24 February, 2020

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This Cabinet Is Better Than Yahapālana’s

By Kumar David

Prof. Kumar David

Impeachment is of P unfeasible in Lanka’s supercharged partisan context: This cabinet is better than Yahapalana’s

The Cabinet of Ministers Sirisena grudgingly swore in on 20 Dec is, in the circumstances and taking into account the material available, a pretty decent one. There are five simple reasons why I say so. It is not bursting at the seems with crooks; to an extent core-competences have been recognised; people who can’t stand Sirisena have been given prominent and powerful places (Harin, Patali, Rajitha, Kiriella and Harison); the media ministry after considerable standoff has gone to a democrat (Mangala); and the absence of an SLFP contingent of proven bribe takers has improved cleanness compared to the yahapalana Cabinet that Sirisena torpedoed. Misplaced cunning and petulant obstructionism have boomeranged on him; it has helped launder dirt from the Cabinet.

Before saying any more nice things about the new Cabinet I need to express reservation about the swollen number of Ministers; there are a total of 55 Cabinet, non-Cabinet, State and Deputy Ministers and the filigree differentiation probably contributes nothing to getting the job done. More than half the UNF’s MPs carry the additional title Minister of some variety. Love of title and avarice for perks (salary, additional staff and vehicles and accommodation) are obvious motives.

I am pleased by many of the reappointments; Mrs Atukorale (Justice), Rajitha (Health), Hakeem (Higher Education), Mano (National Integration), Sajith (Housing), Mangala (Finance, averting a fright that it would be assigned to an aspirant unacceptable to the middle-class radicals who rescued the government from its predicament). Kabir Hakim taking over capital-intensive Highways and Petroleum will keep the filthy fingers of potential miscreants out of the jampot; friends tell me Viraj Kariyawasam is a good choice for education. This is a bourgeois democratic mainly UNP liberal ornamented Cabinet and within these parameters the outcome can be graded as satisfactory.

Those of you know my style of thinking will be surprised to hear what I say next: Giving the Power & Energy Ministry to Ravi may pay off. Hold on, before incinerating me; hear me out. The first premise is that thanks to power balances within the UNP and the deft style in which Ravi manoeuvred in recent weeks he cannot be excluded from a substantive post, but Finance was out of the question as it would have led to an uproar in the classes and forces that united to defeat the Sirisena-Mahinda conspiracy. The second point is that Ravi is able and efficient at getting things done; a businessman with Jaycees and Banker magazine nods, a man of many parties (Athulathmudali, Gamini, Srimani, Chandrika and now UNP loyalties) and a shrewd manipulator of the political scene. The third great advantage (yes advantage) is that he hasn’t got a clue of the difference between a mega-VAR and an auto-reclosing circuit-breaker.

To my mind the outcome will be is an ambitious 55-year-old businessman-politician, keen to prove himself and willing to (he has no choice) guided by sound opinion. The last point is important because of the shambolism, corruption and blunders of the Siambalapitiya-Batagoda regimen in which the Power Ministry has been immersed for three years. I speak with some subject knowledge in declaring that it has been the most costly and damaging institution of the yahapalana regime. Ravi has no reason to swallow all this shit despite Batagoda’s reappointment by Sirisena as Ministry Secretary. It is possible that a new broom though not expertly designed for the job, may be able to sweep some of the muck off the stable floor. He will have to address long-term power and renewable planning, revisit coal, repair relations between the CEB and the Regulator, and intervene in the massive scams re oil-power and LNG now in full swing. Why not give it a shot, he is not dense and not Pavitra? On the other hand, vultures may already be ringing his door bell; we’ll have to see how things pan out.

The reasons why the appointment of Sarath Fonseka was resisted tooth and nail, and why there was a battle (eventually unsuccessful) to wrest away the police ministry from Sirisena are open secrets. Of much contention in the next 12 months is whether murder and corruption cases against leading actors of the Rajapaksa regime and investigation of claims of multi-million-rupee scams by relatives of the current incumbent will be pursued. Failure to pursue these prosecutions with enthusiasm buried yahapalana and will do the same to the new Administration. This is the bottom-line, the minimum demand of all who mobilised to bring this government back to life after it was illegally ‘overthrown’. Sarath Fonseka is much motivated to pursue Rajapaksa era crimes and this makes him a threat to SLFP-PP leaders. The police have will have a role to play in both issues. It is obvious the ability to interfere in these matters was much prized by Sirisena.

