25 September, 2020

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An Appeal To The Nation

By Gamini Jayaweera

Gamini Jayaweera

Gamini Jayaweera

On 17 August we will have the opportunity to elect our parliamentary representatives in the general election to change our political landscape to ensure that as a nation we will be governed by politicians who value and maintain the Rule of Law, working towards enhancing the freedom and democracy which we enjoy since 8 January 2015, actively working in partnership with all political parties to bring different communities together without creating racial tension among different sections in the society for cheap political gains, working towards creating a stakeholder business culture, and collectively taking prompt & decisive actions to remove MPs who are engaged in illegal activities irrespective of their status or affiliation to the ruling party. In order to select suitable candidates, we need to understand what kind of qualities these candidates should possess to represent us in the parliament.

It is generally accepted that the elected Members of Parliament have responsibilities to the Parliament, their constituents, and their political parties. They are in a privileged position because they have the opportunity to positively contribute to enhance the quality of lives of the fellow countrymen and women who elect these politicians to the parliament with high expectations. As honourable members of the Parliament, generally they are expected to be knowledgeable of subject matters which contribute to the advancement of social, religious, cultural, economic, legal and technological developments in the country. They represent their political parties in and out of Parliament demonstrating that they possess qualities such as honesty & integrity, competency, thorough knowledge of local and international issues, dedication, excellent behaviour, and ability to lead if required.

Ranil MaithriBearing in mind the above roles and responsibilities of MPs, it is important that we apply these essential qualities to our former Ministers, MPs, and Newcomers who are canvassing and asking our votes to become elected MPs in the forthcoming general election. Members of Nomination Boards of all political parties had a duty and a greater responsibility to ensure that they had selected their candidates who possessed the above qualities to contest this general election. This is a very important factor that should be considered by the voters whether the Members of these Nominations Boards have acted responsibly to reject nominations for such candidates who have tarnished their political image during the last parliament. As reputation and integrity of the Members of Sri Lanka Parliament are at very low level, it is our duty to elect candidates who could restore the good image of the highest institution in Sri Lanka by rejecting the candidates who are not fit to represent us in these privileged positions as Members of Parliament to serve our nation.

Raising Racial Tensions

It is sad, disgusting and shameful to hear that some of the former Ministers and MPs are advocating nationalism in public meetings as a “tool” to win votes to get elected into the parliament. The war against Tamil Tigers was over in 2009. It appears that adequate security measures are in place and they are being maintained by the Ministry of Defence headed by the President of Sri Lanka to ensure that national security is protected at all times. Knowing very well that there are no major lapses in the nation’s security measures, some politicians are trying to mislead the public by using inflammatory language such as “Ghost of the LTTE” is round the corner, the UNFGG “will divide” the country and people in the South will require “Visas to travel to the North” of the country if UNFGG come to power. These are cheap political propaganda by bankrupt politicians to instil fear into the minds of ordinary citizens. There is no place in a civilised society for politicians who advocate policies to stir up racial tension in the country. Hope the voters will punish these opportunist politicians whose political carvings to be in power at any cost are beyond shamelessness.

Discipline and Excellent Behaviour

Sinhalese is a beautiful and rich enough language which can be used to describe any situation in a most civilised manner. In addition majority of us have been nurtured in Buddhist cultural environments where we have been advised by noble Sangha and our parents from our childhood to apply mindfulness to control our thoughts, words, and deeds in the daily living. We can understand and excuse the children who sometimes do not comply with these requirements as they are still in the learning process. The politicians are like role models for our younger generation.

Some of the Politicians from most parties use foul language to express their opinions during debates in Parliament or in political discussion programmes televised by various television channels. The situation has become so bad few months ago some politicians have used bad language and exchanged blows during a TV debate. Recently one of the so called veteran socialist politicians used a disgusting rude word in Parliament to address the Prime Minister in a parliamentary debate. Another occasion some of the former Ministers and MPs were involved in chasing, using abusive language, and allegedly assaulting a former opposition member of parliament in the corridors of the parliament. Unfortunately the member is no longer with us. Some of these former Ministers and MPs are supposed to be from the cultured, educated, “polished”, and upper class of the Sri Lankan society. It is time for the general public to identify and defeat each one of these undisciplined, uncultured, uncivilised and unrefined politicians in the forthcoming general election irrespective of the parties they represent.

