By Chandra Jayaratne –
I trust that most of you will no doubt hope, agree and commit to ensure, that the next parliamentary election in August 2015, will elect “fit and proper” leaders and legislators, committed to maintain the democratic and pluralistic values we have experienced in Sri Lanka since 8th January 2015.
We should collectively and publicly emphasize, that the changes seen in the application of democratic freedoms, human rights, harmonious co-existence of diverse groups in society, upholding the rule of law, justice, equity, social justice, good governance, transparency and anti –corruption, must continue during the next 5 years. This hope and demand must be our resolve, despite of some glaring instances of different shades of grey, seen in the effective application of these treasured democratic social norms over the last 7 months, due to some unacceptable value commitments of our current leaders.
Many of you will also no doubt agree that in order to bring sustainable growth, happiness, social justice and prosperity for all our people, the continuity of this much desired change in the governance framework is essential. This hope can of course be realized, only if we collectively ensure a strong and committed coalition of political parties, with a value commitment in placing the sustainable long term interests of the nation and its people the number one priority, remain in governance after 17th August.
The current Prime Minister and the collection of political parties forming the Front for Good Governance, have the golden opportunity once again, to leverage their collective capabilities and vision, and lead the next government to deliver what society yearns for since January 8th peaceful change in governance structures.
Towards the above end objective, let us all collectively agree to apply continuous pressure on the next Prime Minister and his cabinet, to sharpen and change their core value commitments; and become aligned to the values and norms that the society aspires for; and thus become more acceptable as national leaders seen working in tandem and signing from the same hymn sheet as the much respected President, elected to office by the people to deliver the changes voted for.
The key pressure points to be focused by us as voters and change managers, are to ensure that the Prime Minister designate and his cabinet commits, post next election;
1. To commit that they and their selected key officials , will wholeheartedly and consistently uphold in governance, without any exceptions and embed through Codes of Conduct and Ethics,
- the active promotion of democratic freedoms, human rights, harmonious co-existence of diverse groups in society, as well as upholding the rule of law, justice, equity, social justice, good governance, transparency and anti –corruption,( all such commitments being those repeatedly articulated by them during the presidential and parliamentary elections)
- the sustainable long term interests of the nation and its people being the number one priority in governance and national resource allocation and preservation ( thus creating a government proactively taking in to consideration the sustainable future and interests of all segments of society in policy making and governance, especially the marginalized and weaker segments- women, children, disabled, conflict affected and those living in poverty and without basic amenities and state provided services )
2. To never undermine or attempt to undermine the interests and articulated core values of the new President and the core group of persons who led the change that dawned on 8th January 2015 (including the leader of the Social Justice Movement, Former President Chandrika Kumaratunga, leaders/political parties / professionals/men/women/youth and Groups, behind the positive change of 8th January),
3. To be mindful always that arrogance and egoistic behaviours, dictatorial and undemocratic actions and ignoring the aspirations and interests of common citizens (with emphasis on the marginalized segments), will soon lead to the downfall of the government,
4. To be mindful always and avoid under any circumstances close network relations and being surrounded and guided by undesirable and socially unacceptable elements; those committed to foster personal gains; those engaging in under hand/ under world deals; those engaged in destroying the ecology and the environment; and those engaging in unethical practices, (including gambling, the distribution and promotion of the use of narcotics, dangerous drugs/chemicals/substances, and habit forming products injurious to the health)
5. To be mindful always and avoid nepotism, cronyism, promoting the old school tie and cliquish driven networks ; and fostering biased interests of select groups; and always commit to make selections based only on independently validated capability (knowledge, skills, experience, attitudes and values) and being assessed as the best suited for the task;
6. To be transparent, open and honest in communications; willingly and proactively engage with the community and stakeholders with integrity and openness in resolving challenging and problematic issues; always demonstrate the willingness to listen to voices of good advocacy and the aspirations of the people affected by decisions in governance; and ensure environment and national resources are preserved and sustainably allocated with equity, where necessary with affirmative deviations to support justified needs of the marginalized communities;
7. To accept criticism and dissent openly, without resentment or remorse; learn lessons from mistakes and use such lessons for future actions and change management; apply mindfulness and independent good judgment in dealing with crisis and change management challenges;
8. To lead with integrity, independence and good judgment; use a straight bat in governance and never bowl a foul ball; never seek short term gains nor resort to a ‘no action policy’, when faced with challenging situations hoping that the problem will go away ; and never try conceal, misrepresent or blind fold stakeholders in society
9. To strive with commitment to live up to the promises and never promise what cannot or are doubtful of being delivered; use post audits, public forum debates/reviews and critical evaluations to bring out weaknesses and failures in governance meeting stakeholder expectations; never accept outputs and outcomes below the best deliverable results under excellence of governance and management ; and strive to optimize quality, productivity, efficiency, effectiveness and economy in project management;
10. To develop committed teams and team players; foster team work in governance supported by open sharing of accurate information, data and statistics; and always be mindful of the need to have a line of succession in leadership, which alone will ensure continuity and realization of the vision
It is up to us in civil society to shape and sharpen those who govern us, on an ongoing and consistent basis. Towards realization of this objective at this critical stage, we must collectively and transparently use our professional capability and integrity driven value commitments in the cementing our future governance structures and ensure it will be aligned to our aspirations. We must where necessary openly dissent and express our opinions; and advocate our aspirations and wishes for sharpening and shaping good governance. We must even be bold enough, when essential, to openly organize, agitate and apply our collective voter pressure, in order that the to deliver to us good governance, democratic freedoms, human rights, harmonious co-existence in our diverse society, and ensure upholding the rule of law, justice, equity, social justice, good governance, transparency and anti –corruption, for the sake of sustainable growth and prosperity of all in society.
As an initial measure of public pressure, I have decided that my vote at the next parliamentary elections will be cast in favour of the continuity of the change that dawned on 8th January. However, I will carefully evaluate the available choices in casting my preference vote, and ensure it is made only in favour of candidates who I believe will be able to adopt the 10 points leadership commitments articulated above, as their value commitments post elections. I will also advocate that national list nominees selected post elections are those committed to the 10point leadership values as articulated
It is my fervent hope that you too will support this collective initiative and that you will evaluate your choices carefully in casting your vote at the forthcoming elections.