Noting the tenet of collective responsibility and a constitutional cap on the number of cabinet ministries, Sri Lanka President Gotabaya Rajapaksa on Friday (07) defended a decision to sack a state minister who had openly criticised the government.
“I had to remove a state minister. If a state minister says this government is wrong, he is saying he is wrong too. Every MP, minister and state minister has a collective responsibility towards the government. If one makes an allegation against another, what that makes clear is his own inefficiency,” said Rajapaksa speaking at an event in Moneragala.
The president was likely alluding to Former State Minister of Education Reform Susil Premajayantha who was removed from his position on Tuesday (04).
Premajayantha had made critical remarks about his own government, particularly its controversial overnight ban of agrochemicals, which was later revoked after intense agitation by farmers. The senior politician, who has held several cabinet portfolios since 2000, recently expressed his apparent displeasure over being sidelined and went as far as to claim that laws were being “drafted elsewhere”
President Rajapaksa said those who blame others are simply trying to save their own skin (ඇඟ බේරා ගන්න හදනවා).
“Don’t do that,” he said.
The Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) government has been at the receiving end of harsh public criticism in recent times over mounting hardships brought on the public by a combination of factors including what critics say is relentless money printing.
“I lost two years to COVID. We shall carry out our five year mandate in the coming three years,” said Rajapaksa.
The president was also critical of an apparent thirst in MPs for plum positions.
“The problem is everyone wants a ministry now – a cabinet portfolio. How can I give a cabinet ministry to everyone? We told the public that we would not go over 30 ministers. Today we have 30 ministers, as per the constitution there are 40 state ministers. That’s 70 right there. We cannot go beyond that,” he said.
“I don’t wish to fool the public and make cohabitation governments and increase these numbers.”
“One doesn’t need a ministry to work,” he added.