“Words have the power to both destroy and heal. When words are both true and kind, they can change our world.” (Lord Buddha)

Honesty and Integrity

It appears that most of our politicians do not recognise or understand the meanings of the words Honesty and Integrity. It is surprising that most of these politicians have been brought up in Buddhist cultural environments where refraining from lying is one of the Five Moral Precepts which most of us observe daily as Buddhists. In order to live an ethical life it is essential that we maintain truthfulness at all times. But unacceptable behaviour exhibited by most of our politicians during the last decade have destroyed their honesty and integrity beyond repair. Most of these politicians after visiting Buddhist Temples and offering “Ata Pirikara” to Maha Sangha, appear on TV or speak in public rallies telling lies in any form to deceive the general public for popular votes. It appears that the old joke of “How do you tell when politicians are lying? – when their mouths are open” is a true reflection of the way some of our politicians are behaving in this election campaign. The irony is that these politicians have been given nominations by most parties to contest the forthcoming general election to represent us in the parliament. It appears that the members of Nomination Boards have failed in their duty to reject nominations for these dishonest candidates for some unknown reasons. Therefore it is up to the voters to reject these decision makers also who are contesting this election from their respective parties.

It must be said that there are many dedicated politicians who are trying to do a decent service to the public. But they have been pushed aside by powerful corrupt senior politicians who have been protected and surrounded by liars, rogues, and opportunists. I appeal to the voters to identify the corrupt dishonest candidates who are contesting this election and reject them, no matter what party they represent, to ensure that honesty and integrity are maintained by our political representatives at all times. Can we trust the UPFA’s election campaign leaders’ election promise that they would put a stop to all wrongdoings including bribery & corruption by their own party members if former President Mahinda Rajapaksa is elected as PM? We need to remind these politicians that “Integrity is like China Ware, Costly Rich and Rare. Once broken but though mended the Crack is still in there.”

Educated and Knowledgeable Candidates

It is a fact that some of our MPs in the last parliament were uneducated and undisciplined individuals who have got in to the parliament because in the past the electorate voted for the party without scrutinising the behaviours of these individuals. As a result, we have ended up with a parliament where the leaders of the governing party got away with “murder”. Once these individuals were offered financial “bribes”, allowed them to conduct their illegal activities unchallenged to earn vast amount of money, and supported them to rule their constituencies above the law of the land, they were not interested about party policies on local and international affairs. Furthermore they did not have the education or the political knowledge to understand the issues too. In addition they have demonstrated the uncivilised behaviour in and outside the parliament due to their lack of disciplined upbringing. The saddest thing of this episode was that the top leadership of the last regime encourage this practice thinking that they could be in power for ever with the support of these corrupt individuals.

Education allows individuals to learn new things which help them not to make hasty political decisions to solve problems. Development of the ability to interact with other politicians and learning from them is part and parcel of the continuous learning process where politicians will be able to make wise decisions to solve problems at hand and improve the lives of the fellow countrymen and women.

One of the major problems is some of our former ministers from both major parties think that they already know everything. In the past decade they did not want to interact with others to get the best solution to the problem at hand because they had the backing from the leadership and the support of vast majority of uneducated and undisciplined MPs. Remember the old saying “Everyone knows where the bridge is; few actually ever DO cross it”. It is high time that we reject these egotistic politicians in the forthcoming general election to send a clear message to the Newcomers that the voters want their representatives to be intelligent and disciplined enough to make wise decisions with proper consultation with relevant stakeholders.

Ability to Lead

It is important that MPs should have leadership qualities as they may become Ministers who are responsible for providing leadership as decision makers for ministerial departments and other semi-government institutions which come under their jurisdiction. They may be asked to lead Select Committees in the Parliament to investigate and report on the work of government departments or they may be asked to lead parliamentary committees to appraise and advice on the working processes, procedures, and rules of the Parliament. They should be responsible, level headed people who should exercise their duties in a fair and reasonable manner irrespective of their affiliation to the ruling party. They should not hide the truth for the sake of pleasing their party members or other influential politicians. In other words we do not want “Yes” men and women in the Parliament as we have witnessed plenty of them during the last decade. Always work on the principle as Mwai Kibaki said “Leadership is a privilege to better the lives of others. It is not an opportunity to satisfy personal greed.”

