5th Column

Washing dirty linen in public

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My dear ‘other’ Mahinda,

I am writing to congratulate you on surviving the motion of no confidence against you moved by some in the opposition. It was a comfortable ‘victory’ too because some 117 MPs voted to support you, a creditable achievement because the ‘pohottuwa’ party is divided into so many camps now.

Is it true that the debate on the motion of no confidence was to be for two days but was extended to three days? This is not to give the opposition more time to wash your dirty linen in public but to allow MPs who were overseas to return, so there were sufficient numbers to defeat the motion, they say.

We heard many nasty remarks about you during the three-day debate but, on the bright side, people have become familiar with your double-barrelled surname now. All these days, the only Mahinda they knew was Mahinda maama. Now they know there is another, perhaps equally important Mahinda.

You have made history, ‘other’ Mahinda. Others who have held your office, such as Anura the Crown Prince and Karu, earned their place in history by the dignified and distinguished manner in which they conducted themselves. You made history by having a no confidence motion against you!

The opposition accuses you of not being impartial and doing the government’s bidding. Why wouldn’t you, when they have appointed you, older than both Mahinda maama and Uncle Ranil and younger only to Vasu and Sampanthan, as the third most important citizen of this Paradise of ours?

The main accusation against you is that you ignored rulings of the highest court in the land in signing the Online Safety Bill into law. You say that all you did was to rubber stamp what the MPs voted for. Did it ever occur to you that what they endorsed and what the courts wanted were very different?

In the past, legislation has been sent to the highest court to see whether it is in keeping with our Constitution. When it is not, Parliament respected that and made changes. It takes a man like you, ‘other’ Mahinda, to be the government’s lap dog and tell the highest court to mind its own business! 

Then there was that minor matter about our Siddhalepa IGP. I am sure you must have been greatly worried about the deadlock in the Constitutional Council depriving the country of an IGP. This is probably why you came up with this ingenious theory that would have astounded even Isaac Newton.

In the Constitutional Council, you said the two abstentions and the two votes against the Siddhalepa IGP count as four votes against. That allowed you to use your vote for him. That defies all logic but again you being the government’s lap dog, allowing them to do what they want to do!

If you use the same calculation for the last presidential election, Gota maama polled 43 per cent of the total registered voters, 40 per cent voted against him and 17 per cent didn’t vote. So, Gota maama shouldn’t be elected because 57 per cent were against him. So, who knows, maybe you were right!

Still, where you slipped up is by not using your vote at the meeting of the Council. You ended the meeting and then quietly wrote a letter to Uncle Ranil saying you are using your casting vote to appoint the Siddhalepa IGP. So, ‘other’ Mahinda, why should we still address you as ‘Honourable’?

We also recall how you ‘protected’ democracy by allowing Premalal from Ratnapura, better known as ‘Choka malli’, who was convicted of murder at the time, to attend Parliament but denied that privilege to ‘One Shot’ Ranjan who was convicted of contempt of court. Ah, the decisions you have made!

There was also that inquiry against the British Diana, not the late princess but the one who thinks that she is one, for engaging in a brawl with two other MPs. Allegedly, her suspension from Parliament was for three months but that was reduced to a month. That too happened under your watch, didn’t it?

The Opposition accuse you of nepotism, but then, how can we blame you for that when you are only following the other Mahinda’s example?

What is baffling about all this, ‘other’ Mahinda, is your actions decades ago. Few remember that you opposed the mighty JR and his Indo-Lanka Accord initially but then turned around. You then defied the autocratic Preme and joined Lalith and Gamini to rebel against his style of rule.

Whatever happened to that courageous man of conscience and principles? At what point did you lose your backbone to the point of ignoring court rulings and all accepted norms? Think about that, as you bask in the afterglow of your ‘victory’, ‘other’ Mahinda.

Yours truly,

Punchi Putha


PS: Though the highest court hasn’t intervened so far, many say you can still face consequences for ignoring their advice. Remember how Keheliya was gloating after winning his no confidence motion. Where is he today? You wouldn’t want that for your retirement, would you, ‘other’ Mahinda?