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Powers of Chief Minister vs Governor

The answer is a conundrum

| by Pearl Thevanayagam

(November 30, 2013 – London – Sri Lanka Guardian) The powers of chief minister and governor under provincial councils is blurred. Who is top brass and how much clout has the CM over governor in the North East? The former is a justice and the other is a member of the armed forces. This marriage was doomed from the start.

The governor dictates no public commemoration of war heroes should be held and CM had to resort to private mourning of those who sacrificed their lives in defence of the ostracised Tamils.

Sri Lanka is a socialist democratic republic as decreed by consecutive presidents and its constitution is unique in that there is no model - federal or otherwise - but it remains a mystery to even those who are educated in political science.

Even Foreign Affairs Minister Prof. G.L. Peiris who is well-versed in constitutional affairs and law would find it hard to define the Sri Lankan constitution. Rather he has succumbed to the Rajapaksas and is bending over backwards to amend the constitution at will with scant regard to constitutional law which is decreed at random by the executive presidency.

As the only erudite minister in the Rajapaksa Government, Prof. G.L.Peiris, ex vice-chancellor of Colombo University is putty in the hands of the regime. How the hell did he manage to descend to the level of genuflecting before the Rajapaksas from the outbacks of Hambantota begs the belief that GLP is approaching senile dotage.

Now he is only an apologist for President Perceival Mahinda Rajapaksa for crimes committed in his two years of presidency. How low can one get and stooping to the level of a PR emissary trotting the globe making apologies on behalf of his HMV and forfeiting his erstwhile credentials?

He has become the butt of many jokes post Chogm and he is accused of having travelled far and wide spending public money to beg leaders to attend Chogm meeting with just only 23 Heads attending.

When this writer met Cheliyan Perinpanayagam in 1995 he said his only power as Mayor of Batticaloa was to make sure cows do not stray onto roads. He was incarcerated in his own municipality which was declared a military zone. (There are still 2,500 bodies of university students buried under Batticaloa Stadium which is a military zone according to Fr Harry Miller)

He still managed to allow a photo opportunity in his mayoral regalia. Soon after he was gunned down by either the LTTE or PLOTE and we’ll never know.

CVV is no dissimilar to Cheliyan. His power is just a sugar coating under the bitter pill of Mahinda Rajapaksa’s ham-fist.

GLP has accustomed himself with switching allegiance. Now we have another eminent person Justice C.V.Vigneswaran who has forfeited judiciary to enter the murky world of politics and he is caught between the devil of the call of Tamils crying for autonomy and the need to be subservient to the government which is holding him to ransom.

Neither GLP nor CVV are in enviable positions. How academics and law professionals are enticed into entering politics is beyond comprehension. Is it too much to ask that politics is best left to scoundrels and not academics and legal luminaries?

Ballage vada balla krandada one; booruwe vada boorowamai karanda one. Will we ever learn ?

(The writer has been a journalist for 24 years and worked in national newspapers as sub-editor, news reporter and news editor. She was Colombo Correspondent for Times of India and has contributed to Wall Street Journal where she was on work experience from The Graduate School of Journalism, UC Berkeley, California. Currently residing in UK she is also co-founder of EJN (Exiled Journalists Network) UK in 2005 the membership of which is 200 from 40 countries. She can be reached at pearltheva@hotmail.com)
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