“Our national emblem has four lions but unfortunately we have highlighted more lambs and wolves than real lions of our country.” -
Sharad Vivek Sagar
he public elected the common candidate as President with huge practical expectations. But support for Good Governance has been dwindling with allegations of corruption, unethical political biases and promises that have not yet been met.
In a seminar conducted on Good Governance organised by the Puravesi Balaya and National Movement for Just Society at the Public Library auditorium Colombo, the speakers voiced their thoughts on the setbacks of Good Governance: how the public has lost faith in the Government, how party politics has overpowered public aspirations and how various allegations have tainted the very concept of good governance. The new Government executed many plans on the premise of Good Governance, such as the 100-Day Programme.
Though such programmes gave hope to the people, it was considered a failure, a plan that was of broken promises and impractical and unsustainable economic policies.
Good Governance is a technical concept, which is an essential pre-condition to the economic development of the country. Good Governance as described by the UNDP as, “Among other things participatory, transparent and accountable. It is also effective and equitable. It also promotes the rule of the law.”
When there is good governance the country automatically strives and grows. Foreign investments flows into the country, there will be sound management of public finance and the standard of living would improve.
However, the living conditions of the people have been adversely affected due to the increase in taxes such as the VAT.
These steps have led the country to lose faith in their new Government. Good Governance is a stronghold of any country, only if executed properly.
We are losing faith in the present govt.
“We have congregated here because we are losing faith in the present government. The yahapalanaya government has been tripping and falling like small children. At first they had set backs once in three months, then monthly and now weekly. When we look at the statements made and the activities of the Yahapalanaya leaders and Ministers, we see that they have been failing habitually,” said Gamini Viyangoda.
“The Yahapalanaya National Unity Government, unlike the previous coalition Governments, is very important politically. Coalition Governments were formed by parties, which had equal or almost equal political ideals. But for the first time two parties with opposing ideals have come together. This is why it is called a National Government,” he added.
"Yahapalanaya Government, unlike the previous coalition Governments, is very important politically.... for the first time two parties with opposing ideals have came together. ...Viyangoda"
He noted that this was the first time a candidate came to power without representing any political party. “The candidate swore to be politically neutral, but after January 8 we saw him accepting certain responsibilities of the SLFP and the UNP. The fight for power between these two parties is augmenting day by day and we don’t see them equalizing. Party politics has entered Yahapalanaya and this why we see it falling and tripping. Now, yahapalanaya has become a hoax as party politics has been given more prominence. If the President and the Prime Minister do not come out of these biases, the situation could aggravate.”
Referring to the supposed political appointment of Arjuna Mahendran he said,
“This is not the first time such political appointments were made. Under the previous Government we had Ajith Nivard Cabraal and the tradition is continuing. One month after the appointment of Arjuna Mahendran there was a huge issue on bond issuance. It has been alleged that there has been a massive fraud. Arjuna Mahendran may not have had a hand in it, but as the leader he is responsible.”
They weren’t brought to power to execute political agendas of their parties
-Dr. Nirmal Ranjith Dewasiri
“The political transformation that occurred one and a half years ago, unlike other political upheavals such as in the change of Governments in 1956 and 2005, comprised huge public expectations expressed through various civil society groups such as the National Movement for a Just Society. There is often a vast gap between public expectations and the political agenda of the leaders in power when the elected party forgets their promises to the public. Today we have been challenged by this gap,” Dr. Dewasiri said speaking at the seminar.
Referring to an earlier meeting he said that at a recent meeting former Chairman of Chamber of Commerce had said that there was no justifiable ground for Central Bank Governor Arjuna Mahendran to retain his position, as there was an immense gap between his agenda and that of the public. “Hence this raises the issue as to whether Yahapalanaya is truly concerned of the wishes of the public and whether it respects the public agenda, because we see so much effort put into keeping him in his position, despite public disapproval,” Dewasiri added.
He also stated that the previous Government had been defeated not because of allegations against it had been proven through court, but because the public had lost faith in it.
“Recently Deputy Minister of State Enterprise Development Eran Wickramaratne said that there was a contradiction between the economic agenda of the previous Government and that of theirs. This statement made me ponder as to what exactly he meant by ‘our economic agenda’. Did he mean the economic agenda traditionally followed by the UNP or the economic agenda included in the public agenda expressed during last year’s January 8 election?
