The Fifth Column

15th June 1997

Kicking them up, down and out!

“Sudu Neluma pipunaa...” Bindu Udagedara was singing to himself.

“Why are you singing that song now, Bindu?” asked Percy, Bindu’s father.

“Why, thaaththa, now we will all have to learn that song...”

“Why do you say that?”

“Why thaaththa, Mr. Nelum has been made the new Media Minister.”

“And he has already started in style...”

“Ah, he must be busy buying bottles of arrack these days...”

“Why do you say that, Bindu?”

“Why thaaththa, he said journalists can be bought for a bottle of arrack...”

“So now,” said Percy, “We have a Fashion Designer and an actor in charge of all our media...”

“I’m sure they will take us to a world of make-believe,” said Bindu.

“But that may be better than having a Lawyer in charge of Health...”

“Ah,” Bindu said, “Simenthipala has become Saukhyapala...”

“And for the Health sector it might be ‘Kabalen Lipata’....”

“I think,” Bindu said, “Satellite must have taken a look at him, realised how unhealthy he looks and decided it was best to put him in charge of the Health Ministry...”

“And poor Fowzie had to go...”

“But at least, he had the guts to throw his documents at Satellite’s face and walk away...”

“But didn’t he say that if the Health Ministry was taken away from him, he would resign?”

“This Government,” Bindu said, “is full of people who say a lot of things but never do what they say...”

“But,” Percy said, “the unkindest cut of all was on Mahinda...”

“Just imagine Mahinda catching fish...”

“Don’t worry, Bindu,” Percy said, “he said before the reshuffle he doesn’t mind even the Buddha Sasana Ministry...”

“This is what happens when you try to become a reporter...”

“But what about Srimani?”

“It looks like CV had his pound of flesh, after all...”

“Well, she kept reminding Satellite about the Executive Presidency when everybody else had forgotten about it and this is what happens...”

“But thaaththa,” Bindu said, “Some Ministers have not been changed; why is that?”

“We have to presume their performance has been good, like for instance our good Professor...”

“Why, what has happened to him...?”

“He is the only Minister who has a title longer than his name...”

“Why, what is his title now?”

“He is the Minister of Justice, Constitutional Affairs, Ethnic Affairs and National Integration and the Deputy Minister of Finance....”

“But thaaththa, why did they take so many new ministers? I thought Satellite promised us there would be only 20 ministers and no more, to reduce unnecessary expenses on vehicles, telephones, and secretaries...”

“Look at the brighter side of it, Bindu. Now there will be thirty ministers leaking Cabinet secrets...”

“But, what is the purpose of this reshuffle, thaaththa?”

“Officially, to increase productivity, guide Sri Lanka’s destiny towards the next century and to re-introduce clean and honest Government...”


“Unofficially, to get rid of Srimani, to send a message to Mahinda and Dharmasiri, to get more control over the media through Mangala and also to make a few party faithfuls happy...”

“But thaaththa, instead of all this drama, why doesn’t Satellite just pick the best man for each job?”

“We can’t blame her for not doing that, Bindu...”


“Because we didn’t pick the best woman for the best job...” Percy said.

Bindu didn’t know whether he should agree with that.

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