Columns - 5th column

Congratulations, you do it in style

By Rypvanwinkle

My Dear Mahinda Maama,

I thought I should write to you to wish you for your sixty-sixth birthday and I am sure you wouldn’t realise that my wishes come late because everyone is falling over each other in trying to congratulate you on your birthday and get in to your good books.

I did notice, Mahinda maama, that this year, the celebrations were not on a grand scale. Was it because your birthday fell on the same day they were announcing the verdict in the ‘white flag’ case where the military man was the accused?

Or perhaps it was because you were too busy to celebrate, occupied as you must have been in putting the finishing touches to the Budget which you had to deliver just a few days later and which you must have had to supervise? You can’t really trust PB with something as important as that, can you?

Which reminds me, Mahinda maama, even though you have nearly a hundred or so ministers in your government, you have to do everything yourself! You have to present the budget, you have to take care of the armed forces and whenever there is a strike, you have to intervene in that too!

Why, when the Tigers are trying to tarnish our image overseas and at the United Nations, you have to tell everyone what needs to be done and also send a separate minister to tackle that issue, even though we do have a Foreign Minister!

But of course, congratulations are in order for the Budget, Mahinda maama. Why, all the possible unpopular measures — such as the increase in petrol, cigarette and alcohol prices, — were announced weeks before, so no one can say that you presented a horrible budget. And you would look nothing but good when you announce a ten per cent ‘salary increase’, wouldn’t you?

Of course, then one reads the small print where it says that the ten per cent pay hike is only an allowance and not part of the salary. When that dawns on them, you have finished your speech, smiled for the cameras and left Parliament, haven’t you?

There was also something else that happened when you were presenting the Budget, that I thought I must write to you about and that was the sight of all those young — and not-so young — Blue MPs crossing over to the other side of the House and assaulting the Green MPs.

I know they were all trying to impress you and trying to show you what good boys they are — the type of thing that kindergarten kids do to impress their class teacher-but when it happens during the Budget debate, with all those invited dignitaries and diplomats watching, it creates such an ugly spectacle.
Here we are telling the world that we have a 2500-year history and also that we are a thriving democracy but anybody watching the antics in Parliament that day would have thought that we had just descended from the apes!

And what is more, Mahinda maama it reflects badly on you too because for a moment it looked as if you- and even Loku Aiya, who was presiding at the time — were, at worst, endorsing what was going on or, at best, couldn’t control what was happening!

It is easy, Mahinda maama, to dismiss this as the handiwork of some overenthusiastic individuals but I hope you will crack the whip on those who misbehaved that day. Well, if you don’t you can almost be certain that you will be breeding a hundred Kelaniya chandiyas in time to come in the Blue party!
Then, Mahinda maama, I heard you telling the Greens during your speech that you need a strong opposition. Now you really know how to rub it in, don’t you? Well, you have done your bit towards that, poaching a Green here and Green there every now and then whenever you can, haven’t you?

But I am sure you must be having other matters to worry about these days. After all, that much expected report of the local boys probing the alleged war crimes and human rights abuses has now been handed over to you and you would be expected to do something about it, wouldn’t you?

You may need all the luck you can get on that matter, but I am sure you will sort something out — and that it is because you have shown us in no uncertain terms in the past few years that you can fool all the people some of the time!

Yours truly,
Punchi Putha

PS: I must also congratulate you on commissioning the Southern Expressway, Mahinda maama. I know you have taken the long and hard road to get where you are now, but now you needn’t worry: if you ever need to beat a hasty retreat to Medamulana, you can really do so!

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