1 July, 2022

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20th Amendment: Current Needs For Strategic Planning

By Sunil J. Wimalawansa –

Prof Sunil J. Wimalawansa

Part 17: Sri Lanka—Changing Pillows to Cure Headaches: 20th Amendment—Current Needs for Strategic Planning

Despite the seriousness of the ongoing crises in Sri Lanka, no advances have been made to resolve the political, financial, or social calamities. Instead of resolving issues and reappointing the same old failed folks into the cabinet, near-total lack of law and order. Besides, it uses taxpayer-paid government employees, including the legal team and the police, only to protect themselves (i.e., abuse of public funds) and to work against the public interests, demonstrating that neither the president nor the new cabinet intends to improve the situation. It is the complete opposite of what the country and the Aragalaya want. Ironically, the emerging evidence suggests that they further strengthen the powerbase, autocracy, and the status quo.

The lack of authenticity and competence among the executives, current political party leaders and senior public administrators in Sri Lanka (and some other countries) disregard and willfully neglect the current and future public needs, which is astonishing. Shockingly, a similar trend is seen in some other counties toward authoritarian ruling emerging and becoming normality. The USA, Australia, Canada, UK, and Germany are a few examples where such is spreading like cancer, consisting of a similar breed of politicians.

Many believe that it is partly pushed by the global agenda of the World Economic Forum and the World Bank. They feed the fuel of promises (hope) of rapidly becoming rich and extreme ego and strengthening powerbases and firm control of these gullible political leaders. They also use costly gimmicks like the green-new deal, extreme liberalism, initiating ethnic conflicts and wars to sell their lethal weapons, episodically occurring climate change, etc., forcing to waste funds and suppressing the growth of other counties. Today is COVID; what is there for tomorrow? Sri Lanka is participating in this longer-term disaster. This is going to be a lose-lose situation for the world.

Poor judgments and flawed legislation

Serious errors of judgements made by the executive and the legislative branch of administration in Sri Lanka over the past few years are bewildering. Wrong policy decisions continue to harm the country, its economy, prosperity, and the population. One can vividly see the current adverse outcomes from those erroneous decisions on ongoing political, economic, and social chaos.   In addition to the rampant corruption and bribery taking (expecting a bribe with most governmental transactions, including commission-based decision making), the country has become a lawless society. Consequently, the existing state of affairs has become dysfunctional.

Sri Lanka needs to end its dependency on individual leaders (many of whom ruined the progress and prosperity of the country) to save the country: they have wretchedly failed over the past 74 years. The reality is that the people’s trust in politicians and government administrators and institutions, including municipalities and provincial councils) fallen to the rock bottom. These deteriorations have continued to erode democratic institutions.

Dysfunctional governments fail to safeguard food, medicine, energy, and sovereignty

Sri Lanka should also not rely on fossil fuels and diversify into renewable energy, eyeing energy sufficiency. While this should have done decades ago, the steps taken by the government were not coherent and insufficient. Instead of solving the problem, government officials erected enormous roadblocks to prevent energy sufficiency based on politics and commissions (bribes), not the energy policy. Consequently, the country depends on imported fossil fuel (i.e., petrol and diesel) and strained precious foreign reserves. Thie current crisis highlights the importance of this.

While a country cannot become self-sufficient in everything, one should have a strategy to develop some aspects for its competitive advantage. Besides, strategically getting rid of external dependence on energy, essential and staple foods, and internal security and sovereignty. The country had 74 years to develop national policies in some areas, such as water, irrigation, power/energy, natural gas, sewerage disposal, etc. The lack of such is disastrous and hinders the process of autonomy.

Longer-term strategic planning and implementation of policies are needed

Most laws enacted and gazetted directives by the government over the past seven years were to protect themselves and give business opportunities to their supporters, not the public. It is time that the country takes a step back from the current chaos and engages in a detailed environmental scanning (like a five-day retreat with brain-storming sessions). This should encompass and evaluate the values of political, economic, social, and technological events, availability, potentials, and global trends that positively (and negatively) influence businesses, people, and the country. Finding would lay the foundation for developing policies for the country’s benefit.

The information gathered through a systematic environmental scanning should be synthesised into strategic, short-term, medium-term (three to five years), and longer-term (5 to 15 years) fits for the country. Based on a strategic relevance score, identify what is most relevant for a given period and pertinent for the sustainable development of Sri Lanka and to come out of the current economic mess. These must consider as “living” documents, subject to modification based on new information and data. The strategic relevance score can include a weighted score that considers pertinent strategic fits, logistic ease, fiscal responsibilities, and anticipated benefits for the set mission and goals based on changing priorities and opportunities during a given period.

20th amendment must revoke through a democratic process

With the 20th amendment, the executive branch stole the public’s freedom and the independence of the judiciary, Commissions, and the police. Strengthening the power of one person is not what the country needs now or in the future. Nevertheless, the removal of grossly excessive executive power (e.g., abolishing the executive presidency) must be done systematically in a democratic manner, such as a nationwide referendum for people to decide what is best for the country.

Constitutional Council initiated by the 17th amendment, together with the Council of State and six Independent Commissions, are crucial for the governance, fairness, professionalism, and checks and balances in Sri Lanka.

