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The Fifth Column

28th February 1999

Voter no fool anymore

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"Thaaththa" Bindu Udagedara asked, "What do you think will happen at the elections?"

"Well", said Percy Udagedara, Bindu's father, "We might even see another Wayamba...."

"I don't think so, thaaththa", Bindu said.

"Why do you say that?"

"Why Satellite has met Ranil and they have set up a joint committee to monitor the elections..." Bindu argued.

"Do you think setting up a committee will solve the problem?" Percy asked.

"At least, it will discourage rigging...."

"Don't forget that a committee has been appointed to find out what happened at Wayamba...."

"But thaaththa, things are getting better, aren't they?"

"Why do you say that?"

"Why, Karu and Susil have agreed to have a decent campaign in the Western Province; they might even campaign from the same stage, they say....."

"That will be an achievement, if they can really do it" Percy agreed.

"Then, we might see that happening in other provinces too...."

"I'm not so optimistic about that", Percy said.

"Then, what do you think should be done?" Bindu wanted to know.

"Well, G.L. wants to scrap the 'Manaapa' system...."

"That's only understandable, thaaththa."

"Why do you say that?"

"Why, thaaththa, people like him might not survive if they have to be elected through the 'Manaapa' system. Remember, he came from the National List...."

"So what makes you think that he can't get 'manaape's...."

"Why, thaaththa, whenever something goes wrong in the government, all the people blame him, sometimes unfairly. So many people have a 'amanaape' with him...."

"So, Bindu, what do you think will happen?"

"Well, the least we can hope for is a free and fair election...."

"But, remember, it will be held on the first of April, April Fools' Day...."

"The question is" Bindu said, "who's fooling whom...."

"Then," said Percy, "it is better if all those concerned remember one thing...."

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

"You might be able to fool the people in Wayamba all the time. You might even be able to fool people in all the other provinces some of the time. But you won't be able to fool people in all the other provinces all the time....."

Bindu didn't disagree.

Rajpal Abeynayake's Column

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