Conclusion

Though above brief is not an exhaustive list of required qualities of Members of Parliament, I think that it gives a brief account of basic qualities that the voters would expect from candidates who are seeking our votes in the forthcoming general election. I request the voters to cast their votes in this election wisely to ensure that we are represented in the highest institution of our country by men and women who are open, honest, dedicated, disciplined and intelligent enough to serve the nation. It is worth remembering that “One of the penalties of refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors.” (Plato)

Finally, I appeal to the nation to apply the same principles as advocated and adopted by Lord Buddha to cleanse the Sangha community as described in the Pahārāda Sutta, when you cast your vote in the forthcoming general election to clean up our parliament too.

“Pahārāda, just as the great ocean does not tolerate dead bodies, corpses, and if there is a dead body, it quickly throws it on shore. In the same manner the Community does not tolerate a person who  is immoral, of bad character, of impure and suspicious conduct, secretive in his actions, not chaste but pretending chastity, lustful and of vile behaviour, not living the holy life, and rotten to the core. The Community does not live with such a person; they all get together quickly and expel such a person. Wherever he is seated with the Community, he is far away from them. The Community too is far removed from him. This is the third wonderful and surprising quality in this dispensation of the teaching, seeing which the bhikkus delight in it.”

*The writer is a Fellow of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors and is a holder of Master’s Degree in Business Administration from Henley Management College, Oxford 

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Latest comments

  • 11
    1

    UNFGG will get absolute majority, perhaps over 115 parliamentary seats & Ranil would be PM. People would do the right thing better than January 08.
    My3 & RW combinations is the best for the country at this moment , to see end of MR Mafia, billion dollar corruption, extrajudicial killings, drug menace & all evils.

  • 7
    0

    How should we go about with 36 Sinhalese Buddhist monks contesting this election? Disrobe them, hang them on their b..ls .. instead people still keep feeding those liars… Are religious monks/pastors contesting in parliament elections in any other country in the world?

    • 1
      1

      It is best they be disrobed and tar put on their heads as suggested once by then Governor General Sir Oliver Goonatilake!!! There should be a clear and distinct separation between state and religion. Do you remember when priests entered our SL parliament first? They were beaten and stripped in the well of the House!

      • 2
        0

        That ‘tar’ comment was from Sir John Kotelawala (UNP). S.W.R.Dishonest Banda (ex-Christian Buddhist convert for political gain) was rewarded with the Premiership by the morons. UNP got only 8 seats.

  • 6
    0

    Yes, voting for candidates who are educated, honest, and transparently interact with the people whom the represent; that is what we should be doing!

  • 4
    0

    I must laud the article you have written. The ideal for Sri Lanka. Sadly since the infusion of ethnic divisive politics way back when SWRD introduced it for his personal gain not that it did not exist before – we have sadly developed an ethnic divisive culture (on all three sides of the divide) which continues to sit firmly rooted in a rather ill-literate voter base even though free education made available through ethnic channels has failed to uplift the thinking patterns of a free people! We seem to think on ethnic lines as opposed a nation based people – Sri Lankans. To some extent I take comfort at the SLT slogan “one country one voice” – hopefully this would perpetuate into the subconscious minds of our people.

    I firmly believe a MP should be what it is – member of parliament looking into the interests and well being of those he or she represents from his or her electorate/ district. A U S Style of cabinet of ministers made of technocrats or Subject Matter Experts (not the self proclaimed types) specialized in the subject, an example Mr J Dhanapala – a class 1 diplomat well versed in diplomacy as Foreign Minister should be appointed as ministers and hopefully the National list could be a conduit for such appointments given such calibre had been named in the list at the inception!

  • 4
    0

    Wouldn’t it be a good idea for the next government to institute legislation that will make it mandatory for leaders of all parties to include in their list of candidates their accomplishments and records of qualification (in all fields), their expertise in their respective fields, their prior experience in administration, records of criminal charges and convictions and their vision (in the event they win)?

    This will enable the voting public to ‘know’ (hopefully!) who and what they are voting for. As it is, little is known of the accomplishments and/or the darker sides of most of those on these lists.

  • 2
    0

    A well written timely article for the nation. The author forgot that there are two categories of citizen in Sri-lanka (Nation). Sinhalese is a good language but recent in origin, while Tamil is an ancient language that withstood the test of time. It is also the root language of Malayalam, Teleungu and Kannada etc. Sinhalese language borrowed many Tamil words during its evolution.I know this well as I had worked in all the nook and corner of Sri-Lanka.

