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Caligula and Rajapakse -- Horses and Camels

By Stewart Rajapakse Sloan

In one of its latest white elephant schemes the government of President Mahinda Rajapakse is planning to import 5,000 buffaloes and ten camels from Pakistan within the next three years. The ostensible idea behind this scheme is that the livestock will be delivered to various state farms where they will be bred and the offspring given (given? Has the Rajapakse regime ever 'given' anything away?) to livestock farms around the country. What they plan to do with the camels defies even the author's imagination.

I am, however, reminded of the Emperor Caligula who ruled in Rome from 37 -- 41 AD largely because the two of them were, and are, hopelessly paranoid. Caligula did not trust the senate because he was convinced, rightly so, that they were out to assassinate him. He dismissed many of them, had some killed and had others serve him by running alongside his chariot. He was insanely cruel and on one occasion ordered his guards to throw a section of the crowd into the arena to be eaten by wild animals as they had run out of criminals. Then, of course, one of his most famous exploits came when he tried to make his horse, Incitatus, a member of the senate. In that, we see a distinct similarity to Mahinda who introduced his own son, Namal, into parliament as the Member for Hambantota. Now I am not suggesting for one moment that he resembles a horse, at least not in physical appearance, a camel though is another matter. While Rajapakse has not actually killed any of his parliamentarians he has on the other hand filled the Sri Lankan parliament with his cronies in order to ensure that anyone intelligent enough to think for himself will be shouted down, or tied to a tree.

Going back to the buffaloes and camels -- the importation of the buffaloes can perhaps be justified, meat, milk and hide, but no explanation has been given as to why Rajapakse is prepared to spend Rs. 400,000/= of the tax payers money for a camel or Rs. 4,000,000/= for ten of them.

Perhaps he is going to hold them in reserve in case the parliamentarians turn again him. What Caligua tried to do with one horse, perhaps Rajapakse is going to attempt with his camels.

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