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A year on

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My dear citizens of Paradise,

I thought of writing to you today to remind you that it is exactly one year ago that you took power into your own hands and forced someone who you yourselves elected with an overwhelming majority, to resign. Some will argue about the way it was done but others will say the end justifies the means.

One year has passed, and there have been a few changes since then, but it is a good time to look back at what happened at Galle Face and President’s House that decisive Saturday in July, and reflect on whether the sacrifices made that day were worth it – and whether we are where we wanted to be.

If I remember correctly, when people said ‘Gota Go home’ last year, not only did they want Gota maama to go home, they also wanted the system of government which gave enormous powers to one person, done away with. They desperately wanted a ‘system change’.

Gota maama has gone home, not to his private residence in Mirihana where all the protests began, but to an official residence maintained at State expense. Someone else, Uncle Ranil, perhaps the person who you would have least expected to replace him, has taken over – but the system remains the same.

That is not to say that there were no changes for the better. The queues for fuel and gas are no longer a factor in our daily lives, and electricity is available at all hours of the day. All of this comes at a higher price, but Nandalal says tough measures are a must if we are to survive this economic calamity.

Protests are no longer the order of the day, although whether that is because they are not needed anymore, or because they were treated with water cannons and tear gas regularly is a matter of opinion. Law and order must have improved because we don’t seem to even need a Police Chief now!

So, citizens of Paradise, you must have forgotten the slogans of one year ago. That is because, at least for some of you, it must feel as if it is ‘business as usual’ in Paradise now. Indeed, it is. Those at the top may have changed but some things haven’t. The law is not equal to all. The corrupt still go free.

Whether you are charged and prosecuted for an offence depends on whose side you are on. That is why Ganja Diana is still roaming the corridors of power when a magistrate says she can be detained and ‘Raththaran Raheem’ remains in Parliament when he should have been put behind bars.

It is the same reason why Natasha is locked up for calling Prince Siddhartha, ‘Suddhodana’s boy’ while Dilith uses the worder ‘loser’ to refer to him but nothing happens. Then, those who wear saffron robes in Japan and engage in acts that laymen would be ashamed of, have no consequences at all!

That is also why Lohan remains a minister after threatening prisoners. And, who better to lead this team in the House than someone who has been convicted and is on a suspended sentence? Fittingly, presiding over ‘Justice’ is someone who makes wild claims about bribery – and does nothing about it.

Those who tried to hide because they couldn’t face the people around this time last year including the ‘R’ clan are slowly regrouping and emerging from the woodwork. You may have noticed that the same old stories about saving the ‘rata, jaathiya’ are surfacing once again in different guises.

You may wonder why most of the people who you wanted thrown out of their positions of power are still very much in charge. That is because Uncle Ranil did what his Uncle JR did, deciding not to hold elections, trying every trick in the book – and several not in it – to postpone local government polls.

Helping Uncle Ranil is the collective opposition which doesn’t know whether it is coming or going. The ‘telephone’ chaps and the rathu sahodarayas are fighting each other – because both feel the next election would be a walkover for them. Seeing this, Uncle Ranil must be chuckling to himself!

Uncle Ranil being Uncle Ranil, he has tried to pass a few laws that govern terrorism and broadcasting but is being held back, even it is only for now. Don’t be surprised if he takes sizeable chunks of the ‘pohottuwa’ and the ‘telephone’ camps and runs as a ‘common candidate’ at the next polls!

We thought that events of this day last year would herald a new beginning for Paradise. In a way it did because Gota maama ran away without a single bullet being fired. Now though, we feel that the more things change, the more they remain the same. That is what you must remember at the next election.

Yours truly,

Punchi Putha

PS: Though local government polls were postponed, the same cannot be done for elections to choose the next boss. Your chance to choose will come soon. Then, whether you like it or not, citizens of Paradise, you might have to close your eyes and vote for one or, hold your nose and vote for the other.

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