Sports Minister blasts President for assigning lotteries to Foreign Minister Sports Minister Dayasiri Jayasekera can play with his marbles as much as he wants to in his own Ministry of Sports. But what right does he have to interfere and pass judgment upon the state of play in other ministries? Instead of concentrating and trying [...]


Dayasiri’s head turns too big to fit his new sporting boots


Sports Minister blasts President for assigning lotteries to Foreign Minister

Sports Minister Dayasiri Jayasekera can play with his marbles as much as he wants to in his own Ministry of Sports. But what right does he have to interfere and pass judgment upon the state of play in other ministries?

PRESIDENT SIRISENA: Under attack by his own minister

Instead of concentrating and trying to find the reasons for the dismal failure this week of the Lankan cricket team to even qualify for the semifinals of the ICC Champions Trophy, why has he shifted his ministerial focus from his own playing field and become so engrossed and agitated over new Finance Minister Mangala’s loss and new Foreign Minister Ravi’s win of both lotteries boards, especially when the final umpire the President has raised his finger and ruled it be so; and has not called for Jayasekera to act as third umpire?

It is the prerogative of the president, on the advice of the Prime Minister, to appoint the ministers of his Cabinet. It is his constitutional right to assign the subjects and functions to any minister of his choice. This the president can do in consultation with the prime minister but only if he considers such consultation necessary. In other words, under the constitution, he has free rein to do as he pleases.

And though the public has every right to question the president they have elected to office on his incongruous assignation of the Development Lotteries Board and National Development Lotteries Board from the Finance Minister to the new Foreign Minister Ravi Karunanayake, collective cabinet responsibility commands that no individual cabinet minister has the right to openly criticize the constitutional right of the President, the head of the Cabinet, whilst being a member of the Cabinet. The honourable thing to do would be to resign and then unleash his attack.

But then honour is not the hallmark of a turncoat, nor does it come as second nature to a political opportunist who will sell his gift of the gab to the highest bidder if the price is right and is one that will set him on course to future advancement. Such sorts normally aspire to not only eat the cake but also have it. Now it seems they want to grab a slice of their neighbours’ pudding too.

True, the assignation was indeed odd. What has the Foreign Ministry got to do with local lotteries? As one MP in the Joint Opposition asked in Parliament two weeks ago, “what’s the delicious allure of these two lotteries boards? Why have they been assigned to the Foreign Minister? Is he going to sell local sweep tickets abroad? “

That question was also on the lips of the general public. It may also have been on the lips of many a cabinet minister but one that he could not give tongue to without going against the President at whose whim and fancy, at whose sole pleasure he serves in the Cabinet.

Collective cabinet responsibility forbids him. And if one does not know how to be a team player and abide by the captain’s decision, if one thinks he has a right to attack his leader in public, then he is not fit to be in the Cabinet. He has forfeited his right to occupy that privileged seat which along with the powers it bestows also burdens the seated with collective responsibility for any decision taken at the table of ministerial knights.

THOSE WERE THE DAYS: After leaving the UNP and embracing former president Rajapaksa in 2013 and deserting him the day after his defeat in January 2015 and joining winning candidate Sirisena, Sports Minister Dayasiri Jayasekera now turns his guns on the present President Maithripala Sirisena

The concept of collective cabinet responsibility allows all cabinet ministers to express their individual views at the cabinet meetings but once their views have been aired and debated and the Cabinet has reached a final decision and adopted a unified stance, it then behoves each minister to keep his personal views to himself and defend the collective cabinet decision as one in public. It is not up to him thereafter to reveal the dissent that existed but to maintain a unified solid front as a member of the Cabinet. The concept promotes cabinet solidarity. It demonstrates stability in the government. It is indispensable to cabinet government. Without it there would be a free-for-all in public.

Last Sunday Sports Minister broke ranks when he held a press conference. He did not mince his words what he thought of the President’s decision to allocate lotteries to Ravi Karunanayake. In short, he – to use a colloquial expression – ‘let the president have it’.

He said: “It is hilarious to bring it under the control of the Foreign Affairs Ministry. I have no issue here regarding Foreign Affairs Minister Ravi Karunanayake. Yet, it goes against the grain to keep it under the purview of a Ministry assigned to handle external affairs”.

If ridiculing the president’s decision was not enough he topped it up with scorn when he said, “It is like Buddha Sasana Minister being assigned to handle the fisheries sector.” Ha, ha!So what made the Sports Minister Dayasiri Jayasekera slam the President’s decision in his exclusive choice to assign subjects and functions to ministries at his sole discretion? What made Dayasiri bundle up the dirty linen in the cabinet room and take it out for a pubic washing when he held a press conference last Sunday and, with no holds barred, unleashed a torrent of scorn and ridicule against his boss President Sirisena?

