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The Fifth Column

4th July 1999

Doctors settle to resume work

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My dear Siripala,

I thought of writing to you this week after seeing you daily on the television these past few days, fighting with those nasty chaps, the doctors.

I must say Siripala, that you put up a brave show though your task was a difficult one because the Cabinet was not willing to grant what it had promised only a few months ago.

But then, there you were quite impressive when you said you had bent backwards to please the doctors for the sake of the patients- 'namyasheeli', I think, was the word you used. Still, for the life of me I cannot picture you bending your hourglass figure to do anything at all, leave alone for the sake of patients!

Anyway, now we all know you were doing it for the sake of Satellite and you can rest assured that she is pleased. After all, it must have been pretty embarrassing for you to come on television one day and say that she couldn't meet the doctors until the twelfth of July and then, on the very next day announce that she was willing to meet them on Friday.

After all, what do these doctor chaps know about such things, Siripala? The lady was supposed to take off to Nepal and what do these heartless chaps do? They threaten to ruin her vacation by continuing their silly strike! And if she took her hard-earned vacation without settling the strike, those UNP chaps would have jumped up and down saying she was holidaying while poor patients were suffering!

Why, even when she says that she cannot meet them until the twelfth, they made a big issue about it asking whether Satellite can't find an hour to spare for them. The problem is, Siripala, they don't know that the lady has to spend some time packing her bags, deciding what sarees to wear and getting her hair done and that these things take time.

So, Siripala, it was left to you to convey the messages to the doctors and to the public and I must tell you, you did a very good job of it. And of course Satellite owes you a favour for organising those protests against the docs too.

You know Siripala, whoever thought of asking local thugs to organise those protests was a genius. There they were on TV, making statements on behalf of suffering patients and looking so genuine when in fact all that they must have been thinking about was the buriyani packet provided by the organisers!

Do tell Satellite that this is a very good strategy that is much more effective than JRJ's bicycle chain gangs in the eighties. This should stand her in good stead in any future strike, so ask her to keep it in mind. Of course, it was a bit embarrassing when Satellite eventually met the docs on Friday and virtually granted all their demands. It made us wonder what all the fuss was about and why this couldn't have been done earlier. Of course, we do know that Satellite is usually late but seventeen days is too late even by her high standards.

The problem was, Siripala, that it was made to appear as if you were the cause of the delay in settling the issue but then you can't help it, can you? Especially under this government you must be knowing that when something goes wrong it is the minister's fault but when something is settled Satellite takes the credit. Don't worry too much about that, Siripala, just thank your lucky stars that you were not forced to resign!

Anyway, all we can do now is to hope for the best and expect everyone to live happily ever after. Let us hope then that the Wayamba fellow- Navinna- doesn't upset the applecart now with his silly petitions. That will ruin Satellite's birthday vacation after all!

Yours truly,

Punchi Putha.

PS- I heard that some chaps in Kurunegala were refusing to pump petrol to doctor's vehicles. Now, Siripala, that is a dangerous strategy. What if the doctors say we will not treat politicians? If that happens you will not be treated if you fall ill and doctors also will lose a sizeable slice of their practice- except of course, the neurologists whom you politicians don't need to consult anyway!

The Jungle Telegraph

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