Sri Lanka’s festering tensions between the President and the Prime Minister came out into the open again, this time over the administration of the strategically-important Lake House publishing enterprise.
In a surprise move, President Maithripala Sirisena on Tuesday night appointed a four-member committee to investigate Associated Newspapers of Ceylon Limited which is better known as Lake House, a subject under the Media minister.
The committee headed by retired Supreme Court judge Nimal Dissanayake was asked to identify management and administrative deficiencies as well as other shortcomings at Lake House.
Lake House is headed by Kavan Ratnayaka, the brother of Law and Order Minister Sagala Ratnayaka, who is credited with turning the company around and improving the credibility of its publications. However, Sirisena loyalists have been saying that Sinhalese language Lake House newspapers have not given enough exposure to the President.
What surprised most was the fact that the President appointed a panel to investigate a company that directly reports to the Prime Minister although nominally it is under Media Minister Gayantha Karunatillaka.
Hot on the heels of the Lake House investigation was another slap on the government. Lanka Coal chairman Maithri Gunaratne who was removed from the post after he publicly criticised Prime Minister Wickremesinghe was made Competent Authority of the Mineral Sands Corp by President Sirisena.
Cabinet Change delayed
A change in several cabinet portfolios which was expected this week now appears to have been put off following government requests to wait until Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit in May.
It is understood that the government also wants to retain Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake in the post until after the visit shortly of IMF Managing Director Christine Legard.