The Fifth Column

8th December 1996

Oh, to be on hit list

My Dear Gamini Lakshman,

I thought of writing to you because I was shocked to hear that there was someone lurking in the shadows at a five-star hotel in Colombo this week, trying to possibly assassinate you!

Now, dear Gamini Lakshman, this only shows that you have at last reached that political milestone - being considered important enough to be a target for assassination.

But Iím sure that this will not weaken your resolve to continue in politics. After all, we still remember how you took up the post of Vice-Chancellor at the Colombo University, when your predecessor was killed. (They didnít appoint a Commission for him, did they?)

Anyway, what shocked me was not that you were important enough to be considered a target. Seeing you daily on TV, touting that Devolution Package, like Rosie Senanayake promoting that milk powder and telling us how wonderful it would be for generations to come, we knew you were always a VIP!

Now, what shocked me was why they would want to do away with you, considering what you have done for the government these last two years.

See, even before your chaps came into office, you were busy drafting that Manifesto and promising solemnly to abolish the Executive Presidency by next July. We all know now what a mess that got Satellite into, and she still blushes a deep purple - the colour of her late husbandís party - when anyone reminds her of that promise!

Will you remember how you brokered a deal to settle that dispute over the Hilton Hotel and ended up with egg all over your face.

Not satisfied with this you kicked up a row with old A.S. forcing Satellite to give him a kick upstairs to the Central Bank.

Then, you advised Satellite, along with Bala, that you should dissolve those UNP controlled Provincial Councils; she went ahead only to have that decision over-ruled by the courts.

Then, you advised her to appoint a lady to the highest Court and that has become a major controversy, embarrassing everybody including the good Lady herself.

Now, as if all this was not enough, you promised us that your new Constitution will be introduced in April, though everyone knows that this wonít be possible!

So, dear Gamini Lakshman, with such a record, do you still think that someone would waste bombs and bullets on you?

Of course I am not trying to belittle you, Gamini Lakshman. Iím only trying to put your mind at ease by proving to you that no one would really want to harm you.

We all know, of course, that you are a tremendous asset to this government. You are, after all, the only minister to lose weight after assuming office. And who else but you could stand on one leg, bend in two and pout your lips every thirty seconds for five hours at a stretch? (Iím referring to the Budget Speech, of course!)

So, my dear Gamini Lakshman, if I were you, I will rest assured that there is no threat to life as yet. But, who knows if you continue in your own inimitable style, somebody in your own camp might get ideas....

Yours truly

Punchi Putha

PS - Looking on the bright side, dying while your own government is in office is the only way of making sure of a state funeral, donít you think?

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