By Kusal Perera –
The present Governor of Northern Province, Major General (Rtd.) G.A. Chandrasiri, a battle hardened high officer in the State security service was opposed in his capacity as Governor, not for his conduct, but because the high office of Governor should be held by a civilian, for civil administration to function as civil as it has to be. That opposition was on a principle democratic assumption and it applied to the Eastern Province Governor, Rear Admiral (Rtd.) Mohan Wijewickrama as well and to all other security forces personnel, retired or not, who hold public office that should be held by civilians. This was part of the issue, a component of militarisation, the Final Report of the LLRC also showed much concern about and concluded this should be reversed and reversed rapidly.
EP Governor proved his command is rule of law, with even the ruling party Provincial Councillors and PC ministers wanting him removed. He has made the elected Council by the people almost defunct, from what the protesting people’s representative complained to the President. That was not adequately solved as media reports later indicated, quoting the complainants who met with President Rajapaksa in Kandy. The bottom line is, retired or not, security forces high command personnel are not the type who could sit on civilian seats.
Now, NP Governor Chandrasiri has proved himself wholly unqualified to hold such high position, irrespective of whether he is in uniform or not. The CaFFE in a statement said a Governor appointed by the President under the Constitution has the role and responsibility detailed in article 154 (b) of the Sri Lankan Constitution, must carry out duties assigned accordingly which are executive in nature and Governor Chandrasiri should choose between politics and the Governor’s post. Reacting to this CaFFE inference which in every way was right and spot on, Governor Chandrasiri in a very angry and arrogant tone had told the media in Jaffna, “I am not bothered even if my propaganda work has been referred to the Human Rights Commission. There is no law to stop me from travelling around the Northern Province, for which I am the Governor. I have the political right as I am representing the President,” He does not know that he is not there to represent the “political party” of Mahinda Rajapaksa that is contesting elections. He does not understand that he had been appointed by the President to represent executive power. These are distinctly two different aspects contradicting each other.
His arrogance based on ignorance comes out quite conspicuously when he says, “People are stupid to listen to what the Tamil National Alliance (TNA), which is contesting in the North, is saying. I have the power and I can go anywhere with anybody. I travel with the President and his brother, Minister of Economic Development, Basil Rajapaksa, on various occasions, who are toiling to develop the North. I have to be there when they are present in the North.” Again, he can travel anywhere with them, when they come in their capacities as President or Minister. Now they come as political party leaders to canvass votes for their candidates and it is more than stupid to say, “I have the power and I can go anywhere with anybody.” He simply can not. That is the legal and moral responsibility, that is the restriction, that is also the decency in holding such high profile public office with clear Constitutional bindings.
According to the Constitution, the Governor is the authority under whom the entire provincial public service is constitutionally placed. Why it is not placed under the Chief Minister, explains that the provincial administration has to be independent of politics. Also, the Governor has to work with the Board of Ministers, who are elected representatives of the people of the province. Therefore, the person who holds the office of Provincial Governor has to be above politics, so as to comply with any Chief Minister and the Board of Ministers, what ever political party or affiliations they may have.
Governor Chandrasiri has already made it clear, he is anti TNA. He says publicly, the people are stupid to listen to the TNA. He thus gets on political platforms of the ruling UPFA candidates and proves he is a UPFA “politician”. Obviously he will not be co-operating with any provincial council that would not be UPFA led. This very clearly disqualifies him to hold the office of a Governor.
The South, all democrats and independent, impartial citizens, should now understand that this type of arrogant and “I am not bothered” type security force personnel retired or not, but trained only to follow orders and brought in with politics, should not be allowed to hold public office that requires a rational mind. It is in the North, where democracy is being mutilated this way as at now. Be informed, it may not necessarily stop beyond Omanthai. There is no guarantee it would. Therefore the Sinhala constituency too has to stand for the right of decency, for Constitutional dignity and rule of law in every part of this land. It is their responsibility too, to demand that NP Governor is removed immediately for violating the very Constitution that provided for his appointment and extend that demand to have a totally civil administration with civil appointments every where.