Early Monday 22nd September morning, a business leader rings and states “Wow! Now there is light at the end of the tunnel”. “Which tunnel? Yet another illusion? To be quickly covered in a black veil of no debate and no action? Why risk being targeted as a traitor? Why loose benefits of patronage politics till the end? and “Why not allow business leaders to get back to their hypnotized sleep mode again?” asks the independent voice.
If there is hope and light at the end of the tunnel, it is not too late for business leaders and the city-based social and educated elites to genuinely enter in to separate open intellectual debates on critical national issues and let those in governance and those wanting to be in governance, hear their voice and advocacy! The debates must of course be under Chatham House Rules, and be based on upholding the private sector core values of placing “sustainable growth, democracy, human rights, rule of law, equity, peace and ethno religious harmony of Sri Lanka and all its people, the first priority”. The chambers and chamber leaders must in fact take the first steps? A weekend is all that is needed at first?
The review can begin by identifying, at a macro level, the critical national issues. Each of these critical issues should then be expanded in to other key issues, taking the expectations of the nation and all the people as the foremost important objective. The next step should be to prioritize these and place sometime references in seeing the expected results or the expected change. The key issues can then be classified under related headings. The next step should be to identify the core expected strategic governance responses in effectively managing these critical national challenges and delivering the desired change or key results. The key issues and the required immediate response strategies must then be grouped in to short term (12 months) and medium term (36 months) periods.
The use of appropriately designed plenary and sub group sessions with expertise based resource allocations will lead optimum results from the weekend. The sub group review teams can develop their presentations under the allocated headings and summaries can be presented and debated in a plenary session. A core groups comprising selected group leaders can following the plenary, review the outcomes and compile within a week a formal presentation. This presentation can then be placed in the media, as a draft “Way forward strategy” for critique, suggestions and response by other members of the private sector and leaders of civil society as well as the public at large.
Allowing two weeks for public critique and one more week for the core group to finalize the presentation based on public responses, the completed ‘Voice of advocacy way forward strategic submission’ should be ready to be sent to all relevant leaders in governance and all political parties. The submission recipients must be required to effectively respond to the voice of business and civil society in the manifestos to be released for the expected next round of key elections.
If chamber and business leaders and the city-based social and educated elites take up this challenge, then certainly there will be some hope of light at the end of the tunnel.