8 August, 2022

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Kings, Cabbages Et Al. – “Dogs Bark, But The Caravan Goes On”

By Rusiripala Tennakoon –

Rusiripala Tennakoon

Events fast changing keep boggling our minds making it difficult to establish their continuity. Each new scene is staged by same players wearing different masks and our vision gets encumbered with illusions confusing us again and again. Caravan moves on unimpeded while we attempt to keep pace and contemporaneous with our present.

Collective Responsibility

In the ongoing Controversy around the Yugadanavi fiasco, the behavior of some members of the Cabinet has given rise to a political Quagmire which the entire country is keenly watching. In the parliamentary system of government with cabinet is bound by collective responsibility there are components they have to abide by. It is well recognized that the Ministers should have the opportunity to have free and frank discussions prior to the decision making. The cabinet practice is that such discussions, however are confidential and the details will be confined to the members of the cabinet only. The other important principle is that once agreed all ministers are expected to abide by the such decisions. They are left with no options other than to be with the government towing the line OR else resign from their portfolios. We are confronted with a slightly varied circumstance in that those who counter the decision claim that the first principle has not been followed or they are denied of that opportunity.

Authorities have maintained that the Prime Ministers can apply the principle of collective responsibility more flexibly such as “overlooking media coverage which suggests there are ministerial disagreements or leaks of information.” But such discretions depend on the prime Ministers own strength and the constitutional power devolving on the PM. According to Article 45(1) it is the President who has the power to appoint from time to time, in consultation with the Prime Minister, where he considers such consultation to be necessary, Members of the Cabinet of Ministers.

According to 47(a), any member of the Cabinet of Ministers continues to function unless he, “is removed by a writing under the hand of the President”.

Another matter relevant to this issue is the coalition nature of the Government. We are not aware of the mandatory conditions applicable to the parties in the coalition sharing the ‘Pohottuwa’ symbol for the election. For example if there is an agreement for the Ministers to “argue freely in private’ but must maintain a united front when decisions have been reached at the Cabinet” and the parties to the dispute are now taking the position that no such decision has been taken.

Any way, according to the constitution the President can make the final decision under the powers to hire and fire.

In the British system of Parliament, historically, collective responsibility has also been relaxed during periods of coalition government. During the 2010-2015 Conservative-Liberal Democratic coalition, collective responsibility was set aside for certain party political issues, including the 2011 referendum on electoral reform. Perhaps the different political parties involved in the brawl surrounding the Yugadanavi MOU will have to be given a lee-way to maintain their credibility with the voters on the declarations they publicly made during election time!

Finally, the Judiciary has to give a ruling on the issue. Parliament makes laws but judiciary has to interpret and dispense justice even-handedly in the courts and that the general public feel confident in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary.

A Fistfull of Dollars

In 1964, Sergio Leonne directed the Film, Fistful of Dollars Starring Clint Eastwood in the lead- role which was a box office hit. Today there is a Box Office break for another show awaiting the grand finale, starring Ajith Nivard Cabraal, the “Dollar Reserve Crisis”! It was Clint Eastwoods’ maiden Show but Nivard C being a veteran actor having played the lead role during more serious highly critical periods, is eagerly watched by many during this performance conjectured to be harder than ever before. But his confident disposition towards the outcome is dispelling all kinds of negativity and skepticism expressed by interested parties as well as those ignorant of feasible alternatives in the case of a crisis. Management of a crisis is both a Technique as well as an Art. For some it is a single-track approach in keeping with their blinkers (blinders worn by horses) on. But the time has come for all to look for ways and means beyond the traditional help refuge one is used to. The Panadol treatment may not be the best at certain times, and it is best to administer something slow but stronger as a lasting relief. People who are used to rapid pain killers do recommend and sometimes blame and accuse for not taking such treatment. But those who are inclined to offer a cure and a sustained relief would look at other options however hard and bitter they sound. Let us hope and look at Ajith Nivard C’s approach in this perspective.

Clint East wood had to use his master gun skill to control bandit Rojo and save his aggression and now the policy makers have to face the attacks from Fitch Ratings and Opposition politicos’ hell bound to propagate their ostensible National Interests. We can only watch and cheer, ‘come on- bat on’!

