The Sunday Leader

Fowzie : A Minister Without Subjects

by Camelia Nathaniel

State Minister of National Integration and Reconciliation A.H.M. Fowzie

Although one of the senior ministers of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) and the United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA), A.H.M. Fowzie has been given a ministerial position in the Government, any ministries, departments, or corporations have not been allocated to him.

He has been given the ministerial portfolio of State Minister of National Integration and Reconciliation, which now seems just a position without any responsibilities.

According to the gazette notification, the responsibilities of the minister has listed as being responsible for identifying issues that hamper reconciliation and implementing measures to resolve these issues and implementing programmes and projects that foster greater integration and reconciliation. The minister is also expected to conduct follow up programmes to monitor and evaluate the so implemented programmes.

He is also expected to liaise between the ministries, departments, and organisations that work toward reconciliation and identify any problems that exist within these ministries and implement measures to resolve and rectify the problems.

The State Minister is also expected to evaluate and summarise the programmes and measures that foster reconciliation and integration and mediate to resolve any issues that arise within these programmes.

Minister Fowzie is also expected to implement the various recommendations suggested by the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission, and resolve any issues that may arise.

However, Fowzie’s ministerial duties have not been specified clearly, and the gazette notification also does not indicate that he is answerable to the cabinet.

Speaking to The Sunday Leader Fowzie said that although his responsibilities had been specified in the gazette, he was still to establish an office to commence his duties.

“The President has offered me a place in his office, but we have to wait until he returns. Failing which, there is another office space that we have inspected, and then we will consider that location. That is the only delay,” he said.

However, when asked what his specified duties were, the minister said that it was a lengthy description of what he is expected to carry out, but he was not in a position to comment on it as he still had not studied his responsibilities at length.

“Quite a number of legislation is coming under my responsibility, but all this will take time. I also intend to conduct meetings and discussions with religious leaders with regard to the best suited reconciliation process. Then we can work on a specific programme,” added the minister.

However, Fowzie said that nothing can be implemented until an office space is located. He said that once the President is back in the country, he intends to consult the President and decide on whether he is going to set up his office at the President’s office premises or a location he has earmarked in Maradana.

The Minister further added that as far as implementing recommendations made in the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation commission (LLRC), he intends to hold discussions with the various communities and then decide on the course of action that needs to be taken.

However, the minister was not certain as to what his responsibilities would exactly be, until he studied the gazette notification and decided on a proper office facility to conduct his ministerial positions.

Meanwhile, the office of Minister of National Dialogue Mano Ganesan has been also entrusted with the responsibility of creating harmony and co-existence which also means reconciliation.

But Ganesan told The Sunday Leader that he has been allocated institutions under his purview and that Fawzie was not a cabinet minister, hence it is different.

Ganesan says that he has already commenced his duties and has started dialog with civil society groups.

“My ministerial activities are into two categories, namely education and to give the Tamil language its due place and building friendship and co-existence between communities.”

According to Ganesan, Fowzie’s ministry is under the President and is not connected with his ministry.

But it is the view of many that today this government, by appointing more and more ministers, is following the path of the former Rajapaksa regime.

The JVP has raised this issue of too many ministerial positions being handed out simply to keep the support of these ministers.

According to the JVP’s Tilvin Silva, appointing such a high number of ministers cannot be justified. They are made with a petty political agenda. In the 19th amendment, the number of ministers at the next parliament has been stated as 30 and the number of deputy ministers has been limited to 40.

This proposal was included in the Constitution because of protests by the masses who took into account the colossal Cabinet that Mahinda Rajapaksa had in his cabinet. When such a law has been adopted, does the government have a moral right to appoint a large number of ministers?

Silva had said that President Maithripala Sirisena said he would not continue the mistakes committed by the former government. He has also stated in his manifesto that ministers in his cabinet would be appointed on a scientific basis. As such, the government should tell the country what was the scientific basis for the appointment of the four deputy ministers. The President appoints ministers to please MPs of the SLFP. Maithripala is now following former President’s footsteps. There is no difference between the two governments. People didn’t expect such a scenario.

Silva charged that a change took place in the country on January 8. The political expectation of that change was to protest against the anti-social and loathsome politics carried out by Mahinda Rajapaksa and his government.

The January 8 mandate given reflected not exactly loyalty to Maithripala Sirisena or the UNP but opposition to disgraceful politics of Mahinda Rajapaksa. It is according to the people’s mandate, the cabinet had to be limited.

6 Comments for “Fowzie : A Minister Without Subjects”

  1. Trevor Jayetileke

    Don’t get me wrong Mr.Fowzie is one of the most senior Politicians of Sri Lanka with 55 years of experience in Politics. I have had first hand knowledge of how he operates as a decision maker when he was Minister of Petroleum Resources Development of Sri Lanka. It was during his tenure that Cairn India was awarded a License to Explore for oil in the Block M2 of the Mannar Basin in August 2008. While the PRDS of SL did ‘Oil Roadshows’ in Houston,TX, London and KL for the 1st Bid Round in 2007 for three blocks in the Mannar Basin my Company did a ‘Oil Roadshow’ in India ( 2005 & 2007 ) covering the three biggest oil companies IOC,OVL and RIL. As Petroleum Resources Minister Fowzie addressed the Breakfast meeting of the Offshore Technology Conference (OTC) on the 1st of May 2007 in Houston,TX,USA.
    He was accompanied by the then US Ambassador to Sri Lanka Robert Blake, SL Counterpart to the US Bernard Goonetilake, DG of the PRDS Dr.Neil De Silva, and MD of Chevron Sri Lanka Mr.Kishu Gomes. I was hoping that Honorable Fowzie will be appointed the Minister of Petroleum Resources Development this time round but it was not meant to be so. I followed up the good work of former Minister Fowzie in the US since 2007 but was duped by the PRDS in Houston,TX in March 2014. Ever since the PRDS is in Gridlock. I have spent Millions trying to find oil in Sri Lanka as a personal Odyssey since 2001 to bring back the US oil companies to Sri Lanka and correct the cardinal mistake of the Nationalizing of the three big oil companies (US and British) in the early 1960′s which has left Sri Lanka Rudderless in guiding its Economy which does not have a Self-Reliant Base like Singapore which built its Petroleum Industry from our Reckless Policy mistakes which sent these big three (Esso,Caltex and Shell ) to Singapore. Apart from other short comings of former President Mahinda Rajapakse his choice of a Sycophant to advise him on Oil Exploration will haunt his remaining Political days.

  2. Pachcha Sirra

    Most appropriate portfolio for Pow+Sin would be give him a new Ministry called Wahabi and Al*kawudha proliferation.

  3. HussainFahmy

    Honourable Minister Fowzie is a well experienced and respected leader in Sri Lanka and abroad. He commands a massive network of influence by actively engaging with people in all walks of life socially. A man who could connect communities to learn from each other and to live harmoniously. We hope his legacy is uniting all Sri Lankans in diversity to live in peace and thus reap the fruits of prosperity.

  4. ananda de silva

    Note to the world: Sri Lanka has found the answer to unemployment – appoint them as cabinet ministers!!! Keep going like this SL….soon you will truly be a paradise island!!!

  5. Ramzadeen

    Mr. Fowzie, as a gentleman just say no to this post which you got zero duty. As a Muslim, it’s Haram for you – to just take state money without any work.

    • Mohan

      Just an FYI. Mr. Fowzie, was on of the high flying ministers during previous govt and did NOTHING TO PROTECT you guys !. During the Dharga town incident him and hakeem tried to cover up!!!!
      wake you silly bafoon !

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