Home / FT View/ Cabinet reshuffles

Cabinet reshuffles

Comments / {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}} Views / Wednesday, 25 April 2018 00:00

Sri Lanka is readying itself for what could be its fourth Cabinet reshuffle in less than two years with the coalition Government fighting to stave off potential crossovers to former President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s camp. Speculation is rampant that plum Cabinet posts could be used in political horse trading as President Maithripala Sirisena attempts to hold onto his faction within the deeply splintered Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP).   

Politicians have also promised that the latest Cabinet reshuffle would provide a “new look”, throwing into question policy continuity within a Government which has often been criticised for being inconsistent. President Sirisena is also expected to make yet another policy statement setting out government goals for the remainder of its term when Parliament reopens on 8 May. This statement follows a five-year policy statement made by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe about a year into his term and V2025 which was also launched in 2017. The Prime Minister also made a policy statement ahead of last year’s Budget. 

All these statements and Cabinet changes, politicians insist, are to provide clarity about their plans. Yet the public would argue to the contrary. Customarily, Cabinet reshuffles are a crucial aspect of governance because they outline how government policy will be implemented and what priorities are focused on by leaders. 

However, it would seem that in Sri Lanka, Cabinet reshuffles are done with political rather than economic goals in mind and are short-term fixes for political uncertainty that has little if anything to do with policy consistency, improving governance, development or economic growth.      

As the Sri Lankan Government bargains for its survival, Singapore is also readying for a crucial Cabinet reshuffle. However, there are significant differences in how these two countries are using the all-important institution of Cabinet posts to define the way forward for their respective countries. 

In Singapore, as in Sri Lanka, succession planning has received much attention. Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, the eldest son of Singapore’s founding father Lee Kuan Yew, has made clear that he is ready to stand down in the next couple of years, but no obvious successor has emerged from a group of 16 ministers tasked with picking a leader from within their ranks. 

In the Cabinet reshuffle announced this week, Lee has selected Chan Chun Sing as Trade Minister in a move analysts say gives him an edge to become the next Prime Minister by rounding off his experience with more economic focus. 

Chan is one of three potential successors picked by Singapore’s media and political analysts, alongside Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat and Education Minister Ong Ye Kung, who both kept their portfolios and received additional responsibilities. 

This is all done ahead of a general election Singapore must hold by early 2021. With years of grooming and clear planning, shown through strategic Cabinet reshuffles, Singapore has already indicated where its priorities lie and with it comes strong political and economic stability. 

The two Cabinet reshuffles could not showcase the difference between Sri Lanka and Singapore more starkly. Sri Lankan politicians, at least at this late date, should understand that reshuffling a Cabinet is pointless unless they are ready to play a strong game. 


Share This Article


1. All comments will be moderated by the Daily FT Web Editor.

2. Comments that are abusive, obscene, incendiary, defamatory or irrelevant will not be published.

3. We may remove hyperlinks within comments.

4. Kindly use a genuine email ID and provide your name.

5. Spamming the comments section under different user names may result in being blacklisted.


Today's Columnists

The rate of exchange, capital flight and the Central Bank

Friday, 21 September 2018

The Central Bank (CBSL) exists for the sole purpose of price stability. Its controls on the financial system and monetary policy exist to maintain price stability. As put forth many times by the Governor, the failing of the CBSL to control inflation

Red flag over the Sri Lankan Navy

Friday, 21 September 2018

Shocking story Rusiripala, a former banker in Sri Lanka, who has taken to writing in Daily FT, is perturbed by the red flag I have raised (Daily FT article 18 September) over the shocking charge that our Navy had operated a ransom gang that had abduc

The bald truth about fake news, etc.

Friday, 21 September 2018

In its most innocent forms, we may all enjoy a bit of ‘fake news’ and go to bed with a lighter heart and clean conscience. A meme on Facebook urging social media consumers to caution – “You can’t believe everything you read on the internet

Withholding Taxes – What, why, when?

Thursday, 20 September 2018

The tax regime in Sri Lanka historically imposes WHT on both domestic as well as cross border payments. WHT on domestic payments eases revenue collection (e.g.: PAYE) while WHT on cross border payments are adopted by most countries to ensure that the

Columnists More