As its architects designed and intended, the 20th amendment eliminated checks and balances, which gave the politicians and administrators a free ride to loot the treasury. With the abolition of the Constitutional Council (for appointments) and five Independent Commissions, the 20th amendment removed the essential checks and balances and investigated complaints against the government and its employees (e.g.., bribery, brutality, etc.), like chairpersons, directors, the police, and military.

However, the current watered-down 21st draft amendment must be considered a worthless, yet another “change of a pillow to cure a headache.” Apparently, the justice minister removed several critical items from the draft amendment to please the president. These must be re-inserted. In the interim period, over 40 critical government departments were newly included under the president now. This indicates that the president has no intention for devolution of power (i.e., promises to mislead the public but no action). Instead, he desperately continues to strengthen his power and control. With such dilution of the draft amendment, the true intention and the purpose of the 21st amendment are at stake.

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Latest comments

  • 2
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    Thank you erudite Professor @

    This country is filled with culprits. More of them are in Medamulana family. Both people (voters) their representatives are stupid as no other folks. –
    :
    Today having listened to PRESS CONFERNCE held by Kaputas, I understood, he has not the faintest knowledge on trivial issues. This incumbent premier proved well in a meeting in 4 weeks ago. It was focusing on a draft document which then IMF to have sent to Kaputas:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HkBEUkr4vDQ

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w6DGfpMQ00g
    :
    He has no shame at all. I think it is the genetics of RAJAPKSHES. Next days, MYNAH too will stand before the same press….

    Media men over to you – please get trained properly,… you are the 4 th force of this nation … you too have to take the responsiblity to have misled the vulnerable in this country.
    :
    Media representatives, journalists are not trained to raise the questions properly. They just let BASIL to prevaricate – as had also been the case prior to elections.

  • 3
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    SRILANKEN POLITICS – literally ludicrous as usual / these men are shameless
    .
    1)By 2019, Ranil was villified like no any other politicians ever faced it since independence – all because Rajapakshes wanted to comeback by draging power. All these were inculcated by Rajapakshe melchcha politics. RANIL was scapegoated for BANK ROBBERY which was actually generated by Mahinda Rajapakshe and his slave, former CBSL governor Cabral. If this was other way around, no doubt, Rajapakshes would not wait any second, but the governor of MS-RANIL govt, Arjuna Mahendran would have long been extradited. However, PEOPLE were fully misled by injecting fabricated stories on the bank robbery.
    2) Atleast during the first 2 two years, former govt implemented and achieved lot more reforms in favour of good governance. Also they were able to balance debt payments because their tax policiies paved the way to increase the state revenues. Late minister of finance honouralbe Managala Samaraweera sacrificed a lot in bringing good systems, no doubt about that.
    No publicity was hindered to any accomplishments obtained by implementation of essential reforms by previous govt, because Rajapakshes twisted srilanken society media mafia never allowed perception be in favour of ruling govt (former govt). UNP and JVP were damaged as the election results would turn out to be fully in favour of Rajapakshe politics. All these were precalculated acts well planned by mlechcha men.

    tbc.

  • 2
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    continuing.
    .
    3) Ironically, not even 3 years passed since grabed the power by RAJAPAKSHES, they had to kneel down before Mr Wickramasighe not being able to hold on the pledges made to the nation. People were totally misled as if ploughing buffaloes would be handled by mahauts.
    4) well human democractic 19th Amendment, was repealed once Mahinda Rajapakhshe returned to power, however, after appointing PRMIER wICKRAMASINGHE they themselves make efforts to bring back 19th´, by repealing 20th Amendment.
    Can any homo sapiens behave to the manner, Rajapakshes do it if they are not insane ? THat alone prove that Rajapakshes are rather animals.
    5) Same WIMAL Buruwanse, according to our records, never caught by kind of unexpected fatal accidents harming his psychologiy. But today he is sitting in the opposition make ludicrous statements one behind the other.
    Looking back not long ago, the very same Weerawanse had the audacity to compare most abusive Rajapakshe duo with LWY and Mahanthir Moahammeda .

  • 0
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    Half way down the article I stopped continuing out of frustration. Is our political crisis in any way associated with the trends seen in other countries. Are those countries as dependent on us as we do on them. Why not deal with our crisis without that kind of diversion.
    .
    Our crisis is caused by our faults and flaws, – a lack of understanding that politics and economy are inter-dependent.
    .
    The primary cause of our crisis is the lack of political maturity in us. We are not fit for democratic governance. (This is not the first time I mention this inadequacy of ours.)
    The other cause is our racial inclination. We are eager to promote our inconclusive and unimportant past history. The third, but not any less harmful cause, is our desire to mix religion and politics.
    .
    Until we clear our minds of all the rotten glory on the above three elements no change to the Constitution would benefit our constitution!

  • 1
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    The political ruling class in Sri lanka is a set of bogus self-centered, introverted individuals who are more concerned about their own benefits and well-being and not at all bothered about the voters who elect them to power time and time again. They can easily get together irrespective of their party labels to help each other. Rajapakshas, Ranil , Maithiri, and many others have been playing this game for so long and the majority of the people do not trust them anymore and want these looters and cheaters to be punished immediately. Enough is enough the

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