Mahinda campaigners, near Matara.
Sri Lanka’s cabinet now has 99 members (including Deputy Ministers, and the President). There are only 144 government MPs in Parliament, so it’s no longer even a privilege being in Cabinet, it’s more of an embarrassment to be left out. Despite opposition MP Ravi Karunayake complaining that it cost around Rs. 400 million per Minister per month (about 3 million dollars), this horse has long ago left the barn. It seems like every government MP will be a soon be a Minister. The only way out seems to be to have more opposition MPs.
Lest I belabor the point, it’s the UNP dictatorship under Ranil that’s led to this turn of affairs. Mahinda was able to buy a 2/3rds majority in Parliament since no one wants to be in Ranil’s perpetual opposition and perks like this are how he buys people. The concept that an efficient cabinet might be good for governing is somewhat alien to the Rajapaksa, who are essentially running the country like a family business.
They’ve twisted the institutions of democracy so much that Minister is the new MP. I think the solution is to just make everyone Ministers (with the title) but none of the staff or perks. The ultimate solution, of course, is to have an actual opposition which turns the Parliament into something more than a coterie of made men.