22 October, 2020

Blog

For A Civilised Parliament – A Decent Government

By Kusal Perera

Kusal Perara

Kusal Perara

Abolition of the Executive Presidency was proposed as a solution to almost all evil issues from mega corruption to fraud, to nepotism to crony capitalism, to breakdown of rule of law to dictatorial rule. 19th Amendment that would include the establishment of Independent Commissions was thus projected as the main solution for ills and was campaigned for over an year resulting in a Common Opposition Candidate at the presidential polls. During the presidential elections the urban middle class rallied round 19A expecting the executive presidency to be abolished for an accountable, transparent good governance rule to begin with the corrupt in the previous regime duly punished.

Proving purely arithmetical calculations done by “Experts” in how a two thirds majority in parliament could be secured wholly absurd and a-political, abolition became a non starter. Their “expert” ignorance that argued the ‘abolition’ was possible with just a 2/3 majority in parliament was rejected by the SC. The next important reform in the electoral system that is promised as 20th Amendment is being greased the same way, compromised to exclusively suit political party leaders and not democracy and not wider people’s representation. In fact there are “experts” whose only work on electoral reforms is to satisfy a majority of MPs in this deformed and illegitimate parliament and not the democratic needs of people.

Ranil Maithri Chandrila Fonseka 1These go to prove, it’s not just politicians who are corrupt and everything bad. These go to prove even the urban middle class is not wholly committed for a clean and a fair government. To prevent nepotism, fraud, corruption and cronyism. For the educated, the professionals, the administrators and even the academics are also gnawing at different advantages in being within this heavily corrupt and profitable system. We are certainly living through intellectual poverty and ignorance in this society. Intellectually lethargic, we don’t get into serious discussions in finding what really ails us. We are happy raking the superficial, the most visible. We are being caged in intellectually and culturally dead city life.

Therefore corruption and fraud is limited to media hype about investigating plunder and looting during the previous regime. Ministers claim there is evidence in hand to prove mega corruption counted in billions of dollars in foreign bank accounts. Allegations on drug trafficking and illegal ethanol imports are levelled against MPs and spoken of publicly. Most want the big names drawn in for investigation that seem getting dragged with time and show no serious commitment on the part of the government that promise accountability and transparency. The media hype and urban middle class campaign against corruption is only targeting the Rajapaksas and would end if big political names are roped in for investigations and brought before law. As rightly pointed out by Amrit Muttukumaru in his Colombo Telegraph article “Those reluctant to hold professionals accountable and ‘name & shame’ wrongdoers have clearly lost the moral authority to speak of good governance and any pretense to combat corruption.”

That serious lapse in combating corruption is a fact of life. But there is no social debate on how such could be curbed in the future. There is no social demand for professionals to act as professionals and act clean. As Muttukumaru has argued, even high profile Audit firms are responsible for what has taken place and what would take place even after change of governments, IF there are no pointing fingers at them. Therefore to get to the core of it one has to accept that widespread mega corruption with political patronage in this country is all about how the so called “engine of growth”, the private sector seeks to do business. Big business lacks ethics and social responsibility. In plain language, it’s all about how the private sector gets their hands into black money and the dependency of political party leaderships on such corporate entities.

Let’s be open and direct on this. All our political leaderships are corrupt. The degree and their involvements may differ. But none is a “Mr. Clean”. They can afford to be corrupt for two reasons. One, people don’t demand accountability and transparency from party leaderships on political party funds and campaign expenses. Two, political parties are run by men who have scant respect for party democracy and therefore are never questioned or held accountable to party funds by its members. How money comes and how and where that money goes is purely a leadership job. Nor would the party leadership ever think it’s their responsibility to check how a candidate spends millions for his own election campaign. In fact the leadership promotes such candidates. The only serious question asked from persons seeking nominations is, how much s/he could spend for the election campaign. It’s a popular and an open fact, a good funder can have even his wife nominated to parliament from the party National List.

