In the days when each electorate had its Member of Parliament, the notion was that each one of them had to think and act locally as well as nationally, not forgetful of international implications of their decisions and actions and therefore international relations . In practice, however, even the Ministers seemed to think and act locally, thinking more of their electorates and voter base than of the larger nation and the national interest, sometimes completely ignoring international repercussions of their decisions. Lately this has deteriorated to the anti-social level of thinking only of themselves, their kith and kin and a few of their favourites. This attitude has had disastrous consequences on Sri Lanka and besmirched its good name. All this was due to the insular mindset that has affected even the political parties that forgot that we are a small nation of 21 million people in a world of over seven billion people to whom we had to be necessarily connected for the sake of our own survival. Only a very few persons in each party had what could be called an international outlook. This was due to their constricted upbringing followed by a narrow education and lack of a comprehensive political philosophy that confined their thoughts and views to a subjective small world of their own.
Now a new political concept has been proposed: all the members of Parliament are to form the government. Behind this notion is the very sane view of the people that when they are electing their representatives, their wish is that he/she may not be ignored or marginalized, but be part of the government and that his/her views be given attention to even though he/she may not be part of the group, the Cabinet that orientates the final decisions.
When all the representatives are involved; sound short term and long term policy decisions affecting the whole nation could be taken. Study and deliberations whether on the economy, trade and finance, domestic and foreign policy, education and health, agriculture and industry, workforce and employment and all other matters of concern could be considered in view of the national common good. Whatever the political bent and particular ideology, the political parties have to be ready to transcend the nuances of their political brand for the sake of the Country as a whole.
Unfortunately, the major political parties, who have the numbers in Parliament but who are also burdened with the drag of many under-educated, questionable, unsuitable and abjectly corrupt characters, do not seem to propound and propose this outlook to the public. Perhaps only the JVP and Minister Champika Ranawaka, perhaps with the JHU, and Gen. Sarath Fonseka, with the President and Prime Minister may be sharing this outlook that strikes a chord with the radical national needs. Therefore, it is up to the political parties not to put forward the uneducated corrupt ones as candidates for Parliamentary elections. This may indeed be very difficult because the President himself and many prominent Ministers themselves of the past government coalition are accused of such corruption and abuse of power for selfish gain.
l Finally, from among the individuals put forward by the parties, it is the people who have to choose the member of Parliament to represent them. Though the party may not be totally free of corruption, the individual put forward by the party to a particular electorate may be acceptable. Such individuals should be chosen by the people. Then a more wholesome band of men and women of integrity will form the next Parliament.
The Bishop of Badulla, Dr. Winston Fernando has recently put out a statement as follows:
“Many political parties rallied round one common candidate under a Common Symbol for the sake of the Country. Party politics in our country have been divisive, often vindictive and have led to corruption and violence allowing the country as a whole to suffer injustices, racial and religious discrimination and violation of human and civic rights.
A good majority of people however, have transcended political ideologies, interests and party agendas and voted for a just society. Therefore, it is wise and imperative to give the citizens another opportunity to further consolidate the 100-day programme for the sake of the country at the Parliamentary Elections.
If various political parties under their respective symbols were to promote their narrow party agendas, and pull in different directions jeopardizing the continuity of the spirit of the 100-day programme; now accepted by almost all the political parties and citizens, it will undo the progress so far achieved, create a chaotic situation and confuse the people.
That politicians and their supporters in the main political parties have divided loyalties is a known and observable fact. Therefore, for the greater good of the country, let the voters judge for themselves the fidelity and the ability of the present regime, with all the checks and balances in place, vote to form a stable government at the forthcoming Parliamentary election”.
Therefore, if the members of parties that came together to support the common presidential candidate, and bring about a new political culture and set the country in a new direction, could again come together and put forward a common national vision and national policies with a programme for clear short term and long term goals, it would be a boon. Among those who came together to support the common presidential candidate, there could be many other decisive elements on which they could stand together. If they deliberate long enough, they could clarify to themselves many a knotty problem and find that there are more things that unite them than divide them. They will have to give the assurances to the people that what they propose for the common good will be surely implemented even though there may be hiccups and unavoidable delays of one kind or another.
If such a group could unite to contest under the symbol of the common presidential candidate, so much the better. The people would then be able to make a clear option supportive of a common programme.