Last week that irascible US President Donald Trump suddenly called off his State visit to Denmark next month. After huffing and puffing over Denmark’s rejection of a Trump feeler to purchase the world’s biggest island, he decided to teach Denmark a lesson in Trumpet power. Like a peeved child he decided to deny the great [...]


When political games begin


Last week that irascible US President Donald Trump suddenly called off his State visit to Denmark next month. After huffing and puffing over Denmark’s rejection of a Trump feeler to purchase the world’s biggest island, he decided to teach Denmark a lesson in Trumpet power.

Like a peeved child he decided to deny the great Danes an opportunity of paying homage to this tweeting twit from the White House. All because the Danish prime minister Mette Frederiksen said that Greenland, the Danish kingdom’s autonomous state is, not for sale.

Maybe businessman Trump who has been exploring the idea of buying the island thought he could just walk in to a supermarket and make the purchase at the counter.

At least he was ready to pay for it if the deal was on unlike many of our own politicians who would just grab it with a few threats thrown around in case a citizen or two decided to challenge it.

The Danish prime minister was obviously outraged but she kept her Nordic cool and simply described the Trumpet call as utterly “absurd”. He might be the president of America but he is no superman though he seems to consider himself the one who could purchase the whole world.

Greenland foreign minister Ane Lone Bagger put him in his place. Denmark is open for business, he said, but it is not for sale.

The whole world (at least those who had heard about Trump’s madness) reportedly burst into thunderous laughter, according to one influential newspaper.

A former US ambassador to Denmark interviewed on TV ended the dialogue remarking that strange things happen in this world.

To those who live in Sri Lanka or follow its wayward trajectory strange happenings are nothing new. It happens daily and has been occurring for decades. Strange happenings are the norm — not the exception.

Now that the presidential election is round the corner unlike in the US where Trump could hang around until next year at least, more strange happenings must surely be on the cards.

Scant wonder then Sri Lanka has been named by some blurb writer as the “country like no other”. One must thank the deities or whoever who made this paradise isle so unique. One could imagine the catastrophic consequence if they rolled out a similar land with the same kind of politicians who thrive on the fat of the land and insist it is an entitlement and not highway robbery.

With 3-4 months to go for the presidential election — unless some wise ass plots a way out of it so that the present marauders can continue to misrule the country — the public will be regaled with stories that will provide enough laughter or surprises until they head for the ballot box.

Talking to publishers and editors recently, our great wise leader like no other said he had not yet decided whether to continue the yahapalana journey by taking another shot at the presidency or call it a day.

But before he takes the lower road he would want to work out what one might loosely call a ‘concordato preventivo’ so that he still maintains some position that would allow him to roam the world at state expense.

Such indecision with time running out does remind one of the Hamletian doubts that caught the Prince of Denmark in two minds — whether to be or not to be. Unlike the Great Dane, President Sirisena’s intention is to be if he can work out a good deal that will still keep him in business but not as a king of the conglomerates as it were, but something like the proprietor of a Wellawatte grocery store.

One might recall that, in his message to the people on Independence Day this year, he urged all parties to unite to rid the country of poverty and corruption.

Now that is a hell of a thing to say! I mean eliminating poverty one can understand if our politicians are not too busy engaged as they are in a multiplicity of activities.

But to ask them to join in the fight to eliminate corruption is like asking a sumo wrestler to commit hara kiri. If the livelihood of politicians from top to bottom is taken away, how are some of them going to survive? Instead of getting rid of poverty as President Sirisena called for, he would be adding to the millions living below the poverty line. Some might well say that both cannot be achieved simultaneously.

The other day a gaggle of MPs was up in arms with Sirisena for publicly disclosing the earnings of an MP. They did not want the public to know. In the same way that the President contributed to public knowledge should he not disclose the number of times he – and his fellow travellers — journeyed abroad, how much all this cost the taxpayer, who went with him even if not on the same flight but on the same journey and what the country has gained from all this toing and froing.

It was revealed in parliament that the answers to these or similar questions have not been given and the government has asked for another six months to respond which will make it one year or more waiting for an answer.

While Sirisena is engaged in performing a Hamletian exercise, Sirisena’s prime minister and partner in governance is also playing a Hamlet of sorts. It is all a leadership question for the UNP which is still struggling to settle on a candidate.

At the time of writing, the generous leader, Ranil Wickremesinghe, was hosting a dinner for members of the UNP Working Committee and the party MPs on Friday night.

On the same afternoon In Matara Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera had organised a public meeting in support of Sajith Premadasa’s presidential candidacy. Some poor (well not exactly poor) chaps turning up in support of Premadasa are likely to miss Wickremesinghe’s dinner. Those who kept away can consider this as the last supper they will get invited to by Wickremesinghe.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the political barricades where the Rajapaksa’s have come to the fore with Mahinda Rajapaksa heading the SLPP and brother Gotabaya seeking the presidency, shivers have been going down the spines of some citizens as we hear.

They point to certain remarks that Gotabaya Rajapaksa made in what might be called the acceptance speech in which he promised to go “above and beyond the call of duty” and “will not be limited by boundaries of official role.”

While these remarks are said to have caused some consternation in public minds, they will doubtless figure on election platforms, TV debates and newspaper commentaries when the election fever spreads like degue.

“I love my country”, Gotabaya Rajapaksa reportedly said in the same speech. Now if that does not become a bone of contention as the campaign intensifies, I’ll eat my hat as somebody once promised to do but didn’t.

That is if the presidential election is held as scheduled. Strange things happen in this world as the former US ambassador said commenting on Trump’s cancellation of his State visit.

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