5th Column

A lot of acting

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My dear Justice Wijey,

I wanted to write to you after hearing that you too had been appointed as ‘Acting Chairman’ of the Blue Party, this time by those led by Aiyo Sirisena. We really don’t know whether to laugh or to cry. It is honestly difficult to decide whether this is a comedy or a tragedy for what was once a great Party.

So, let us get this straight. You have been appointed as ‘Acting Chairman’ by Aiyo Sirisena’s group. Before that, Satellite got Nimal Sleepy de Silva as ‘Acting Chairman.’ Then, both of you are also in the same Cabinet, under Uncle Ranil. There sure is a lot of ‘acting’ going on in the Blue Party!

The last we heard, Satellite’s team has gone to court, stopping you from functioning as ‘Acting Chairman.’ I suppose Aiyo Sirisena and your team can go to courts now and get an order to prevent Nimal Sleepy de Silva from ‘Acting’ as well and the Blue Party will be well and truly leaderless.

This ridiculous drama aside, Justice Wijey, many ask why you took this sudden step to try and become the leader of the Blues at probably the worst time in their history. It is not as if you were being seriously considered as a national leader, especially after the many somersaults you have performed.

If memory serves us right, you began your political journey 20 years ago and it was from the Blue Party indeed. You did resign from a ministerial position under Mahinda maama and did some good work heading that committee called ‘COPE,’ yes, that same committee now headed by ‘Raththaran.’

That was the time you were making your mark as a young, smart politician who wanted to make a difference. After what you found out in your ‘COPE’ job you could no longer stay in that Government, so you crossed over to the Opposition and Uncle Ranil was keen to welcome you to the Green Party.

You stayed with Uncle Ranil and was rewarded when he became PM under Aiyo Sirisena, being appointed to the Justice portfolio you so desperately wanted. That was short-lived though. The Greens wanted you sacked after you criticised the sale of the Hambantota Port and Aiyo Sirisena sacked you.

Until then, you played the role of the principled politician to the hilt, but thereafter you showed your true colours. When Aiyo Sirisena formed his ‘unconstitutional’ 52-day government that was later declared illegal by the highest court in the land, you were back in the Cabinet as a minister!

In the last few years, we saw your decline from being a bright young man who we thought had integrity to becoming like the rest: power hungry, opportunistic and always looking for a ‘deal’ that will get you ahead, rather than what is best for the country. So, you became known as ‘Deal Dasa.’

Your skirmishes with the Field Marshall (who you called a ‘Vel Vidaaney’) and the big-mouthed dentist, as well as the stories about Avant Garde and X-Press Pearl haven’t enhanced your reputation. Like GL before you, you proved that being learned in the law doesn’t always make a good politician.

Now, it seems as if you just go along with whoever that has the best chance of winning. In that respect you and Nimal Sleepy De Silva are no different. And weren’t you really hurt when Gota maama snubbed you, not offering the Justice portfolio after you left the Greens and joined the ‘pohottuwa’?

That is why you were so happy when the ‘aragalaya’ succeeded in dethroning Gota maama and Uncle Ranil invited you to take over the subject of Justice again. He would have been happy too because he wanted someone who is able to oversee all the controversial laws that he was planning to introduce.

You didn’t do very well in that task too. Laws introduced under your watch were challenged in the highest court by ordinary citizens. Dozens of amendments were suggested. Either you are losing your touch as a lawyer or you were doing as you were told and literally being a ‘President’s Counsel’!

What you are doing now is a whole different game, though, thinking of running for the top job. Many are those who think ‘If Aiyo Sirisena and Gota can do it, why can’t I?’ I suspect you thought so too. Just remember though, both of them have now become the laughingstock of the country.

For a little boy who began life in Walasmulla in Hambantota, you have come a long way, but you have now lost the trust you once enjoyed. Also, after 20 years in politics, you haven’t learnt that simple lesson: disaster awaits those who trust Aiyo Sirisena. If you doubt that, just ask Mahinda maama!

Yours truly,

Punchi Putha

PS: What’s in a name, they often ask. In your case, it is everything. The people have had their fill of anyone with the ‘R’ Name from Hambantota. Your name is spelt differently and you are not one of them, but voters are not ready to hand over the country to another ‘R’ from Hambantota, Justice Wijey.