Impeachment, retirement or sick-leave

George III of England reigned for 60 years (1760-1820) though in the last 10 years he was so stark raving crazy that a regency was established. However, from about 1802 his mental illness (bipolar disorder, a blood disease porphyria or unintended arsenic poisoning, the choice was never clinically confirmed) he was intermittently disciplined by parliament or forcibly restrained by his physicians. As early as 1783, Parliament voted in favour of a motion condemning the “influence of the monarch in parliamentary voting as a high crime”. It is true that, comparatively, the UK had to undergo this agony for a much longer period though the country did have powerful Grandees who would intervene to redress the balance when George’s mental health problems drove everyone to distraction.

Caligula was Roman Emperor for just four short year (AD 37-41) but coincidences don’t end there. He was known as a moderate emperor during the first six months of his rule but after that most accounts present him as an insane tyrant. He became unconstrained in the use of personal influence and irrational in the abuse of imperial power. The most hilarious example of irrationality are popular but unconfirmed accounts that he made his horse Incitatus a Senator – not an appointed MP, there were none in those days. He was assassinated by a conspiracy of the Praetorian Guard and Senators in AD 41.

Impeachment in Sri Lanka will have to be a joint initiative of the two major parties, the UNP and SLFP-PP. This is out of the question because in terms of the provisions of our Constitution the incumbent Prime Minister will automatically accede to an interim presidency. For example, if for any reason Sirisena is incapacitated or removed from office Ranil will become acting president. Of course, there is nothing, not even the devil himself that will terrify the other side more. The converse is also true. Professor Ratnajeevan Hoole asserts “The Gazette (dissolving Parliament) was surely misbegotten and unlawful . . the President does not have the authority to order something so brazenly illegal”. Though he is quite right it will not make a fig of a difference to our parliamentarians; we had better adjust to accepting reality and bear the unavoidable with fortitude. At worst it’s another twelve months only and we will be rid of this person.

The matter that needs urgent attention of parliament is changes to the Constitution. A JVP resolution calling for abolition of the Executive Presidential system is being debated right now. It is certain of securing a simple majority, maybe even two-thirds if a sufficient number of UNP and SLFP-PP members see common sense. Since it is not a Constitutional Amendment securing two-thirds is of no extra advantage. It is urgent that a Twentieth Amendment at a minimum abolishing the Executive Presidency be promulgated within the next few months. Otherwise we may have to go through a similar nightmare once again.

Sri Lankan polity has taken a horrible turn for the worse; simply asserting the supremacy of Parliament over President and Executive, and continuing the independence of the Judiciary won’t do in the long-run. That’s a nice formula but with the collapse of political ethics on all sides, inherited notions of the independence of the three branches of state and the supremacy of the people don’t make enough sense anymore. It seems that cock won’t fight anymore – and similar crisis seem to stretch to other countries as well. What when the people themselves have become corrupt? Who will keep watch when the watchman has become truant?

Many countries including Lanka are in uncharted waters; a big rethinking of fundamental categories has fallen due. The democratic will of the people has become counterproductive on a variety of local and/or global issues including absence of concern for minorities (the present worst case in Burma), proclivity to elect corrupt or criminal politicians to parliament (Sri Lanka and India for example), a short-sighted drive to consume now without concern for the future, insensitivity to climate change (Macron’s travails, Trump) and specific mistakes like Brexit. Alt-right Populism and the right of neo-Nazi movements in parts of Europe have mass support. Quite clearly the old formulae of democratic liberalism are being outflanked and posing social democracy as an alternative only address the economic and socio-economic side of things. There is a need for discourse and action on a wider scale.

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Latest comments

  • 7
    0

    Prof David. What is being said is very nice, but will it take place with this lot – both within the Govt, Opposition and even MY3’s group.

    I visualize a simple solution.Follow US and France – No MP shouuld hold a Ministerial post.If appointed they should resign from the MPship.

    There should be a watch Dog with fins in all districts to control the Administration.- For reference or record, I have had the occassion to complain of some failings among State Institution to the Sec / President, Sec/ Finance, Sec/Commerce, and Sec/SugarMinistry.Tese complaints were sent under registered cover, in Sept last,long before the day of the long knives. I have not received either an acknmowledgement nor a solution to the problem spotlighted. Those letters may be in the waste paper baskets of the Secretaries or used as toilet paper.

    You refer to Kariyawasm.His Ministry appropriated some lands of mine, with no by your leave to me nor pay compensation.The District Registry escape by passing the blame to Kariyawasm.

