Professor Rajiva Wijesingha says when he expressed his displeasure to the Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe concerning the decisions made in the Higher Education Ministry without consulting him and informed of his decision to resign from his portfolio, the PM in return had told him to read Butler’s ‘Art of the possible’.
The State Minister for Higher Education says when the issue of the UGC Chairperson’s resignation occurred, he informed the President and the Cabinet Minister for Higher Education Kabir Hashim that he will resign by February 17 if a decision is not made to make him the Cabinet Minister for Higher Education as he could not continue his work independently under the present set up.
Thereafter when the PM contacted him over the phone and asked him not to resign, he had maintained that he should be made a cabinet minister and that he does not wish to continue his work under present circumstances. In response, the PM had said he would make a decision and get back to him and until then, to read Butler’s ‘Art of the Possible’. “I don’t need to read that; I need to start work. On Monday I cleared my desk. I have a simple rule, you have to do what you say you are doing, if not you have to explain why you are not doing it.” Wijesingha said.
In an interview with the Daily Mirror, Liberal party leader Prof. Wijesinghe who is a cousin of the PM, has also commented on the issues prevalent within the government regarding the manner in which the cabinet was appointed and the various portfolios assigned to each of the Ministers of the new government. He has blamed former President Chandrika Kumaratunga for the cabinet comprising majorly of UNP-ers.
Prof. Wijesinghe has noted that many Ministers including Rosy Senanayake was unhappy of being made a State Minister and has added that it was such issues that led to the resignation of Faizer Musthapha.
“Look what happened with Faizer. If you don’t want to make them Cabinet ministers its fine, but why put them under Cabinet ministers because the Constitution is clear that the President can appoint Cabinet ministers and assign them their jobs. The President can also appoint non-cabinet ministers. Cabinet ministers can allocate anything he/she wants to a non-cabinet minister but the non-cabinet minister is not under the Cabinet minister. They are supposed to have an independent existence but none has it. I can think of half a dozen in the present Cabinet, who should not be in it,” he has said in his interview.
He has also noted that contrary to the promise that was made to appoint a ‘scientific’ cabinet, the manner in which some of the governance sectors have been assigned to Ministers is completely illogical. Citing an example, the State Minister has said that although divisional and district secretariats should be ideally under the Public Administration Ministry, they have been assigned to be under the purview of the Fisheries Ministry.
“Ranil’s Cabinet portfolio is absolute crackers! Policy planning, youth, cultural and women’s affairs and investment promotion-but no-one knows where reconciliation fits in,” he has stated pointing out that it is unclear as to whether it is under the PM’s purview or is being dealt with through a Presidential task force.