Giving powers to an unwanted lot; the dilemma of Sri Lanka President

A cartoonist's view on the previous cabinet of Sri Lanka
(April 25, Colombo - Lanka Polity'Epa waheta hodi bedanna wage' is a Sinhala proverb that means serving curry to the husband that the wife is no more in love. Traditional  Sinhala housewife was bound to treat the husband well although she no more liked him. The husband could be either too old or weak since usually there was a wide age gap between husbands and wives in the past. In such circumstances, she showed her resentment either by serving curry insufficiently or overwhelmingly, inconvenient in both cases.

Sri Lanka President also behaves like that housewife when allocating powers to his Ministers. First of all, he helped himself with a huge spoon retaining defense, finance and planning, highways, ports and aviation for himself in addition to media subject a Minister has not been appointed so far. Hair to the throne President's son will be trained to run the country via these ministries. One of the President's brothers Defense Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa will act as the actual Minister of Defense.

President's younger brother Basil Rajapaksa has been given a newly created Ministry of Economic Development with wide powers. He will handle work carried out by a number of ministries earlier. The workload will practically stuck him and Namal Rajapaksa can be expected to shift to his role in the President's intermediate circle. Namal will need no title like Senior Presidential Adviser since everybody knows he is the 'future of the country'.

Chamal, the elder brother of the President had to exchange the actually powerful position he held as the Minister of Ports and Aviation to the ceremonious Speaker title that he did not like to assume earlier. The brothers seem unable to settle the issues one to one now and the sisters of the President reportedly had to mediate the issue during a dinner they hosted for the family.

Thus, the President got the family issues solved getting the way cleared for Namal to ascend to power after him.

He seems inclined in giving the other powerful ministries to the individuals that have crossed over to the ruling alliance  from the United National Party or to the leaders of the splinter groups such as National Freedom Front and the Jathika Hela Urumaya because they cannot claim the leadership legitimately. Instead, the seniors of Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP), the major party of the ruling coalition, appear to legitimately challenge the Rajapaksa family authority in state.

SLFP General Secretary Maithripala Sirisena, a leader with good name, is the major challenge to the Rajapaksas and he has been given the portfolio of Minister of Health. This position was earlier held by SLFP senior Nimal Siripala de Silva whose administration was heavily criticized by state backed media. It is a well-known secret that some of the leaders of the powerful trade unions of the health sector are in the pocket of President Mahinda Rajapaksa. Sirisena will have to blame his predecessor for the pieces of broken glass that are being recovered regularly from vaccine vials. Recovering the shattered image of the Health Minister is not an easy task for Maithripala Sirisena.

Nimal Siripala de Silva has been given the Irrigation and Water Management, another subject one can face people's protests due to the government's long standing attempts to liberalizing the water resources.

Elderly D.M. Jayarathna was appointed as the Prime Minister, a ceremonious post that has no real value sans been the legitimate successor to the post of President in case of an emergency.

Former Prime Minister Rathnasiri Wickramanayaka has been given a new Ministry of State Management and Reforms that appears to cross with the powers of the Ministry of State Administration and Home Affairs that is held by another party stalwart John Senevirathna.

Dilan Perera is another prominent SLFPer that represents Badulla since 1994 but without been appointed into the cabinet. This time as well, he is the deputy of John Senevirathna's ministry.

A notable person that was not given a cabinet portfolio is Reginald Cooray, former Chief Minister of the Western Province.

Most of the above mentioned SLFP leaders have been a challenge to the leadership of Mahinda Rajapaksa in one or the other way. They have also been loyal to President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumarathunga, the arch rival predecessor of the present President.

Even Dallus Alahapperuma that is targeting SLFP leadership through the loyalty to the Rajapaksa family has failed to get a senior position in the cabinet. He was prevented from contesting the general election from Mathara district from where he could have gained huge amount of preferential votes. But his nomination via national list tarnished his image and he was given the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Employment, that cannot be considered a powerful position.

Sarath Amunugama and S.B. Disanayaka, two powerful figures of the SLFP in certain times were also not given cabinet portfolios citing an investigation is underway to ascertain their involvement or non-engagement in election malpractices in Nawalapitiya electorate in Kandy districts. But the President cannot keep them in hold for a long time since they can influence the President via the Buddhist monk leaders.

However, a number of other SLFPers like Susil Prema Jayantha, Kumara Welgama and Anura Priyadarshana Yapa that have less potential to rise into the state leadership have been given fairly good positions.


  1. Newly elected government under pres: mahinda Rajapaksha of Sri lanka has already broken two promises

    1. Ministerial post are rocketing up to 4o or 45 perhaps 50 despite their claim of limiting to 35.and the allocation of ministerial post has been done in a way Rajapaksha family receives the lions share with more profitable ministeries

    2. The government promised to bring a top class budget after the lection but now they are planning to bring a votge on account.


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