05 February 2015

Mangala flushes stuff down the tube

Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera is well known for gaffes.  One can’t blame him.  He’s an honest politician.  With Mangala, what you see is what you get.  If he trips it is because he has been careless about where he puts his foot.  If he puts it in his mouth it is just because he doesn’t know any better.  But in a PARALLEL UNIVERSE it would be different.  He would be honest and smart. 
He did visit such a parallel universe recently, i.e. just after returning from India.  Reflecting on the visit, he smiled.  He thought about all the people he had met and everything he had said and thought to himself, ‘I was good, very good’.   Then he thought about his meeting with a group of Indian journalists. Then he frowned.  Then he started sweating.  Then he had to rush to the toilet.  And he thought.  He read Maithripala Sirisena’s manifesto.  He read the 100 Days’ Program.  This is what went through his tortured mind.

What on earth was I saying?  I must have been out of my mind.  When I spoke about Tamils and reconciliation did I really ask, rhetorically of course, ‘there are already lots of proposals made to achieve national reconciliation, such as the Thimpu Proposals, the Mangala Moonesinghe Proposals, the CBK Proposals, so why go for a new Parliament Select Committee?’?  Did I actually say ‘There’s no need to reinvent the wheel’?

What was I thinking?  All that is old hat.  Everyone, including those who voted for Maithri knows that the vast majority will have no truck with any of those proposals.  They all know how each of those proposals was a glorified kappam, something like a weak, cowardly kid paying the school bully to stop himself from being harassed.  Those were all appease-the-tiger proposals.  No one took them seriously back then and now that the LTTE is out of the equation people will laugh. 

I was right in saying there’s no need to reinvent the wheel.  But we are talking of wheels here.  We are talking of a road called ‘One Way to Eelam’.  I am going to get creamed for what I said.  Damn it, I should have kept my big mouth shut! 

I should have stuck to the script.  The script was pretty clear.  It’s all there in Maithri’s manifesto.  Or rather, it’s NOT there in the manifesto. Nothing about devolution. Nothing about any of these proposals.  Nothing about road maps.  Nothing about wheels, inventing or reinventing them.  How on earth did I forget that this was not about those issues but about getting the system right, but only about constitutional reform, rule of law, good governance, transparency and accountability?

Someone is going to throw the manifesto at me.  Someone else will throw the 100-Days’ Program at me.  There isn’t a single word in either document about this ethnic conflict stuff.  There’s only some vague reference to inter-religious harmony, nothing about Tamils, nothing about minorities, nothing about grievances and aspirations. 

I can’t even say that there are other things in a country that need to be addressed but are not referred to in either of these documents because Maithri and Ranil are studiously avoiding important reforms promised such as changing the system of proportional representation.  It would be as though we were not serious about Maithree-Paalanaya and the 100 Days’ Program and were interested in other things.  In other words that we took some 6.1 million people for a ride.  We can’t afford to let people think that, not at this stage.  But damn me! Damn me! Damn me!  Why on earth couldn’t I keep my mouth shut? 

And with that Mangala Samaraweera took his copies of the manifesto and the 100 Days’ Program and stuffed them both into the toilet bowl.  He flushed them down the tube.  Then he released a massive sigh of relief.  In a parallel universe, in case you missed the qualifier.