Prorogation Of Parliament

In essence a prorogation of the parliament means the continuation of the parliament from one session to another. It is not a termination. Although in its process some of the ongoing activities will be halted. It is effected under constitutional powers given to the President. Political history records many controversial prorogations which were resorted to by those in power to avoid different kinds of issues in dispute. The most controversial one was the prorogation of Canada parliament in 2008 By prime Minister Stephen Harper in view of a pending no-confidence motion against his minority government by the opposing parties. The prorogation provided an opportunity for the harper govt to reach an agreement with the opposition thereby helping harper to continue in power. Although there I no visible threat of such a nature for the Rajapakse government, there are many things in the brewing that could manifest into major disputes. Thus the prorogation provides breathing space for settlement of the dust and start afresh. Any way the country is need of a refreshed approach and a new session with new thinking and approach. The product life of some of the items have long since come to stagflation calling for course corrections. Hopefully if the opportunity could be utilized to set the Gyro compass to distinguish between the true Nort and the magnetic north. Because we witnessed the magnetic North directional sailing has attracted many iron filings of no use.

Let us hope that this prorogation is heading towards a meaningful transition.

COPE, COPA & COPF

It is strongly commented that the prorogation of the parliament is a sinister move to change the Chairpersons of these committees. There is no doubt that these persons have played a praiseworthy role in these bodies. Well according to their knowledge understanding and experience it may be so. But these committees are mere names sake bodies which have been talking about the subject areas coming under their purview but without any useful service either to the Institutions they examine or to the Public at large. Why I state this is due to an obvious factor that no body has been penalized or taken to task for the irresponsibility highlighted and exposed at these so-called investigations or inquiries. We do not understand why they are termed investigations because what they in effect do is to examine the Audit reports and confine their role of inquiring into the remarks and shortcomings pointed out in the reports.

Beyond the highly dramatic media shows they were recently converted into during the process of inquiry no meaningful steps have been taken to either rectify or instigate charges against some of the awe-inspiring detections and revelations. In actual fact the COPE, COPA and COPF sessions are held much later after the audit reports are released. Sometimes during the next year. In most cases the shortcomings discussed at these committees remain totally neglected by the respective organizations and institutions without any action being taken.

The so-called inquiry is confined to what is pinpointed in the Audit reports. The legislators little realize that the Audit function is a very limited examination which does not probe in detail into the affairs of a SOE. The auditors go by the accounts presented to them and they are least concerned about the facts that remain unexposed in the accounts presented by those SOEs. The Auditors never go into the areas of broad public interest such as the objective of the SOE, whether they have fulfilled those broad objectives and to what extent they have deviated from the main purpose of establishment of such Public institutions. Sometimes they confine their comments to the profitability factor only and thereby forgetting or disregarding how they have cooked up the figures to bloat profits through various unethical and unorthodox operations. Profits can be shown by various dubious means. In accounting they cook up figures, resort to window dressings and bypass regulatory requirements stipulated in respect of the industries to show profits. In the annual accounts they hide several pitfalls and wrongful operations in order to show profits. None of the Committees are showing any interest in those other than confining themselves to some adverse remarks if made by the Auditors. This is a pathetic situation.

Many SOEs are today purely and completely operating as white elephants hiding many serious lapses in the eyes of the Committee Chairpersons as well as members who are MP with no better knowledge. If they want and are ready to debate any of these points we could devote sometime with them for the sake of the future well being of the country. I am certain they will find themselves ashamed of what they have been doing all this time when we expose the reality behind many of those instances. The accumulating losses are a burden on the people and the bogus profits too are equally bad and disastrous to the country’s economy.

State Banks, CPC, CEB, SriLankan Airlines, Water Board, port commission, CWE are simply white elephant turned precious profit centers which can turn around the entire economic landscape of the country for the benefit of all ordinary citizens who happen to be the highest tax payers in this country. Therefore let us not talk about Utopian high expectations as outcome of these parliamentary committees. We can see how best they have failed to deliver anything useful to the society if we reexamine the reports they have gone through all these years some with massive media propaganda. Just to quote one example out of several I invite the attention of the parliamentarians specially the opposition that is complaining about various sinister moves associated with the postponement of these committees to look into the last completed COPE report on the Peoples Bank. The revelations made were alarming and the strictures too were shocking. Nothing happened so far.

Therefore, we are fed up of ridiculous criticisms. People of this country want action and not empty critics.

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Latest comments

  • 3
    1

    There’s no dog barking ………. other than you, Mr Rusiripala Tennakoon.

    • 1
      0

      Nimal, this one has been barking for years without getting any attention what so ever.

  • 2
    0

    Rusiri, to learn writing with substance read Laksiri,s article titled “root cause for economic crisis” .

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