The Fifth Column
8th August 1999
This is what honourable ministers do
"Thaaththa" Bindu Udagedera said, "look at what has happened in India...."
"Why," Percy Udagedera, Bindu's father asked, "has the government collapsed again?"
"No, thaaththa, there has been a train crash and over 200 people have died...."
"What's so surprising about that?" Percy asked, "such disasters happen regularly in India...."
"But, thaaththa" Bindu said, "that is not the surprise...."
" Then, what is it?"
"The Minister in charge of Railways has resigned...."
"But that is what honourable ministers do...."
"But,thaaththa" Bindu argued, "they don't do that in our country...."
"Why not?" Percy asked, "they used to do that, some time ago...."
"When was that?" Bindu wanted to know.
"Why, some time ago, M.D.H. Jayewardene resigned after he criticized the budget. Gamani Jayasuriya resigned when he disagreed with the Indo-Lanka Accord and Lalith Athulathmudali resigned after the Impeachment motion...."
"And they are all dead now...." Bindu observed.
"That's true" Percy agreed, "and those who are alive never even seem to consider resigning...."
"Why do you say that?" Bindu queried.
"Well, they have had enough opportunities...." Percy pointed out.
"When was that, thaaththa?" Bindu wanted to know.
"Why, the Minister of Power and Energy should have resigned when the country was without electricity for three days...."
"Then" Bindu suggested, "the Sports Minister should have resigned when that star-athlete accused a 'high official' in his Ministry of improper conduct...."
"And the Media Minister should have resigned when cameramen were assaulted by policemen in civvies the other day...."
"And maybe the Justice Minister should have resigned when they wrongfully arrested a judge...."
"And the Minister of Aviation should have resigned when they changed the name and logo of Airlanka, because he promised it would never be done...."
"And the Health Minister should have resigned when the doctors went on strike for half a month because he didn't do anything about it until the President intervened...."
"And the Minister of Defence should surely resign because he promised to end the war a long, long time ago...."
"But , thaaththa," Bindu argued "he did offer to resign when they bombed the Dalada Maligawa...."
"And that," Percy said, "was worse than not resigning at all because the resignation was not accepted...."
"But thaaththa, at this rate if all these people are honourable enough to resign, there will be no ministers left...."
"And we might be better off that way" Percy argued, "and even the Tigers will have less work to do with no one to eliminate...."
"But thaaththa", Bindu said, "the Tigers rarely target unimportant ministers; they usually target the more powerful ones...."
"But Bindu", Percy said, "even the Tigers make mistakes...."
"Why do you say that?"
"Why, remember, they once tried to assassinate Nimal Siripala de Silva in Jaffna...." Bindu didn't disagree.
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