That much being about big money and party leaderships, let’s lay down these few issues for open discussion. Rajapaksa is accused of not only mega corruption and fraud in amassing yet to be accounted wealth in personal accounts and names. He is also accused of using public funds and State resources for his election campaign. We are very much concerned and rightly so, in how he funded his election campaign for that would show the extent of corruption and political arrogance in this system of governance. The Opposition has no access to such public funding and hardly any State resources too, for election campaigning. But that does not mean the Opposition goes limp on a poverty stricken campaign budget. They do try to match the other who rides high on public money and State resources. How does it happen ?

To know how it happens, we should have asked Sarath Fonseka how much he collected for his presidential election campaign in January 2010. How much he spent on electronic and print media advertising. How much was spent on district election offices. How much was spent on public rallies and publicity posters, hoardings and cut-outs. How much was spent on his travel in the campaign.

Same holds true and valid for Maithripala Sirisena’s presidential campaign. He had a campaign office well equipped and staffed in an expensive residential lane in Thimbirigasyaya. That was where he met people on appointment and that included businessmen too. It is known that Wickremesinghe doled out a minimum of 01 million to party organisers during the last presidential election. IF he had doled out such money to, say 100 party organisers that would at a minimum total over 01 billion rupees. If all such expenses incurred for the Maithripala Sirisena campaign are totalled, they would definitely count in many billions and not millions.

NOW, this is not money collected in tills on streets and village fairs. Not money brought in by leaders from selling their private assets. Here is how today, the private sector launders black money. For these business men or women, all that funding is investment for the future. Obviously, leadership obligations will have to be prioritised with funders on top and not the voter.

Meanwhile don’t count less the millions pumped in regularly by media kings to have their own MPs in parliament. This is now a growing phenomenon here in Sri Lanka. Politicians enjoying both tax payers money and big business patronage. Next parliamentary election may see more of such business “sponsored” candidates contesting from all major political parties in the Sinhala South and handling private media as paid DJ’s and programme anchors. They certainly will be obliged to pay back the sponsor before they think of the voter.

Now where do you think, corruption begins ? Corruption begins with political party leaderships. This needs laws and norms in curbing corruption at its onset. A campaign to demand political parties to be transparent and accountable to all money they spend in election campaigns and individual candidates to be compelled to announce their campaign budget is now a political priority.

I would therefore propose a campaign on the following, “For A Civilised Parliament – A Decent Government” well in advance of the next parliamentary election.

  • Demand all political party leaders to make their election fund open for public scrutiny. Voters should have the right to know who funds how much to the party election campaign, from the time the government officially informs the Election Commissioner of dissolution of parliament.
  • Demand all party leaders they must ensure all their candidates hand over Assets and Liabilities of theirs and their families as mentioned in the relevant Assets and Liabilities Law. It should be stressed, for political decisions to be adopted by a party leadership, legal insufficiency if any is no excuse. The party therefore should take responsibility in making all such declarations public.
  • All candidates should immediately after nominations, publicly declare, what their total campaign budget is.
  • All political parties should make a public pledge when handing over nominations, they will not resort to racial and or religious slogans and will not campaign on political platforms that could incite racial and or religious hatred.
  • Demand that political parties will not give nominations to any who are socially blacklisted for anti social activities and are charge sheeted for crimes such as rape, sexual abuse, murder, extortion, fraud and corruption.
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Latest comments

  • 2
    0

    Kusal Perera –

    RE: For A Civilised Parliament – A Decent Government

    What Happened to the Mahinda Rajapaksa and his cronies? They cannot form a Decent Parliament?

    They are not in the Picture?

    55 of them were there, Minus Mahinda Rajapaksa ar Kurunegala? They want Mahinda Rajapaksa to be Prime Minister?

    Can you advise Mahinda Rajapaksa to Retire or fish?

    • 3
      0

      Kusal Perera,

      As an honest man you have asked the right questions.

      However, if you look at the third world countries, or even the first world countries, these money based politics is rampant, but more rampant in the third world countries where people are ignorant and more gullible.

      For this reason, if we were to visit this world after a century we will find that most of the third world countries will remain third world countries.

      It simply boils down to whether or not the society values personal integrity of people in general, let alone the politicians.

      How many in our society think that telling the truth is a virtue to be adhered to? Without valuing truth, the society will not gain true knowledge of anything to make it progress to greater heights.

