Every crime has a perpetrator. Likewise, every wrong doing has a culprit.
And then there are victims, who, in the current Sri Lankan context, are rendered absolutely helpless by the lack of transparency and accountability of the government high heads. Surrendering to the whims and incongruities of the former is clearly an anti-climax for a citizenry that has always prided itself when it comes to appointing representatives for its governing bodies.
The long and short of the story of governing is that, once the people entrust their sovereignty in the hands of the so-called people’s representatives, they lose control over their actions; the strings are conveniently detached and the politicians become a powerful breed on their own.
In the face of every public inconvenience, the standard formula of rectifying errors is to pass the ball onto so many courts, call for explanation from a few officials who are at the bottom of the ladder and counter attack the media and the public who closely follow the progress of such cases. Tying public officials to trees has become the way in which politicians show their sense of accountability to the public.
Be it the recent Z-score muddle or the increasing crime rate, partly fuelled by the politically sponsored thuggery, the case always tends to end where the public becomes both the culprit and the victim. The decision-makers are only observers, or more like dozers in their cozy arm chairs.
Then there is corruption.
In the absence of a proper apparatus to counter corruption, misappropriation of public funds and bribery has become part and parcel of country’s monetary mechanism. The Right to Information Bill brought in by the UNP and obstructed by the government politicians for the obvious reasons, would have brought the reins of the politicians back to people’s hands.
In an ideal democracy, as the people who hold the sovereignty of the country, it should be them who are calling the shots. Just because ours is an adopted democracy with a hybrid constitution, it should not be the other way around. If we believe in people’s power, those who call the shots today should be called for explanation.
India has Anna Hazare. And then there is also the Jan Lok Pal Bill that even without its constitutional status, still serves a purpose. Accountability is not something people need to win through hunger strikes. It needs to be an inherent feature of any representational democracy. Sadly for us, our hunger strikes are bluffed. And the fear of justice of the privileged few has heavily overshadowed the people’s right to it.