to go, for her....

Then, Mangala, you ought to get something into the heads of those chaps in the House by the Lake. They became paranoid over that garland and started attacking Desmond.

And, what was the end result, Mangala? Even people who thought Desmond was only a Baila Singer knew who he was and what he had done. Surely, Mangala, you know that where politicians and lawyers are concerned, any publicity is good publicity and therefore, Desmond was the winner all the way....

And still on the subject of the House by the Lake I know you have promised to ‘broadbase’ its ownership, whatever that means, but I hope you will not do such silly things. That house is for those in power to use and abuse to project their image, and that is the way it should be, Mangala.

I also heard that you were planning to start another TV puppet show to counteract ‘Always Breakdown’. I don’t know whether that is a wise move, Mangala, because I think that show is doing enough damage to Ranil and the UNP. So, why don’t you just let it be?

The media chaps tell me that your performances at the Cabinet press briefings are average and do not as yet compare with the jovial style of Dharme. But may be you will mellow and mature like a good V. S. O. A, as time goes by, and the press boys will surely take to you thus.

Anyway, best of luck in your new job, and follow the Golden Rule always: do not give your Cabinet colleagues too much of publicity!

Yours truly,

Punchi Putha

PS - Why don’t you advise GL on how to dress for press briefings? He looks unhappy in his long-sleeved shirt and tie day after day!

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