The Fifth Column

4th May 1997

Remembering people

“Thaththa” Bindu Udagedera asked, “Who is this B.C. Perera?”

“I think” said Percy Udagedara, Bindu’s father,” he is now the Secretary to the Treasury.”

“Then, why are so many people finding fault with him?”

“I think that was because he was on a committee that revised salaries of government employees...”

“Then he hasn’t done a proper job”

“Why do you say that ....”

“Why, everybody is blaming him for not giving them proper salary increases”

“Who are these people?”

“Why, first the doctors went on strike; now the nurses want to go on strike. Then, all the universities are closed because their staff is on strike.”

“This is the problem with this government” Percy observed.

“Why do you say that?”

“Why, the previous government didn’t even talk of a salary increase but no one complained. But, with this government, even after giving a salary increase, everybody is on strike saying the increase is not enough.”

“But thaththa,” Bindu, said,” even with all these disputes everyone got together to celebrate May Day.”

“But” Percy said,” did you notice that some people conveniently forgot our former President who was killed on May Day?”

“Who was that?”

“Why, the government newspapers never mentioned him, though they had pictures of people garlanding statues of A. E. Goonesinghe and T. B. Illangaratne.”

“But thaththa, this government didn’t like the former President”

“This said Percy,” is the problem with all our governments. Each government tries to erase everything the previous government did.”

“Why do you say that?”

“For example, when the SLFP is in power Bandaranaike Day is celebrated in style on September twenty sixth with live TV coverage but the Senanayakes and Premadasas are conveniently forgotten. Then, when the UNP is in power the completely ignore Bandaranaike Day and honour their party heroes.”

“But thaththa, “Bindu said,” one man didn’t forget Premadasa’s anniversary.”

“Who is that”

“Why Sira, he returned to the country for the anniversary though he knew he might face problems on his return”

“Or” Percy said,” we don’t know whether he timed his return to coincide with the much talked of Cabinet reshuffle.”

“But Thaththa” Bindu argued, “there was no Cabinet reshuffle.”

“And perhaps with good reason”, Percy said.

“Why do you say that?”

“Why Satellite must have thought ‘why should I shuffle the pack of cards, when there are only jokers in it” Percy said.

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