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ADHERENCE TO THE POLICY AND VIRTUE IS NECESSARY

19 August 2015 06:25 pm - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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The Sri Lankans have elected a new Parliament and the message of the people no doubt is loud and clear.   The country needs “good governance and an efficient,  and effective administration” to take the country forward.  The entire populace having won adult franchise in 1931,   for the first time have elected a balanced Parliament   to strengthen the hands of the President who has assured repeatedly to the people what he intends,  I quote: “An open,   accountable transparent and efficient government” for the benefit of the entire nation.


It is complimentary that the Prime Minister has also stated, I quote: “democratic governance will be established where participation,   consensus,   transparency,  accountability,  responsiveness,  equity and rule of law” will be the true form of government that he intends to re-establish in a country where there has been a total neglect and dis-regard for the said principles of good governance.  


According to the teachings of the Buddha, I quote: “A righteous ruler will be generous and charitable,  of high morality,  kind and gentle,  having austerity in habits,  practising non-hatred and non-violence,  patient and tolerant and showing non-enmity.”  


Owing to the grievous suffering Emperor Asoka had caused to his own countrymen,  for the acquisition of other neighbouring States,  Emperor had become devastated and restless. Arahant Samanera Nigrodha Thero’s brief sermon had changed the life style of Emperor Asoka entirely and became a Buddhist.


 Emperor,   thereafter,    dedicated himself to the development of men of character,   intellect and vision.   Emperor understood the fact that the society improves when leaders practice great virtues.  Emperor also took necessary steps to remove fear,  anxiety,  hatred, discrimination,  poverty and safety of everyone in the community by applying the laws of the land with love and compassion.   Emperor made use of the teachings of the Buddha to enhance the quality of life of the subjects; improved welfare while ensuring humane and equitable sharing of resources without abuse or misuse.
 
''He is well aware ofthe issues which needto be resolved''

Lord Buddha taught us to show love and affection to the subjects and preached 10 rules,  known as DHASA RAJA DHARMA,  which is relevant even after centuries.  Buddha discouraged being rude,   unkind,  violent,  oppressive and selfish.   Lord Buddha has also specified a Code of Discipline wherein self-control,   politeness of conduct,  modesty,  mildness of manners and free from crooked behaviour that form the basis of a good character. 


 The culture of widespread impunity persisted which eventually led to an ongoing debate locally and subsequent defeat of MR. We did not hear the MR government taking steps particularly to deal with errant high-level politicians and top bureaucrats.  However,  they apprehended ordinary citizens in terms of law.  If an average citizen violates and transgresses moral codes and basic rules of the country they were punished. The law which provides criminal penalties for corruption did not apply to the affluent.  Owing to these deficiencies there had been reports that corruption had sneaked into all three branches of the MR government!! 


I also recall that according to a Jathaka story the ruler who does not punish miscreants but causes harm to the innocent is not suitable to rule a country.  In a democracy voters reject rulers who do not use public positions to run good governments and improve the welfare of the people.   Buddhists hold the view that appropriate action in keeping with the teachings of the Buddha inevitably leads to the increase of material wealth,  peace and progress of the community.  It is unfortunate the educated elite who came to politics were replaced by uneducated ruffians and they contributed to the destruction of moral,  ethical and cultural values in the country. Lord Acton in a letter to Bishop Mandell Creighton in 1887 stated that “Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely”  


It may be interesting to mention what appears in “Agganna Sutta”   where it describes the origins of property,   State and the kings.  When the crime rate had increased after the division of lands owing to greed,the people had elected a king to maintain law and order and particularly the State.  This proves that there had been a social contract in practice and in theory where the king had been entrusted with a duty and an obligation towards the people.  This no doubt should be understood and respected even in a modern democracy.  I must add that  “Kutadanta Sutta” specifically speaks of giving of seeds,  loans or capital to merchants to start or increase businesses to achieve economic development.  In addition, Buddha had also stressed the importance of paying adequate wages for workers to live a decent life with dignity in the same Sutta.    


In fact every religion and all virtuous people want us to be good.   The Lord Buddha long before, Mahathma Gandhi,  Abraham Lincoln and many others showed the importance of applying humanitarian principles.  It was Lord Buddha who showed us before all others how a country could degenerate and become corrupt when the Head of a government becomes corrupt,  partisan,  and unjust.


It is,  therefore,   important to make some difficult choices – choices which may be unpopular but are necessary to drive reform.  Let me remind the words of Samuel Johnson who said “If you do not have the courage,  you may not have an opportunity to use any of your other virtues.”


If we need to go forward,  we have to develop a new mindset characterized by self- confidence,   openness,  fairness,   humility,  global bench-marking and meritocracy.    Embrace meritocracy to create a high performance culture.  Be willing to take risks.    Remember that it is  “better to light a candle rather than to curse the darkness.”

We need to strengthen the leadership of the present President and the Prime Minister to take the country forward and ensure sustainable economic growth.   During the period prior to the impeachment of the then President Premadasa,   the accusation was that a few cronies who were closely hand-picked monitored and ran the entire public sector to suit the whims and fancies of the then President.  I have no doubt the then President had good reasons behind this whole thinking.  It was because he did not depend on the efficiency and effectiveness of the public sector.  However,  the present public sector is now even worse and the new government will have to do bold reforms because no one can take the country forward unless the public sector is suitably reformed for the purpose.

According to Plato: “There will be no end to the troubles of States,  or of humanity itself,  till philosophers become kings in this world,  or till those we now call kings and rulers really and truly become philosophers,  and political power and philosophy thus come into the same hands”
We must appreciate the fact that the President removed willingly the immunity the President had and reduced his term for five years.  We have now come to a situation where party politics should not supersede national requirements.   The voters have taken extra care to strengthen the President to take the country forward.  

The President has always urged everyone to use State resources sparingly with responsibility.  He is concerned and accessible.  He is concerned about his subjects.   He is well aware of the issues which need to be resolved.  The protection of all communities,   religions,   their promotion and the fostering of harmony,   goodwill,  and understanding between them is also treated as a duty falling within the functions of the government under him.  


It is my earnest hope that the wishes of the President would bear fruits only if we can support and extend the co-operation to both the President and the Prime Minister. We are lucky to have a Prime Minister who believes in taking the country forward where they could perform their representative,  legislative and oversight functions with efficiency and effectiveness.  The Premier has indicated that he wishes to strengthen the spirit of consultation and democratic process by forming a national government,  which in my view, is the wisest move that we could think of in a situation like ours. In a monument,   Emperor Dharmasoka had inscribed “All men are my children,  and I,  the King,  forgive,  what can be forgiven.”  He had announced his government always wanted to ensure safety,   peace of mind,  and happiness of all living beings under his administration.  He had also added that he would strive to conquest only matters of human spirit and the spread of “right conduct” among his subjects.  However,  he had warned other powers that he was not only compassionate but powerful too.
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