28 October, 2020

Blog

In The Name Of Good Governance

By Rajeewa Jayaweera

Rajeewa Jayaweera

Rajeewa Jayaweera

One of the cornerstones of Yahapalanaya, President Sirisena’s battle cry during his Presidential election campaign, was Good Governance. Improvements have been observed in some areas in comparison to the pre January 09, 2015 era namely freedom of press and freedom of expression. However, matters in many areas such as Good Governance, Rule of Law, Transparency and Accountability remain unsatisfactory.

It has come to light, President Sirisena, prior to his departure to attend the G-7 summit in Japan had instructed Financial Crimes Investigative Division (FCID) Chief to refrain from arresting some state officials until his return. FCID had reportedly completed investigations against six former officials of the Tourism Promotion Authority who served under the Rajapaksa administration on a charge of misappropriation of state funds for electioneering purposes. Those to be arrested were former Chairman and five Directors of the authority. Two of the said Directors are currently holding positions of Additional Secretary in the Prime Minister’s Office and a Director General in the Treasury. They are obviously senior members of the Sri Lanka Administrative Service (SLAS). Charges involve several cases of fraud amounting to over Rs 100 million.

Upon his return from Japan, President Sirisena has reportedly confirmed his instructions to FCID Chief. The six individuals were not to be arrested despite instructions from the Attorney General’s office.

The President has supposedly decided not to arrest and prosecute these officials due to a growing concern especially among senior state officials particularly from the Sri Lanka Administrative Service. In view of the several investigations and a few arrests, officials have begun to exhibit a certain degree of reluctance to carry out instructions deemed irregular from superiors, especially from Ministers and politicians in the absence of written instructions. They contend they may be hauled up before FCID or similar investigative bodies and held accountable for carrying out irregular instructions issued verbally by ministers and politicians, by a future government at a future date.

In the past, business in the state sector was carried out based on Administrative Regulations (AR) and Financial Regulations (FR). The entire structure was hierarchical and officials functioned within the ambit of the authority vested in them. It was customary for approval to be obtained from superiors when authority had to be exceeded. Such authority was always issued in writing. This practice began to gradually fade away from 1975 when the government of the day, in its infinite wisdom, made all state officials answerable to their respective ministers, a function hitherto performed by the Public Service Commission.

On the other hand, the private sector does function with much less written instructions. Whereas level of authority for each decision maker is clearly defined, a certain degree of latitude or discretionary authority is provided, so long as exceeding of authority is backed by sound commercial justifications. It is easier to instil such discipline and ethics in those with a higher level of education than those having barely passed GCE Ordinary and Advanced level examinations. The irony is, such are those who pass instructions to state officials who often are graduates with years of work experience.

It may be argued by some especially those with vested interests, to revert to the old system of written approvals would be moving back in time which is a fallacy. Despite no written approval being required, state business moves at a snail’s pace or slower. Only issues involving personal interests of Ministers, MPs and hangers on are disposed of with lightning speed. Therefore it is indeed time to get back to basics. If some aspects of regulations formulated during colonial times are not outdated, they need to be updated to suit modern times. But checks and balances are an absolute necessity.

President Sirisena is indeed missing a golden opportunity. This writer opines he should embrace this opportunity with both hands an make it mandatory for all instructions to be issued in writing. It will lead to those issuing instructions being held accountable for their actions. It will not entirely eliminate but drastically reduce such practices as abuse of state funds, improper instructions to law enforcement authorities, nepotism, to name a few.

Misdeeds of the Rajapaksa era are well known and need no elaboration. We recently heard of a case of a young female MP taking the law into her own hands and having a young man abducted over a matrimonial / extra marital issue of one of her minions. Her personal vehicle was used for the abduction. Yet more recently, we heard of a case of a traffic accident in Rajagiriya late at night involving the vehicle of a cabinet minister. Whereas the minister claimed the vehicle was driven by his driver, those involved in the accident and gave chase to the ministerial vehicle insisted the vehicle was driven by the minister himself. The core issue is, after the initial media furore, the public has heard no more on both incidents. No court cases seem to be forthcoming. The obvious conclusion is, the individuals involved in both instances being members of the Yahapalanaya administration, Police have been instructed to go slow or else bury the investigations altogether. Had the culture of the need for written instructions been in practice, the concerned Police officers could have demanded written instructions to go slow or bury the investigations. Mandatory written instructions may not be a total solution but will certainly be a deterrent.

