The Fifth Column

21st April 1996

Tut! tut Mr.T

My dear Mr. T,

I am writing to you now because you are in the news once again, and again it is because you expect to go on strike if some demands for better pay are not met.

I know this is nothing new to you, but what saddens us is that you are doing all this while still being a member of the Cabinet. Even that, of course is not the first time you have done such a thing because you gave enough headaches to JR and Mr. P when they were ruling. Come to think of it, it was only Dearly Beloved who really put you in your place, but he too had to pay for it.

I suppose very few people realise this, but you must be holding the local record for being the longest serving minister, you have been a minister for nearly twenty years now, without a break. Governments have come and governments have gone, but Mr. T. has carried on regardless it seems..

We know that you are serving your community, but sometimes it seems to me that a country suffers as a whole because of your actions. Remember, when you suggested that we give Velupillai a five-year term to run the North and East. Do you still have the courage to make that proposal, after what he has done to this country during the last dozen years.

Then, you seem to be making the most unreasonable demands at the most unreasonable times. Here you are, a partner in a coalition government with a one-seat majority in Parliament and trying it's best to tackle the menace of terrorism in addition to having to cope with a drought that has depleted our export harvests this year. And what do you do? You ask for a wage hike for your workers and a minimum of 300 working days a year.

After all this, Mr. T., if you still say you are a patriot, I would find it hard to believe you. Just another political humbug will be a better description, we feel.

But of course, you are a past master in the game. You know very well that both Satellite and the Green Man couldn't do without you. So, you bide your time and make your demands. And, what's more, more often than not, you've got them too.

And there is another reason for us to worry; that fellow Ashraff is learning fast from you. Given time he may even beat you at your own game because he may have more in numbers than you do now.

But if we are to complain about all this, it must be because the Greens and the Blues have been blind to all this, and playing electoral politics whenever an election is around. We must hope that even now, they realise their mistake.

But you too have your problems, don't you? That Sella is a pain in the neck, isn't he? and grooming a successor in your shadow, that too must be having its difficulties?

So, tell us whom you would support at the next election? The Greens or the Blues? Or is it the party that wins?

Yours truly,

Punchi Putha.

PS - What about all these commissions that are finding the previous government guilty of so many misdeeds? Don't you share that blame, being a member of that Cabinet? And what does Satellite say to that?

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