The Appointment of New Governor – A Slap in the Face of the People
President Maithripala Sirisena has appointed a new Governor for the Central Province. Some sources describe her as an Astrologer and journalist of an Astrology tabloid. She may have other qualifications such as experience in politics, governance and administration that the public may not be aware of. To date the government has been silent on it.
In the past the position of governor of the Central Province has been held by some of
Sri Lanka's most distinguished poltical personalities including two former Speakers Stanley Tilekeratne, K B Ratnayaka, and two former senior ministers P C Imbulana, and E L B Hurulle.
The governor can prorogue and dissolve the council. She is also the custodian of the finances and chief administrative authority. The 13th amendment also bestows significant judicial and other powers on the Governor who is the representative of the President. Most importantly a Governor who is politically savvy and has the ability to secure the cooperation and respect of the council, chief minster and ministers can be a powerful force for progress. But that depends on the quality of the individual who becomes governor. An individual with knowledge, experience, and skillset to work with the council can play a major role to serve the public. In our view in respect of the recent appointment there were very many other superior candidates to fulfill such a role.
The Central Province gave Sirisena an overwhelming majority of 203,000 votes (13% points) in January 2015. In August 2015 the province voted by 16 points in favour of the Sirisena-Wickremesinghe led coalition giving it 15 seats out of the available 25. For the trust that the province placed in the National Unity (NU) government the people have the right to expect the government to treat them with greater respect. But instead they have been insulted.
The Central Province is multi ethnic. It has had its share of ethnic tensions in the past. Under the right leadership the province can serve as a model for ethnic reconciliation.
The province also has major development challenges ranging from the need for better education, more investment, better infrastructure, and more well paying jobs for the growing population, to environmental conservation. The Sirisena-Wickremesinghe duo made big promises to solve these and other problems and make not only the Central Province but also the entire country more prosperous. To achieve that goal it is essential to utilize every available resource, especially scarce leadership talent. A governor with the appropriate qualifications could have given leadership to meet these challenges. Neither president Sirisena nor anybody else in government has told the people of the province what qualifications the new governor has to meet any of these challenges and how she was superior to other potential candidates.
We believe that in failing to choose somebody from among the best available for the post of governor the president and government have cynically disrespected the voters of the province. By doing so they are pushing the voters back into the arms of the same forces that just last year were summarily rejected by the very same voters.