|We may get the Noble Prize for the 'comical country in the world'!
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by Namini Wijedasa
These are terrible times. They say someone at the Central Bank mucked up the economy. There is a balance of payments crisis. Investment hasn t taken off. We are heavily indebted. If the rupee sinks any lower, God, we will have to ask the Chinese to do something about it. After all, the Chinese are pretty much the only ones doing anything about our problems.
We have a new harbour, but no ships. We have a new stadium, but no matches. We have a new airport that we pray will host many of the world s largest aircraft. We will soon have a new communication tower, the tallest in South Asia. Can t wait for that.
Fuel prices are soaring. Food is expensive. Bus fares keep rising. The utilities sectors are broke. The education chaps can t get an exam right. The health sector s a mess. The farmers are making losses. Students keep demonstrating. Teachers are angry. Graduates are mad. You can t get a thing done without a bribe.
Crime is exploding more and more, politicians and their close allies are directly or indirectly implicated. Our foreign relations are in a twist. The gulf between ethnic groups is growing. Thousands of Tamils are still living in shacks in the north. Sycophants and bootlickers guide policy.
There is appalling mediocrity in every field and discipline.
We have a massive cabinet but nobody seems to work. We passed constitutional amendments that weakened governance. All our institutions are shot. Every blessed inch of our public service is politicized. The police? Don t even go there.
But emerging from the gloom is our hero a person who always gives miserable Sri Lankans something to smile about. Somebody who is either so funny or has such a great sense of humour that he never lets the populace down.
Thank you, God, for Wimal Weerawansa.
Wimal does so much for the country for so little in return. In 2010, he nearly starved himself to death outside the UN headquarters demanding that Secretary General Ban Ki-moon dismantles his panel of experts. He forsook food for three whole days. Nobody even asked him to. Such a patriot.
Ban did not sack his panel. But Wimal was so weak and emaciated that it took him several months to recover. When he did, it was the muscles in his tongue that came back the strongest. Ekath balannako, ('see the wonder of that!') my grandmother would have said.
Afterwards, he wandered lonely as a cloud but only for a bit. He soon launched an impassioned campaign against wheat flour. He was on every television channel in the country, admonishing people for consuming wheat flour. He called it wheat flour terrorism and urged them to boycott the stuff.
In addition to almost killing himself, therefore, Wimal has been depriving himself of anything associated with wheat flour. No cake or patties for Wimal. No rolls, no bread, no biscuits or wheat flour pancakes. Not even a little wheat flour crisp. He has been living on yams, rice and finger millet (among other non-wheat grub) since December 2011.
God we kid you not. His aides confirm that Wimal does not touch wheat flour with a barge pole. This must surely make the US quake in its boots because Wimal s latest campaign is against all American products. He insists that we must boycott everything from Google to Microsoft in response to the US-led resolution on Sri Lanka at the UN Human Rights Council. Imagine the impact of that on the flailing US economy?
So what are we looking at, really? According to the Office of the US Trade Representative, Sri Lanka in 2010 exported USD1.7 billion worth of goods to America. In contrast, it only imported USD178 million worth of goods from the US and that s the component of our trade Wimal wants us to shun.
With all the anti-US rhetoric we have rightfully been summoning up, it would not be surprising if America reciprocates by calling for a suspension of Sri Lankan goods. But as you well know, God, Sri Lanka has plenty of orders from other parts of the world. Our export sector is booming (we are sure). Who the hell needs America?
Strangely, though, Wimal s colleagues have disassociated themselves with his personal opinion. A cabinet spokesman stressed that the government does not share his position.
Well, whatever. It is just as well Wimal didn t call on all US Green Card holders or US citizens to return their privileges. That would have made things a little sticky given that several Americans are today rulers of our own country with deep, longstanding connections to the US. They even have family there and visit very often. (Wimal might not know this).
In the end, therefore, it s God Save America all the way. You hear, God?