      • 2
        0

        Thiru, Kali, Cholan, Tamilnet, ….. all those Sinhala/Buddhists, K.A Sumanasekera, Banda, Tarali, mechanic, Sarojini, Jazz, Jim softy, sach, Dayan the war monger, Champa, Champika, …………..

        Here is a Vesak day message from a Buddhist who is happened to be a Sinhalese or a Sinhalese chose to be a Buddhist and a follower of Buddha:

        From the series of Bahujana Hithaya(for the benefit of the majority)

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iOj0uvSUizI

        By Ven. Galkande Dhammananda Thero ( is the pupil of the late Ven. Prof. Walpola Sri Rahula Thero.)

        Lecturer, Department of History, University of Kelaniya

  • 1
    0

    How could “Uncivilised people .. indecent Culture ” expect Civilised Parliament & Decent Government”?. So how about making proposals to make us, you & me and our Nanda & Mamma, ” For A Civilised People – A Decent Culture” ?…
    Mr. Sirisena said yesterday that he will increase national budget for health and education. He said one of the key aim is to make .. This must be the priority one.. Just a ton of Panadols and kind, caring, respectful medical professional could cure thousands of patients without sophisticated Western medical equipment or drugs.

  • 0
    0

    1 billion = 1000 million

    therfore

    100 million = 0.1 billion

    Just a small correction to your calculations in paragraph 9.

    • 0
      0

      Kusal Perera –RE: Mahesh Correction

      There are Two Kinds of Billions and Trillions.

      The American Billion and American Trillion, Thhe there is the British Billion and British Trillion

      AMERICAN , FRENCH and Now GLOBAL

      1 Billion = 1,000,000,000 =10E6 = 1 Thousand Million

      1 Trillion = 1,000,000,000,000 =10E9 = 1 Thousand Billion

      BRITISH:

      1 Billion = 1,000,000,000,000 =10E12 = 1 Million Million

      1 Trillion = 1,000,000,000,000,000 =10E18 = 1 Million Billion

      To Americans and the French, a billion means a thousand millions (1,000,000,000, or 10 to the ninth, what some British call a milliard, a term that seems never to have been widely accepted).

      To the British, including the Empire and the Commonwealth, billion has long meant a million millions (1,000,000,000,000, or 10 to the twelfth), what Americans call a trillion.

      It was to avoid this ambiguity that scientists, technical writers, and others to whom a few zeros more or less might make a difference, came to avoid the words altogether and refer to a thousand millions or a million millions when the use of numerals was not appropriate. Gradually, however, the American version began to predominate.

      Fowler merely noted the difference in Modern English Usage in 1926, but the second edition (1965) lamented: It is a pity we [the British] do not conform. The third (1996) observes that since 1951 the American usage has been increasing in Britain in technical writing and journalism but that the older sense is still common. In the past decade, the British government has been using the terms in the American sense in official publications.

      The same ambiguity exists as to trillion (to Americans, a thousand thousand millions, or 10 to the 12th; to the British, a million million millions, or 10 to the 18th) and quadrillion (to Americans, a thousand thousand thousand millions, or 10 to the 15th; to British, a million million million millions, or 10 to the 24th).

      • 0
        0

        Correction E9 and E12

        AMERICAN , FRENCH and Now GLOBAL

        1 Billion = 1,000,000,000 =10E6 = 1 Thousand Million 1 Trillion = 1,000,000,000,000 =10E9 = 1 Thousand Billion

        Corrected

        AMERICAN , FRENCH and Now GLOBAL

        1 Billion = 1,000,000,000 =10E9 = 1 Thousand Million 1 Trillion = 1,000,000,000,000 =10E12 = 1 Thousand Billion

  • 0
    0

    For this uncivilized opposition we need a Independent Judiciary and Proactive Police Force. Also Prisons with good Medical facilities to avoid transfer to the Merchants Ward.

  • 0
    0

    If you need a civilized parliament you need to have entry criteria.

    Get rid of the existing 225 morons and start a fresh.

    Only way forward.

  • 2
    0

    A decent and high quality parliament for a decent government! Unless we elect persons of ‘High Quality and unimpeachable character’ to our parliament, governments will not meet the standards we expect. This is Utopia. However, we have to do whatever we can to get the closest to what we want.

