The muted, panicked voice came through the phone of a friend who croaked she was very confidentially warning Cassandra and advising her.
Yours truly was immediately panic infected. With deep emphasis and concern the friend took her time to advise that Cass withdraws all money from banks. Cass was for once glad she was poor but what would she do by withdrawing the small amounts in two banks? Get FDs, the pal advised. And wait for an entire year to get measly amounts as interest, questioned Cass. Surmising it was local banks the pal meant, Cass said she banks with a reputed foreign bank. “No Chile, any and every bank is … (Cass did not catch what all banks were in danger of). The little economics she had once studied came to mind: ‘run on banks’.
Cass certainly panicked. Even to breath free air now, one has to have money (masks). Then she consoled herself: one of the invitees for lunch was a banker. She pounced on him as he entered. With what he assured her, her heart beat and pulse rate returned to normal. Her blood pressure would have descended to its usual too high rate.
Another lunch guest said he had heard a JVP politician – not one of those who speak often to the public – issue a warning that all banks would shut their doors and people would lose their monies in them. He had prefaced his address to the public by requesting those fainthearted and harbouring medical problems thereof should not listen to him! His pontification was of course unjustified, but the motive, we discerned. Similar to analysing a poem; one has to find out the underlying themes and poet’s idea/truth he wishes to convey. This politician’s idea/motive/plan/evil design was to cause chaos and destabilise the general public and thus the country. Mercifully, the Governor of the CB assured that banks were closing for debt restructuring purposes and people’s money in banks, pensions, etc., were safe and interest rates stable. However, what is said often transpires to not turning out to be the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Hence, we cannot relax our bated breath.
Two SL VVIPs elite overseas
Part of my title is: Prez scores in an interview. The interview was in Paris by the French state-owned international news television network – France 24. Started in 2006 and based in Paris, broadcasting in French, English, Arabic and Spanish, its target being overseas viewers. Well anyone – admirers and detractors and critics, even loathers – would have to admit Ranil W carried himself admirably and answered penetrating questions on the economy and reconciliation moves in the country knowledgeably, confidently and very lucidly showing he had complete grasp of the two issues. In spite of too much around the waist, he was elderly debonair, Cass would say, that day his groomed white hair adding to his appearance. It was good to have our Prez present the stature of a well-read, well-bred, clever man. Thank goodness (or the Aragalaya) we have a man as our Head who can hold his own with the best; though at home we disagree with many of his actions; and the political pals he keeps, and saves.
He was asked about the restructuring of our debts with the interviewer mentioning the huge amounts of debt the country had to repay. What Ranil W said was that we are achieving goals set by the government to comply with IMF strictures. He did not hesitate to say that China was slow in coming on board but was helpful now, with 2500 years of being a friend. He very emphatically said there were no defense pacts or whatever though the Hambantota Port was leased to them. He added they have control of one of the terminals of the Port of Colombo too. No military agenda, he emphatically said. He mentioned members of the Opposition reiterating his government is selling the country, which is not the case.
About reconciliation, he said with South Africa’s assistance, the too be set up National Unity and Reconciliation Commission will be presented to the Cabinet and Parliament. He added foreign observers will be present monitoring the Commission in action. South African Head – Ramphosa – is invited to visit in the near future
The second government VVIP in the title is our Foreign Minister, Ali Sabry, who metaphorically shone in China and seemed to greatly impress his imperturbable Chinese counterpart and others. He cut an impressive figure, beating Ranil W in the personality stakes; and spoke excellently. Thank goodness our land of despair has personable high-ups who present our woeful state to the outside world with dignity and class. Remember how some of our kapati suited VVIPs disgraced the national costume they wore in several ways when they sojourned abroad with large entourages and were interviewed. It must be admitted however that Prez Sirisena maintained his dignity.
Cass spied with her keen eye a satakaya at the bargaining tables in China. Eldest Rajapaksa son, now coming forth in the public domain, seemed to be the R who accompanied Minister Sabry. How come? Why? Must be the clout his family wields with the Chinese: his father having loaded them with constructing white elephants – at OUR expense for which we are financially bleeding: us and the country. It was not only the Chinese construction companies that benefited. Our debts – both kinds – would be paid for handsomely if stashed out-of-country thieved money is brought back.
Cass prophesies – that’s her job according to her claimed Trojan lineage – that the next protest will be of women shouting on the roads claiming their right to wear the pants in the house and subjugate their unjust hubbies to play second fiddle. Why this? Because the women are now followers of Wasantha Mudalige and his vaulting men, including them in yellow robes. Cass refers here to the Samurdhi/Aswasuma protestors. One noticeable fact is how able bodied most screechers are, dressed well and not appearing to be destitute. That is good, but what is bad is that so very many who do not deserve this handout of Rs 5000 a month get it. With a little bit of luck and a pull with a MP, Samurdhi official or Grama Niladhari, anyone could be entered as a Samurdhi beneficiary. Again, politicisation and bartering government money for votes, bribes or favours of a different kind. The really needy – old, frail, disabled, lonely with little or no family support, must be identified and helped. Freely distributed handouts have to be checked carefully and curtailed. We truly are a nation of beggars with hands outstretched to receive anything free.
Accusation of Biased sympathy
Global HR organisations and activists accuse people of being swayed and in sympathy with the five billionaires who were killed in the submersible Titan and were indifferent to the hundreds who died crossing the Mediterranean Sea from ‘difficult’ countries. Listening to a video of a spokeswoman of one such organisation, Cassandra too felt shamed. She had watched BBC news with bated breath of the four-day search operations for the submersible with oxygen stored in it for five days; which imploded. She empathised with the hundreds who drowned near the coast of Greece, overloaded in an unseaworthy sailing vessel by unscrupulous money-making traffickers. Discussing her biased sympathy with a friend she was consoled somewhat by her friend condemning the refugees of trying to enter countries illegally which are already battling the refugee problem. Another pointed out that life in Afghanistan for instance, is intolerable and attempting migrating is inevitable. Agreed unanimously that Sri Lankans need not barter their all and even lives in trying to illegally enter countries because this country needs workers and life is not intolerable. The grass on the other side may seem greener, but not worth risking all one’s money, often borrowed, life and limb and trusting money sharks.
One of the five who died in the immersible Titan that descended to sight-see the wreck of the Titanic was an in-law of the couple who decided, shown in the film Titanic, to stay close together in bed and die in the sinking ship. They were Isidor and Ida Straus, owners of Macys’ chain of superstores. Their great, great granddaughter, Wendy Rush’s husband Stockton Rush, CEO of OceanGate Expeditions that runs the business of sweeping the depths of the Atlantic Ocean, was one of the five on the tragic voyage.
Meet you next week via this column, either totally wiped out money-wise or relieved something is being done to meet our debt commitments. A wicked gremlin within me whispers that something must be done to those who impoverished us: political bosses, That Gov of CB and dishonest Bureaucrats.