We continue to have the most tyrannical and power hungry politicians for many decades. MS/RW formula could have been the right combination to consider reforms in the judiciary, public administration, public expenditure management, anti-corruption, as essentials, if they had strategised, the processes and approaches correctly. Experience, intelligence and good judgement are needed to provide good leadership. Gauthama Buddha had said, it was the WISDOM that was most crucial. Our leaders lack wisdom, fortitude, insight and the vision. Prof. Rufus Fears had said that a politician and a statesman are not the same. A statesman, Fears had argued, is not a tyrant, he is the leader of a free people with four critical qualities: bedrock of principles, ability to judge what is right and wrong and act accordingly, vision and the ability to build a consensus to achieve that vision.
The required reforms are wide-ranging. The development agenda should be handled cautiously with persistence and determination. It should not be overloaded with bad governance. The key to government’s effectiveness, ability and the overall capacity to lead the nation successfully lies in a few elements; responsiveness to the people, ability to bring about a good balance democratically to serve their interests; and most importantly enhancing efficiency of the public-sector institutions in implementation of policies. The President and the PM should think smarter and act smarter because the voter is wide awake.
A social scientist had said “progressive institutional reforms are pre-requisites for socio-economic development”. Establishing rule of law and strengthening the judiciary are the best tools in our struggle for economic and social reform for achieving economic development. We truly need urgent solutions to most burning policies and political dilemmas. Empowerment, participation, integrity, transparency and accountability are remedies to overcome bad governance.
I do not think that PM could succeed by introducing policies that hindered promotion of human rights, freedom, liberty and democratic activities. Former US President Jimmy Carter had said “Democratic movements have accounted for the progress of democracies in the Western world”. There have been instances where youth had sacrificed their precious lives and successive leaders have disregarded their call for establishment of more democratic governments and institutions. Sir Winston Churchill, Nelson Mandela, Lech Walesa and Dae Jung Kim have proved beyond doubt the importance of democratic governance.
"The key to government’s effectiveness, ability and the overall capacity to lead the nation successfully lies in a few elements; responsiveness to the people, ability to bring about a good balance democratically to serve their interests; and most importantly enhancing efficiency of the public-sector institutions in implementation of policies."
It is the government that is responsible for upholding the rule of law. The President and the PM and all elected representatives give an oath that they will uphold the Constitution and do the opposite. They disrespect other laws too. There seem to be one law for politicians and another for ordinary citizens. Where is the equality before law? Let me add, there should be nobody above law. That was their slogan too.
Singaporeans today enjoy full employment and high economic growth, and low divorce, illegitimacy and crime rates. Singapore’s second Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong had said “We must think for ourselves and decide what is good for Singapore, what will make Singapore stable and successful”. Shouldn’t our leaders also think similarly. Lee Kuan Yew had said “To build a country, you need passion. If you just do your sums – plus, minus, debit, credit – you are a wash-out”.
Former President Ranasinghe Premadasa endeavoured to build up and improve public sector organization through decision making and by setting up of targets and follow up systems at all levels. He was a tireless task master.
He took the garment industry to villages and saw to it that the path was completely cleared for the industrialists. He hand-picked officers and involved them to carry out instructions to the letter. He was not prepared to accept ‘no’ for an answer. He got officers transferred who could not live up to his expectations. A workaholic, he could have been rightly named Sri Lanka’s Deng Ziaoping, if he did not get assassinated. Premadasa was impeached, which he manipulated cleverly using strategy and his powers. Impeachment became a ‘failed exercise’.
He introduced P/A Circular 15 of 1990 to streamline the public-sector recruitment policy without political interference - a progressive step that was widely accepted by all communities. Why did the successive governments disregard circular No. 15 of 1990 and push it under the carpet? The President and the PM should now enforce the relevant circular in the name of ‘Good Governance’. Amusingly, it has not yet been repealed.
Improving public administration and judiciary should be the only subject to establish good governance. Values such as honesty, integrity, trustworthiness, efficiency etc. are seriously lacking. We should re-introduce a merit-based administrative service and proper devolution of power for strengthening public administration country-wide. We need better public expenditure management, efforts to fight corruption and a more professional public administration. Governance reforms take time perhaps years to produce results. The more we delay, we will be adding more problems for
"It is the government that is responsible for upholding the rule of law. The President and the PM and all elected representatives give an oath that they will uphold the Constitution and do the opposite."
What the government should do at this moment is enforce all the laws that are already in law books only to promote democracy and good governance; thereby enhancing people’s participation. Why don’t they set tasks and priorities for reforms in the public sector? For democracy to gain further strength, good governance must flourish. Citizens should also be allowed to follow more closely the activities and operations of the Parliament in the decision-making process that affects their lives, including governance. By trying to bring in new legislation to create super-ministers, are they trying to introduce autocratic rule in place of democratic rule without the necessary participation or involvement of the people.
JR introduced 1978 Constitution, created Executive Presidency and changed the electoral system to keep UNP in power forever, claiming he needed powers to achieve development and growth. People now hate politicians. “Americans hate politics. Because they hear politicians make promises that won’t come true” – Bill Clinton.
The present politicians during the past few decades had increased ‘inhumanity to country-men’ and continue to lie. They give all hollow promises. It is because the national policy does not adequately address issues such as inequities pertaining to economic growth, education policy, the care for the disabled, elderly, accidents, suicides etc. Successive governments have withdrawn numerous benefits people had been provided in the name of reducing public expenditure, having denied social and distributive justice. Did they do that purely because civil society in Sri Lanka is fragmented politically, ethnically and in many other ways. We should now consider the possibility of building up ‘one consolidated force’ to protect the citizens.
Minister S.B. Dissanayake, in reply to a query raised by a journalist said that they were a group of people who loved their health and they need luxury vehicles to travel about to serve the country. They continue to lie and distort reality. If so, having ‘served the country’, while enjoying all the luxuries at considerable expense to the people, what have they done? They have created a country over-burdened with massive debt with no hope for a ‘better tomorrow’. The PM too fibbed that the imbalance would be corrected under their administration. MPs have been given massive tax concessions running into billions while increasing taxes for poor people!
President and the Prime Minster should not waste more time! As Harvard’s Marilee Grindle has put it, PM should at least aim for “good enough” governance. Did PM give up the ‘Litchchavi type rule’? “Democracy is based on reason, a sense of fair play, and freedom and a respect for the rights of other people” – Winston Churchill.
"Former President Ranasinghe Premadasa endeavoured to build up and improve public sector organization through decision making and by setting up of targets and follow up systems at all levels. He was a tireless task master"