2 February, 2023


In Plain Humour

By Rusiripala Tennakoon

Rusiripala Tennakoon

Following excerpts are from an Old English Saturday night Prime Time Comedy show:

You… can be a millionaire…and never pay taxes! You can be a millionaire… and never pay taxes?” First… get a million dollars. Now… you say, “Steve… what do I say to the tax man when he comes to my door and says, ‘You… have never paid taxes’?” Two simple words. Two simple words in the English language: “I forgot!” How, many times do we let ourselves get into terrible situations because we don’t say “I forget”?  Let’s say you’re on trial for armed robbery. You say to the judge, “I forgot armed robbery was illegal.” Let’s suppose he says back to you, “You have committed a foul crime.  You have stolen hundreds and thousands of dollars from people at random, and you say, ‘I forgot’?” Two simple words, “Excuse…..me…”

What a world for us to live!

A village guy climbed a Kitul Tree just to taste a little Kitul Toddy.  Of course on the sly. Unfortunately got caught to the owner of the tree. He asked why did you climb-up my tree. Guy answers – “just to see whether I can find a little grass for my cow.”

Owner retorted – where do you get grass on top of trees?

Guy very politely says, “My friend that is why I am coming empty handed” who can disbelieve this rustic lad?

A play where the script is being written!

A Minister serving in a cabinet of a government is asked by a judge at an inquiry!

Did you go to occupy this luxury apartment with your family?

Answer –  the Hon Minister  “Yes your lordship”

Question – Do you know that this apartment was leased out by a person accused or alleged of a scam involving public money?

Answer – “No your lordship.”

Question  – Do you know Mr.  Minister how much is the lease rental for the apartment paid to the owner by who-ever?

Answer – “No your lordship”

Question – Do you know who arranged for your family to move into this apartment?

Answer – My family – Wife & daughters Your lordship

Question – Did you ask your family how much it costs?

Answer – No your lordship

Question – Did your family ever inform you that the lease rental is USD 10,000 per month?

Answer – No your lordship

Question – If you knew that this apartment was leased out by a person accused of a charge dealing with public money – would you have occupied this apartment?

Answer – No your lordship

Questions yet to be asked

Question –  Do you now know that the apartment was leased out to this questioned party?

Answer –  (may be)

Question – Now you know that you have done something which you should not have done as a Minister 

Answer –  I did not know then your lordship.  In my busy schedule I only slept there.

Question – But you know now that you have occupied a premises which you should not have occupied.

Answer –  Your lordship my head was burdened with the debt burden of the country at that time.

People –  Now that you know, you have done something which you should not have done why don’t you go home!

When we learnt civics in the elementary school we learned that “Ignorance of the law is not excuse”.  But those of us who did not pursue the studies up to the law degree are not aware whether “Ignorance of facts can excuse one from ethical obligations and public liability”.

We read, see and enjoy comedies, plays and writings on the subject. But a clear answer has to come by way of acceptable verdict.  Till then we continue to surf the domain in quest of a proper reply.

Ignorantia juris non excusat

“ignorance of law excuses no one”

“The rationale of the doctrine is that if ignorance were an excuse, a person charged with criminal offenses or a subject of a civil lawsuit would merely claim that one was unaware of the law in question to avoid liability, even if that person really does know what the law in question is. Thus, the law imputes knowledge of all laws to all persons within the jurisdiction no matter how transiently. Even though it would be impossible, even for someone with substantial legal training, to be aware of every law in operation in every aspect of a state’s activities, this is the price paid to ensure that willful blindness cannot become the basis of exculpation”.

Can we extend this application to someone pleading ignorance of relevant facts who has acted un-ethically due to his ignorance? What should such a person do once he comes to be aware of the true facts, particularly if the person is holding a high public office –  The play writer has to provide a plausible answer!

*The characters are fictions and refers to nobody

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Latest comments

  • 7

    excellent article Mr. Tennakoon, I applaud you for scripting a piece of work thats humorous enough to get the readers thought process working..

    excellent!! (Y)

    • 5

      This man S Thennakoon went missing in the high days of former tyrrant – Mahinda Rajaakshe. But today his rise as no other times before is beyond my comphrehension.

      • 4

        Let things that have been consigned to the dust bin of history remain there for a while till we sweep the floor

    • 3

      Thank you I am greatly encouraged
      The day I become a victim under the culprits please shed a tear for me

  • 5

    At least now in Post Rajapakse era, you are free to write this sort of satire. CT was blocked in Ceylon by Paranoid Gota. Why don’t you write a satire on the Thajudeen murder, Basil ten Percent, Mattala and wealth hidden in Dubai? Or about the man who thought he was a King and named everything after himself?

  • 3

    Whatever problems we may have as a country, we are a nation of people with a sense of humor. I can’t wait to see comedians & satirists using the RK fiasco on stage. In fact, the whole saga of RK & his business pals making millions with insider dealing, money laundering, tax evasion with dummy companies & possibly a bit of sex on the side to spice up things, is good material for an international drama. The plot seems even better than the true story of the ‘wolf of Wall Street’, ‘Billions’ & ‘Riviera’ (as shown on SKY TV & movie channels) or a Harold Robins novel.

  • 5

    Thanks Rusiripala Tennakoon for the “In Plain Humour”. It lightens the atmosphere of despondency we find ourselves in.
    Rusiripala suggests the magic words “I forgot” to get out of the tax person’s demand. This may work if one has “connections”, WILL work if the connection is political and if the political connection is way up the hierarchy the tax owing will be forgiven.

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