Shuffle the pack, get rid of the jokers

My dear Maithri,

I thought I must write to you when I heard that you had spoken about what seemed like a Cabinet reshuffle — giving a ‘better’ portfolio for Mahinda from the south, not the Mahinda that we all talk about but the other Mahinda, also from Hambantota who switched his loyalties and is now with you.

You had said that the Ministry of Fisheries was not good enough for Mahinda and you were thinking of changing that and giving him a subject where he could serve the entire country. Surely, Maithri, this must be the first instance where someone announced a Cabinet reshuffle in public!

Anyway, why I thought of writing to you was to make a few suggestions if you are indeed making a Cabinet reshuffle, although you must be careful about talking of fisheries as being an ‘unimportant’ subject. After all, Mahinda maama was once in charge of fisheries and he went to the top from there!

To begin with, Maithri, I think you should put Mangala in charge of Tourism. He wants the entire international community to come to our country, look at what we are doing and then tell us how we should do it. He said so in Geneva. So, I daresay that he will make an excellent Minister for Tourism.

The chap you should then have in charge of Foreign Affairs is Ravi. With him in charge, investors are running away from our country and even Volkswagen didn’t want to be here. So, entrust Foreign Affairs to him and I am sure that all those international busybodies will keep away from our Paradise.

Then, you should combine the ministries of Health, Highways and Higher Education. The first two are linked even now but Lucky is not doing a good job and university students are protesting on our highways. Lucky probably thinks that anyone (or, as he says it, ‘ona gonek’) can handle that subject.

If you combine these three ministries, a single minister can deal with the Medical Council, GMOA, SAITM, protesting university students and their students unions and he can also co-ordinate all their protests on our roads. Give SB that Ministry and he will make all of them run naked on the streets!

When you relieve the other Mahinda from his Fisheries portfolio, you need a new Fisheries Minister. You can give it to Rajitha — he had the job earlier. Handling Fisheries will serve him well: he needs to be constantly reminded that fish perish because of their mouth — or, maalauwa nahinneth kata hindalu!

You should also give Captain Cool a different subject. He led the country to the Cricket World Cup and has only one more ambition in life — to dictate terms to Thilanga and run our cricket the way he wants to. Make him Sports Minister and he may even play instead of the injured Angelo as skipper!

Then, who better to put in charge of our ports than Dayasiri? He went from the Greens to Mahinda maama and then to you after calling you spineless — so, he knows how to swim in troubled waters! You kill two birds with one stone because Captain Cool objected to leasing our ports to the Chinese.

Getting the best out of your cabinet is a difficult task, Maithri, and that means putting people in charge of subjects they really like. Many people are complaining now that ‘nothing is happening’ in the country because ministers are not really enthusiastic about their ministries. So, I have a few ideas.

For instance, I think Rishard is wasted as Minister for Industry and Commerce. It would be better if he was appointed as, say, Minister of Sustainable Development and Wildlife. In the same way, Long John is lost when he is dealing with Tourism — why not appoint him as Minister of Women’s Affairs?

Similarly, you can put the Field Marshal in charge of Prisons. He is familiar with the place and will make sure that justice is done to the JO chaps when they are remanded.

You can also appoint the Green Man as the Finance Minister because he will ensure that Central Bank bonds get the best deal!
Maithri, you do have some choices to make and I hope you make them wisely. You have been in this business long enough to realise that by shuffling the same pack of cards you don’t necessarily get a better hand — you need to get rid of the jokers first and that is difficult — there are so many of them now!

Yours truly,
Punchi Putha
PS- I was wondering whether you would be reshuffling your Second in Command too. Both of you get along quite well and there is no real need to do so but if you were to think of someone else, there is always young Chathura, the man who says he got you elected and made all of this possible!