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     Volume 5 Issue 92 | April 28, 2006 |

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The Hen that Lays the Rotten Eggs


In Arabic 'al' means 'the' and in English 'tough' means 'tough'. In Anglo-Arabic his name means 'The Tough'. But not many of us can live up to our name or the expectation of our parents.

That is perhaps one reason why the Arabic tradition of attaching the dad's name with that of the son's has been done away with, some papas were too ashamed of the deeds of their progeny. See the English ruled half the world for nothing. From the onset they agreed that the offspring was off. If anything came that was a bonus.

Historically politics is infested with characters such as The Tyrant, The Thief, The Torturer, The Clown… you name it.

Our 'The Tough' has been a blessed soul. Although his qualifications other than flying, which not many of us can, is unknown to the general public, he has always been in the best books of the powers that be. Which in other words means the guy must have it in him. Which is again not to say that he has done justice to the gifts that he has been bestowed with; which also means these gifts are not heavenly, rather presented by mere mortals.

The Tough was given home. He failed miserably. He was removed. He said it was a promotion for him (because of his efficiency). He can claim success because home has not improved since his departure. He can take considerable pleasure from that. In spite of the respite from certain forms of crime the murders, the extortion, the bullying… they continue.

Then he was given commerce. He failed miserably. No quota. The common man was moving with a lota, so high is prices of essentials in the bazaar. He now has no responsibility but still earns his salary, has his home, car, driver and smile. He can claim that as a major success an as a prize for his efficiency because while other ministers have to work to get their salary and benefits, The Tough is paid for doing nothing. That's quite an achievement.

Two serious points emerge from the decision to sack the trade minister. Though late but a welcome conclusion, one wonders why he has been maintained as a minister despite his repeated failures that has earned the government and the country a bad name.

Also, one wonders about his political base in his constituency. It has been reported that following his dismissal, there have been jubilant processions and distribution of sweets in his elaka. That by the opposition parties is acceptable and customary and standard. But these were his party stalwarts, celebrating his misery. What roots does a man have when his own men turn against him? It now seems clear that The Tough has also earned a bad name for his party.

It is not common, nor easy, for a party head to dismiss a sitting montree. It is not done even under heavy public pressure because it is assumed, not always rightly, that the removal from office will harm the reputation of the party he belongs to; quite the contrary.

We have such men and women appointed at all levels in our society government, autonomous bodies, foreign missions, universities, hospitals, and more. These people are appointed by a supreme authority, often not necessarily on the basis of merit, and then they assume an unbecoming halo over their inefficient and often corrupt head to sink that very authority by doing mischief in the name of the authority. They show everyone around them the fear of the juju. But in effect, more often than not, the authority is not even aware of the mischievous doings of the person it has blessed. It should.

Overnight they become hero from zero minister, secretary, chairman, vice chancellor, director general... Then they start committing errors, wilfully or due to lack of competence. They perpetrate offences that are criminal in nature, not necessarily involving any money. There are non-financial offences that can do immense and often non-reversible harm to the country, the government, the institution, the party…

Any minister without portfolio should have had our sympathy because he has to rethink his political future, and because it is actually demeaning to take a salary for doing nothing, but one must remember that his deadly mishandling of two vital ministries has cost this poor country dear. Twice he has laid the wrong egg.

This is one tough guy who has hardly any ground to say, 'You ain' seen nothin' yet.'

Copyright (R) thedailystar.net 2006