My dear Reshuffled Ministers,

A cabinet reshuffle

Sunday Times

My dear Reshuffled Ministers,

I thought I must write to you because I assumed that you must be as confused as I am about this reshuffle. It was a long time coming but when it finally saw the light of day, I daresay it was a damp squib, with you lot playing musical chairs and shifting around, like you did in kindergarten.

Ravi, I feel for you. Only a few months ago you were hailed as the best Finance Minister in the Asia Pacific region-but you have been dumped now. I have come to the conclusion that winning titles which say you are the best is bad. Remember what happened to the world’s best Army Commander?

We all agree that the economy is in a mess, but as Mahinda maama’s chaps gleefully point out, surely it is not all your fault? After all, it was Maithri who said that he wouldn’t let you impose a VAT on everything and it was the Green Man’s nominee who is now being investigated for the bond scam!

Then there is all this talk about you being in charge of Foreign Affairs but SriLankan Airlines coming under you. I’ve heard people protesting saying that is absurd but I can’t see what the fuss is all about. Surely, who but the Foreign Minister should oversee an airline that flies only to foreign countries?

Mangala, I think you must be wondering whether to laugh or to cry. There you were, jetting in and out of the capitals of the world, trying to shore up our image. You got more time from Geneva and we are about to get the GSP+ back- and now, you are being shown the door and sent to the Treasury instead.

As if that were not enough, they have given you the Media ministry as well, leaving poor Gayantha fuming. We know that you have turned over a new leaf since joining the Greens and done some good work on your overseas beat but we hope that you have mellowed with age and changed your attitudes.

Remember when you held the Media Ministry under Satellite? When the media exposed corruption during that time you called it the ‘media mafia’. You said journalists could be bought for a bottle of arrack. We haven’t forgotten that, nor have we forgiven you. Here is your chance to make amends.

Arjuna, you are another with a world title who had to suffer. You argued too much about the Chinese and the Hambantota Port, so they put you in charge of petrol. I bet you will now have things to say about the Indians selling petrol here. What’s more you have to find a job for Dhammika aiya as well!

SB, you must be a happy man. At the last big election you were with Mahinda maama, hurling insults at Maithri. After Maithri won, you switched sides. Last week you were rewarded with the additional subject of Kandyan heritage. Now, you can officially take care of that mansion at Hanguranketha!

Mahinda Sam, you too must be euphoric. You have gone from being with the Greens to being with the Blues and then from being with Mahinda maama to being with Maithri and then losing at the election only to enter Parliament through the ‘back door’, the National List, just like SB did.

After being put in charge of Skills Development and Vocational Training – whatever that means – you have been asked to look after our Ports. You are lucky you were at the right place at the right time but having seen what happened to Arjuna, keep your mouth firmly shut if you want to keep your new job.

Tilak, you are also lucky to be back. You did the decent thing when you resigned after defending Avant Garde in Parliament – although Justice Wijey did the same thing and didn’t resign. But, we don’t know what ‘Development Assignments’ mean – especially when there is no development now!

Mahinda Amarey, you weren’t so lucky. You began this speculation about a reshuffle when Maithri said some time ago that you will be given a job to serve the whole country. What you have now got is a state ministry for Mahaweli – Maithri must be thinking the Mahaweli runs through the whole country!

So, at long last, we have the reshuffle that many had been waiting for. I suppose it will keep a few Greens and a few Blues happy but I don’t think it will serve any worthwhile purpose at all. After all, what is the point in shuffling the same pack of cards, if the jokers in the pack are not taken out first?

Yours truly,
Punchi Putha

PS: Usually, there is a photograph taken after a new Cabinet is sworn in. There was a photograph taken this time too, but it included only the ministers whose subjects had changed. At least they had the sense to do that because, if they included the entire Cabinet in it, it would be the same old photo!
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