Advice from the top
was an auspicious night last Tuesday for Minister Rajitha Senaratne who
was embroiled in controversy over the GMOA issue. He was pondering his
modus operandi when he received an important visitor. It was President
Maithripala Sirisena visiting his old friend, Rajitha, to pay his long
overdue ‘Avurudu’ visit. The President was accompanied by his family,
and Rajitha hosted them to dinner.
Among other things, the two discussed matters relating to the burning
issue with the doctors. ‘It is better to find middle ground’, seems to
be the advice given. The very next day, Wednesday, Rajitha fixed a
meeting with the GMOA officials for that night. Saner counsel prevailed
on both sides and middle ground was found. The doctors were advised to
liaise with Dr. Amal Harsha De Silva and sort out the matter in a way
that would not harm the egos of both sides.
The doctors claimed they won the battle. However, it was thanks to
the President who averted a major crisis with his advice. The doctors
had better guard their words now, and not create any more problems.
The Parliamentarians had a field day at the General’s House, Nuwara
Eliya last week when they all met for a session on Human Rights. It was
a rather difficult task for the people who conducted it to appease the
MPs but it was quite exhilarating with questions pouring in on many
matters connected with HR violations by the LTTE. The questions ranged
from the Aranthalawa massacre to the murder of Policemen in the East,
but, the organisers chose to ignore many questions.
The bulk of the Parliamentarians were not interested in dwelling on
the subject. It was the UPFA rebel group or ‘Joint Opposition’ who were
vociferous in the discussion, but with the setting sun, the politicians
buried their differences to indulge in something more special to all of
them. They partied all night long with song and revelry.
Last week it was the talk of the town. All spoke high of young Namal
Rajapakse, the up and coming politician and the son of ex-President
Mahinda Rajapakse. Namal had impressed with his seemingly mature
disposition on Sri Lankan politics in a TV talk show. Some said his
knowledge of the issues was extremely good and well balanced, while some
UNPers were stunned by the performance.
But the next day the one-time Presidential scion met with a very
senior prelate who had watched the TV talk show, and the same Namal was
then found to be quite ‘dumb’ on the very same issues! On Tuesday, just
prior to the weekly Cabinet meeting, the gathering Ministers speculated
on this discrepancy in performance. A senior Minister who was privy to
the background story disclosed that Namal was given a practice session a
day before the programme was actually aired as a ‘live’ telecast.
All the questions were designed accordingly and he was coached at the
rehearsal on how to answer. Having learnt the secret of this seeming
intellectual ‘development’ by the young parliamentarian, the Ministers
entered the Cabinet meeting room with wide grins. At least Namal had
some brains for a repeat performance unlike many others.
Eastern Chief Minister Ahmed Nazeer was yet another personality
embroiled in controversy last week over his behaviour at a school
function at Sampur where he publicly berated a Naval officer for not
following the protocol.
The controversy dragged on when local defence authorities thought it
fit to impose a ‘boycott’ of functions attended by the Chief Minister
and not permit him to enter any security forces camp.
At this point there were rumblings in political circles as to whether
those defence authorities are empowered to take political decisions,
since the ‘boycott’ decision they had taken was of ‘political’ nature.
Later the Prime Minister cleared the air saying that such a decision
could only be taken by the President, and the defence authorities
promptly moved to rescind the order while the Chief Minister expressed
his regrets. Meanwhile, some Buddhist monks in the East demonstrated in
support of the ‘war hero’ Naval officer involved; some even met with the
President demanding appropriate action against the Chief Minister.
There were also indications that the embers of communal hatred were
being stirred, with an ex- President too issuing a statement on the
importance of protecting the ‘dignity’ of the security forces personnel
who won the war for the people. The political authorities deflected the
issue stating that all that fuss was because the Chief minister happened
to be a Muslim.
Some people cited examples of many such occasions where high ranking
forces personnel were humiliated by people at the highest levels – but
that was during the previous regime. After all that controversy Nazeer
was hosted to lunch by the officers at the Trincomalee Navy base along
with other guests including Minister Malik Samarawickrama and vising
Singaporean Minister of Trade and Industry S. Iswaran.