The Sunday Leader

Strike, Fear Of Sacking And Patriotism

Sri Lanka registered yet another historic record last week. For the first time in the world, workers rallied round a government and broke a strike that demanded the removal of a crippling electricity tariff hike that would have taken a significant part of their income.

‘Workers of the World Unite You have Much to Gain from the Tariffs Imposed on You’, cracked Hirung Bombepala, UNP stalwart raising his glass to his old pal Vimukthi Viplavapaksha when they sat down for drinks at their water hole. Hirung had obviously hoped that the strike which his party had backed would be a roaring success and embarrass the government.

Don’t be jealous, Hirung, our workers are patriotic. They are willing to make sacrifices for the good of the party and country, Viplava replied. Workers of today are an educated lot. They know what’s good for the country. Such as increased indirect taxes on the poor? Their brothers and sisters have given their lives for the country in the humanitarian war against terrorism. Why shouldn’t they contribute a part of their income too?

Hirung: For the ruling party or the country? Why did they come out in tens of thousands in protest on to the streets last week protesting the electricity hikes? Was that unpatriotic? Our information is that they feared getting sacked if they didn’t turn up for work. Patriotism is not the love for the ruling party or government. It is love for the country not the fear of getting sacked.

Viplava: What did you fellows do in your time? The 1987 strike you sacked almost the entire work force?

Hirung: Aha. That was 27 years ago? Do the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings in 1945 justify bombings here in 2009? Never mind the past. Let’s tank up today. This hole is to close for quite some days.

Viplava: You fellows see and talk only about bad things. Look what good the government has done. See Colombo by night – how beautiful it is.

Hirung: I am not objecting to Vesak decorations but I do object to certain Aloka Poojas – free power supply to abodes of ministers. I hear one worthy runs up a bill of Rs 125,000 a month but all that is scot free. Will this Aloka Pooja help the poor of the country – who ultimately have to foot the bill – attain nirvana or would the filling up of the black holes of the Petroleum Corporation, CEB, Air Lanka and Mihin Air enable the people to attain supreme bliss this Vesak? Or are the people making these sacrifices for the sake of patriotism?

Viplava: Why are you always against patriotism? You are against anything being done for the good of the country such as the Commonwealth Conference from which the country can benefit much.

Hirung: Such as getting down spanking new Rolls Royce for the heads of state to ride in and thereafter be chariots for our royalty?

Viplava: Bloody canard, no. GL on Wednesday said that no Rolls Royce will be imported for the Summit
Hirung: Come, come, GL is no doubt the brainiest of the lot. But is he to be taken seriously?

Viplava: You are being very unpatriotic. Would you consider those who joined the strike as being patriotic?
Hirung: Patriotism should be the abode of the saints but as is said quite often, it is the refuge of scoundrels as well. Look around and observe the mutts, ‘diplomutts’, corporation heads without any semblance of a head above their shoulders, high ranking rogues and bootlickers and thugs -they are all patriots to the hilt.

Viplava: Could we do without them? They make the government work. We can’t absorb traitors and NGO conspirators to work in government ranks. The people, the workers believe in us. That’s why the strike flopped.

Hirung: So if Norochcholai fails another 25 times, ships carrying fuel for the Petroleum Corporation disappear in mid seas and the whizz kids in the Petroleum Corp and Central Bank take to hedging in International banks and the government is broke, Pavithra jacks up the price of electricity again?
Viplava: What else to do, napuru kalata?

Hirung: (Tossing up his last drink) calls out as he did at cricket matches in his school days: Ara Pavithra Ara, Lanuwa Uding Ara, Lanuwa Yating Ara… come on College, appé college, college…

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