Fifth Column

22nd July 2001

Democracy at cross roads?

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My Dear Satellite,

I am hoping as I write this that you are in some safe place, away from all the protestors who were asking you to go home on Thursday and also away from all those dozens of tear gas canisters that were thrown about so liberally.

Pardon me if I am wrong, Satellite, but people are already saying that this is 1994 all over again- the only difference being that you are in charge and the greens are in the opposition whereas in 1994 they were in charge and you were in the opposition.

Certainly, Satellite, your deeds and actions in the past few weeks have all the hallmarks of a government the days of which are numbered. First, you made a mistake in sacking that chap Rauf and since then, you have been making one move after another to cover up your lack of a majority in the House.

A lot of people do think that the best you could have done was to ask our friend the Green Man- who appears to have had some 'secret' talks with you- to be the Pee Em. He would have had to govern with the Raufs, the Reds and the Ranawakes around him and would have found the going tough in next to no time. But no, you decided that you couldn't betray Ratne- and we admire you for that- but that seems to be to your own disadvantage now.

Then you decide to prorogue their House and throw in a referendum for good measure costing a half a billion rupees, knowing well that it is a meaningless exercise. Then, you decide to unleash the full strength of the police on the greens- making martyrs out of bystanders and heroes out of the green types.

If you had just ignored this protest march, Satellite, they would have all converged on the Town Hall, had a meeting, shouted a few slogans and gone home with a 'buth' packet and everyone would forget about democracy and get back to the next cricket match.

But no, you distribute real and rubber bullets and ample tear gas and the result is the Green Man trying to be a hero saying 'She tried to kill me with rubber bullets' and calling you 'Madam Hitler'. And, judging from the pictures we all saw on television, Satellite, quite a lot of people will believe him because two people did die on that day. Anyway, Satellite, after what happened on Thursday your popularity- which was not high anyway- when into the minus ratings quite quickly.

But, Satellite, all is not lost and you could still salvage some respect if you do allow that house to sit and do whatever they want. But then, JR never saw it that way and neither did Preme when they were in power, so why should you?

Yours truly, Punchi Putha.

PS- The next best thing you could do now is to get Mallo to be the Pee Em.

We are sure he would accept and he could bring a few MPs with him and the 'B' family would live happily ever after- even though there is no 'B' yet after AB.

That would divide the greens right into two and even in the blue camp it would solve the question of succession, leaving the Seeni Bolas, and the others to fight for third place! Think about it, will you, if you already haven't!

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