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The Fifth Column

3rd January 1999

Better early than late

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"Thaaththa," Bindu Udagedera asked, "what do you think will happen in this New Year?"

"What do you mean?" Percy Udagedera, Bindu's father asked, puzzled.

"What could happen to all those people who made headlines in 1998?"

"I think," Percy said, "the first headlines in 1999 will be made by those involved in the Wayamba elections...."

"And," Bindu said, "if the government party wins, we could see many more elections in other Provincial Councils...."

"And that means much more violence and other incidents...."

"What about the violence in the War?...."

"I suppose the General will continue to say throughout 1999 that ninety five percent of the war is over...."

"And," Bindu said, "that percentage is likely to remain at ninety five because the war will not be over in 1999 as well....."

"Yes," Percy agreed, "but that won't stop the Professor from trying to sell his package this year too...."

"Nor will it stop Satellite from making promises to the people...."

"Promises she never keeps....." Percy grumbled.

"Give her more time," Bindu said, "After all, Thaaththa, she has had only four years. Remember, her motto is, 'Better late than never'....."

"But she won't be late in one thing....." Percy said.

"What's that?" Bindu wanted to know.

"In calling elections....."

"Why Thaaththa," do you think Satellite will hold elections in 1999?"

"I suppose that decision will be influenced by what happens at Wayamba," Percy said, "but it is certainly better early than late....."

"Then, Thaaththa," Bindu asked, "what about the other major event in 1999?"

"What's that?"

"Why Thaaththa, the only other event that the whole nation will be looking forward to, the Cricket World Cup?"

"Well," said Percy, "unless they win the World Cup again everybody will start blaming them again....."

"And if they don't win, poor S.B. can't jump in front of the TV cameras when Arjuna goes to receive the Cup, like he did last time....."

"But don't worry," Percy assured, "S.B. can get enough publicity when the 'Samurdhi' people take to the streets....."

"Then Thaaththa," Bindu queried, "what do you think will happen to the opposition in 1999?"

"That is what I have been thinking about too....." Percy said.

"Why do you say that?"

"Because," said Percy, "in the early seventies when the Queen Bee was in power, we probably had the worst government and the best opposition, led by the Old Fox...."

"And then?"

"And then, the Old Fox took over and we had the best government and the worst opposition....."

"Then what happened?"

"Then RP took over and we probably had the best government because, it got so much work done, but also the best opposition to counter the bad side of the government....."

"And what has happened now?"

"That is the problem Bindu," Percy said.

"Why do you say that?"

"Now is the time of the worst government and the worst opposition....." was Percy's reply.

Rajpal Abeynayake's Column

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