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My father is 91 years old, but he still has a very clear mind. I was therefore surprised when he suddenly informed me, after lunch I think it was, soon after the Prime Minister returned to Sri Lanka, that it was time Mahinda appointed that young man from Kandy as Prime Minister.

Though he is fond of the Prime Minister, given their long acquaintance, I could understand his view, given his understanding of constitutional proprieties that we need a Prime Minister who can actively contribute to political life. While the appointment in 2010 was a tribute to long service, it is clearly time, given the difficulties the government faces, which I gather have been brought to my father’s attention, that there should be an active Prime Minister.

For a minute however I thought he had lost the plot, since I could not think of any young man from Kandy who was fit to be made Prime Minister. But when he said he was talking of that Civil Servant, I realized that, at his age, Sarath Amunugama still seemed young.

But I realized too then that my father actually followed politics with more perspicacity than most, and had understood the significance of the recent appointment of Sarath Amunugama to be Deputy Minister of Finance, something that had passed me and other political commentators by.

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sithamuI was immensely impressed by the publication, initially on this website, and then in a Sunday newspaper, of the report of some young parliamentarians, from government and opposition, which aimed at promoting post-war Reconciliation and better relations with members of the Diaspora. I had come across them before, since I was asked to address them before an initial visit to Britain, and later I was most impressed with two of them who attended a meeting with the former British Secretary of Defence when he was here for the recent Defence Seminar.

I told the Secretary to the President about their input, and he turned out to be aware of their academic qualifications, and recognized their worth. Unfortunately he is not in a position to make use of their undoubted talents, given our national obsession with seniority, regardless of merit.

I will not discuss their recommendations, which are In accordance with those of the LLRC but adding on more interesting initiatives too. Rather my purpose here is to suggest that such synergy should be used by government also, to promote reform, as well as wider understanding of how reconciliation can be pursued.

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Rajiva Wijesinha

December 2012
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