If you pay peanuts, you get monkeys!

What price cabinet brains ?


True. Cheap things no good and good things no cheap but the question is whether debt-ridden Lanka can ill afford to hire the best brains at such exorbitantly high prices to sit in cabinet to solve the myriad problems that beset her today.

True also that Lanka is facing the worst financial crisis since god knows when. True the hoped for direct investments upon which the government had placed its economic resurgence have still not arrived at our shores. True, too, that on every front, there is some sort of calamity occurring. And compounding it all, the country faces the worst drought it has suffered in years. True also that to solve these immense problems, it calls for the highest expertise available no matter the price?

But this week when a former Central Bank Governor Dr. W.A. Wijewardena announced that a study made by him had revealed that each cabinet minister costs Rs. 8.5 million to maintain per month, he set the alarm bells ringing in every strata of society.

Theme cartoon googled and added by TWImage result for political monkey cartoon

But though the world’s sole superpower the United States of America makes do with only 16 cabinet ministers, Lanka’s myriad woes are such that she can barely trot ahead with 47. That would bring the monthly bill to Rs 400 million per month or to nearly Rs 5 billion every year.

Dr. W.A. Wijewardena warned that this was a sum that the present government, experiencing as it does severe difficulties on the economic front, could not afford to squander on the cabinet. Of course he did not say nor will anyone else for that matter mutter that these special men and women possessing the highest intelligence quotients, were not worth every cent and rupee in the monthly 400 million paid to them for warming the cabinet seats they occupied but it only raises the question whether, given the dire financial situation, Lanka could afford the best brains to solve her woes?

It is the typical Catch 22 situation. If you don’t pay them, the problems will not be solved. If you pay them, the expense will add to the problems.

But financial reality must demand that one’s coat must be cut to one’s cloth. Perhaps the government should realise that paying the best experts such exorbitant sums, even though they fully deserve it, in order to solve Lanka’s problems is something that the state can no longer afford. And perhaps the time has come to go down a notch or two in the expertise stakes and settle for a lesser brainy rear to warm the ministerial seat at a more affordable sum.

It is commonly said, if you pay peanuts, you get monkeys. But sometimes such are the quirks in the business, financial, political world of life, that even if you pay millions, you still end up with monkeys. That’s if you are lucky. Most often its mules.

Ban, ban, ban: Political monk raises magic ban wand against big matches

JHU PATRON OMALPE THERA: Ban all big matches

A small group of politically bent Buddhist monks, led by the Patron of the Jathika Hela Urumaya (JHU), Ven. Omalpe Sobitha Thera, held a press conference on Monday to address the moral issue of banning ‘Big Matches’ on the grounds of alcohol consumption by students.

Leaving political activism for once, they turned their focus on the fifth precept, namely the one that deals with the need to refrain from consuming intoxicants. The political Thera Omalpe who compromised on the Buddha’s Vinaya Code for monks to refrain from engaging in politics, when he became one of the founders of the JHU at its inception in 2004 which espoused Sinhala nationalism, called for the total ban of big matches, saying it was the bane of society and should be prohibited forthwith in the name of morality.

Addressing a news conference on Monday held at the Government Information Department, Ven. Omalpe Sobitha Thera stated: “Big matches should be banned in the name of morality. It acts like a platform for promotion of alcohol among students. The principals and authorities, including past students should take the responsibility and ban these matches. If not, the law enforcement authorities should ban them. Big matches and related events had become public nuisance today. Students consume alcohol and then damage public properties,”

He may be right of course. Except that bans generally seem to have the opposite effect to the one desired. It becomes the forbidden fruit whose taste become irresistible and may, indeed, lure the novice to taste it to see what the fuss is all about. Even as it did for Eve in the Garden of Eden when God forbade her from eating a particular fruit.

EDUCATION MINISTER AKILA: Can’t ban big matches

Education Minister Akila Kariyawasam seems not to agree with the monk’s blanket ban on matches. On Tuesday, he told the media: “We can’t ban school big matches. It is not a practical move to tackle students’ undisciplined actions. We have had discussions with school principals recently to take preventive measures to tackle possible violent incidents among students during the impending school sports season. And we have also have given instructions to law enforcement authorities including the Police Chief to take action to minimize incidents causing public nuisance during big matches.”

Seems a more sensible way of tackling a problem, does it not? And a more Buddhist way, too.

The Buddha’s approach to lead the people on the right road was through persuasion, not through wielding the stick. Perhaps it is time for the few Buddhist monks who adopt the ayatollah stance to ban everything under the sun that meets their displeasure, to revaluate how they convey the Buddha’s sublime message of tolerance and the fine art of persuasion to lead men on the right track. That ignorance as to the folly of evil cannot be wished away with a simple ban. And while they are it, read the Vinaya Code, too, which lays down the disciplines required of a monk. Especially the parts that deal with the rules of monks handling money and taking part in politics,

Things cannot be changed merely because a political monk raises his finger like a school master flashing his cane and tells the public on television that this or that must be banned and implies political action if it is not.

Whilst students’ drunken behaviour cannot be condoned in anyway, perhaps it’s the parents fault for not setting the right example to the children.

Maybe the monk should have used his media opportunity to also call for a ban on May Day rallies. It also provides a license, does it not, for the adults to have a rollicking drunken time on free booze given by the organizers to attend the marches on public roads in the noon day sun? And ‘acts like a platform for promotion of alcohol’ among adults for the young to emulate their elders come Big Match Day.

No hanky, no cry

Children’s handkerchiefs declared dangerous firebombs in the House

LOCAL LAENSUE: Fiery panky in the Lankan hanky

If Guy Fawkes used fireworks in his bid to burn down the House of Westminster, Lanka’s Parliamentary officials fear school children will use their nose blowing handkerchiefs to set fire and blow up the House of Diyawanna.
On Tuesday a hanky belonging to a child who was in the Parliament’s Visitors’ Gallery fell on a lamp and caused a minor fire which was instantly doused.

What did the authorities do thereafter to prevent a recurrence? Did they remove the lamp from that position? Did they cover the lamp with a mesh to prevent any inflammable object falling upon it in the future? No, why go to such lengths when the solution is so close at hand?
They banned schoolchildren from taking hankies to the gallery. On Thursday, after the hanky had been declared a dangerous firebomb, a table outside the gallery was covered with an assortment of handkerchiefs. Children had to surrender the offending item upon entry and could collect them only on exit. Perhaps tags with numbers on it were also issued to the owners to identify ownership of the 25 square inch of cloth to avoid disputing claims.

For crying out loud, can you think of a dumber solution? What next? Will it now be the turn of reporters to be banned from carrying their notebooks since paper too can easily catch fire?

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