By Ruvan Weerasinghe –
I for one am not too unhappy that the new government is taking its time naming its cabinet of ministers. Usual practice is, that after we all trek to the polling booths, cast our votes diligently and follow the election results, while we are still recovering from the exercise, a cabinet is thrust on us with barely 2 or 3 days of deliberation.
Nor are many of us particularly averse to the idea of a national government in which decision making would be slower than usual owing to the need for negotiation on each major decision – such as the appointment of the cabinet.
What me and many others who voted for progressive change, both on the 8th of January and the 17th of August take offense at, is being unwittingly drafted into a ‘save the SLFP’ project which appears to be taking place at our expense.
The first signs of this was when at least the few undesirable elements that were voted out of power (to be sure, sadly the majority were re-elected, some with large majorities) were brought back in through the national list – purportedly to strengthen the hand of the President within the SLFP. However noble that cause maybe, clearly the majority who voted for change didn’t do so to be enlisted in such a cause.
If the various so called ‘reliable sources’ quoted in the news, such as the Sunday Times Political Column are to be believed, much worse is to come. Some of the most undesirable ‘seniors’, who were so openly antagonistic towards the President even as the President of the SLFP, are to be part of the cabinet of the national government. Clearly this is more than just a little annoyance – it is a violation of the very mandate that the majority gave during the recent General Election.
MPs such as Nimal Siripala De Silva, Susil Premajayanth, Anura Priyadarshana Yapa are the epitome of bad governance – they stood for all that was wrong with the previous regime, culminating in the drawing up of a list of the most corrupt individuals for contesting the General Election under the UPFA ticket. To give them any ministerial posts, leave alone prominent portfolios, makes a mockery of the democratic process.
Can a government in which these individuals are ministers ever investigate independently the various cases pending against them and their allies who would be waiting in the sidelines to make a comeback as soon as possible? Won’t they instead make every effort to stall, delay and confuse the processes that have just begun to take their course in this respect? Can we trust a national government that has as its leaders those whose past record both within and outside parliament reads like a dismal report card?
In short, unless rear guard action is taken to make some last minute changes and replace these undesirables from the proposed cabinet, the entire national government exercise is bound to be viewed with suspicion, and be doomed to failure long before the planned two year period.
On its part, even the UNP appears to be on track to dish out cabinet portfolios based on loyalty, than on competence – that most voters voted for. Are really the so called loyalists such as the former Ministers of Finance and Education the most competent MPs in their team? What about professionals such as Harsha De Silva and Eran Wickremaratne who also showed they are capable of winning at elections? One is only left to hope that sanity will prevail, and that the UNP will recognize competency over loyalty in their cabinet appointees in the new government.
After all, we don’t want the hard work of civil society and the conscientiousness of the common voter to be hijacked for solving party problems – we want the best MPs that the parties can give, to take this country forward.
Mr President, Mr Prime Minister, the responsibility of using the mandate given by the people for establishing a healthy national government based on good governance, should not be usurped to play party politics for controlling and managing the MPs of the respective parties that you are heads of.
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