Bicycles made for have-nots and beer that cheers | Sunday Observer

Bicycles made for have-nots and beer that cheers

Well, the interesting news this last week was the reading and debate on Budget 2018. Many tried to steal the limelight with silly gimmicks and fiery speeches, but the day and event belonged to Mangala Samaraweera who presented a blue-green budget sedately, and as if he knew full well what he was speaking about. He earned kudos for his future-targeting budget, no doubt about that.

Groaning two-wheelers

The comedy, nay, farce of the event was the Ex-Prez, his son and heir and a couple of golayas cycling to Parliament to protest the petrol shortage. This cat’s full sympathy was for the overloaded bike MR was riding - now light of power but heavy in poundage, and for the poor sods who kept running hard to keep pace with the cavalcade. Were they security personnel? Why could not they have come in a vehicle leading the convoy of luxury cars that surely followed the dethroned VVIP and his son? OK, this cat and others smiled indulgently, but not when the ex-boss blew his top. He lashed out at the police personnel who were guarding a barricade placed across the road. Surely, having been the head of this democratic socialist state, he should have respected the law keepers who were only protecting the VIPs entering Parliament. Now MR is a qualified lawyer, they say, so also his eldest son, they say. They should have known better than tongue-lash those upholding the law.

Beer talk

It looks like the reduction in the tax on canned beer is THE topic generated by the Budget. Everyone’s talking about it and doctors of medicine and psychiatrists and other pundits are waxing strong on the evils of drinking beer as if every Banda, Jamis and Henry are going to guzzle this frothy drink that cheers to ill-health and death. Another Minister, John Seneviratne I believe, wanted the price of gal arrack reduced. Not much protest. Why? Probably because gal is a poor man’s tipple and it did not make its way to the budget. Beer? An elitist drink? The reason to reduce the price is reasonable and justified, to try to knock deadly kassippu manufacturers off their jungle hideouts. The one thought that came to this feline’s mind on the scholarly reams written by medical men on beer drinking was: How were you silent and non-judgemental when your colleagues undertook lightning strikes and crippled hospital services, thus surely killing many and causing untold suffering to others? Beer raised their shackles, not deaths caused by GMOA strikes.

Quoting from past pontifications of this cat

This feline thumbed through her computer file of Cat’s Eye articles and lo and behold, and fortuitously, came across her observations made exactly two years ago, in this column on November 22, 2015. She touched on beer, so here it is subtitled: Prohibition? Never!

“The President said at a meeting that too much liquor is around, that beer is consumed heavily.” This cat held her breath. Was he going to say that like the executiveness of the presidency being abolished, he would ban all alcoholic drinks? NO! Because he knows such a move is totally counterproductive. With a wide smile, almost a chuckle, he said that if he attempted banning alcoholic drinks the government would be toppled. I don’t think tipplers have that much toppling power. After all, they are near lotus eaters. But, there will be trouble in the land, serious trouble since insisting on teetotalism will drive people to bootlegging, illicit import of liquor and all that. Distilling of kassippu will increase with even less care being exercised in what goes into the distilling vat. Deadly intoxication and premature deaths due to drinking gut rot worse than witches’ potions, brewed with spiders’ legs and cockroaches and animal entrails, will result. Deadly poisonous stuff, but imbibed by more in a country made to go dry. President Sirisena is a teetotaler for sure, but many a man and woman likes a body warmer and spirit lifter, so the thing to do, if the Prez feels shocked at the amount of income that pours into the government kitty through liquor licenses and taxes, is to make beer cheaper, also toddy and arrack, so that poisonous kassippu is not drunk by so many.

Yes, there is a reference to the executive presidency, which also is a perennial topic. Some remind President Sirisena of the promise he made when he won against the Rajapaksa clan, while his blue followers want him to contest again with no change to the executiveness of the presidency. Though this cat is definitely not blue, but of a neutral colour, she wants President Maithripala Sirisena to serve a second term with powers in hand. Here’s what this cat wrote two years ago on this matter:

“President Maithripala Sirisena announced on Tuesday, November 17 at the ceremony to award dual citizenship to 2,000 persons that he would submit papers to the Cabinet on the following day to go ahead with instituting a new constitution and abolishing the executive presidency. Many had been skeptical and said that once he was in power he would go the way of all presidential flesh. Not our President. He gave a promise when he was sworn in; he reiterated it in his funeral oration at the cremation of Ven Maduluwawe Sobitha Thera and now he has made the official statement.”

So it’s all left to be seen.

The price of beer must be reduced. The President is welcome to act as he thinks best, considering how things are going on in this land of ours.