My dear Old Fox, I thought I must write to you even though you are in the Land of Never Return, having left us more than 20 years ago. That is because I heard that one of your favourite tactics, the Referendum, or the ‘pot’ and ‘lamp’ business as it was then called – is [...]

5th Column

President of chaos: What a plot twist you were


My dear Old Fox,

I thought I must write to you even though you are in the Land of Never Return, having left us more than 20 years ago. That is because I heard that one of your favourite tactics, the Referendum, or the ‘pot’ and ‘lamp’ business as it was then called – is being considered again after many years.

I am sure you would be pleased to know that those who criticised you, and ridiculed you for foisting a dictatorial Constitution – or a ‘bahubootha viyavasthawa’ – on our country are still happy to use its provisions when it suits their own needs, 40 years after you introduced that Constitution.

The chap who is trying to do so now is Aiyo Sirisena. You wouldn’t know much about him because he was not well known when you were in politics. Even when you left us and journeyed to the Land of Never Return, he had been in Parliament for just a few years and didn’t strike anyone as outstanding.

Come to think of it, he hasn’t been outstanding since getting the top job either – although many hoped he would be, for the sake of Paradise, when they elected him. That happened only because he was in the right place at the right time when they were looking for someone to run against Mahinda maama.

That was partly the fault of your nephew, Old Fox. We all know you groomed your nephew to take over the Green Party, and he did so, even if it was only because the leading stars among the Greens – Preme, Lalith, Gamini and Ranjan, to name a few – were eliminated in quick succession by Velu.

Your nephew ran for the top job twice and lost; first to Satellite, after she was injured by a bomb blast just before the election; and then to Mahinda maama, after Velu called for a boycott in the North and East. That is when your nephew developed this habit of ‘outsourcing’ the Green party candidacy.

First, he did so with the General who won the war, and the poor chap ended up going to jail for his efforts. It was then that he latched on to Aiyo Sirisena. Allow me to let you in on a little secret, Old Fox, but I think your nephew does this only when he thinks that he himself cannot win the election!

Most people thought that your nephew and Aiyo Sirisena would be a decent combination. One who was thought to be as cunning and clever as you were and the other, a simple man who was elected to preside over the abolition of the office you created. Ah, how wrong were we – and at what cost!

It didn’t take long for Aiyo Sirisena to abandon his promises. Not only did he wish to keep the office you created, he went out of his way to do anything and everything possible to ensure that he would be the person in that chair. Even you – the dictator that you were – would blush at some of his actions.

He first asked the highest court whether he could stay on for another year. When they said no, he sacked your nephew and installed Mahinda maama in that job – hoping he could get into the good books of the ‘pohottuwa’ chaps so that they would sponsor him as their candidate for the next poll.

Of course, Mahinda maama has other plans. Why would he want Aiyo Sirisena when he has Gota? Even if Gota gets disqualified for some reason, he could always field Chamal. Realising this now, Aiyo Sirisena wants to try your referendum trick again.  So, we can blame you for all this, Old Fox!

What is absurd about this is that even if there is a referendum, and the people vote for an early general election, it cannot be held because the highest court in the land has already told Aiyo Sirisena in no uncertain terms that he cannot hold a general election first. Yet, he wants to do so, because it suits him.

We can lay all the blame for the current chaos in Paradise at Aiyo Sirisena’s door, Old Fox, but that doesn’t mean that your nephew is doing very well either. He has missed so many opportunities that even the Greens don’t want to field him as their candidate.

Your guess is as good as mine as to whether your nephew still wants to run for the top job. You may have taught him many things about politics, Old Fox, but you haven’t taught him the meaning of his school motto, ‘Learn or Depart’. He doesn’t seem to learn, and sadly, nor does he want to depart!

Old Fox, everyone criticises you, and they blame your Constitution for everything that is wrong in Paradise today. Still, though they criticise that Constitution when they are in the opposition, they always want to keep it when they are in government. That means the fault lies with them, not you!

Yours truly,

Punchi Putha

PS: Many blame you for being a dictator, for not respecting democracy and even for introducing the open economy. Yet, you never wanted your son in politics. You were never accused of large-scale corruption. You retired when you had to. We didn’t hear from you afterwards, even when the Greens were torn apart by an impeachment. Compared to some of your successors, you seem like an angel now, Old Fox!

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