n Executive Director, UN, in his keynote address on the Rule of Law organised by the Institute of Justice, Thailand, sometime back had stated “Weak rule of law and lack of good governance pose a major threat to social and economic development the world over and they have hindered attaining Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)”. He had added that “investments in justice systems and the rule of law were pre-requisites for long term prosperity”.
Didn’t we experience the country becoming worse day after day? We began to hear about drugs, kidnappings, murder, rape, death-threats and underworld gangs including politicians taking law into their hands. Prisons became overcrowded with people who did not have access to political power. Politicians involved in criminal activity and their henchmen due to the culture of impunity escaped without being legally punished. Didn’t we elect representatives since 1970s, who created carnage, chaos and instability in the country?
Considering all these, don’t we need long-term durable solutions. We need statesmen to lead the country. “Integrity is doing the right thing. Even when no one is watching them” C.S. Lewis. Do we have such leaders to lead our country? Do our leaders deceive the masses to remain in power? Isn’t that the kind of governance they had mastered since 1970s?
Why did President in Kurunegala while addressing the 65th SLFP Convention say “My intention is to form an SLFP government by strengthening the party? I was invited to accept the leadership after my victory and I happily accepted it with the intention of building this great party and steering it to victory”.
"Our future policies should therefore be based on morality imbued with compassion, kindness, affection, truthfulness, sincerity, moderation, love, simplicity, tolerance and respect for life of all living beings, whether they are fauna or flora"
It was the President and the Prime Minister who convinced us that a “National Government” was needed to take the country forward. The President in an exclusive interview with Sunday Times had also told that the two parties together would work for the benefit of the people. The people having placed immense trust in their words had voted overwhelmingly to elect the good governance team.
The President at a meeting held in the Presidential Secretariat with newspaper editors and media recently had said “We have to forget our greed for power and remain united to create a better country for the next generation”. President had added that “the national unity government, in which the two main political parties function as the key stakeholders had laid the perfect foundation to find solutions to long-drawn socio-economic issues”.
Why should the President waste his energies to build up a party? A vast majority campaigning in support of the JO did not attend the convention in Kurunegala. They had defied the decisions taken by the SLFP leadership time and again.
He must not forget that he came forward as the common candidate for a specific purpose? It also appears the President is vigorously planning in order to gain control over the SLFP, when in fact it should be the last item among the priorities. There has been severe criticism that President Sirisena should take the blame for splitting the SLFP. The Former President had also said that the decision to remove 16 SLFP electoral organizers has resulted in fragmenting the SLFP into pieces. He added that popular stalwarts had been replaced with individuals who have been defeated. Has the President filled the vacancies with people with integrity, honesty, moral courage, kindness, generosity and the like? NO.
Shouldn’t the President therefore place trust continually on people who had elected him? People expect the President to continue with the programmes he had already begun under the Unity government. Couldn’t the President gauge his own performance so far as the Head of State? Hasn’t he done well so far? Shouldn’t he act in a more responsible manner as a Statesman in the making?
I am surprised why the President did not use his communication skills to tell his party men to support his cause to establish the rule of law and good governance. In fact, he is the President of the entire country including the UNP. The President supported by the Prime Minister previously had said that the UNP and SLFP should unite and sink their differences in order to take the country forward. President also had said “There are several reasons why I should be happy. I took over a country which did not have proper democracy. The country was plagued with corruption. There was disregard for human rights and fundamental rights. The judiciary was corrupt and the country was burdened with debt. The foreign debt remained at Rs. 9,000 billion”.
This is why people believe that the President should standby firmly in support of Unity Government. The President should not cause any embarrassment to those who voted them and extended the support to constitute the present government. President should not shatter the people’s hope because it is those corrupt self-centred politicians who would come back if he strengthened the SLFP. Country needs new blood for statecraft. If not, who knows whether the former regime could also use all their gimmicks to come back to power? Weakness of attitude becomes weakness of character – Albert Einstein. As President, he had rightly pointed out about Sri Lanka’s crippling burden of debt, absence of rule of law, bad governance, corruption, civil unrest, ethnic violence, overloaded and inefficient public sector. WB, IMF, and other international agencies too have pointed out public sector corruption or the use of public office for personal gain had hindered development and economic growth.
