Fifth Column

4th February 2001

Watch out, Solheim is coming

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My dear Satellite,

I thought I must write to you again, when I heard that the Solheim chap was back in business, proposing talks with Velu in far away Oslo. Not a bad idea at all indeed after that lengthy European holiday of yours- after all you too need a break especially when you can't get out of your 'prison' at the Mandiraya.

But you must be careful, Satellite. Are you sure this Solheim is not a suicide bomber? Do you really body search him when he comes to visit you? And why does he always insist on seeing the Green man before he sees you? Are you sure he is not spying on behalf of the Green man?

In fact, Satellite, I am surprised that you didn't spot the conspiracy in this Solheim affair for so long especially when you are quick to sense a conspiracy in everything else. Why, the other day, you were seen on the idiot box in one of your favourite 'chat' shows, telling us that the cost of living has not risen and anything to that effect is a UNP and JVP conspiracy. How true, Satellite, and it only dawned on us when you said so. Now, I'm sure that the UNP and the JVP have got together and conspired with each and every 'kade' in the country in order to topple your government!

Anyway, today being Independence Day, the Greens are marching from Kandy to Colombo, they say. Of course we heard that you had given instructions to your party people that the march should not be disrupted at any cost and that anyone who does that will be punished, but the greens are mortally scared after they heard that. We asked them why and they say that just before the general elections too you told your party people not to rig the election and that you would punish anyone who did that. And now they have been penalized indeed- with cabinet portfolios!

But Satellite, there is one question which still bothers me and that is why you had to increase electricity charges suddenly. If I remember right, the General who also handles power and energy told us during those power cut days that there will be no shortage of power, ever again. But now they are saying again that there is a power shortage and that they have to raise charges to keep usage down. But then, it was the same General who promised us that the war would be over by now!

Anyway, Satellite it was heartening to see you issue instructions to ministers and deputy ministers to keep their fuel bills within certain limits- for example, fifty thousand rupees a month for a deputy minister. A more simple minded person would have preferred to cut costs by reducing the number of ministers but then, you are not so simple and your methods aren't either!

So, Satellite be careful if and when you deal with Solheim and Velu. In my opinion, the former is more dangerous because you are more likely to trust him. And anyway, you should be once bitten, twice shy, shouldn't you?

Yours truly,

Punchi Putha.

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