After clearing his office desk and handing over ministry files and vehicles to the staff, non-cabinet Minister Susil Premajayantha walked out of the State Ministry of Educational Reforms on Tuesday with the cheery air of a man who had just been told he had won the lottery. Such was his rush to claim and savour [...]


The Three Stooges carry on merrily their cabinet farce

Poor Susil pays the price for hunting with the hounds and running with the hares

CABINET SLAPSTICKS: The three Ministers Vasu, Wimal and Udaya pledging ‘we will abide by thee’

After clearing his office desk and handing over ministry files and vehicles to the staff, non-cabinet Minister Susil Premajayantha walked out of the State Ministry of Educational Reforms on Tuesday with the cheery air of a man who had just been told he had won the lottery. Such was his rush to claim and savour his prize – no doubt, much food for thought – he didn’t wait for his personal car to turn up but took the three wheeler parked outside the Ministry steps to ride into an uncertain political twilight.

“I buy a lottery ticket regularly, today I think I have won it at last,” the ex-state minister told journalists when asked his response as to his summary removal from office by presidential decree. “It is a blessing in disguise. I have been removed as I spoke on high cost of living. I was asked by a journalist on vegetable prices and I said the Government’s agriculture policy has been a failure. This is why I was removed. I only spoke on behalf of the people.”

SACKED SUSIL: One of the first SLFP MPs to renounce SLFP and join the new SLPP

This was, of course, not the first time that the ex-state minister had spoken against the Government he represented and had vouched to defend. Only two months ago he attacked the Government in Parliament saying, “we did not go to Montessori to come to these institution. We came here to represent the people. Not to be signal posts to raise our hands to laws made elsewhere.”

Though he — not being a minister holding cabinet rank — was not bound by the strictures imposed under the concept of collective cabinet responsibility, he was nevertheless a state minister and a member of the Government party. To openly and repeatedly disparage the Government and justify his attacks by claiming he has a sovereign right to speak on behalf of the people, insinuates the Government has failed in its duty to the people; and suggests conduct politically improper for a clan member to bring his own chosen tribe into disrepute.

If not for anything but for his patience alone, the President well deserves the New Year accolade, the ‘Sri Lankadheeshwara Padma Sri Vibhushana’, invested upon him last Sunday by the Maha Sangha Saba of the Sri Jayewardene Kotte Maha Viharaya for ‘his leadership of the motherland and his unblemished present and past deeds’.

As the President said at the investiture ceremony, “Even if some people insulted me because of the economic and social hardships the pandemic has caused to the people of this country, I have the strength to endure such insults with equanimity. Also, those who insult me have not been able to do an iota of the service I have performed to the country in my lifetime.”

But even the biblical patience of Job has its limits; and the president’s executive action, sacking second tier state minister Susil Premajayantha from his post for his market place outburst along with other similar jabs, came as no surprise even to those who cannot read the political Tarot cards. It was only to be expected. Toleration has its limits in the arena of government.

Carried away by the Mahinda sulangha and gripped by the Gotabaya fervor, Susil Premajayantha was one of the first among many SLFP MPs who had rushed to renounce his SLFP membership and embrace that of the Basil founded SLPP.

But with disaffection with the ruling party now spreading faster than the pandemic, his eleventh hour gambit to attack his own government and party to gain public redemption and be hailed a martyr, whilst still retaining his second class ministerial office and all the perks that go with it, did not pay off. If he had thought that the axe, which had not fallen on the revolting cabinet trio, would mercifully spare him, too, he had thought wrong.  He was denied martyrdom by resignation by being summarily sacked for his Sunday pola indiscretions.

The double act of hunting with the hounds and running with the hares had inevitably ended in grief for Susil Premajayantha, as it also must end for all who opt to play the same shady dual role. As the President asked of his cabinet this week: “Is it moral for ministers and state ministers to be critical of the Government in public while still remaining in government office?’ The answer has to be a resounding no.

But what is still surprising to many, including the Government’s own SLPP MPs is why the President, who came to power vowing to instill discipline into the nation, seems to tolerate the undisciplined behaviour of its three high profile cabinet ministers who, despite being subject to the conventional rule of collective cabinet responsibility, have shown no qualm or inhibition in washing the cabinet’s dirty linen in public and hanging it out half done, with stains and all, for a thorough public airing.

The infamous trio, namely, Industries Minister Wimal Weerawansa, Energy Minister Udaya Gammanpila and Water Supply Minister Vasudeva Nanayakkara, all of them holding cabinet rank, have often railed against the Government in public for decisions arrived at in cabinet — even after they have been part and parcel of the decision making process — in blatant violation of the principle of collective cabinet responsibility.

This 400-year-old Westminster convention is the cornerstone of cabinet government. It simply means that once a decision has been reached by the members of the cabinet, following free and frank discussions, each and every minister stands collectively bound to support and defend it, whatever one’s own private misgiving may be. The alternative for a minister who refuses to toe the team line is clear: Face the sack or resign.

