Of that dream Cabinet
Posted on April 26th, 2018

The Editorial Courtesy The Island

Midterm electoral defeats have a sobering effect on governments, intoxicated with power. Nothing scares politicians more than the prospect of being trounced. Once elected, they lose the ability to think, and they regain it when they are relegated to the political wilderness. The potentates of the last government are, today, campaigning against bribery and corruption and taking up cudgels for the rights of the people!

The Feb. 10 local government polls disaster has jolted the Sirisena-Wickremesinghe administration into mending its ways, in a bid to win back public sympathy and regain lost ground. The yahapalana leaders have apparently realised the need to heed public opinion.

President Maithripala Sirisena is reported to have said those who seek ministerial positions should be internationally recognised. One cannot but agree with him. But, one cannot forget the fact that he had no qualms about appointing a bunch of politicians who were not acceptable even to the people in their electoral districts and, therefore lost elections, to Parliament through the backdoor in 2015; he went to the extent of appointing them to the Cabinet. Thankfully, some of these political rejects have lost their ministerial posts owing to their abortive attempt to oust the Prime Minister.

It is heartening that President Sirisena has, perhaps with the benefit of hindsight, wised up to the fact that the country needs intelligent, capable men and women, as ministers. If he really means what he says and wants to have a team of internationally recognised ministers like the one in Singapore, then he will have his work cut out to remove the square pegs in round holes in the present Cabinet and replace them with persons acceptable to the local populace as well as the international community. We are reminded of Diogenes, the Cynic, who, carrying a lighted lamp during daytime went about, looking for an honest man. However, if the criterion, suggested by the President, is strictly followed in appointing ministers, we will be able to downsize the Cabinet as there are only a handful of such MPs within the government ranks, or in Parliament, for that matter.

If a country is to achieve any progress, its Cabinet should consist of mavens of integrity, drawn from vital fields, such as finance, economics, foreign relations, science and technology and international trade. Development goals elude countries that have nincompoops at the helm. This may explain why Sri Lanka has been lagging behind many other nations. A fish is said to rot from the head down.

The yahapalana leaders, before capturing power, promised to appoint ministers ‘scientifically’. Science and politics are as different as chalk and cheese, and it defies comprehension how scientific methods could be applied to political affairs. The ministerial appointments, made by the Sirisena-Wickremesinghe government, do not conform to even the principles of home science, so to speak.

Having the right people in key positions of the government is half the battle in hoisting the country from the politico-economic mire it finds itself in. This country is not short of men and women, capable of helping make it a better place for us to live in, but they avoid politics like the plague, for obvious reasons. US President Donald Trump has drawn heavy flak for using the term, ‘shithole countries’ to describe some parts of the Global South, characterised by poverty, corruption, conflicts etc. But, can anyone think of a better term to describe the countries where people enthrone rogues and deify them, while whingeing about corruption, abuse of power and lack of progress?

A perquisite for getting intelligent, honest, capable men and women to help develop the country is to drain the stinking Diyawanna swamp. The onus is on the three main parties, the SLFP, led by President Sirisena, the UNP and the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna, to end the practice of nominating political dregs to contest elections. No amount of lamenting will do.

One Response to “Of that dream Cabinet”

  1. Ancient Sinhalaya Says:

    Typo in the header!
    Of that Drealam cabinet

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