My Dear Mervyn, I never thought I would be writing to you in this manner but now I think I must. That is to tell you that you now have a competitor who seems to have beaten you hands down, just as much as Angelo Matthews and his team were well and truly beaten on [...]

5th Column

A lot to be learnt


My Dear Mervyn,
I never thought I would be writing to you in this manner but now I think I must. That is to tell you that you now have a competitor who seems to have beaten you hands down, just as much as Angelo Matthews and his team were well and truly beaten on their recent tour of England.

Mervyn, I am not sure whether you have heard of him because a few years ago no one had. His name is Palitha and he goes around trying to admit children to schools in the area that he represents, just as much as you went around trying to eliminate dengue mosquitoes in the Kelaniya electorate.

Remember how you lashed out at anyone who stood in your way in your crusade for justice and made a general spectacle of yourself, including getting assaulted and bathed in paint at Rupavahini? And people always criticised and condemned you, even though you were fighting for justice?

Well, this chap is much smarter, Mervyn, and you have a thing or two to learn from him. He too creates a scene and generates headlines whenever he tries to do something but he doesn’t seem to get assaulted – not yet, anyway. And instead of condemning him, people are now hailing him as a hero!

I suspect that he has been watching you when you were in your prime, threatening television stations, walking in to newspaper officers to threaten journalists and tying public officers to trees. After seeing all that, he has learnt the tricks of political thuggery from you and started to intimidate others.

He always had a reputation of being a troublemaker and he didn’t begin with intimidating the small fry either. At a meeting of Green MPs, when he didn’t get his way with his boss, the Green Man, he lunged at him, trying to assault him. One Shot had to come to the Green Man’s rescue.

I suppose the Green Man should have realised at that time that this chap was trouble and discarded him, but he didn’t. I am not surprised by that because he should have realised that Arjuna at the Big Bank was trouble and discarded him too, but he didn’t – and look at the mess that got him in to!

Anyway, this Palitha chap graduated to taking on more and more challenges for causes that were seemingly noble. Once, he started one of those ‘fasts unto death’ because a hospital was closed. I am not sure whether he had Lemon Puff like Wimal did, but he did succeed in getting the hospital re-opened.

Soon after the election that signalled the dawn of the ‘Yahapaalanaya’ era, he was out and about damaging the offices of his political opponents. He was arrested and should have been dealt with. He was dealt with indeed – he was rewarded with a Deputy Minister’s job by an unsuspecting Maithri!

Like you, Mervyn, I think he was emboldened by all the media attention he was getting. So, he tried something even more daring – he attempted to intimidate the Principal of a leading school in Kalutara into admitting a child. Looking back, I think that must have been the turning point in his career.

If ‘Yahapaalanaya’ had any meaning, he should have been given marching orders then. Not only should he have been punished for threatening a public officer, he should have also been ordered to mend his ways, if he wanted to remain an MP. Instead, they obeyed his orders and admitted the child!

You can’t blame him, can you, when he then tries the trick on a larger scale? So, he tries to admit not one, but nine children by threatening another Principal. The icing on the cake is when he tries to hang himself from a fan, in full view of dozens of men, women and children when his demands are not met.

They say that no one in his right mind tries to take his own life. On the other hand, only a very smart man will try to take his own life, watched by dozens of people, while all the cameras are rolling. And that is why, Mervyn, I say that this Palitha chap is much smarter than you ever were.

So, instead of saying that this fellow should have his head examined because he was trying to commit suicide, I think that those who allow him to continue in this way without taking any action against him should have their heads examined. They do not seem to have learnt any lessons after dealing with you.

Mervyn, some people are now saying that they would rather untie public officers from trees than lift overweight deputy ministers hanging from ceiling fans. Seeing this chap in action, I am sure you must be very happy – if he can continue as a Deputy Minister, surely there must be a chance for you to return?

Yours truly,
Punchi Putha
PS: I heard that Mahinda maama’s team has announced a shadow Cabinet of sorts. I was disappointed not to see your name there. If they could have appointed that Gammanpila chap who was recently released on bail as the ‘Minister’ for Law and Order, they could have appointed you as ‘Minister’ for Justice and surely this Palitha fellow could have been appointed as the ‘Minister’ for Education!

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