What drove his insolence to make a mockery of his party leader, to ridicule the head of the Cabinet and the government he represents? To heap undeserved scorn upon the very man who had salvaged him from the bottomless pits of the Rajapaksa sewers where he had spouted filth against Sirisena and even questioned his manhood, comparing Sirisena to a korawakka – a water hen – a man without a spine as contrasted with the macho image his then hero Rajapaksa possessed and flaunted? But Sirisena, magnanimous in triumph, still forgave Dayasiri’s foul tongue and twisted mind and made him Minister of the important Sports Ministry. And this is the thanks Sirisena, at whose feet Dayasiri groveled and deeply bowed when receiving the letter of appointment, gets today for rewarding his former foe who hurled the vilest abuse on public stage not so long ago?

Apart from violating the doctrine of collective cabinet responsibility, doesn’t Dayasiri’s public outburst on Sunday reveal the ingrate in him?
But then gratitude was never Dayasiri’s strong point, was it? Not for him to strive to follow the Buddha’s first unspoken lesson of gratitude when the Noble One spent the first week upon attaining Buddhahood by meditating before the Bodhi in gratitude for sheltering him and helping him gain Enlightenment; but rather, in the manner of Judas in the Garden of Gethsemane, to betray the leader; and to kick the ladder once he had climbed the topmost rung.

Consider the litany of his betrayals and his record of crossovers for which he would have won some medal worthy of Susanthika’s silver.
After having joined Chandrika’s SLFP in the late 1990’s and finding no progress in his political career there, he crossed over to the UNP when Ranil Wickremesinghe was the Prime Minister. Ranil appointed him the organiser for the Katugampola electorate and also gave him nomination to contest the 2005 General Election. In 2005, Ranil appointed him the UNP organiser for Paduvasnuwara which gave him the opportunity to build his personal base. In July 2013, denying he was to cross over to the Rajapaksa camp, keeping it a secret from even his closest friends and party colleagues, he surprised all by appearing at Temple Tress to be warmly hugged by the then President Rajapaksa and welcomed to the UPFA fold which he had mercilessly attacked for so long. He was nominated by Rajapaksa to contest the Wayamba Provincial elections as chief minister which he won in September that year.

When the presidential campaign began in November 2014, he started his vituperative attacks against the opposition’s joint candidate Maithripala Sirisena that shocked the people for the language used. In his litany of hosannas sung in praise of his hero of the moment, not even the magic touch found in Mahinda’s tough handshake was left out of his rapturous compositions. A few days before the election date, he extolled his master’s Bone Crusher handshake in the following ecstatic terms contrasting its style and dash with the Dead Fish gestures of Maithripala and stating that Maithri was not man enough to shake hands with Mahinda.

He said: “Sirisena says that he did not give the hand to Mahinda because he didn’t want to get his hands dirty. I did not see it that way. He doesn’t have a spine, no spine enough to give his hand. He was squirming in front of the president. Still he is suffering from a minister – president mental complex. If he is so great to contest as the big presidential candidate, he should have given the hand, shaking it strongly and saying, ‘ah, how are you Mahinda,’ but did he do it? Did he give his hand like that? No. The moment he saw the president he was squirming. Just like he used to do in other days as a minister, squirming, ambarenawa, from this way to that way. Brothers, what you must remember is that a man must have a strong personality. When Mahinda Rajapaksa gives his hand or raises his hands and waves to the people all the people clap him adoringly. Maithripala comes like a korawakka (water hen) and just makes a gesture, like this, no one applauds him. “

In that sunlit hour as the darling of the Rajapaksa camp, Dayasiri Jayasekera was probably blinded by the limelight that he saw no corruption ridden Rajapaksa regime but only one that was as clean as a whistle, as white as southern curd and worthy of song and praise to high heavens.
It was only in the dark, when day suddenly turned night in the eclipse that dawned with Mahinda’s abject defeat, that he finally saw the light; and announced to television cameras the following evening, without batting an eyelid at his own U turn or sporting a blush over the calumnies he had hurled against Maithripala Sirisena, how supremely glad he was that the people of Lanka had got rid of the corruption ridden Rajapaksa regime.
Yet Maithripala has shown that he does not carry grudges. Despite all the insults hurled Sirisena showed he was magnanimous in victory and appointed Dayasiri Sports Minister. And only two weeks ago appointed him as the third Cabinet spokesman. Perhaps his elevated status to now be constantly in the public eye with his opinion sought on every matter as a Cabinet spokesman has made his head far too swollen to fit his sporting boots. Perhaps, in his naiveté, its Maithripala’s turn to hear the sound of silver clang.