    • 2
      0

      Kumar

      We don’t need all these half baked fellows as Ministers. Just 12 Ministers with 12 capable secretaries would do the job.

      1Finance
      2Health
      3Education and Labour
      4Agriculture and Irrigation
      5Infrastructure
      6Defence
      7Foreign
      8ICT
      9Fisheries
      10Travel and Aviation
      11Trade and Shipping
      12 Rural Development

      Atleast 6 of the above secretaries should come from the private sector with experience and qualifications and with measurable KPIs. They should be paid private sector CEO salaries.

      Give 10 years and the job will be done.

  • 1
    0

    KUMAR DAVID: How Many Ministers or SEcretaries are there to develop or look after the USA or NEw YOrk. Why Sri lanka needs 57 ministers and they want to increase it to 45 for Cabinet portfolios. they are waiting until the Referrees come back from vacation. Now the Peoples’s sovereignity is below the LEgislatrue, Speaker, Executive PM and the Referees who get paid etc. Howmuch you are gettingpaid per article ?.

  • 2
    0

    Why both the PArliament and the cabinet are full of NATIONAL LIST MPs. Both Jayampathi and Sumanthiran wasted Four years of salaries, benfits and perks for useless constitution. Now, Ranil says Orumiththa nadu and Nasirishthan are not there and the buddhism has it’s place that It has Before Octobedr 26th. That is More Bhikkus will be jailes unless they help Sirikotha and INGOs. British hadgiven more prominence to buddhists than the Sinhalagovts which have rule books but never implement. Why so many National list MPS are there to work as mininisters are there for miister posts. Are the MPs elelcted are Idiots ?
    Vajira Abeygunawardan says he is the minister for local councils, district councils, provincial councils. So he knows more constition than the Academics, and PResident’s lawyers.

  • 1
    0

    Dear Prof: ” This Cabinet Is Better Than Yahapalanay’s”. YES. I am glad if this “Cabinet” does not use that term “Yahapalanaya”; because IT will never, ever live or act to fit to the “CORE VALUES” of the term. So let this “Cabinet” be far, far away from the precepts of any type of “Yahapalanaya”. That much is CERTAIN for us. All those “Cabinet” members are TEST FAILURES. What do you expect from them any more?

  • 1
    0

    NEw Better Cabinet has three Bond thieves and one NAtional List MP who tried to deposit Rs 2 million FAKE notes. She was kept out by the enemy of the INGOs MR. Mangala Saraweera is accused of giving FAKE contracts to his Hench men companies. PENT HOUSe RAVI has given HAnd outs 53 people including CHeevaradhari, University professors. AT LEast one NAtionsal List MP has REFUGEE centers after flood Like WARDS and hospitals without even DIAABETIC medication. but he wants to spend moey in lacks for Terminal patients. Minister of LAW and ORder is screwed up tun by a MORON. who doe swhat only BATALANDA RANIL the NERO says. Remember Anglican Ranil when he lost the MP post, instead of PReying Anglican Allmighty (Queen Elizabeth ?), he preyed to Chatumharajika gods.

  • 2
    0

    Now Prof: David looking in to the new formed cesspool and covering his nose proclaiming this stink is not too bad as the last one.
    Give couple of month stink will overwhelmed the public.
    Same old sewage transfer to a new barrel.
    Every day more proof that “Nassim Nicholas Taleb” got it spot on.

  • 3
    0

    Majority Sri Lankans may not agree with you with your great article, but I do, because RaviK, MalikS, and SagalaR, and even Viagra John are all cabinet ministers with hefty salaries, all kinds of perks, commissions, contracts, free car permits, free fuel, etc. etc. Taxpayers should be very happy about these hard working men. People now talk about the Central Bank too. They say it will also be a better place if you can find out Mahendran from his hiding place and offer him his old post back!