President Sirisena’s inability or reluctance in making written instructions mandatory is obvious. It is in this context, this writer urges President Sirisena to rethink his decision and prosecute the six concerned former officials of the Tourism Development Authority. The resulting back lash from state officials demanding written instructions from Ministers and politicians could be the justification for the implementation of such a requirement. By its implementation, he would be killing two birds with one stone; firstly making good one of his election promises and secondly, taking steps to at least partially cure the malaise of political interference and abuse.

President Sirisena and Prime Minister Wickremesinghe, another champion of Good Governance prior to elections, could implement the need for written instructions in their own ministries as an example for others to emulate.

That is provided both still believe in their election pledge of Good Governance.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Latest comments

  • 11
    1

    Hello Rajeewa Jayaweera
    If you are sure of what you have written rather than hearsay, and if you know the names of the six officials then please name them. I f the government is not willing to act then it is the responsibility of concerned citizens like you to NAME and SHAME the culprits. THats is thw way forward in a situation like this.
    Government after government seems not interested in the welfare of the citizens. So it is up to educated, honest citizens to stand up and being counted.
    Are you up to it? If not don’t moan and expect others to do your job.

  • 4
    0

    Maara Sira!

  • 6
    1

    Srisena and Ranil Wickramasinghe are determined to save Rajapakse and his cronies. It is very obvious. The first person who visited Rajapakse on the early hours after midnight, on the day he lost his election,was Ranil Wickramasinghe. One of the confidantes of Rajapakse during his regime was Srisena, the infamous defense Minister.
    There are definite agreements between Rajapakses and Sirisena group about ensuring the safety of each other. Yet Sirisena and Ranil have convinced Rajapakses that a clever pro-western stand will save both parties from international criticism .Srisena had to go through the motions of arresting some Rajapakse clan members to show the world that he is trying to clean up corruption.

    So far after almost one and half years of Yahapalanaya ,no crimes are solved whether even the murders of Lasantha, Taraki Sivaram, Eknaligoda, Joseph,Pararajasingham, Raviraj, Thajudeen etc. In all these cases the finer prints of previous regime is suspected. No body was convicted of corruption even though billions of rupees were mishandled. This regime is more crooked than the previous one. Srilanka is falling from the frying pan to the fire.

    • 1
      1

      Nihal – You are partly right. Ranil was the mediator in the early hours of 9th Jan,2015. and in the meeting, conditions were laid down
      to safe guard Mr.Rajapakse and clan, in exchange for handing over the Govt.to Mr. Sirisena, the victor in the election and Fld. Marshal Fonseka to be left out of the cabinet, is one of the conditions as per reliable media reports at the time. Pulling the wool over the eyes of the people started from day one by the current govt. and wrong doers, even those who carried out political murders were questioned and bailed
      out and they continue to do what they were doing before.Army of leading
      criminal lawyers are lined up to argue these cases and as everybody expects, will be thrown out of courts due lack of proper evidence as there will be no people who will dare to come forward and give evidence
      There was an opportunity to put behind bars, the wrong doers soon after
      the election as there were ample proof of political murders, nepotism and corruption but that opportunity slipped due to delay tactics
      adopted by the duo and it will boomerang against the Govt. if cases are taken up so late as defenders will be ready with counter charges.

      we will not be surprised if some one in the govt. now say that FCID is not properly constituted, legally and all cases will be heard again, after the modification is done.

  • 9
    1

    Spot on Rajeewa!

    Sirisena must stop this bullshit and let the officials in charge of their areas of expertise do their jobs without interference.

    This kind of behaviour harks back to those bad old days of the Rajapakses and does nothing to halt the growing erosion of confidence in the ‘good governance’ cliche that has proved to be meaningless.

