The Fifth Column

5th January 1997

Better late than never

My Dear Satellite

I thought the best way to begin the New Year was to send you season's greetings belatedly of course, but I know you wouldn't mind that!

Now, Satellite the New Year is always a good time to do something new and I just wondered what you were up to when I heard that you were across the straits with the kids (and Radi in attendance, of course) saying Namasthe' to old Dewe Gowda - not quite like the good old days when you could go to some hotel and party the thirty first night away, is it?

Nothing much happened while you were away, but then, there are those who say that nothing much has happened ever since you took office two years ago except for the bombs at Kolonnawa, the Central Bank and Dehiwela!

But, Satellite, I also heard that Rajan, your PERC chap has tendered his resignation. Now, everyone knows he's a genuine guy but I always thought he was a bit eccentric especially since he pooh-poohed that 150,000 rupee salary you gave him.

Now, just for comparison, consider Thilan. You offer him a hundred thousand and he grabs it with both hands, the smart kid that he is. Now, don't grieve over losing Rajan. After all, how could you put the country's privatisation programme in the hands of someone who rejects a tax free net profit of a hundred and fifty thousand? No wonder privatisation ran into such a lot of trouble!

Then, there are these media chaps, Satellite. Aren't they always finding fault with you? See, you had the censorship for their own good but they were howling in protest, so you lifted it. And what do they do? Broadcast false stories over TV and get charged under the Prevention of Terrorism Act! Now, if the censorship was on, that story would never have been allowed and no one would have had to go to the fourth floor!

Satellite, I also heard Richard was busy changing the university entrance scheme these last few days, scrapping the district quota system. Now, I'll bet my last rupee someone will blame you for that too, saying that the new scheme will help only the big schools in Colombo and, yes, of course, those International' schools. Take my word, Satellite, and be prepared!

Now, I really must conclude and rush this to the post box, but it appears I'm already late, for I just heard that Mangala has raised the postal charges to two fifty since the first of January. How dare he!

Yours truly,

Punchi Putha

PS - give my regards to Akka, Amma, the kids and Mallo ( Oops, sorry - I'll send a Separate letter to him!)

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