GL’s Super Minister phobia
Former External Affairs Minister Prof. G.L. Peiris is very much in the media spotlight these days, as the leader of the newly formed Sri Lanka Peoples’ Front, albeit nominally, until one of the Rajapaksas elbow him out of his pedestal. Peiris is seen hosting one media conference after another, almost on a daily basis, preaching to the public on the forebodings that await the country, like a recently converted zealot. The former law professor cannot fault the government enough, it would seem. He is now harping on a hidden agenda of the government to divide the country through the mechanism of the new constitution. Never mind that Peiris was one time the architect of a draft constitution that was to convert the country into a Union of Regions – that was all but federal in name. That document was made a bonfire of in the August Assembly of Parliament by the UNP whom the good professor is today accusing of drafting a constitution that is all but federal in name.
Be that as it may, on Wednesday Peiris hit out at the government once again, this time for its move to appoint a Super Minister. The former minister sees in the new post yet another feature in the Yahapalanaya government’s descent to a dictatorship. Says he: “the new post to be created by the government would be vested with enormous powers and the person who held it could even override the President at will without being questioned” – yet another instance of the Joint Opposition members putting the cart before the horse.
Cartoon added by TW from internet
The new Super Ministerial post was a mere suggestion by the Prime Minister to coordinate the functions of all ministries to facilitate the implementation of government policy. No details have yet been made public let alone gazetted as to the exact role and functions of the new Super Minister or whether it is going to usurp the powers of the President. This is the same line taken by Peiris and the JO with regard to the new constitution which the public are made to think is going to be made the Armaggadon of Sri Lanka- notwithstanding the assurances given to the contrary by the Mahanayakas.
Peiris’s comments and fears with the regard to the outcome stemming from the appointment of a Super Minister too is hypocritical to say the least, if not replete with irony. As Peiris is only too aware Basil Rajapaksa was more than a Super Minister under the Presidency of his brother and he (Peiris) as External Affairs Minister functioned only as a Post Box shuttling between countries carrying the messages of the Rajapaksas.
As those in the know would vouch, certain departments and functions in the External Affairs Ministry was a no go zone for Peiris. For instance, India was the sole province of Basil Rajapaksa, with Peiris elbowed out of the scheme of things. Matters pertaining to India were discussed in the drawing rooms of the Rajapaksa brothers to the exclusion of the External Affairs Minister. Though Peiris was vested with the constitutional powers to run the Ministry, things were taken out of his hand by the likes of Sajin Vass Gunawardena and Nivard Cabraal, with the former running the External Affairs Ministry as his fiefdom, responsible for all appointments and to which countries and the hiring and firing while the latter dealt directly with the Rajapaksas in the release of funds for the recruitment of lobby firms in the USA to perform the functions of our High Commissioner, a relative of Rajapaksa, and currently doing a stint in the state guest house.
Peiris also goes onto say that the new Super Minister would have powers of land acquisition. The public would like to pose the little question to the former law professor as to whose land had been acquired in Malwana and a leisure resort built on the property and by whom? So much for Super Ministers.
Peiris also has the gall to ask political parties and the media to remain vigilant and protect democracy because of the advent of a Super Minister, when he, all along, stayed docile and an obedient servant to the likes of Basil Rajapaksa and Sajin Vass Gunawardena who had virtually taken over the running of his ministry.
Not just Peiris. Almost all ministers in that government had to bend and be subservient to the whims of Basil Rajapaksa who ruled the roost. No less a personage than the sitting Chief Justice had to pay dearly for ruling against a transfer of funds to the Divineguma Ministry of the powerful Presidential sibling. JO stalwarts such as Wimal Weerawansa directly blamed the downfall of the former President to the machinations of this Super Minister while it is no secret that many in the UPFA Cabinet worked on the sly for the victory of the Common Candidate because they resented the intrusion of this Super Minister in their affairs. Hence, if it is any consolation, Peiris can take solace in the fact that he did not have to suffer alone