Fri, 25 Jun 2021 Today's Paper

We Want Strong Leadership and a Statesman-like Leader

30 September 2019 12:05 am - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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Has Sri Lanka ever had a statesman as Prime Minister? This is a rhetorical question because the answer can only be a resounding ‘NO”. We need a Lee Kwan Yu. Someone ruthlessly efficient who does not allow unnecessary factors like old loyalties, foolish religious sentiments, racism, cheap popularity, prejudice and most of all BAD ADVICE and TOO MUCH FLATTERY to cloud his judgement. A man with a VISION.   
Politicians in Sri Lanka tend to accept sycophancy at face value. Why else would they keep making the same errors again and again and appoint the same lacklustre people again and again to high office?   
I remember a story I heard many years ago when Mr. M.D.F. Jayaratne, a well known Civil Servant and public figure, was named our Ambassador to the USA. A man with business connections in the USA approached him and said, “Mr Jayaratne, I am SO happy you are to be our next Ambassador,” M.D.F. gave him a cold look. ‘Why are YOU so happy?’ he asked witheringly cutting off any beneficial expectations at source.   
Now, THERE’S an example to follow. What a pity we do not have classes in Leadership. We train men for every other career…teachers, doctors, engineers, plumbers even factory workers -- but for the most important career of all there is no guidance whatsoever. And it is badly needed in Sri Lanka where politicians do not even attend Parliament and once inside, behave like squabbling children. They shout, they use vulgar language, they attack each other and have no idea how a Parliament is supposed to work. Well….they ARE uneducated after all…..   
So let us turn our minds to a happier situation and lay down what we HOPE can be done by the strong and knowledgeable Leader we hope we will get.   

RED TAPE 

We are drowning in red tape. Government offices can keep a person waiting ONE ENTIRE DAY simply to get one tiny document. The RMV is a case in point. But this is not the only such government office. They are ALL pretty inefficient. A strong leader can do what Mrs. Indira Gandhi supposedly did in India during the Indian emergency. She insisted that EVERY public servant’s desk had to be cleared before he or she went home. House Plans had to be dealt with and passed in a day. Road repairs and construction work had to be seen to immediately. Bribery and the usual delays were punishable by instant dismissal and fines. India had never worked so efficiently.   
As I write this, a road which has three schools situated on it has been almost totally blocked for the past year by drain replacement. I need hardly say that no drains have yet been replaced because the land is mushy. Meanwhile the Government does not care that about 6,000 children are daily subjected to the weather patterns which are not kind. Red Tape holds up any progress. I can assure our present leaders that the parents of the 6,000 children are not going to vote for them. Village Roads, Bridges, drainage systems and Electricity systems are infinitely worse off. So all this and more MUST be top of the “Must Do” list for our new Leader.   

EDUCATION

This is one of the saddest of all situations in the country. A Strong Leader can appoint the best person for the job of a sensible and desperately needed REHAUL of Education. One assumes he will have a free hand in so doing. The constant self-praise we hear from the present Minister, despite his appalling actions being highlighted in the media, reflects poorly on the PM who should know better than to allow a bumbling Minister to continue to bumble. A non-political Minister with wide executive powers, who is highly educated himself /herself and who understands the educational needs of each area of the island, SHOULD be appointed. Maybe we can then return to the halcyon days of 1950 when we still had an organised policy that could have been developed appropriately to please even the worst Sinhala/Buddhist chauvinist.   

TAKING THE BLAME 

Sri Lankans have lived through some of the worst years EVER. The Bond Scam set the tone for the rest of the period. No blame was ever taken. No apology ever given. Yet it has virtually ruined our economy and ruined our faith in the present Leaders. Various other little crises took place culminating in the Easter Carnage, Again our present ineffectual Leaders tried to shift the blame. As Dr. Upul Wijawardane said in a recent article, “Any decent leader in any democratic country would have resigned had a scandal of such magnitude as the Bond Scam had occurred” . “   
Our Leaders today are like loose cannon. They talk without restrain making us to wonder if they really understand what they are saying. They never explain their wrongdoing…neither their actions nor their words. We listen to parliamentary debates and can weep in frustration. Nothing is ever settled. Nothing is ever answered. Nothing is ever properly explained to us. No logical exchange of words takes place among parliamentarians. Some time ago Vasudeva Nanayakkara asked the PM 20 questions. Where are the answers?   
We hear, by contrast, the goings on in the British Parliament. Do we learn anything from their courtesy, their adherence to protocol and correct procedures, their firm and knowledgeable Speaker’s control of all situations, their lack of yelling and screaming tantrums?, We do not. May our new Leader take us down new avenues of ‘Responsibility and Blame’ so that we get the solutions to problems that vex us, we get satisfactory replies, we get answers that EXPLAIN not answers that are vague and totally self protective. In short, we get a government to which we are entitled.   

