THE EDITOR: Once upon a time there was an island called Legoland. It was in all respects a mini-country, made of very expensive plastic bricks made into miniature replicas of the parliament and government ministries found on the neighbouring larger island of Petrodad. On the bigger island, there was a fountain that magically spurted money from under the ground.
The denizens of Legoland were a happy lot. Even though they numbered about 60,000 or four per cent of the republic’s population, they knew that they had two seats in the parliament. They knew that whoever formed the government of the twin-island country needed their support.
So powerful were they that they insisted that they have their own expensive mini-parliament and mini-ministries complete with mini-ministers and mini-departments. They got what they wanted. They even had their own post-meeting press conferences just like the big post-cabinet media briefings in Petrodad, although no one really watched these on the TV.
Meanwhile, other regions of the republic were content to have modest county councils which were always begging the central government for money. Some of these regions were much larger than Legoland and had many more inhabitants. These regions were not considered really important since they tended to vote the same way election after election, and besides, none of them was an island, which was Legoland’s main claim to fame.
Legoland’s inhabitants were also very lucky. The vast majority of them were employed by Legoland’s House of Assembly, which was in charge of spending the money provided by the taxpayers of the United Republic of Petrodad and Legoland. Their jobs really did not require them to produce anything of value, and the hardest and most involved work was processing salary cheques and paying contractors every month.
But Legoland’s inhabitants wanted more. They wanted self-government and autonomy, which sounded like independence but really meant that they would run their own affairs and spend a portion of the republic’s money while remaining a part of the united republic. In other words, they wanted all the trappings of a separate country but none of the real responsibilities that came with it, such as raising their own money to support their heavy and wasteful spending.
Legoland’s inhabitants had supported the party that was now in government. They wanted to be rewarded for their loyalty. The inhabitants of Petrodad kept quiet, so as not to be accused of being politicians. Legolandians, you see, could complain about Petrodad. However, Petrodadians were called uncharitable if they ever complained about Legolandians.
In the midst of all this, the magic fountain dried up.
The republic now had an important choice to make: should they give Legoland the autonomy it demanded and borrow money to upkeep the expensive mini-kingdom, or would they firmly say enough is enough and treat Legoland as any other region was being treated?
Having been held virtually hostage for all these years by the people of Legoland, the republic’s parliament gave in, and succumbed to the “Stockholm Syndrome” which is a condition where hostages empathise with their captors.
Some fool dared to call this the “Scarborough Syndrome” but was immediately pelted with little plastic bricks.
DARRELL P ALLAHAR