  • 4
    1

    I fully endorse the suggestion of Rajeeva Jayaweera.My mind goes to a story that was in vogue in the halcyon days where the late L.S.B.Perera had walked up to the Minister Vimala Wijewardena with a paper she had sent with a cigarette in his hand. He had told her that the order was illegal and that he will not carry out illegal orders,crumpled the paper and put that into her waste paper basket.

    Such men are no more and today thanks to education imparted too the public service today is a service for the political party in power.
    All credit for the efforts made by Yahapalanaya to correct this and if as Rajeeva had said if MS and RW are not going to act then we get back to where we were with MR.and contrary to what they promised us.
    In the news these days is how a man with a backbone SUMITH PILAPITIYA acted when the new SOUTHERN COMMISSAR attempted to interfere. Such men are few and far between in the the top bracket of the public service today so its a good thing for them to seek written from orders from Ministers,if such orders are contrary to laid down procedure.

  • 7
    0

    If you want to see how good governance work come to Piliyandala police area. OIC is in Environmental Section protecting all illegal garages, illegal constructions and Dengu breeding places. He is the person behind all environmental disasters in this police area. Even court closed garages are operating in full blessing of this section OIC.This OIC has more than five three wheels and one hotel. Where he got so much money? He is collecting monthly ransom from all illegal garages and giving all supports to operate court closed garages in this area.

    • 0
      0

      Fedrick

      Good, you made it public

      You’re aware of many malpractices of that particular police officer.

      As a citizen you’ve a responsibility to act.

      Why don’t you seek legal advice if you’re not familiar with the procedure.

      A lawyer will guide you.

      Understand; that’s also part of good governance.

    • 2
      0

      Fedrick

      Good to hear these stories in isolation.

      The questions one should ask:

      Who is protecting him?
      Name those in the police force who turn a blind eye.
      Name the politician who pulls strings to protect him.
      Does he share his kapang with fellow policemen, politicians, ….?

      He cannot be an one man enterprise/sole trader, there may be more than one person otherwise this enterprise could not be run by one man alone.

      Piliyandala police area is not just unique in this island.

      • 2
        0

        This is simple if you want to real good governance go to this Piliyandala Police Station after 12.00 mid night. All the three wheel drivers come to drink for Police. Even whole police station is running and taking all decisions by illegal garage owners and three wheel drivers.

    • 0
      0

      Frederick

      Congratulations on being a good citizen. Indeed there are many like you who observe the nonsense going on around their ‘patch’ and making it public. You also would have read Mr van der Poorten writing regularly in CT chronicling events on his patch. Bad practices are endemic. None of us must pass by on the other side of the road if we see these things. Most government/state departments will have hierarchy, and you do well to inform the hierarchy as to what is going on. There is always the possibility that you will find some one who will take it up.

      Power to the pen (or these days, the printer).

  • 3
    0

    What a currapted administration of our country

  • 6
    0

    It is the same shit with a different set of flies!!!

    We Sri Lankans deserve it for electing these idiots.

  • 4
    0

    Proud Man

    1. If total transparency is what you are looking for, may I suggest you first identify yourself.

    2. All that, those interested in identities of 6 concerned officials need to do is to refer up names of Board Members of Tourism Promotion Authority during 2010/15. Two of the names can be further be cross referenced by checking the six names against Additional Secretaries in the Prime Minister’s office and Directors General in the Treasury.

    3. You may or may not be aware, there are laws in this country pertaining to defamation. I have no doubt of my facts but in case of being sued, it still need be argued in court which is costly. I do not have the financial means to do so. Should you be in a position to finance such a project, please provide me with your contact details. I shall be happy to publish the names once I am in possession of your guarantee of meeting legal expenses.

    Are you up to it?

    • 4
      1

      Hello Mr.Jayaweera
      You are saying the ball is in my court.I will think about what you wrote.
      I know from my experience with courts in SL is a long drawn process. The judges keep postponing cases so that the lawyers can earn. My family has lost quiet a lot of money. I will talk to some defamation lawyers here and see what they say.Is there a way of getting hold of the documents you mentioned.