Departure from this hallowed principle, intended to present a unified cabinet front, may have drastic consequences for any government, whatever its hue or creed. It can expose the Government to public ridicule and scorn and render it vulnerable to opposition bombardment.

But this unholy trinity continues to bedevil both cabinet and government with bold impunity, confronting the leadership with the dare ‘sack us if you can’. Their method of operation has been repeated so often it has now become a cliché in motion. The ritualistic dissent originates with a controversial cabinet decision.

As the curtain rises on the first Act, the rigmarole starts with the whispered rumour floated in the gossipy air of a possible cabinet revolt.  Credence is further gained and the rumour takes more substantial shape when it is indiscreetly leaked that secret talks are taking place at one of the revolter’s home. TV cameras roll to transmit frames to a vast television audience with scenes showing luxury vehicles bearing each perpetrator leaving the chosen residence of their late night conspiratorial tryst.

The vehicles leave at scheduled intervals, timed to provide each of the rebels to individually gain the undivided attention of the media. The car stops, the shutter solemnly rolls down and one of the rebellious trio gives a ‘voice cut’ which generally consists of ‘’this is a grave national crisis’ or ‘the sovereignty of the nation is under threat’ or ‘we are the people’s representatives, we cannot betray their interests’ or ‘the talks are fruitful but we cannot reveal anything at this time’ or ‘we will let you know our decision shortly’. The shutter rolls up automatically, the car departs, and the public is supposed to be left with bated breath to learn what their next move would be.

The second Act shows the dram continuing on a higher pitch, with the threesome reasserting that they, as patriots, will never let the government betray the motherland nor stay silent when the nation’s sovereignty is threatened. They harp they will not rest until their demands are met and the government change course.

Their vituperations are attended with ritualistic attacks by SLPP MPs with the SLPP Secretary warning the rebels to withdraw their offending comments or else resign from the cabinet. This they refuse to do and, in the ensuing deadlock, the Act generally ends with the trio asking for an appointment with the President to address their grievances, thus setting the tone for the denouement to follow.

The final Act sees the rebellious trio returning repentant to the old faith and now, deep in atonement, praying fervently on bended knees at the presidential altar. The predictable last scene has them ascending to the pulpit to announce their demands are being considered. And now, totally at peace with their prayers under a man-made heaven’s review, they end the mass with a flourish by proceeding – as Vasudeva wrapped up their year’s high jinx on December 30 by pledging allegiance to their saviour and begging mercy for their transgressions, and declaring, in a complete U turn of their actions, that, come what may, “Wimal, Udaya and I   will never abandon the President” – to sing as their signature tune, “We will abide with Thee.” And as the music rises to a crescendo, the curtain falls on the charade.

The first time they performed this charade on public stage, the audience, perhaps, may have empathised with their stance and appreciated the personal risks they were taking, in the belief they were martyrs in the making. The awakening came when the expected resignations never materialised. Instead, the stage-managed, carefully choreographed act, with its all too familiar ‘all’s well that ends well’ ending, clearly showed resignation was the last thing on their mind.

They would appear to walk the talk for the whole six yards but resign, never. Their aim was to appear as the protectors of the public interest, guardians of the nation’s sovereignty, gallant knights against international conspiracies, but not at the sacrifice of their precious cabinet postings.

The posts gave them prestige and fortune in full flow, it spoilt them with privileges and perks, and made travel so much easier and more comfortable in ministerial luxury cars than in a bumpy three wheeler as this week’s sacked Premajayantha may have found to his dismay. They were, however, clever in one way. They knew when to surrender and grovel for forgiveness.

But sparing the rod on The Three Stooges – reminiscent of Hollywood’s famous vaudeville and comedy trio who had the audience in stitches for fifty years prior to the 70s – has also cast the Government in bad light.

Their antics, their slapstick, their brazen contempt to collective cabinet responsibility, and giving the finger to the Government without fear of reprisal, have served only to further damage the credibility and image of the Government; and, after having reduced cabinet government to a mockery, reveal to the public the internecine warfare waged within. That behind the façade of a unified front is a strife torn government that has lost the plot, gone too far downhill to cover the widening cracks.

The devilish trios’ burlesque, performed ad nauseam, has earned the public’s scorn and wrath. The sooner the curtain falls on this orchestrated humbug, done in the name of protecting the people’s rights, the better it will be for all. Next time the President takes his well-worn card pack and reshuffles the deck, it will not be unwise to throw out the jokers.

Share This Post


Buying or selling electronics has never been easier with the help of! We, at, hear your needs and endeavour to provide you with the perfect listings of electronics; because we have listings for nearly anything! Search for your favourite electronic items for sale on today!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked.
Comments should be within 80 words. *


Post Comment

Advertising Rates

Please contact the advertising office on 011 - 2479521 for the advertising rates.