  • 3
    0

    CT allowed typing this comment, but then announced “deadline past”::
    .
    https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/pig-headed-ranil-wickremesinghes-downfall/comment-page-3/#comments
    PART ONE
    .
    Dear Prof,
    .
    Young people today are at a loss to know how we have arrived at today’s social milieu. I have tried to give a rather rough and ready over-view as the last comments on this article. Part 2 has appeared before Part 1.
    .
    https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/us-them-flash-floods-in-the-northern-sri-lanka-aftermath/
    .
    .
    For Namal Rajapaksa’s purposeless visit to the Maldives, please see this story.
    .
    https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/major-diplomatic-snub-illegal-foreign-minister-sarath-amunugama-humiliated-in-maldives/comment-page-1/#comments
    .
    Three days later, there was another article about Amunugama’s daughter trying to paint a different picture.
    .
    The man who made a real difference to those elections was Prof. Ratnajeevan Hoole, who went there as an elections observer. Then President Yameen was rigging the elections; he had almost ensured that there would be no truly independent observer for the elections. Those going there were from all sorts of “odd” countries, including Sri Lanka.
    .
    I sent a message to Nasheed that the Sri Lankan who was probably going to go there was an unusual guy for our country. Absolutely honest and stubborn as a mule, constantly getting in to trouble with people even here because he is so outspoken. Please see this story:
    .
    https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/nasheed-requests-sri-lankan-government-to-engage-robustly-in-transition-of-power/

    • 3
      0

      My Dear Sinhala Man,

      I just wanted to check myself who may have financed Namal Rajakashes recent visit to Maldives on the mentioned eve ?
      .
      And I also noticed we cant add our posts as comments to that article – why has CT blocked it that way ? May be NAMAL and RAJATHUMA mayhave put their fingers making restrictions on CT as well ?
      .
      All in all, as a whole who financed all these millions during 52-d black period of recent crisis ?
      :
      Ithink JVP, UNP and all other parties should come forward to express about all tehse losses. Country s budget is sinking with over 7000 millions of dollars as debts pay offs have to be made within 2019, but these men to totally ignore them and abuse state should NOT be allowed anymore.

      • 1
        0

        Dear Desperate Sinhalaya,
        .
        The airfare to Male isn’t much – even if Namal and Company had insisted on flying First Class. They shouldn’t do that, of course. Accommodation in the Maldives is what is killing – and remember that I haven’t been there for 24 years. Male is incredibly crowded, and it’s not usually possible to stay elsewhere. But I do really know what’s happening there.
        .
        I think it quite likely that once they got there, these guys would have been put up in a reasonable hotel at the expense of the Maldivian government. The Maldives never used to encourage visits by any tourists other than the richest. I guess you know that a reosrt island had “no locals” living on them – apart from workers.. Nasheed’s thinking has been different. He was wanting to enable the poorer locals on inhabited islands to run guest houses. He’s also less obsessed by “contamination” by foreigners – although he’s got to be careful not to give the Fundamentalist types a chance to attack him on that score.
        .
        This is how I send messages to Nasheed: https://raeesnasheed.com/contact
        .
        I’ve never hankered to know his e-mail address; if made public he’d be inundated with nuisance mail. When I met him at Mount Lavinia he told me he had got my messages. Later, when I said that there were some PDF documents that would be useful to him, a girl cousin of his e-mailed me (with proof that the message came from Anni) and I sent her the attachments.
        .
        No secrets is good policy. In fact Anni told me that himself, about whatever we should do. I’m content to let it be at that. I know my place!
        .
        However, I’m sure that you could write, but don’t expect responses. If you meet him, he’ll probably remember.
        .
        Any other queries?

  • 3
    0

    Kumar David portrayal of the new GoSL as a new yahapalana might be premature. The new GoSL will not deliver much…….hmm…..to us. Do we the call the opposite team in like we did in 2015? Mind boggles!
    .
    Look at the 26-October ‘removal’, the ‘crisis’ and the Supreme verdict. Serendipitously the Constitutional Council had a say in Appointment of the Chief Justice.
    Suppose the President, Speaker, Prime Minister were from the same party or family. There will be horse action among CC members and then……..what?
    .
    Our problem came about because we have to choose one of two bad teams who are competing for the ownership of GoSL.
    It is clear we are past the point of no return. Our hope lies in the teams cleaning themselves.
    PS: Why were the stories about George III and Caligula for?

    • 4
      0

      Dear K. Pillai,
      .
      The relevance is there. Both George and Caligula started well (like Sirisiena), but then became lunatics.
      .
      For me the question is how a mere engineer (he’s about the most qualified, one of only two Sri Lankan Fellows of the “Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE)” – the other being Jeevan Hoole) can know all this?
      .
      Of course, about Caligula there was a Sinhalese play, “Sunaka Sanniya” which this Prof may have seen in the (Sarachchandrage) Wala Festival at Peradeniya.
      .
      For a moment I thought that this George guy must have been the Elector of Hanover for whom G.F. Handel wrote some music:
      .
      But no, this was the Third of the Hanoverian kings. The guy whom Handel was scared of was the First, but:
      .
      “A performance of Water Music plays a major role in the movie The Madness of King George, in which King George III exhibits very erratic and inappropriate behavior at a concert, yelling at the orchestra to play louder (and eventually taking the place of the harpsichordist, playing very badly), culminating in a physical altercation with the Prince of Wales, leading to the Prince of Wales asking to be named Regent”.
      .

