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Whys, wherefores and whatevers

A woman’s puzzled view of the past week



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If the MPs increase their emoluments with a thus increased pension at the end of five years, they will be showered with curses


Question marks loom large over Cassandra’s bemused mind as she sits down to review the past week, selecting topics she can quibble over.


Will they serve themselves more?


The first is whether they won’t ladle themselves bigger monetary portions. You’ve guessed correct: ‘they’ in the query are Members of Parliament, those we elected to make laws for us, expecting them to serve us with no thought of what they get for it. We, the public, of course continue to live in Fools’ Paradise and not Paradise in the Indian Ocean at the bottom tip of the subcontinent, a.k.a Big Brother. Now father, mother and benevolent spirit are all rolled into a distant land, that of the Chinaman minus his pigtail but wealthy in both lucre and clout.


There really should be no question as the President has categorically thundered: Not five cents more to MPs; and the Second in Command has said no sounding like a yes to salary increases in a wishy-washy way. But Leader of the House, Minister Kiriella has pronounced that the Party leaders have unanimously approved of the increase to be on par with judges’ salaries and the boost mooted as far back as 2006 when money loving M Rajapaksa was Head. They will of course unite when it comes to spooning gravy for themselves. The question however remains: will Party leaders overrule the Prez or will the Prez as he has done many times recently acrobatically somersault and turn the NO to Yes?


If the MPs give themselves more, heaping already full individual plates of goodies with fair salaries and numerous perks, the worst being the go-ahead to sell cars or permits they are entitled to get cheap, earning millions, they will disappoint. As Cassandra says with dire prediction in mind, if the MPs increase their emoluments with a thus increased pension at the end of five years, they will be showered with curses, worse than Kuveni’s since those directed at Vijaya were from one female, however raksha, while in this 21st century incident at least half 21 million will call upon pestilences to visit these greedy legislators. (Cassandra googled – ‘curses’ and had a field day. The best: "May the fleas of a thousand camels infest your crotch and may your arms be too short to scratch." Super duper and applies here. It is more the men MPs who are greedy for higher wages, though some do not at all earn their keep, just rambling on and merely warming cushioned seats). We’ll just have to watch and wait to see whether the collective voice of 225 barring a few clear thinking MPs will out-yell the Prez’s apparently firm NO.


Funerals


Conservative spenders - Cassandra included – are critical about the vast expenses that some indulge in to celebrate weddings and funerals. It is a case of out-doing the Pereras; making a big show of whether it’s the celebration of a union or the bereavement of a demise. The less well-heeled show-offs have hardly enough to sustain their lives, leave alone indulge in tamashas. Cassandra realized with a shock that the Buddha Sasana is acting like these impecunious stupid people who get into debt in staging grand funerals. She sent her eye down the list of additional expenses presented by Chief Government Whip Gayantha Karunaratne in Parliament as reported in The Island of Wednesday 8 August. "The Department of Buddhist Affairs has sought a sum of Rs 5,000,000 to settle the cost incurred on funerals of Most Ven Bellanwila Wimalaratne Thera and Girambe Ananda Thera under stage patronage." Now that to Cassandra is a travesty. The Bellanwila Thera was an erudite and pious monk; he would never have approved of extravagance at his cremation. Moe so Ven Girambe Ananda Thera who was Anunayake of the Ramanya Nikaya, a sect known for its simplicity. Thus expenses such as these are not permissible when the country is struggling financially. The Buddha Sasana Ministry sought Rs 105,000,000 to renovate places damaged in an earthquake in Nepal. For goodness sake, charity begins at home. This applies more to a Ministry concerned with the teachings of the Buddha who stressed on no greed, no vanity, no extravagance. How much the Buddha Sasana Ministry could and SHOULD do within the island. The money spent for which a supplementary financial request was tabled from the government kitty could have built an entire village of homes for the homeless. Another example: the Buddha Sasana Ministry could so charitably help monks with no money and no sponsorship who arrive from Cambodia and Bangladesh to obtain degrees in Buddhist Studies. They are called upon to renew visas annually at Rs 20,000 each year and to pay high fees in US Dollars by the Kelaniya University where they opt to follow degree studies. Priorities must be righted. No respected monk wants his remains to be cremated with fanfare of large crowds to witness it, speeches declaimed and money spent; the said remains being compared to a useless log of wood by the Buddha himself and echoed by preaching members of the Sangha. Tue monks would surely wish for simple cremations. Lying in state in their viharas will not cost much extra, and a simple pyre and cremation can be undertaken by the dayakas of the temple. Why on earth does the Buddha Sasana Ministry overspend on last rites? There already are monks who decorate their temples uselessly but at great cost and we heard of a monk celebrating his birthday some time ago with a lavish dinner. These are situations to be decried and ruled against by the Buddha Sasana Ministry, not spend its man-hours and the country’s financial resources on grand cremation of monks.


Who’s behind the fatal-for-four party in Kalutara?


The NFF which is given to much sound and fury often signifying nothing has accused "a Minister had intervened in the ongoing investigations into the death of four persons after attending a Facebook party at a hotel in Wadduwa area on Saturday night." This should be investigated forthwith. The police narcotics branch has been doing much to reduce if not rid the country of the menace of dangerous drugs. Remember the unfortunate death of two young British ruggerites fairly recently? The case is being investigated. Those responsible for distributing and selling the drug that apparently killed them, and those responsible for the Wadduwa party and the making available drugs should get it, well and truly. Cassandra’s first question on hearing of this devilish party was whether girls were hospitalized. Apparently not. But to think of young persons dying after a party they paid Rs 3000 each to enter, is horrid. It should be unthinkable and untenable, but sadly in this country of ours at present, vice is growing at pace and goodness and simplicity dying out fast.


Oh well! Cassandra usually ends on a positive note. Nothing this week to crow about.


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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