 

"At least JRJ got letters of resignation from Ministers before he appointed them. An excellent idea for our new Leader to follow since efficiency is always in doubt"

 

MINISTERS AND PARLIAMENTARIANS

We have too many of these. We hope that a Strong Leader will simply cut all numbers in half. Ministerial benefits should be linked to performance. (Is this possible?) Surely a small population like ours need not have more than TWELVE hardworking Ministers?   
 The benefits of parliamentarians at the moment are ridiculous. Duty-free cars, all sorts of allowances housing and other favours do not match their output of work or their benefit to the country. They are a lot of lazy, unqualified, uneducated body of men in the main. How did we get into such dire straits? The present leader has no control over the members who are officially under him. Why is this?   
At least JRJ got letters of resignation from Ministers before he appointed them. An excellent idea for our new Leader to follow since efficiency is always in doubt. Also an educational qualification for anyone wishing to enter the HOUSE is a must. An AL at least. It is heartening to note that two of the future Presidential nominations have Master’s Degrees or nearly so.   

CHOOSING GOOD MEN 

Napoleon’s success as a brilliant army strategist was well founded but he was excellently supported by his choice of Marshalls. He had the ability to choose the best men possible and this ability helped found his legend. No leader can choose friends and relatives and expect good results. He can never go it alone. He needs intelligent support of well chosen, honest and 
intelligent men.   

SWITCHING SIDES 

How can this be even ethical? A man is voted in by the people. He cannot switch to another party without their permission surely? Why is disloyalty made easy? Stop it please. In some way is it not possible to correct Judge Sarath N. Silva’s disastrous ruling on this subject?   

BUDDHIST PRIESTS

The disgraceful spectacle of Buddhist priests taking part in strikes, facing water cannons and behaving for all the world to see as if they were ordinary citizens, should result in their being disrobed. I also do not see the need for the Prelates of various Buddhist chapters to give their opinions on Government decisions or affairs. They are not trained politicians and while some of them may have some sort of International exposure, they are not in positions of being   knowledgeable.   
The Sangha is there to look after the moral and ethical welfare and progress of the Buddhists. They are not doing too well at looking after themselves are they. One hopes a Strong Leader will put them in their place – back in the temples where they belong in order to meditate and study and further the true spirit of the Dhamma. They must follow the Rules of the Vinaya or else disrobe.   

EMPOLYMENT AND JOBS 

Who says there are no jobs? There are plenty of jobs available but the trouble is that young people with just an OL or AL qualification think they are too good for certain jobs.   
I know that factory owners are desperate for young men to work in their factories, but the youth are just not available. The pay is quite good but these uppity young men prefer to work in three-wheelers or to do nothing rather than work in a factory.   
Recently my daily maid borrowed some money from me saying her son-in-law was out of a job. He was employed in construction work but his back ached so he could not continue. (Nothing was seriously wrong with the malingerer), his wife and mother-in-law supported him and three children, further encouraging him in his laziness. I sent him to friend’s factory not far from where he lived. He turned down the offer and is STILL minus a job (after 9 months). He drinks of course and has no future earning power as far as I can see. His situation can be multiplied a hundred fold.   


I am sure a Strong Leader will harness available labour and get it set to work. Am I being naive? Well perhaps but I have faith in political strength if properly exercised.   
During the tenure of the previous Government (around 2008 or so ) a Camp was organised for more than 30,000 boys just out of school. They were given a semi-military training for about a month or more (I am not at all sure of my figures, only of the fact). The Camp was a tremendous success and gave aimless school leavers an aim.   
Not for nothing do many countries insist on a two-year conscription for all boys reaching the age of 18. In Sri Lanka it certainly took care of a number of young drug users, hooligans, petty thieves and other lazy youngsters with no future plans.   
As Malinda Seneviratne said in Thursday’s Daily Mirror, our Government is playing a game of Bluffoonery. Are we surprised? The word is close enough to Buffoon and THAT word we are quite happy to use when describing some of our politicians.   
The vast depths of political insincerity at the moment is horrifying. As I have said earlier, there is something so very slapdash and unprofessional about what is happening in our country today. We are very unsettled and - yes - unhappy. There is no governance at all. Surely we deserve better.   

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