“Thaaththa,” Bindu Udagedera asked, “what is all this fuss about a new Cabinet?”
“Well,” Bindu’s father Percy said, “Mahinda maama has assumed office for a second term, so he has sworn in a new Cabinet…”
“But thaaththa,” Bindu pointed out, “isn’t it the same old Cabinet?”
“No, of course not,” Percy explained, “there are some very significant changes…”
“And what are those changes, thaaththa?” Bindu wanted to know.
“Why, Bindu,” Percy said, “we have ten senior ministers, for instance…”
“And what do these senior ministers do?” Bindu wondered.
“That is a question they must be asking themselves, Bindu…” Percy said.
“Why do you say that, thaaththa?” Bindu was puzzled, “surely, if they are senior ministers, they should be able to give orders to the other ministers who are ‘junior’ to them…”
“Apparently that is not the way it works, Bindu…” Percy said, “these ‘senior’ ministers seem to be senior only in age, although a couple of them are not even very senior in age…”
“So, what do they really do?” Bindu persisted.
“Well,” Percy said, “they have no institutions under them so they do not have any real power; so, they must be going to work every morning, looking at the mirror and telling themselves that they are senior ministers and then going back home…”
“Then,” Bindu asked, “why do we need them at all?”
“I suppose we don’t, really” Percy agreed, “but because some of them are senior people, Mahinda maama is being nice to them and offering them a title instead of just asking them to go home….”
“But thaaththa,” Bindu argued, “they include even the former Prime Minister and Uncle Fowzie…”
“But Mahinda maama thinks that even for them, it is now time to go…” Percy retorted.
“What about Uncle Dew and Professor Tissa, then?” Bindu inquired.
“I suppose they are getting their reward for not supporting Mahinda maama when he wanted to introduce the eighteenth amendment that allowed him to run for a third term of office…” Percy suggested.
“So, how many ministers do we have altogether, then?” Bindu queried.
“Why, Bindu,” Percy said, “there are ten senior ministers, fifty ministers and some thirty four deputy ministers, so we have over ninety ministers…”
“But thaaththa,” Bindu recalled, “didn’t Mahinda maama promise to limit the number of ministers to thirty five?”
“What’s wrong with having another twenty-five more, Bindu?” Percy asked, “especially if we are to become the miracle of Asia very soon?”
“Why, thaaththa,” Bindu asked, “has every minister been given a specific job to do, so that we can become the miracle of Asia?”
“Yes, of course,” Percy said, “they have been given the most interesting jobs and because of that I am quite sure we will become the miracle of Asia very soon…”
“Why do you say that, thaaththa?” Bindu demanded.
“For instance, there is a ‘Minister of Public Co-ordination and Public Affairs’ and then there is also a ‘Minister of State Assets and Enterprise Development’, not to mention a ‘Minister of State Management Reforms’ and a ‘Minister of Productivity Promotion’…” Percy observed.
“But thaaththa,” Bindu said, “I am sure all those Cabinet posts are absolutely necessary to make our country the miracle of Asia…”
“Yes,” Percy said, “and that is also probably why they have so many ministers undertaking different aspects of the same sector…”
“What do you mean by that, thaaththa?” Bindu wanted to know.
“Well,” Percy explained, “if we consider the plantation sector, we have a Minister of Plantations, a Minister of Small Exports Crop Promotion and also a Minister of Coconut Development and State Plantations Development…”
“Now, that would really develop our plantation sector, wouldn’t it?” Bindu asked.
“It is not only the plantations that will be developed, Bindu,” Percy pointed out, “even our trade will be developed because we have a Minister of Co-operatives and Internal Trade, a Minister of Industry and Commerce and also a Minister of Traditional Industries and Small Enterprise Development…”
“But, thaaththa,” Bindu inquired, “how do we ensure that we protect our Sri Lankan identity while all these major development activities are undertaken?”
“Ah,” Percy said, “you need not worry about that because we have a Minister of Culture and Aesthetic Affairs, a Minister of National Heritage and also a Minister of National Languages and Social Integration appointed just for that purpose…”
“But thaaththa,” Bindu asked, “with so many ministers and so many development activities taking place at the same time, how will we know about what is going on?”
“Now,” Percy said, “that is also taken care of because we have Uncle Mervyn as Minister of Public Co-ordination and Public Affairs and who better than Uncle Mervyn to tell us exactly what is going on?”
“Even then, thaaththa,” Bindu persisted, “I am worried because there are so many ministers; wouldn’t too many cooks spoil the soup?”
“You need not worry about that, Bindu,” Percy said, “because we have someone who will manage the entire Cabinet as well…”
“And who is that?” Bindu inquired, “is it Mahinda maama?”
“No,” Percy said, “we now have a Minister of Disaster Management as well…” Percy said.
Bindu didn’t quite know what to say to that.