Jokers as politicians and political clowns

The mighty deed, they say, has at last been done. The Great Reshuffle is complete. The world saw, turned on its side and sighed, and returned to sleep, tired of Sri Lankan gimmickry. I remember an old Latin saying which, in English, went something like this — the mountains are in labour and the result is a ridiculous mouse. Since the earth shattering shake-up initiated by the two main prongs of the yahapalana government last week even the mice, ridiculous or not, have gone into hiding.

Mahinda Rajapaksa, never short of a joke or two, seems to think that the very mention of Field Marshal Fonseka as Minister of Wildlife has driven rodents and bigger beasts into forest cover though why that should happen he did not expatiate.

Anyway whether all the rats bolted into the shrubbery or hid among those mounds of discarded mattresses, in which some politicians hide their dubiously acquired and undeclared assets, will only be known when this Government resorts to its perennial pastime of appointing committees. A committee or two will absorb another few lawyers with time on their hands and nothing in their pockets.

Now you know how the UNP leaders promised at the beginning of time (of yahapalana) to create a million jobs besides finding more permanent ones for those who had for years hovered around Race Course Avenue where their fathers learnt the way before them and some of their sons lost the way.

So if the people are still laughing, holding their sides for additional ballast in case the spreading hilarity drives them to roll all over the manicured gardens of Temple Trees and Janadhipathi Mandiraya and crush the staple therein meant for some political repast. That part of the citizenry excludes the angry millions who were gnashing their nationalistic molars and threatening to deal in various ways with any politicians who passed within radar range. For three years those increasingly disgruntled people have listened to prevaricating politicians and heard all about corruption, abuse and fraud that the people were told will be eliminated in one fell sweep.

Yet the man who once held the Putin-presented Kastane and only recently threatened to do unto to others what he himself once did to his then leader, has lost even the semblance of courage he once possessed and is now clinging to illegal coastal structures to steady his shaky political future, helped by more of the misleading kind and other miscreants despite all the boasts about applying the rule of law.

So all those broken promises and lies now lie heaped high alongside the garbage dumps at Meethotamulla that not too long ago the Man about Mirissa, Minister Musthapha promised the Meethotamulla denizens would be cleared pronto and the sweet smell of clean governance fill the air, if I remember correctly the news reports of the day.

But then promises made with such assurance and certainty are like those mirages that our politicians surely witness during their sojourns in the sandy splendours now no longer restricted to tales from the Arabian Nights and the lavish bourdoirs of the Gulf sheikhdoms.

Whether the populace enjoying the comic interludes that pass for governance and those who would like to lay their hands on a politician or two to yell a couple of words into their seemingly deaf ears are in the same proportion I know not. But one thing is certain. Today’s politicians especially those who hoodwinked the people more than three years ago and lured them to vote for the common candidate and his faithful lackeys, are better advised to keep a good distance away from an angry citizenry.

The jokes that are floating around the country, be they via social media or in the country’s numerous watering holes such as in Mirissa, where foreign tourists are beaten up to add to the delectation of the locals probably consuming illicit brew at unlicensed holes in the cadjan walls, are so hilarious that recovering from laughter takes time and sometimes requires the medical attention of GMOA doctors — that is when they are not blocking Colombo streets or have downed their stethoscopes.

There were hoots of laughter, we are told by very authoritative sources in Colombo’s cricket-playing watering holes, at the President’s announcement that Faiszer Musthapha had been made Sports Minister. Not because he is another FRCS (Former Royal College Student) to add to the motley crew that has taken control of Sirikotha.

It is because he has already shown his prowess at playing pandu as amply demonstrated by his adept handling of the numerous pieces of local government legislation that had to be looked at thrice over leaving many a law maker scratching his bald pate or tugging his hirsute face, which I dare say looked more presentable, covered as it is.

Asked why the former captain had such confidence that playing pandu was in safe hands he had regaled the other imbibers of the brew that is true with a tale from down under — no not from where the Kangaroos come but that coastal town from where Blue Wales are spotted.

Well, said the captain, whose classic batsmanship had been always admired by the spectators of Wanathamulla to the elephants and other four-legged creatures passing by the Sooriyawewa international stadium, only the other day our newly appointed overseer of Sri Lanka’s sporting world had heard of some foul play on the beaches of Mirissa where some poor Dutch men and women tourists had numerous bouncers bowled at them quite contrary to the ICC rules and Sumathipala’s instructions to all pandu playing clubs.

After all if Sumathipala and Co, now running the game of cricket in the country, do not know what playing pandu with the game is after many years of practice, who for heaven sake would? Take a look at the listings. Even the people of Afghanistan who have been fighting the Russians and then the Americans and the British have overtaken us in the T20I rankings.

It will not be long before our Sports Minister and his happy crew travel to Kabul to hire a couple of Taliban coaches. But with all the suicide attacks going on round there they might well want to stay undercover or search for a couple of fast bowling coaches in the Maldives where the first bouncer lands in the Indian Ocean among the shoals of tuna.

Earlier last week that master craftsman of economic teaching, Sri Lanka’s leading Keynesian, made such a stunning statement that it rattled the monetary dovecotes and the fiscal wellbeing of our officials and the physical wellbeing of Bandula Gunawardena MP.

This arch analyst of the Joint Opposition said the other day that MPs should not be taxed. Seeing that they are taxing the people enough with the rubbish they let loose on the people with loose tongues and even looser anatomical structures above the neck, they probably need a reprieve.

But doubtless the economic mastermind who is said to have taught hundreds how to count and the novel principle of demand and supply where you buy more than you require and pocket the rest, would indeed win rounds of sustained applause if he were to stand up in the House and say no taxes for us, thank you.

It is of course known that however much you shuffle the pack the same jokers remain. And one is increasingly rising to the top by discarding all those principles that not long ago he promised to uphold.

A statement from the President’s Media Division, referring to the action taken against two senior officials, one of them from the President’s Secretariat said:

President Maithripala Sirisena today instructed officials to suspend the services of a senior official attached to the Presidential Secretariat and the Chairman of the State Timber Corporation (STC) who were facing bribery allegations and advised the authorities to strictly enforce the law against the two offenders.

It also said that the “President was pleased with the independent and impartial background created by the present government to ensure that the law enforcement authorities are able to perform their duties independently.”

That is all very nice. But why did the President, probably egged on by a minister or two, stop officials of the Coastal Conservation Department which comes under the president from doing their duty by demolishing illegal structures in the coastal belt in Mirissa. Why were these officials who were ready to act lawfully stopped from doing so while other officials are being encouraged to do their duty?

Is there one law for some and another law for others? Is this a joke? Strange are the ways of yahapalana politics?

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