During the last few weeks the concept of National Government was a topic widely debated. The concept of National Government was embraced by the 19th Amendment to the Constitution. After the General Elections the government has formed a National Government. However there are many criticisms levelled against this concept. The main criticism is that MPs who were rejected by the public at the elections got into the Parliament and involve in the decisionmaking process. There were many artistes and civil society activists who were involved in bringing the current government into power. The Dailymirror contacted some of the artistes and civil society activists who were actively involved in bringing the government into power about their idea on the National Government and their role in the civil society from now on.
“Must look at the National Government with a positive view”
Professor Sarath Wijesooriya
Professor Sarath Wijesooriya said he looks at the National Government with a positive view.
“In making important political reforms we need the consensus of the majority. If not all our attempts would fail. Without the two mainstream political parties joining together it would be difficult to bring about the expected new outcomes. Hence I am positive about the National Government,” he said.
Yet, he said people who were defeated and who had ruled the country for many years re-entering the Parliament is disappointing.
“There are Parliamentarians who are elected who had been accused on many charges who have also been appointed. At the moment some of these issues are being investigated. The issue is when these people are part of the National Government what will happen to the investigations and whether these factors affect good governance. Unfortunately some of the people who were known to be corrupt got higher votes. From the beginning we voiced against giving nomination for people who are accused of any offences. But regardless of our requests such people were given nomination. We are not at all happy about this,” he said.
Professor Wijesooriya pointed out the speech given by Sarath Mayadunne when he resigned from his Parliamentary seat.
“We must pay attention to what Mayadunne said in his speech. He said the citizens have failed to elect people who are not corrupt and who are law abiding. I do not agree with him hundred percent. But citizens vote for people who meet them, requesting for their vote. It is the responsibility of the main two parties to give nominations to the people who are suitable. It is clear under the existing electoral system it is difficult for people who are educated and with a good character to win. For example former Justice Warawewa. We need people like him in the Parliament. But he could not secure enough votes to get elected to the Parliament. It is mandatory to change the present electoral system if we need the most suitable people in the Parliament,” he said.
Furthermore Professor Wijesooriya said as activists in the Civil Society they are now focusing on establishing the independent commissions and reforms of the electoral system. “Now we are focusing on political reforms and for the setting-up of independent commissions. Also we are voicing the importance of preparing a new Constitution. The current Constitution was used and amended to secure the power of the leader of the country, most of the time. For better governance we must have a new Constitution. But at the same time we do understand that although politicians need the support of the civil society to get into power, they do not listen to them when in power.
“I am utterly disappointed”
Actress and Civil Society activist Deepani Silva said the country has not received the expected change. She said most of the Ministers who were appointed are corrupt.
“During the last Presidential election I supported the common candidate, Maithripala Sirisena. By that time the country was in a dire need to eliminate former President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s dictatorship. Only a handful of artistes came out without even considering the life threats they had. We wanted a President who is not corrupt and who is not a dictator. Also we wanted a Parliament which is not corrupt, one which consists of suitable candidates,” she said.
Deepani Silva said although personally she does not support the United National Party, she supported the common candidate with a view to have a new system. “I knew Ranil Wickremesinghe would be the Prime Minister when we supported the common candidate Maithripala Sirisena. But within the first hundred days of their government they destroyed our trust. They could not deliver what they promised. I was utterly disappointed,” she said. She said she was working with “Purawesi Balaya” but later supported Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) at the elections. “Although I was working with Purawesi Balaya I supported JVP because I have always been a supporter of the leftist movement. And by that time Purawesi Balaya supported UNP as they feared the former President would be back in power. Since I cannot betray my conscience I supported JVP,” she said. She further said that the present outcome was expected as the United National Party (UNP) campaigned for a National Government.
“The frustration we are experiencing now was to be expected when the UNP campaigned for a National Government from the beginning. Most of the candidates who contested under the UPFA ticket were accused of many frauds. I do not know why President Sirisena paved the way to the Parliament to people who were against him. I do not know what they call ‘new political culture’ as we are experiencing the same. I do not know after winning 106 seats why the UNP could not form its own government. Seems like most of these parliamentarians are after the perks they receive,” she said.
“If they fool the people, they have no way forward”
Play writer Dharmasiri Bandaranaike is of the view that the National Government was formed to gain a benefit at the elections.
“I think the UNP initiated the formation of a National Government to gain a benefit at the elections. However through this people who were in power earlier and who were defeated at the elections got the opportunity to re-enter the Parliament. Amongst these people there are also people who were accused of many charges. Unfortunately this is a mafia and unfortunately people are also a part of it. We need to rehabilitate these people. We need to go forward. The citizens are waiting to see how the decisions are made. If they try to fool the people there is no existence for this government,” he said.
He also said it is pathetic the way parliamentarians behaved when R. Sampanthan was appointed as the Opposition Leader.
“It indeed is sad the way our parliamentarians behaved when R. Sampathan was appointed as the Opposition Leader. They have failed to understand the faith placed by the people in the North. Unfortunately some try to spread racist ideas to gain advantages. As members of the civil society we are going to educate and gather people on matters which need the voice to be raised,” he said.