    The present parliament should be dissolved immediately considering the current circumstances. The general elections should be held on present elections laws, while the best candidates possible are presented by the SLFP,UNP,TNA,JVP & the JHU. This is the best possible way, because there is no intention to implement the 20th amendment for the forthcoming elections.

    Let the new parliament pass the 20th amendment in the best form possible. Let not what happened to the 19th amendment happen to the 20th. Further, the 19th amendment too should be amended to its original form in relation to the CC, by the new parliament. The process to institute a new constitution should also be set in motion by the new parliament. A Constitutional Commission of eminent persons should be constituted to study all our constitutions from Soulbury’s on wards, the proposals made by various parliamentary committees, our experiences and public inputs to design a visionary constitution that will meet our present and long term needs. The politicians and political parties should be minimally involved in this process. A mechanism has to be found to achieve this.

    Dr.Rajasingham Narendran

  • 2
    0

    Further,President Sirisena should appoint a committee of the best men with integrity in SLFP to select candidates while laying down stringent guidelines. He should thereafter be neutral because of the manner in which he was elected to office,

    The popularly held view that politicians are bombastic and rabble rousing, but lying, corrupt, crooked, criminal, selfish, idiotic, uneducated, unwise and shameless individuals should be changed at the next elections. This will be challenge for all part leaders, led by decent men. This is what the people are hungry for.

    Dr.RN

    • 1
      1

      Rajasingham,

      Were you not part of the gang that campaigned to raise money for that NOT SO “decent and high quality parliament for a decent government” that was responsible for all these left-over politicians.

      Given that you did campaign on MR’s behalf, which of the adjectives among “lying, corrupt, crooked, criminal, selfish, idiotic, uneducated, unwise and shameless” would you count yourself out of?! Perhaps you could count out “uneducated”, but certainly not “unwise!”

      Integrity is quite a ways from feigned sanctimony!!

      • 0
        0

        Kumar R,

        Thank you! However, what you say will lend more credibility to your words, if they are supported by verifiable references. The onus is on you to prove that I am what you call me.

        Dr.RN

        • 0
          0

          Rajasingham,

          As I said before, I will be glad to provide reference if you deny the allegations.

          On a similar request from you previously I gave you detailed reference and you just slithered away, not coming up for sunlight for a couple of months! I would hate that to happen again.

          So, deny admonishing Diaspora for not acceding to your fundraising campaign for MR, or asserting that MR has completed 75% of the promises he made to the Tamils or reassuring us that MR is completely trustworthy and an honourable man, I will be happy to provide detailed reference.

          Alternatively show genuine remorse for your own past cunning, gullible or stupid claims and sins that continued to give cover to a rogue regime for several years.

          Faking righteousness and sanctimony now will not help bury those sins!

  • 0
    0

    Some businessmen who even held the hand of MR when he met the Colombo crowd at four hotels and took him around to meet top private sector people are now going behind MS and Ranil and other Ministers.

    Money talks and hence hence politicians are willing to forget about third past affiliations.

    Look at the cronies who made billions under MR are now going behind MS and Ranil and some UNP ministers like leeches.

  • 0
    0

    The contents of the article and the comments up to now remind me of the song – there is a hole in the bucket.

    According to this article and references – every one seems to be compromised – for fear or want of favour.

    No matter which way you look at it the 225 in the present parliament have the power to make the changes ——- and they wont.

    So how then are we going to get 225 decent people in to represent us?

    Could you suggest one or two decent people before we start nominating 225, please.

  • 0
    0

    I was highlighting this fact for a longtime now Kusal exposes let us unite to rid this menace.

  • 0
    0

    Totally agree to your suggestions.

  • 2
    0

    Mr.Perera

    For A Civilised Parliament – A Decent Government

    The Current Government promised a lot but has gone back on its word and delivered nothing. Empty words.

Leave A Comment

Comments should not exceed 200 words. Embedding external links and writing in capital letters are discouraged. Commenting is automatically disabled after 7 days and approval may take up to 24 hours. Please read our Comments Policy for further details. Your email address will not be published.