The appointment of Mervyn Silva as Deputy Media Minister about two weeks ago came as a big disappointment to every right thinking person. But, our disappointment yesterday was far bigger. Mervyn said he would resign from that post to take over as the Deputy Minister of Highways. We naturally found ourselves on cloud nine! Celebrations were about to begin. And then came the bad news he had changed his mind. Our hopes were dashed.
We thought, when Mervyn offered to resign, President Mahinda Rajapaksa would seize time by the forelock, grab his resignation letter and let the media be. But, the President disappointed us sorely and hugely once again by not doing so. Is it that he did not allow Mervyn to resign for reasons known only to him?
It is not being argued that Mervyn is the only square peg in a round hole in the present government. There are many others like him but the government has drawn heavy flak over his appointment at issue because of his dastardly attacks on media outfits in the past.
President Rajapaksa is, no doubt, popular. His spectacular victories at both elections this year are still fresh. His rivals are licking their wounds and do not seem to be in a position to pose a challenge to him in the foreseeable future. But, that is no reason why he should be cocky and whimsical in handling sensitive matters such as appointing ministers and their deputies. He will realise his folly sooner or later and it may be too late by that time for him to undo what he has been doing. He needs to be told that a politician`s popularity rating is like a dengue patient`s platelets count. At first it decreases slowly and, unless remedial measures are adopted to arrest its fall, it plummets rapidly. There are already signs of that happening.
General`s major U-turn
DNA leader and MP Gen. Sarath Fonseka`s broadside at the government during the Emergency debate in Parliament on Tuesday smacks of a volte face. He said that there was no threat to Sri Lanka`s national security and it was the leaders feeling insecure who ruled under Emergency laws in peacetime.
Gen. Fonseka is entitled to his opinion and what he says in Parliament cannot be questioned. However, we are reminded of what he said and did about post-war threats to national security while he was in uniform. It may be recalled that he as army chief did his damnedest to make the government take delivery of a huge consignment of arms and ammunition worth about $ 32 million weeks after the end of war. His contention was that the depleted stocks of the army had to be replenished to meet possible terrorist threats, though the war was over. The government did not buy his argument and it is believed that the rejection by the Defence Ministry of arms and ammunition he had ordered from China soured his relations with the President Mahinda Rajapaksa and Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa.
How would Gen. Fonseka reconcile his earlier position that the country had to be prepared through arms procurement etc. to face post-war threats and his latest pronouncement that there is no need for extending the State of Emergency as there are no threats to national security?
Gen. Fonseka also pressed for stepping up recruitment to the army even after the war was over. He wanted its strength increased at least up to 300,000! What would have happened, if the government had given in to his pressure and recruited tens of thousands of more personnel to the army? Wouldn`t the country have been unnecessarily burdened with a huge army in peacetime in spite of the absence of threats?
Gen. Fonseka keeps contradicting himself. He really belongs to Parliament.