“I think they have forgotten that they weren’t brought to power to execute political agendas of their parties,” he noted. He remarked that the only way of steering the Government towards fulfilling public aspirations was by collectively publishing and establishing the public opinion.
Government should serve those who truly serve the country
-Prof. Sarath Wijesooriya
“On January 8, 2015 it was the citizens of the country who truly liberated us. We were able to see how people who were hard black rocks become eroded to sand with the changes brought on January 8.The dictatorship was abolished and now we also have a strong opposition. During the last regime, the people of our country were in fear of their lives. Even Sobitha Thera wanted to abolish the Executive Presidency before he passed away.
“However, the people are losing faith in Good Governance, as promises are broken and extensive plans such as the 100 Day Programme have failed,” Prof. Wijesooriya said. “Ven. Sobitha Thera gave the previous Government a bill that consisted of 10 proposals that should be considered for good governance. However, the President and the Prime Minister dismissed these proposals. This was considered extremely disadvantageous for the Government. My main goal is for the Government to follow the conditions laid out by Sobitha Thera one day,” he added.
He stated that one of the conditions of the 10 proposals had been to eradicate the Executive Presidency system. “In one of Sobitha Thera’s birthday ceremonies the President and the Prime Minister promised to abolish it. However, this was never carried through. From January 8 we wanted to build a new nation for the future of our children, with the help of all the people of the country.
“The Government should serve those who truly serve the country, instead of wasting money on the lavish lives of those who are internally involved with the Government. Many of the political leaders and high ranking Government officials of the last regime worked for their own selfish needs by committing fraud. They ran the Government in a wrong way. Those who were in the previous Government perpetually criticised Good Governance; however, they did not even admit their own past wrongs,” he added.
"Ven. Sobitha Thera gave the previous Government a bill that consisted of 10 proposals that should be considered for good governance. However, the President and the Prime Minister dismissed these proposals"
“We should work according to our hearts, and work honestly. All citizens should abide by the law. We are bringing good proposals, on the premise of Good Governance and I wish you will be with them. Politicians and Ministers should have a spine and work with honesty, if we want to build a strong country. Civil officials earn their wages from the taxes of the poor. Therefore it is their duty to do their jobs with utmost good faith. There are many people who are against this Government and they at times do harm to the civil servants. They are filled with apathy and their main goal is to destroy the peace,” he said.
“I want good governance to exist as long as possible. Therefore, we should protect our Government and do no harm to it. However, we still do find that some people in the current Government have the same mind set of the previous regime. Some are still trying to save Government officials, who have stolen millions from the country. This mindset harms the country. They should also not bring false witnesses to testify for such crooks. Many Government officials even try to bribe those in the Legislature and the Judiciary,” he added.
The President and the PM should work as a team
“The main goal of today’s discussion is to talk about how we, people of the country, changed the nation on January 8. We have people of an array of ethnicities and we have together emerged victorious on January 8. Through the leadership of Sobitha Thera we were able to come to a unanimous decision in what we truly wanted the country to be. Our main goal under his leadership was to abolish the Executive Presidency, and we were able to do that on January 8. We knew if we did abolish Executive Presidency, we can liberate ourselves from the dictatorships. Therefore through the 19th amendment we were able to devolve the powers of the President. With this change, our country was more accepted even on the international stage. We feel that the country is much more tolerant than before. When the National anthem was sung in Tamil and Sinhala on Independence Day, many of us felt a feeling of peace and even relief. We need to strive to make the country even more tolerant, and we can only do this if we work together. We need to bear in mind that this is not only the responsibility of politicians. I also believe that team work is the key for any strong leadership. Therefore, the President and the Prime Minister have to work as a team for Good Governance work,” Weliamuna said. He added that many reforms were brought in through Good Governance and one such reform was bringing in corrupted Government officials into custody, as they had abused the goodwill of the people by committing fraud.
" We have people of an array of ethnicities and we have together emerged victorious... Through the leadership of Sobitha Thera we were able to come to a unanimous decision in what we truly wanted the country to be"
“After January 8, the Police and the CID finally had the authority to arrest those who were blatantly guilty of committing fraud. True justice was served on that day. If one knows that they are stealing Government property, they must understand that it is public property.
“However, when the Police attempts to arrest such individuals and take them for investigation they perpetually try to bribe them and escape questioning as they believe their reputation is more important,” he said.
Pics by Waruna Wanniarachchi