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The Fifth Column

11th July 1999

Ignore all those grumbling, will you?

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My Dear Satellite,

By the time you read this, you would have returned from far away Bhutan exchanging pleasantries.

But why I thought of writing to you was to ask you what you have in mind about this election problem. Let's face it, Satellite, you and I are not getting any younger and it's now nearly five years since you were on the throne and there is only one more year to go- unless you get re-elected, of course!

What's more, you doled out portfolios to two ministers and some sixteen deputy ministers before you left and with that, you had so many speculating that polls were close at hand and that you were distributing rewards to keep those troublesome fellows happy.

Now, dear Satellite, don't you worry at all about what the Greens say. They talk about unnecessary expenditure for the government and how you promised to have only twenty ministers though you now have seventy-one. Ignore all those grumbling, will you?

And what does it matter if you have broken an election promise or two, Satellite? After all this is not the first election promise that you have forgotten and with one year still to go it will not be the last either, I suppose.

It doesn't even matter that some subjects have two deputy ministers. As Jeyaraj so cleverly said on TV the other day, if the subject is education, there must be one deputy minister for education and another for higher education, because that is an important subject. Why, I remember good old Junius the genius once had one minister for health and another for teaching hospitals, so how dare the Greens criticise you now?

In fact, I think you should spare a thought for the forty-one MPs on your side who are now without a ministerial portfolio. They must be feeling so down and out these days. So, why don't you just take the other 'important' subjects and allocate those subjects to those chaps, Satellite?

In the Ministry of Defence, for example, you can have a deputy minister of the army, a deputy minister of the navy, a deputy minister of the air force and a deputy minister of the police and you are halfway through to solving the unemployment problem!

But, of course, Satellite, the main problem remains the polls. Everyone expects you to hold the presidential elections first because they think that if you do so, the Blues have a better chance of scraping through.

Now I for one will say no to that one, Satellite. Remember what Dearly Beloved did in 1994? Did he care about what happened to the party? Of course not. All that mattered to him was staying in power a few months more even with you as Prime Minister- and I suspect he rather liked the latter!

And, if you want another advice from me, it is to ditch those leftist chaps clinging on to your saree-pota.

All of them put together have only a few thousand votes but they- especially that incorrigible Vasu- behave as if you govern only because of their support and generosity. No wonder they say that Batty is trying to live upto his name!

Remember, how your mother had problems with Colvin, N. M. and Pieter in the seventies? Now, if you are not careful with these chaps you too will suffer the same fate, more so with Tilvin hovering in the background with his 'seenuwa!'

Anyway, I think you should have these elections soon and finish it, once and for all. I know that you are always late and that you believe in 'better late than never' but believe me, Satellite, this is one case where it might be better never than late!

Yours truly,

Punchi Putha.

PS- Next time you feel like doling out those deputy minister posts, let me know a little bit in advance, will you? I too know of a few good for nothing chaps without jobs and they would fit the bill perfectly, wouldn't they?

The Jungle Telegraph

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