Dilan suspects of moves to bowl him out

The government’s subtle move to reintroduce the Criminal Defamation Law has left Justice Minister (non-cabinet) Dilan Perera and his ministry secretary Suhada Gamlath at loggerheads.
Both have traded charges and counter charges over this issue. However, it appears that Perera, given his political experience, has checkmated Gamlath, finally.

The whole episode has shaken young Perera who has denied any knowledge over the cabinet paper that he was asked to read at the last cabinet meeting.
Perera attended the last cabinet meeting on an invitation extended to him by President Mahinda Rajapaksa.
For the past three weeks Perera has been attending cabinet only on invitations. Constitutionally non- cabinet ministers ought to be invited to attend cabinet meetings.
As Justice and Legal Reform minister Amarasiri Dodangoda has been indisposed for some time, Perera has been invited to attend cabinet.

It has been Perera’s practice to make his secretary brief him on any important cabinet paper that involves his ministry. Last week too Perera approached his secretary Suhada Gamlath for advice.
Gamlath informed the minister that there was no paper regarding Justice Ministry to be presented to cabinet. Perera further inquired whether anything regarding his ministry had been mentioned in the agenda to which the secretary had answered in the negative.

A confident minister had then taken his seat along with others.
The cabinet meeting had then commenced with President Mahinda Rajapaksa in the chair. Matters arising from various ministries had been discussed.
At the tail end of the meeting President Rajapkasa had pulled out a cabinet paper from his file and started to read it. The contents had been regarding judiciary.

The President, who started to read out the paper, had then looked at minister Perera and had invited him to continue reading.
The President had said: “Ah, when the Justice Minister is present, why should I go on reading.”
Perera who undertook to read the cabinet paper did not know what it contained but did on the directives of the President.
The first part of the cabinet paper sought cabinet approval to amend the penal code and further increase the penalty for various offences. Then came the bombshell. The second part was all about the reintroduction of the Criminal Defamation Law (CDL).
Minister Perera realized this was against to his own conscience but read out the entire paper as instructed by the President.

No sooner he finished reading the paper some cabinet ministers started reacting disapprovingly. Ministers Sarath Amunugama, Dinesh Gunewardene, Ferial Ashraff and Rauf Hakeem were among the others who expressed strong opposition to the reintroduction of the law.
The President realizing the mounting opposition immediately postponed the debate for the following week.
Minister Milinda Moragoda had then walked up to Perera and whispered into his ears saying he suspected him being forced to read this by the President.

Minister Ferial Ashraff also approached Perera and told him that it was a ‘good professional performance’ even though he had not seen the colour of the cabinet paper.
Dilan Perera had quickly responded to Mrs. Ashraff saying it was an ‘abrupt professionalism’.
A visibly shocked minister had then walked up to the President who was stacking papers into his file to take off, and asked him why he instructed him to read the paper when he knew nothing of the contents.
An equally stunned President had immediately retorted saying he had already told the ministry secretary to inform him of this paper.

At this time Perera did not have time to confront the secretary but left the cabinet room.
It was thereafter that Perera wrote to the secretary and demanded an explanation.
As this topic turned out to be controversial, the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) quickly decided to hold a press conference.
SLFP general secretary and Minister Maithripala Sirisena telephoned Dilan Perera on Friday morning and informed him that he should accompany him at the press conference.
A few minutes before the commencement of the media conference, minister Sirisena asked Perera how he was going to answer the press.

Perera had told him he had not done anything wrong and that he would find fault with his secretary for not informing him of this paper. Then Perera had also inquired from Minsiter Sirisena whether the SLFP was honestly keen to present the CDL.
Minister Sirisena who could not answer this question had immediately telephoned President Rajapaksa and inquired from him what he should say at the media briefing. The President had then told him to tell the media that there was no move to reinforce the law and to convey it to the press.

The President’s message was later conveyed to the journalists who were present at the media briefing.
Minister Perera had later told some of his friends that though for the past nine months minister Dodangoda had not attended cabinet he was never invited to sit in cabinet.
But the invitation he received from the President to read out a paper, the contents of which he had no knowledge of, perhaps might have been to punch him on his nose.
The entire country is aware that Justice Minister Dilan Perera was not in favour of the CDL. This was amply proved when he filed civil cases against The Sunday Leader and Ravaya when the CDL was in operation in the country.