19 September, 2020

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Ensure That The New Results-Based Governance Is Inclusive

By Jehan Perera

Jehan Perera

The early indications from the newly elected government elected by an astounding  majority is that they are serious about making a difference and in making a constructive break with the past. The hope of all Sri Lankans will be that it will also be a lasting difference and not be limited to good intentions that quickly go awry as has been the case too many times in the past giving rise to great cynicism. A sustainable democracy needs not only elections but also a solid foundation of economic and political rights and social freedoms. The hopes will be that the government ensures that the rule of law prevails, that there will be no impunity for wrongs done by those who are powerful, that personal freedoms are guaranteed, that there will be economic development that benefits all sections of the population and that ethnic and religious suspicions and hatreds diminish to give rise to a truly Sri Lankan family.  

There are indicators of positive movement forward. The first has come with the selection of MPs for the national list. The majority of them appear to be from professional background who have distinguished themselves in various walks of life. Defeated politicians have not been accommodated although this has been the practice in the recent past. This time around, however, the ruling party has been in the enviable position of having relatively few defeated candidates of sufficient political importance to stake such a claim.  The 151 seats, and 2/3 majority, that the ruling party and its allies have won in the 225 seat parliament is unprecedented in the context of the 1978 constitution and its proportional electoral system.

The second sign of a difference has come with the decision to limit the number of cabinet positions to 30 which is the number permitted by the 19th Amendment which states that the number of ministers shall not exceed 30. With such a large contingent of parliamentarians on their side, it might prove to be difficult for the government leaders to restrain the enthusiasm of their members to enjoy a ministerial position and the benefits it brings with it. The provision available in the 19th Amendment to enlarge the cabinet to 40 in the event that a national government is formed has also not been taken. With some of its allied parties having contested separately, the government could have chosen to go in that direction. Most developed countries in the world have restricted numbers of ministries. The government’s decision to abide by the 19th Amendment until constitutional change is enacted is a welcome commitment to the rule of law.  

President’s Leadership 

The third sign of a difference has been the absence of rowdy celebrations that invariably degenerate into local brawls that include the thrashing of political supporters of the defeated side. Traveling out of Colombo even as the final set of results were being announced, it was plain to see that conditions of normalcy prevailed, which appears to have been the case throughout the country. The only slowdown was due to large numbers of vehicles parked on the road in a few locations where winning candidates were either being awaited or facilitated. This contrasts with previous experiences of big election victories being followed by violence in which those of different political, ethnic and religious affiliation were more often than not the targets.

The role of the president in these changes for the better appears to have been decisive. At the present time public expectation with regard to the president at sky high.  It is likely that the high voter turnout at the presidential election which gave President Rajapaksa a massive victory was motivated by popular expectations of the present which continued to motivate voters at the general election held last week. The country’s success in coping with the Covid pandemic is attributed to the president and his decisiveness in ordering prolonged 24 hour curfews and lockdowns until those infected with the virus were identified and taken for treatment.

Despite the 19th Amendment tilting the balance of power in favour of the prime minister, the president was able to utilize the five month period in which there was a caretaker government to stamp his authority on the governmental system. After winning the presidential elections in November last year the president introduced new faces into the state administration by inducting professionals and members of the security forces with a reputation for getting things done. The president’s vision of ensuring professionals get admission to parliament through the national list and confining the number of ministers to 30 being taken on by the government is an indication that cohesiveness prevails in the aftermath of the elections.  

Significant Issues 

The main popular expectation from the government following the election will be to deal with the economic crisis that commenced after the Easter bombing in April last year and which got negatively reinforced after the Covid lockdown commenced barely a year later in March of this year. Even though Sri Lanka is a middle income country, albeit downgraded to a lower middle income country post-Covid, a substantial proportion of the people do not get an opportunity to enjoy its benefits due to the skewed nature of the distribution of income. Major infrastructure projects in the recent past have also failed to specifically target the bottom strata of the population who have been left to fend for themselves. There has also been a long time dearth of such development projects in the north and east which has been a source of grievance to the Tamil and Muslim minorities living predominantly in those parts of the country. 

There are long standing expectations and grievances in society that need to be bridged and which the competing politicians did not discuss in the course of their election campaigns. One of the significant developments at these elections was the inroads made by the ruling party and its allies into the traditional strongholds of Tamil nationalism. For the past five decades or so the Tamil people have tended to rally behind a single party in order to maximize their bargaining strength as a community. However, in the run up to the elections there were indications that a shift was taking place within the Tamil polity in favour of politicians and political parties that adopted new strategies in order to maximize the tangible benefits they could obtain. This was manifested at the election when Tamil politicians allied to the government succeeded in besting their more nationalist rivals. 