      I’ve downloaded this music – there’s a way to get the entire video downloaded on to a pendrive. If that is then played to Sirisena, will it help him get over his bipolar?
      .
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cnn3TVBDtcA
      .
      How do I know this music? There was a gramophone recording of this arrangement in our school; Rajan Hoole and I listened to it then.
      .
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=43nlQXoFzsw

  • 0
    0

    The country should be in production mode still the president setting / assembling the ministrial from the scratch oafter Oct 26, next it will be the time for election the continuation of gathering min isters will take place and when it is ready it is declined in empowerment of rapid economic growth with rapid ministerial change the time has passed

  • 1
    1

    The current Cabinet is closed 30 members as well as non Cabinets larger than 30 out of that 40 members.? What a policy of that UNP, TNA and JVP new Democrtiac alliances function timely unnoticed to President of Republic. And no mandate of universal franchise by citizens of Island?
    This is a politically
    manipulated and maneuvering behind by RW and CBK of new governances advice by CIA and RAW of intelligence services of think-tanks in Colombo base in our soil?
    These one of the chief advices are David Kumar of seek Federal state for Tamil Eealm by proposed constitution drafted by Abram Sumanthrain of TNA and Jayampaty Wircks of UNP and of that ex-LSST Trotskyist of now member of that UNP national list MP.

    They seek for new venture Tamil Federalism for Tamil Eealm state..in land of north-eastern soil in Island . Undoubalely it is new partition of Island for USA Naval Base in Trincomalee Port for Military Operation in Indian Ocean by blessing of Indian expansion on in that south Asian region.
    We will lost ours nation sovereignty to military power of USA and Indian axis by leadership of UNP of RW and CBK of Tamil federalist, TNA of Tamil Diasporas and JVP of new pro-UNP politically stooge by USA. The new funding in Globally political alliances for New hegemony created new platform that South Asian and Indian Ocean power by USA .
    The so called proposed that local UNP grand Democrtiac Alliance is that nothing else an except is more or less Military alliance against PRC and Russia? Who are the local members of that so-called D..A.. that grand alliance is composition that TNA, JVP, JHU, Muslim Congress and other minorities in Island?
    [Edited out]

  • 2
    0

    Mr. David, However, some ministers say they don’t like their posts. 2 examples are RaviK and Kiriella! RaviK openly says he wanted the FM post. A Sinhalese reader has thus responded to him:
    “We can’t let a fox guard a hen house, if you can’t handle your current ministry you can always leave the ministry. No one is going to force you to hold on to the current ministry.”
    Many agree!

    • 0
      0

      Absolutely. Ravi Karunanayake should have no Ministry at all.
      .
      This is just going on the facts.

      .
      I don’t know Ravi; never met him, although I’ve been in the same room as himself once, and heard him speak. He knows how to conduct himself.
      .
      His grandfather was DIG C.C. Dissanayake, the one who was one of the 1962 coup leaders. Called “Jungle”? Jungle’s brother, “Jingle”, S.S. Dissanayake, was also a DIG, but the brothers did not get on with each other. How do I know all this? My mother was a Dissanayake from Urala, near Wanduramba. We are the same clan; it may be that we are close relatives. But all that doesn’t matter, does it?
      .
      The fact that Ravi is descended from Jungle doesn’t matter one bit. Sir John Kotelawela’s father murdered his Attygalle Brother-in-Law, and proved it by taking cyanide before the guilty verdict was announced. All irrelevant to the fact that the blunt Sir John was no more capable than Maithripala Sirisena to lead the government. Knowing, or not knowing English is beside the point.
      .
      Ravi has to be banished (to jail? – I don’t know) because he accepted huge bribes from Arjuna Aloysius.

      The UNP just can’t go on like this, although it is interesting to note that the brilliant Prof. David sees silver linings.

  • 0
    0

    Blah blah blah. All I hear is a bloviated, pompous academic with zero practical experience in administration shooting his pie hole like Dayan. Like Dayan, Kumaran David fails to ever acknowledge when he’s wrong. Now he wants to brag about his energy expertise too

    • 0
      0

      T
      When one cannot comment on the content, one resorts to personal abuse.
      BTW, he is Kumar not Kumaran.

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