By Somapala Gunadheera –
According to a Sinhala proverb, this is what a wise widow had said when she was asked to marry again. The saying offers an insight to those who are trying to form the next Government. Impliedly, that is what the guardian angel of good governance, Rev. Maduluwawe Sobhita meant the other day, when he said what the country was asking for is good governance, not coalition.
In any case, putting the two main Parties together would not produce a national government as long as other Parties stand out of it. The indications are that even those two are not going to be fully together. A part of the SLFP is being permitted to join the Government, while the balance has the right to remain in the Opposition as long as they obey the high command. That would be a unique introduction to Parliamentary government, facilitating a favoured political Party to eat the cake and have it, not to mention the threat to democracy caused by remote control of elected representatives. It is also unfair by the rest of the Opposition as the unprecedented arrangement would block their legitimate rights and options. If challenged in Court, architects of the plan may have to eat humble pie.
Moreover the evidence is that the unification effort is going to burden the taxpayer seriously. The connected bargaining has become a strain on the 19th Amendment that was put together with great expectations. The effort to satisfy the quid pro quo of the newcomers in terms of ministries has resulted in fanciful rationalizations of the constitutional provision on the size of the cabinet of ministers. Slipshod arrangements made to attract the defectors is bound to cause avoidable damage to economy and efficiency of government.
Despite such sacrifices, the campaign is likely to result in chaos. One does not have to go far to see its possible consequences. We saw how a similar arrangement misfired during the Hundred Days’ Programme. It resulted in making a Hotchpotch of the long awaited 19th Amendment and nipped electoral reforms in the bud. Much pressure was exerted from above to restrain the troublemakers but the new dispensation’s prime objectives could not be achieved in the melee. People were waiting with crossed hands for something to happen, when it was suddenly announced that the match was over, causing embarrassment to the honest players and disappointment to the anxious spectators.
Government makers would be wise to take a page from that recent past and work with material that could be relied upon to execute their plans without sabotaging them with horse deals demanded at the nick of time. The indications are that as it is, the PM could muster the required support to go ahead with his programme. Why complicate matters with premature dreams of national unification? Even if there is a shortfall of numbers, some selective crossovers may be accommodated to satisfy statutory requirements. But it is important to ensure that it is the last batch of defectors that have subverted the People’s will to serve their own ends. They may be forgiven in this last instance, as their move should create a stable Government, if only it led to planned, productive and disciplined governance, as promised.