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The Fifth Column

21st June 1998

A sterling act

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My Dear Satellite,

I thought I must write to you after seeing your sterling performance on TV last week for which I thought you must receive at least a Sarasaviya award.

To start with, Satellite, you were only ten or fifteen minutes late, which in itself was an achievement, by your own standards. And you were dressed perfectly for the occasion, though the glare of the TV lights made you perspire mildly.

And the way you handled those questions! True, the interviewer was being very gracious - not like Palitha, who played with a very straight bat and had to pay the price - but you still did a very good job of it.

And, Satellite, I was really surprised at your mastery of the language. When you were asked about arms dealers, you called them 'Komis Kaakko" - not even Premadasa, as head of state dared to reach such great heights in using common language to get your message across. Well done, indeed, Satellite, that will be hard to beat.

What was also more noticeable in the interview was how you were in total control. When the interviewer tried in introduce a question or two of his own, you fixed him with that glare of yours and he wilted like G. L. Peiris before the IMF and the World Bank. I can just imagine you at cabinet meetings, fixing that stare of yours on an errant Mahinda or Jeyaraj and how they would all meekly fall in line.

But, Satellite what was most impressive was the way you handled the Bribery and Corruption Commission issue. Now, we all know why you want to get rid of the Commissioners but you made it sound as if you wanted to do the country a great favour but the UNP was not allowing you to do that. Again, Satellite, full marks for a piece of brilliant acting worthy of an Oscar. Vijaya's talents must have surely rubbed off on you!

Then, there was that stroke of genius - talking about your bank accounts and how much money you have left with you. Now, tell me, Satellite, which head of state - here or elsewhere in the world - goes on national TV on prime time to talk of her bank balance? You gave us the impression that everyone in your government was as transparent as a sheet of polythene, leaving us wondering why people should fuss about such trivial details like credit cards!.

Anyway, Satellite, I would be failing in my duty if I don't say congratulations to Sanath who organised the show so well - he had even left the windows open at Temple Trees, as if to tell us that you preferred to live in a house that was not air-conditioned! - again, a stroke of genius.

So, Satellite, you can now rest assured that your popularity ratings have gone up. All you have to do now is give the interviewer a promotion and plan the next show.

So, see you on the telly, soon!

Yours truly,

Punchi Putha

PS -While on the subject of TV, I might as well tell you that people are annoyed that they stop showing the cricket match to show the News. Now, most of us would rather watch Sachin or Aravinda bat rather than see Fowzie opening a "bokkuwa" Tell that to the Rupavahini chaps, will you?

Rajpal Abeynayake's Column

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