The evidence that the bloc vote of Tamil nationalism is being dismantled to some degree may encourage the government to adopt a more pro-active attitude towards the Tamil community and to woo them politically. Its appointment of several Muslims to its national list of MPs is also positive as it sends a message to the country at large that they are part of the national polity and not to be targeted for hostility on account of their community. This is a government that has the advantage of being able to provide political stability by virtue of its overwhelming majority in parliament, if rightly used because even a strong government cannot win hearts and minds without justice. Sri Lanka will be on the fast track not only to economic development but also to sustainable peace to the extent that the president and parliament will deliver development and rights to all sections in the country without any discrimination. This will contribute to make true the vision that Sri Lanka is one country, one family.

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Latest comments

  • 6
    1

    I am happy to see a favorable review of the actions of the new government by Jeehan Perera. The most commendable action is the gazette issued by President Rajapaksa indicating the ministries and the number of state ministers attached to each ministry and holding them responsible to achieve the plans in his manifesto. It shows good planning and implementation of a results oriented government.

  • 3
    2

    THat will be seen in coming weeks and months.

    Those who faild to fullfill the little of the mountains of plegeds made to the nation, during the last 8 months, how can we expected them to do it better now ?

    Except srilanka, all other countries gave lot more concessions to the nation, who are really in need since many of them were caught by COVID related restrictions and consequences. Some lost their jobs and others faced the unexpected. Most that work as house maids, drivers or other like jobs in ME , Korea and Italy fell from frying pan ot the fire.

    The huges sums amounting to few billions saved from NOT HAVING given the concession regarding the oild price reduction, were fully wasted for their election campaign and luxury life styles.

    I myself cant simply take a cent from anyone, knowing that it is not mine, but Rajakshes ballige puthas would do it without shame. This they have been doing on and on, Karama should teach it buggers sooner than later.

    • 5
      1

      Mr. leela ge …..,
      .
      You have forgotten your covid-19 statistics.
      .
      Germany coronavirus Cases : 218,852
      Deaths : 9,266
      Today deaths : 5
      .
      Nepal coronavirus Cases : 23,948
      Deaths : 83
      Today deaths : 4
      .
      Vietnam coronavirus Cases : 863
      Deaths : 16
      Today deaths : 4
      .
      BP… BP… BP…
      Basta.. Basta.. Basta…
      sausages.. sausages.. sausages..

  • 2
    3

    Dear Jehan

    What an amazing account of the unfolding events you have summarised so wonderfully. My Father will be so proud of the content of the article celebrating democratic life for a better future as you have analysed the “peoples will” paying tribute and respect to the elected to lead the Nation from a position of strength and not from a position off weakness.

    I am concerned once the parliament starts all the TNA and their counterparts will start the same miserable talks/National questions and poison the entire atmosphere altogether for the entire Nation and specially for my people in Jaffna too. They further doomed as they have to live with the same now even more diverse and divisive than ever before settling scores in the parliament and in Jaffna…..and the “panchami” media will do the rest of the rott for ever.

  • 1
    2

    In a Nutshell not even the entire Sinhalese love and wisdom can not save the Tamils of Jaffna from this doomsday scenario is a well established fact. The upcountry Tamils SJV started the FP has moved on progressively but the battalions who did the dying yet to be salvaged in the North. Now we have an Indian embassy in Jaffna inline with the success of the Indian Tamils in the upcountry too.

    So I hope your civil rights movements will start a new encounter and challenge these people to evolve for a better tomorrow please. The Nation belongs to us all and we can not have enclaves written off for someone else’s mercy where we are the ones systematically abused and raped of all the dignity that is left…we have sacrificed all our loved ones too for the same cause you summarised.

    Thank you

  • 4
    2

    Leela
    /
    Now that they have won, looks like starting to suck the boots and lick the backside of the Rajapakse brothers without shame.
    /
    But there are no jobs available at Lakehouse for gutter English writers like you.
    /
    Try again for a Graetian fly swatter so that you can boast and try and attract innocent damsels (with no success!)

  • 0
    0

    Jehan Perera,

    I simply wonder about the title

    “Ensure That the New Results-Based Governance Is Inclusive”

    As if the new government encourages result based governance and what is required is it to be inclusive.

    I have my doubts whether the government promotes results based governance as a strategy even if it may not promote inclusiveness.