But President Sirisena must be warned. His government has remained shaky right from the start and hasn’t won the public perception of stability nor gained investor confidence. Often it seemed to be tottering on the brink of the abyss. He cannot be entirely blamed for that due to the split in his own party, with the Rajapaksa dominated so called Joint Opposition waging battle at every turn to topple it, even before the people’s mandated term runs out in 2020.

But to tolerate a minister to attack him on any matter in public, especially one which the minister concerned has no business with, is to crave indulgence from the fates for continued existence of the coalition government. His authority as leader is at stake if he lets the slap pass and turns the other cheek.

For all his personal virtue of magnanimity, Sirisena cannot afford to tolerate for the sake of his Government’s stability Dayasiri’s unwarranted outburst against another cabinet minister Ravi Karunanayake and his attack on President Sirisena himself for assigning any subject to any minister of his choice. It cannot be ignored. It is a full frontal direct assault on his leadership as the president of this country. It’s a flash of arms. A direct challenge hurled for the president to dare pick the gauntlet or else remain humiliated in the mud.

While he served as the Chief Minister of the Wayamba Council, Dayasiri Jayasekera would never have dared to ridicule former President Rajapaksa. He would have known the instant backlash. Felt the swish of steel slash his singing larynx. Could it be that he dared to launch his attack on the present president, is, because he still holds the same contemptuous view of Maithripala Sirisena – as he expressed on the Rajapaksa stage in the run up to January 2015 election – as a leader who ‘doesn’t have a spine’; and still judges him by the limpness of his handshake and considers him a soft touch?

This nation needs a stable government. For that it needs a unified cabinet. A strong democratic leader. To allow ministers to attack one another and even attack the President in public without fearing disciplinary action and consequences, is to demonstrate to the public and to the world the tenuous hold the President has on power. President Sirisena must act firm and take the Sports Minister Dayasiri to task: even show him the door. Or else Dayasiri’s assessment may be proved correct. And will open the floodgates for others to do the same.

As an old Sinhala proverb goes “Yakadaya thalena sulu bava dutu vita, archariya uda pana pana thalai” or the more the blacksmith sees the metal bend to his will, the more he jumps and hammers into his shape.

Who gives Bodu Bala the alms to spout their religious hate?With monk on the run the Government finally answers wake-up  call but probe vital to determine who finances bigotry’s monster

Twice, last month, Bodu Bala Chieftain Gnanasara did not appear before the Court of Appeal to answer charges of contempt and state why he should not be punished for raising a ruckus in the Homagama Magistrates Courts last year as complained by its magistrate. On both occasions, the excuse given by his lawyers for his absence was that he was not well.

Neither did he show up this Monday when the case was called, with his lawyers citing that he was unable to do so because he feared for his life. Not surprising, is it, when one goes around the countryside hurling filthy abuse against Allah, the Almighty God of Islam, to inflame Muslim ire? It only reaffirms the validity of the Buddha’s karmic doctrine that every action has a similar reaction and that hate begets hate. Or as Christ said, “sow the wind and reap the whirlwind.”

The Court of Appeal did not however deem it fit to issue an arrest warrant but instead fixed the contempt matter for trial on July 17 and stated that if the ‘no show’ monk did not turn up that day, then a warrant will be issued for his arrest.

But on Thursday, the Colombo Fort Magistrate Lanka Jayaratne issued a warrant for his arrest for failing to appear in courts to face two charges. The charges related to allegations of obstructing the police from exercising their duties in addition to making hate speeches in several places. And forcefully entering and sabotaging a press conference held at a hotel in Slave Island in April 2014.

WANTED: Have you seen this man, aged 42, tall, dark and fat, dons a saffron robe and wears spectacles through which he sees religious hate. If you spot him, do not approach but report to the nearest police station since they do not have a clue as to his whereabouts

The police, however, nearly arrested him on 19th May while he was travelling to Colombo from Dambulla, for allegedly inciting communal hate. But he defied police arrest, backed as he was by his supporter mob. After abusing the police in filth and demanding they show more decorum when it comes to the arrest of a monk in saffron robes and asking them whether this was the example they set for the entire country, he assured them he would come to the police station the following Monday, the 22nd and give himself up.

