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Over the last 25 years the idea of Cabinet government has become a joke. I suspect this was the intention of J R Jayewardene when he imposed an Executive Presidency on a Westminster style system of Cabinet government. In no other country in the world in which the Constitution is a serious document is there an Executive President who has to select his Cabinet from amongst Members of Parliament who continue thus to serve in a dual role. And I should add to this that, in the Westminster system, where all Ministers are Members of Parliament, there is provision generally for additional talent to be included through a Second Chamber – as we see illustrated so effectively in India today.

Adding to the problem is the tradition introduced by President Jayewardene of giving ministerial positions to almost everyone. This led to the assumption that not being made a Minister was an insult, which warranted conspiring against the government. Given that the provisions to prevent cross-overs have also become a joke, this meant that the cabinet had to be continually expanded. Even honourable retirement is now accompanied by a ministerial position, and since the criterion seems to be just age, extraordinarily able people like Sarath Amunugama and D E W Gunasekara are shoved upstairs and replaced with persons without the half of their talents. The latest anomaly, of a Senior Minister also becoming a Junior Minister, since someone of enormous ability is now needed in Parliament as financial problems mount, only serves to make clear to what a ridiculous position we have brought ourselves. Read the rest of this entry »

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Rajiva Wijesinha

April 2013
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