IS THERE A BREAKDOWN IN GOVERNANCE? - EDITORIAL

21 May 2018 12:09 am - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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he coalition government led by the UNP and a faction of the SLFP led by President Sirisena in the so-called ‘National Unity’ government came into power in January 2015 -a coming together of two political forces which have since their creation been diametrically opposed to each other.   

Unfortunately the coming together of two diametrically opposed political forces without either a common ideology or pragmatic programme of work was bound to flounder. And so it has come to pass.   
In the aftermath of the governing coalition’s defeat at the local government elections to the new political formation -the SLPP, led by immediate past President Rajapaksa, the unity government seems to be unravelling at the seams and the country descending into anarchy. The President and the Prime Minister of the unity government seem to be working to undermine each other. In the absence of governance, different power groupings are seen to be taking matters into 
their hands.   


The primary duty of any government is to govern. Yet governance in the country today, has seemingly taken a back seat. One classic example is that of the doctors’ trade union. Today this grouping is using helpless patients as human shields so-to-say in their attempts to dictate terms to government regarding Free Trade Agreements and other matters of state. The doctors grouse there could be an influx of foreign medical doctors which would help relieve abysmal the patient to doctor ratio in 
the country!   


Students of government universities have joined hands with doctors’ trade unions to dictate that the shortage of doctors-to-patients ratio in the country should not be be solved via the introduction of private medical universities, even though the state universities cannot fill this critical need.   
Media reports inform us a few Deputy Inspectors General of Police have dictated to the President, that they do not want a particular individual - who is known as a strict disciplinarian - as Minister of Law and Order at a time when corruption in the country is rife and the law and order situation at an extremely low depth.   
This, despite the fact, the fight against corruption was supposedly one of the main planks of the present regime’s election platform! The regime which came into power in 2015 on an anti-corruption and law and order brief, seems helpless in facing down non-state power centres 
and gangsterism.   


Perhaps it is time we took a leaf out of the book regarding events taking place in Malaysia. A scarce week ago, the party that had been governing Malaysia since it was granted independence on August 31, 1957 - 61 years ago - was voted out of power. The incoming regime campaigned on a platform of wiping out corruption, bringing to justice the miscreants who were accused of robbing the country and freeing of the main opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim who was jailed on trumped up charges. On the day of victory, the first steps were taken to have Ibrahim freed vide a royal pardon. When the man accused of defrauding Malaysia attempted to leave the country, his passport was impounded. He was restrained from fleeing. His residences were raided and millions in ill-gotten wealth seized. In next to nought, Anwar Ibrahim was freed and the newly-elected Prime Minister has promised to fulfill his election promise of resigning and handing over the reigns of power to Anvar Ibrahim within two years.   

We, in Sri Lanka, made the regime change come true in January 2015. Our newly-elected leaders pledged to wipe out big time financial crime, bring the accused to justice, bring down the cost of living and change the 
Constitution etc.   
Instead the regime that promised to end big-time financial crime, stands accused of similar - if not a bigger fraud. Three years later, not a single perpetrator of large-scale fraud has been brought to justice. A few small fry stood accused.   
Our President who pledged he would not seek re-election, has changed his mind.   
The cost of living is spiralling. Only the reduction of presidential powers and incorporation of a Freedom of Information Act stands to our leaders credit.   
Sadly, what Malaysia was able to achieve within a week, Sri Lanka has not been able to in over three years.   
The lesson we can learn from the Malaysian experience is that “...if there’s a will, there’s 
a way”.   

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