That Sunday, the 21st, he attempted to stage a sathyakriya in the hallowed outer precincts of the Sri Dalada Maligawe against police plans to arrest him but was summarily shooed away by the temple prelates for daring to violate the sanctity of the Temple of the Tooth with a farcical fast stunt. Thus scorned and shunned, he left. Neither did he turn up at the police station following day as promised. Ever since then he has gone missing. And the police say they have no clue as to where this burly black bear of bigotry may be hibernating to ward off the chills and fevers of a sparse remand cell.

Speaks volumes, doesn’t it, for the tracking skills of the Lankan police that they are unable to locate the whereabouts of this unmistakable, readily identifiable and notoriously well known figure within the small heartland of Lanka?

For the last five years, since he crawled out of the deadwood, this marauding monk who wears the sacred robe of the Buddha and seeks protection in it but does not expound the Buddha’s gospel of tolerance to all faiths and creeds and loving kindness and compassion to all beings on earth but beats his own drum of intolerance and hate has succeeded to become an international icon of religious hate. Buddhism’s Lankan Ayatollah.

The damage he has caused to Buddhism cannot be overestimated. The damage he has caused to the Sinhala people whose proudest boast for over two thousand years had been to trumpet that they were the custodians of Buddhism in its pristine form cannot be quantified. In the eyes of the world, the question arises: Is this the result of 2000 years of Buddhism in Lanka? And makes the world approach Buddhism with suspicious eye in the same manner Taliban made the world look Islam in the eye with a squint?

For two years the Rajapaksa regime granted him immunity to wage his campaign of racial hate which ultimately brought its own downfall in the 2015 presidential election. With the advent of Sirisena’s Yahapalana government Gnanasara was sent to Coventry and remained silent and comatose lacking state patronage for his agenda of hate. But these last two months have seen the monster rise from the ashes of the Rajapaksa pyre. This time, perhaps, to doom the Sirisena government to the same fiery fate.

On June 7th President Sirisena announced that he was even prepared to order the army to arrest the trend of religious and communal violence if the police are unable to apprehend those who perpetrate these crimes. On Tuesday, Prime Minister Wickremesinghe declared, “that Police had been instructed to investigate recent attacks on mosques and arrest the perpetrators.” He said: “The Cabinet has directed the police to deal strictly with anyone responsible for causing ethnic or religious disharmony.

At last it seems that the government has answered the wake-up call and determined not to commit the same mistake the Rajapaksas did when it allowed the Bodu Bala to go on a rampage and wreak havoc.

But though locating the bull in the china shop presently seems to be like finding a needle in the haystack for the Lankan police, the arrest of Gnanasara and his production in courts to face justice should not be considered as the be all and end all of the matter. Its sinister, shrouded background must be probed deeply to discover the mysterious dayakayas who proffer the daily dana and feed, shelter and, with alms, arm this unholy saffron shrouded mob to destroy religious amity in this country with the sole expectation to receive in return, not the meritorious fruits of altruism but the dastard cacti of their own political ambitions.

Who gives alms to Bodu Bala to travel in luxury Benzes and four wheel drive full option vehicles similar to the Monteros MPs drive in? Who feeds them, who clothe them in comfort, who shelters them in safety? Who pays them to hire a small mob to travel around the countryside with them who raise the Lion Flag and pretend they are Sinhala Buddhism’s greatest saviours?

Rajitha Senaratne claimed last week that ‘it is likely that a government minister was hiding Gnanasara and preventing his arrest’. If this be true why doesn’t the Government come clean, reveal his name and take action against its own cabinet minister concerned? Apart from the usual suspects, namely the Rajapaksas, are there others in the present government who are exploiting the Bodu Bala puppets for their own vile ends? Is there a foreign power, or, as Wimal Weerawansa is fond of saying, a foreign conspiracy afoot to topple the Sirisena unity government by using these renegade brigade of monks to raise the bigotry issue in order to destabilize it?

Within a few short years, the Bodu Bala has risen from obscurity to occupy a place of national prominence, though of course, for the wrong reasons. It has contributed significantly to bring down the Rajapaksa regime which was once held to be unshakeable. Now it appears that it has been revived from its moribund state to repeat the same exercise, this time against the Sirisena regime. It has earned its credentials to incite racial violence and should not be taken lightly. Patriotism, it has been said, is the last refuge of the scoundrel. And there are plenty of those hanging about the place, be they bald and clean shaven or gel tufted and sporting goatees.

The Sirisena administration should not stay complacent. The mysterious forces, whether local or alien, must be identified. Their sources of funding ascertained. Such is its importance that even a Presidential Commission to probe Bodu Bala will not be out of order. And its findings revealed in full to the people.

Perhaps the commission can begin their inquiry by probing Gnanasara’s mysterious visit to Norway in 2010, two years before the advent of Bodu Bala on Bigotry’s stage.


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