    I too wrote in a comment to another article by Mr Viswanathan that Tamils should vote in educated MPs, in the manner Mr Jayaweera has advised the Nation, who can argue the case of the Tamils out in parliament. If the people of Sri-Lanka can do this, Sri-Lanka will be a paradise on planet Earth. May the triple gem bless Sri-Lanka.

    • 3
      0

      It matters not one whit which language is older. What matters is that speakers of both those languages, in their NUMEROUS varieties, unite to elect representatives of integrity to the extent permitted by the party lists.

  • 2
    0

    People had a great trust on President Mithiripala Srisena. He should lead on these principles honestly & truley. He should outline what he is expecting to do to promote good governance, law & order, security, and eqality. The security is a subject coming under President, not the subject of the new Prime minister. He also hold the subject of reconciliation, not the Prime Minister. These are two subjects that Mahinda Rajapakse is now using to create fear among Sinhalese People. He should explain to the people whether there is a threat to security to Srilanka now. Fear mongering racist Politics is dangerous and People have had enough experience of this. Any more blood bath in this soil will be the big threat to Security of Srilanka.

  • 0
    1

    “democracy which we enjoy since 8 January 2015”

    Isn’t the President responsible for maintaining democracy regardless who gets a majority? Who is in charge, really? Who is running the country is it the the Prime Minister?

  • 0
    0

    The majority of voters are Sinhala Buddhists and they will be guided by what Politicians
    promise or claim. This kind hopefully is on the decline and a taste of the 8th Jany.
    change is sufficient proof. To keep this up, there is, in my opinion, one powerful
    Body that can make Will they?

    None of the 36 Robed contestants will make it this time despite the extra facility by
    the EC is my guess.

  • 0
    0

    The ideas are like a sermon, but UTOPIC! Many seats of Leading Politicians and those of some small sharks will be vacant if GOD is asked to do a trial election by sitting only the good ones, as you say. However, the mundane people will do their best to appoint in the way you suggest. Whichever group comes to power, finally you will see all forms of corruption and a “big mess”, like the 1977-2015 period.

    The only salvation for S.L. will come from a Government powered by a Constitution like the Donoughmore Constitution, WITHOUT POLITICAL PARTIES; you put your ballot paper in to the coloured box of your choice and elect the members of parliament and they select the leaders according to qualifications and experience.In the 1930s we were watch dogs of a colonial rule. Similarly, in the new system we will be against the Board/Cabinet of Ministers and the respective committees in the Ministries with Civil Servants running the show. This way we can protect the separation of powers, the independence of the judiciary,an independent Elections Commissioner and a strong Police Force listening to the grievance of the poorest as well as the weakest citizen.
    YAHAPALANAYA OR SANDANAPALANAYA…either way it will be a disappointment. Sometimes, it can collapse before 5 yrs due to divisions and deaths of individuals.I am predicting from our own past experience.
    Thank you sir, for your effort.PARTY POLITICS, NO!

  • 0
    1

    It is coming to an end. The most disgusting features in the whole campaign are: (1) The PAFFREL who got the “12 March Declaration” signed at a big ceremony has withered into silence over it. (2) All the political parties who signed the “Declaration” and pledged to abide by it have completely chosen to observe it in the breach. (3) The people who are the decision makers have “completely forgotten” even the existence of such a “Declaration”. I have failed to see even the so called “Civil society” organizations making any “drumming” of the provisions of the “Declaration”. So, in short (a) the originators (b) the parties (c) the people have all lost sight of it. Then what are all of them involved with: (1) the number of election law violations (2) the offer of a “Bundle of Promises” (3) assess who is going to give the most.

    However the biggest JOKE of the campaign is: every party tells the people to elect the most “educated”; “intelligent”; “cultured” people as their representatives. Even the party that nominated (1) IRCs (2)people serving time in jail (2) those who were and are involved in harmful businesses including drugs etc and (3) those who used political power in an arbitrary manner are “CAMPAIGNING” for their election and more than anything else they PROMISE to establish a government clean of corruption; intimidation and thuggery; justice and fair play etc….etc..

    One thing the PEOPLE have to ask for themselves is: If these political leaders who signed that “12 March Declaration” have blatantly violated the agreement; what more TRUST and FAITH we could place on them? Will they ever FULFILL the promises they hold to us? If the answer is a big NO; DO NOT VOTE FOR THAT PARTY OR THE NOMINEES. Forget the “colors” Green, Blue and Red and also “ONE TIME HEROES” and vote intelligently to elect the BEST CANDIDATE who can be trusted to represent you.

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