Saturday 9th September, 2023
The government is cock-a-hoop over its win in Parliament yesterday. It succeeded in defeating the Opposition’s no-faith motion against Health Minister Keheliya Rambukwella comfortably. The Opposition could muster only 73 votes for its motion as opposed to the government’s 113.
The outcome of yesterday’s vote came as no surprise. In a place where souls are for sale, a regime with the wherewithal to grease palms to buy loyalties, can always raise enough numbers to safeguard its interests. But such tactics do not work outside Parliament. Hence the SLPP-UNP combine’s fear of popular elections.
The defeat of the no-confidence motion against Health Minister Rambukwella does not mean that charges the Opposition levelled against him have been disproved although some government politicians are peddling an argument to that effect. The outcome of yesterday’s vote had nothing to do with the truth or otherwise of the charges therein; instead, it had everything to do with the interests of the strategic political alliances in Parliament.
The general consensus is that corruption, maladministration, inefficiency, etc., are the causes of the rapid deterioration of the publicly-funded health service. The people are the best judges and they will deliver their judgement at the next election.
The government had to defend the beleaguered Health Minister despite serious allegations against him for its own sake rather than his. Badly cornered, it cannot afford to suffer any setback. As Puthukuduiruppu was to the LTTE towards the end of the Vanni war so is Parliament to the SLPP-UNP regime, which is offering stiff resistance.
The Opposition obviously chose to bite off more than it could chew when it undertook to move the no-faith motion at issue. Some of its own MPs questioned its wisdom of trying to oust the Health Minister, without having a majority in the House. But some unintended political benefits have accrued to the Opposition from its abortive attempt.
Earlier it was only Health Minister Rambukwella who was blamed for chaos in the public health sector. Now, the people’s ire will be directed at the entire government, which leapt to his defence and thereby endorsed his questionable actions. Until yesterday, the health sector trade unions and the irate public had been appealing to President Ranil Wickremesinghe to step in to put the Health Ministry right. Now that the President has led the government’s campaign against the no-faith motion against Rambukwella, from the front, the people will stop seeking presidential interventions. A man is said to be known by the company he keeps.
The fact that the government stood solidly behind him, yesterday, will embolden Health Minister Rambukwella to do more of what he has been doing much to the consternation of the public. The Health Ministry panjandrums under a cloud will do likewise. With a bunch of corrupt, inefficient characters as ministers in charge of all vital sectors, the question is whether the government or the country needs no enemies.