    • 0
      1

      Hello Mr.Jayaweera
      You are saying the ball is in my court.I will think about what you wrote.
      I know from my experience with courts in SL is a long drawn process. The judges keep postponing cases so that the lawyers can earn. My family has lost quiet a lot of money. I will talk to some defamation lawyers here and see what they say.Is there a way of getting hold of the documents you mentioned.
      regards

  • 3
    0

    Good governance is only for writing articles like this one. There is no good governance in the country because the politicians don’t want it. Its as simple as that.

    • 3
      0

      Paul

      “There is no good governance in the country because the politicians don’t want it.”

      What do the people who carry politicians’ b***s want, don’t they crumbs from the politicians?

      “Its as simple as that.”

      Don’t give up, keep hope alive, one day we will make peace with ourselves, go to grave peacefully believing that we did take a principled position, in the face of adversities.

      True to yourself.

  • 1
    0

    Achieving good governance is not solely government responsibility.

    There should be individual efforts, all citizens must contribute for it.

    The simple idea, that When an advice/command/request is given or accepted making it in written can do a lot for good governance.

    It’s sad that lot of people lack logical thinking; even the educated.

    I guess something wrong with (so called) free education.

    • 0
      0

      I like the fourth sentence. That’s one of the big issues in this country. In general, most people cant think rationally/logically (still they may be thinking good for themselves!!) – something wrong with the education system or our genes! May be both!

  • 3
    0

    Batalanda Ranil and Bodhi Sira are like Thompson and Thompson in the Tin Tin comics. Both are incompetent and clumsy. They simply lost a golden opportunity by focusing more on Rajapaksa than affairs of the state. It will bite them in the places it hurts the most. The recent winning of the No Confidence Motion has not let the people elated rather it has left a bad taste in the mouth of the common voter. Mahinda Rajapaksa lost after being the most admired president in the history of the country, compared to that I believe both Sira and Ranil will have to look for a far place to run when people vote next time.

  • 4
    0

    Arn’t you wasting your time and a lot words Rajeeva? You know very well Sirisena is a prisoner of Ranil and vice versa.They both have bound their hands behind by themselves and are unable to anything.
    On the other hand Sirisena is a known liar who has no self respect and Ranil is a renowned joker and they compliment each other very well.

  • 2
    0

    Give the Yahapalana Prez a break will you …

    Dr Mervy has helped his mates to acquire 4 Acres of cinnamon Garden Turf in Barnes Place for 40 Lakhs LKR.

    Poor previous owners say they couldn’t refuse the deal, which Dr Mervyn’s Pathlaya friends offered them.

    And they had to sign on the dotted line in the form which was in English.

    Yesterday a Muslim Dude appears in front of a Media Scrum and announced that he bought the 4 Acres 3 years ago.

    He also boasted that he has all the paper work and he will send them to Yahapalana Courts to fuq up the MC staff, who claimed the land as Council property.

    Obviously those deeds must have been prepared by BASL blokes Right..

    If that is the situation in the country now,how can Bodhi Sira order legal action agaainst Senior Public Servants simply because some Yahapalana suckers have a gripe against them.

    Besides Sira only talks.

    It is the Yahapalana PM Batalanda Ranil who is driving the UNP CID and the UNP F*****CID both.

    So shouldn’t the Yahapalana suckers direct these pleas to Batalanda Ranil ,together with the petition not to renew the Singaporean’s gig at the CB…

  • 1
    0

    Congratulations to the Govt in power in 1975 for starting the rot to decadence. Since then, practicing the Japanese Management style of ‘kaizen’ we continuously improved on 1975.

    Here we are now, a full forty years late. Rotten to the core.

    Well done to the Civil Servants for standing their ground, refusing to work on Ministerial Dictates unless they are in writing.

    Our Civil Service showing they do have ‘Balls’. What a fine moment to the Nation.

    Our Civil Service, once admired by it’s peers, reforms from within.

  • 0
    0

    This Jayaweera fellow[Edited out]

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.