Didn’t we expect the present leadership to change the destiny for the benefit of the people? If they are good leaders, they should be able to make things happen, things that otherwise could not have happened? If they do not work together it would no doubt be impossible to fulfil the aspirations of the masses.
Do you think most of our politicians have been self-aggrandisers and self-perpetuators who subvert and degrade key institutions, programmes, legislation etc of government to serve their interest and not that of the people? Saddam Hussein has stated “Politics is when you say you are going to do one thing while intending to do another. Then you do neither what you said nor what you intended”.
"The rulers must administer the country with affection, care and discipline considering that it is the responsibility of that of a father. Aren’t they duty bound to look in to their welfare and happiness too? Haven’t they instead feathered their nests to-date? "
Nevertheless, dishonest inconsiderate politicians without moral courage, assisted by shady public officers under the present government, too spend billions for luxury motor vehicles. having curtailed essential public services. Shouldn’t they think that economic and other impediments faced by the people had stemmed from the way that the political power had been exercised and monopolised by selfish politicos since 1970s.
It is therefore encouraging that President professes his commitment to “poverty alleviation”. They should professionally study the systemic causes of poverty and the need to change present economic and social policies for achieving the goals for the benefit of the people. President also announced that he did not want to reside in the Official Residence in Fort because he does not like wasting government resources.
Paradoxically, with an abundance of potential and natural resources, we are mired in steaming squalor, misery, deprivation and chaos. Due to these reasons, even locally produced food stuff has gone up in prices by leaps and bounds pushing food stuff nearly out of bounds for the poor masses. Eating has therefore now become a luxury in Sri Lanka. President himself has pointed out around 20% of the population is suffering from malnutrition.
The rulers must administer the country with affection, care and discipline considering that it is the responsibility of that of a father. Aren’t they duty bound to look in to their welfare and happiness too? Haven’t they instead feathered their nests to-date?
Shouldn’t we therefore change the electoral system and nominate clean, capable people who do not seek fame, luxury cars and official bungalows. There should be people who are willing to sacrifice to take the country forward and who would dedicatedly work towards the well-being of the people. Why is that SLFP nominating mavericks as organizers as yet? President said at a meeting in Jaffna that the government does not want to earn bigger revenue from Liquor. If so how can the President appoint liquor shop owner as an organizer in Colombo district? People seem to be unhappy about the way how the leaders handle these affairs.
Dr. Abdul Kalam, former President of India had said “creative leadership is the essence of good governance” and a creative leadership requires qualities – (a) A Vision (b) Passion to realise the vision (c) Leader must be able to travel into an unexplored path (d) Knowledge of how to manage a success and failure (e) Courage to take decisions (f) Nobility in management (g) Transparent in every action (h) Leader becomes the master of the problem, defeats the problem and succeeds (i) Leader must work with integrity and succeed with integrity. Dr. Kalam had expressed confidence that the creative leadership qualities will be the foundation which will transform a country into a performing nation.
Our future policies should therefore be based on morality imbued with compassion, kindness, affection, truthfulness, sincerity, moderation, love, simplicity, tolerance and respect for life of all living beings, whether it is fauna or flora.
Resources will have to be sparingly used. It is unfortunate that both the President and the Prime Minister are hell-bent to provide elected representative with luxuries we cannot afford.
Denis Halliday, UNDP’s Deputy Resident Representative to Singapore in 1970s had said the Singaporean Government had used aid wisely “focussing heavily on education, industrial development and the urban planning, on every aspect of the now successful industries”.
In the recent times, the architecture of politics has changed. Didn’t the party bosses do that for their own benefit? Nevertheless, the Buddha’s exhortation to the first monks was ‘go forth monks for the good of the many, out of compassion for the world, for the good. Let not two go by one way’. Buddha on several occasions advised the kings to lead a path of righteousness and non-violence. “To build may have to be the slow and laborious task of years. To destroy can be the thoughtless act of a single day” Winston Churchill.
Shouldn’t we therefore turn the whole thing upside down? Shouldn’t we remove the tyrannical Machiavelvlian type dynamics, which have proved to be dysfunctional? It is not too late if there is political will to make it better for the citizens and achieve growth and development.