    On the contrary, input based, not even output based or outcome based has been the usual practice by the successive governments since independence.

    If it is the real intention of the government to be results based and to be inclusive, every right-thinking person will applaud and welcome such initiative with both hands.

    “Hope is eternal in the human Brest”

    Sri

  • 3
    1

    What has happened has happened and the voice of the people is clear. Whatever one may think of him, Gota is our President and the SLPP is in Government. I hope he runs the country well.
    .
    The three signs that the writer mentions were preceded by good signs when he became President – no cardboard cutouts everywhere and only the state emblem used in Government offices. Up to now he has been somewhat reined in by the position of MR and political considerations. These do not apply anymore and it is now or never for him.
    .
    In the war with the terrorists he succeeded where all others failed. In the cleansing of Colombo he did what any leader could have done but none of them could be bothered. In the clearing of slums and the housing schemes he can only be matched by Ranasinghe Premadasa.
    .
    He is our President and I for one hope he succeeds.

  • 2
    1

    Being domiciled in Australia, I was impressed with the actions of this so-called Kalla kallathoni of a tainted/painted in black as a war criminal of a president whose authenticity to occupy this seat has raised many a
    question.
    \
    Is it not a fact that at the time of nomination he was still an American citizen who had not legally renounced it.
    He won by a comfortable margin, which I gladly and legally accept.
    \
    Since the acceptance of his application to be a non-American was finalised and gazetted only around March/May 2020 why on earth are the authorities in this sad sorry island not taking the appropriate actions needed to rectify the deliberate error on the part of the Commissioner of Elections, to me a Rajapuk arse-licker from day one.
    His facial compositions and expressions prooves it.
    \
    Even after his kallathoni of a win in November 2019, this infidel began in a laudable manner but within a short period of time duration, he began dancing to the jarawama musical tones composed by his elder brother Mahindan Rahapuk the world’s greatest criminal bullshitter.
    \
    Hopefully this time he has learnt his lessons and will be a different mongrel.?
    It’s a wishful thought,?

  • 0
    1

    Today in America Senator Harris, a Tamil decedent is selected to run as VP. In Singapore many high position ministers were and are Tamils. In India time to time there were strong Tamil ministers and Tamil Governor Generals. This is the first time in, America in politics, a Tamil has grown up to this level. At this time there are Tamils in Sr judges and in other positions, Famous Tamil in business is Sunder Pitchai. Ex Pepsi CEO Indra too from Chennai. Kamala Karis is a Democratic Party Senator from California. She was California AG. She tried presidential primary. Failed. But this is still a mile stone in American politics, Tamils can be proud of.

    • 0
      0

      Dear M

      Yes there are people who speak Tamil and all other languages too. I speak English as my second language insted of Sinhalese as I live overseas. I guess all those you mentioned also speak English well and their capacity to deliver their job scope is why they are in those positions on their own merits not because they are Tamils speaking humans beings?.

      Only in Jaffna we have elected have to have everything attached to Tamil and deliver death to people since Independence without ever having to know even a ‘job scope’ that exist/attached to their elected status? That is the contrast and contradiction between those you have proudly quoted I agree and our so called elected…….70 years as MP’s/Municipalities/Provincial Councils/Opposition leaders and positions…except we lost all we ever had???

      If you speak to those successful people they will ask why Jaffna Man and Woman have not kicked these politician out yet will be their response?? Non performance is not tolerated in the cooperate world and only in Jaffna sad to say.

  • 0
    0

    Thiagarajah,

    ” I speak English as my second language insted of Sinhalese as I live overseas.” Why is that? Why are you not to speaking 80 Languages like Swami Gnanaprakasar?
    The end of your money making with your fathers achievement is telling how success you as a familial. The death of 150,000 Tamils in Mullivaaikkaal tells how successful Tamils are as a community in protecting them. You dies for you family. But they died for their community. As they have already demonstrated their broader view and their compassionate concern for their community and you still spend most of your time in looking for empathy seeking sympathy for your family, but not being able to think of the families left in the middle of water by Sinhala Only, Standardization like law, how do you establish yourself as a concerned consultant to them?
    It is disappointing to notice though that you have been writing and reading here for so long, but still has to grasp that our concern is not about speaking Tamil (then we would resist speaking the migrated land’s language) , but Lankans government target the Tamil speaking community, beyond the language Tamil.

  • 0
    0

    Dear M

    Myself and you are a good proof why the language does not matter or rather the limitations in the languages for a harmonious and productive discussion.

    Have a good day Mr M and love you always.

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