21 July, 2024


Prevention Is Better Than Cure Should Apply To Corruption As Well – Part II

By Lacille De Silva

Lacille de Silva

In Sri Lanka, since the enactment of the 1st  Constitution and particularly after the 2nd,  country’s democratic political culture has been drastically changed and it is in a severe crisis now. The proportional representation system too has been disastrous in the country, which reduced the responsiveness to the voter too. JRJ thereafter to get greater control of the elected members obtained undated letters of resignations prior to the referendum (1982) to strengthen his hands to dominate his party members in parliament. JRJ in a highly undemocratic manner, used the provision of holding a referendum, which has an inherent legality to extend the life of Parliament after 1982 for the purpose of retaining the 5/6 majority in Parliament. 

JRJ paved the way to establish a weak Parliament, judiciary, and the legal system, which does not guarantee the equality and the impartiality before the law, the police force etc. Radhika Coomaraswamy had stated – I quote: “this wholly unwarranted and unprecedented resort to the referendum principle to circumvent the usual electoral process delegitimised the parliament and also deprived the opposition of the share of seats they would have been entitled to in a parliamentary election under the proportional representation system”. It is a denial of voting rights to the citizen – a denial of democracy too.

Ours is a country, where politicos abuse and manipulate political office, with efficiency and effectiveness, to maximize the outcomes to themselves. The public authorities do not  hold investigations or inquiries. Due to interference and manipulations, Arjuna Mahendran and many more are evading arrest. The system had paved the way for impunity, which no doubt is a creation by the Government. Impunity exists in countries where there is a deficit of democratic structures of accountability, fairness and impartiality. 

The then Prime Minister the late J.R. Jayewardene, on 2nd February, 1978, during the debate on SPECIAL PRESIDENTIAL COMMISSIONS OF INQUIRY BILL, WHICH WAS INTRODUCED TO DEAL WITH MRS. B HAD SAID – I quote: “If a person has made money in any of his positions, whether as Minister, or Deputy Minister, or as an official, he should not be entitled to use his ill-gotten gains. The government must have the right to say that that money should be confiscated till the decision is given. My argument is no democratic system of government could survive unless you stop abuse, arbitrary behaviour or undue victimization or give undue protection by abusing powers, with impartiality, accountability and fairness”.

The late minister Lalith Athulathmudali while taking part in the debate on the imposition of CIVIC DISABILITY ON AND EXPULSION FROM PARLIAMENT (of the late Mrs. Sirima R.D. Bandaranaike and the late Felix R. Dias Bandaranaike on the 16th October,1980), had said – I quote: “She gave us a resume of what she has done. Of course, she has done a lot, but, it is in the very nature of politics that people in high office have to continue to maintain high standards. And if once they fell down,  if having done 20 years of good work you do one wrong act, one act of corruption, one act of abuse of power,  then that is the penalty that political life extracts from you.  If you do not believe do not stay in politics”. 

The recent constitutional crisis eventually ended up after the Supreme Court suspended a presidential order dissolving parliament and calling fresh elections. All these constitutional and political turmoil are being closely monitored by the international community. Having Removed Ranil, we  cannot however endorse the presidential move to tie up with former President at any cost.  The citizens too do not approve lethargy and inaction with regard to the impending legal action against those who are responsible for all types corruption committed including the bond scam. 

Let me now, (if in case the President is committed to do his task right),  briefly state the duties and functions of the Supreme Legislature:

  • To identify and stop abuse, arbitrary behaviour or illegal unconstitutional conduct on the part of the government and public institutions;
  • The protection of rights and liberties of citizens;
  • To hold the elected government to account in respect of how the tax payers’ money is used;
  • Improve the efficiency, economy and effectiveness and stop waste, misuse, abuse, corruption, fraud etc., of all government operations;
  • To ensure that policies, plans and decisions announced by the government and authorized by the Parliament are actually delivered, implemented and achieved;
  • Monitoring the achievement of goals set by legislation, projects, proposals and programmes;
  • To improve the transparency, openness, and compliance of laws, rules, regulations applicable to the procedures in every single government operation;
  • To enhance public trust in government

In a democracy, the representation of the people is the foremost duty of parliamentarians. During the last few decades, they had miserably failed to live up to the expectations of the citizens and perform their primary roles and duties towards the country and the citizens. Their performance has been unethical, disgraceful, un-parliamentary and disorderly. They have brought immense shame and disrepute to the august assembly. Parliament of Sri Lanka is currently very weak. Parliamentarians do not have the sense of duty and beyond that the passion to serve the Nation. 

Parliamentarians need to be told that democratic governments that fail to deliver basic levels of stability and service risk losing their legitimacy.  Good governance is the only way in which Governments and public sector institutions could guarantee the rule of law, promote economic growth, and provide some measure of social protection to citizens.  Generally, the term “democratic governance” refers to a government’s ability to deliver on these promises while adhering to democratic values of transparency, representation, pluralism and accountability.   

The Yahapalana government soon after they were elected blamed the previous regime that projects had been started without even conducting a suitable cost-benefit analysis, for the purpose. Furthermore, they accused MR government  that all such public debt spreads for the future too and the bills are passed on to the future generations for rep-payment. Most of these loans have been taken subject to the condition that debts reach maturity in the following year. Nevertheless, it is true that these debts have however not generated any income for the country at all. They have not carefully assessed whether the loans involve risks, or if not whether the investments would contribute to the boosting of the economy and to improve the living standards of the citizens in the long term. 

MR regime accordingly had failed miserably to undertake an assessment to ascertain the socio-economic benefits whether the projects will help to increase the overall prosperity in the society. Since the investment proposals have not been carefully assessed and judiciously chosen, all these are total waste of funds. The future generations would be forced to carry forward the burden for no fault of theirs.   The funds amounting to billions and trillions have ended up  the pockets of rent-seeking politicos.  Shouldn’t they have  invested the billions and trillions to uplift the poor people’s lives.   

Vast resources are needed for our children for their future educational strategy and for improvement of the educational level. Instead, they had chosen to close rural schools: 2006 – 14, 2007 – 37, 2008 – 17 and in 2009 – 103. They have destroyed the formal school system, which principally was created by the late Hon. C.W.W. Kannangara, the father of our free education in our country. Our leaders have disrupted the formal school system totally in rural areas and had deprived children of their basic rights and amenities – including the right to education. Most of our children suffer untold hardships without food, clothing, and even proper shelter.

Rent-seeking rulers have deprived our children including the nourishment and care of the mind, which is vital for the growth and development of a human being from his infancy to his adolescence and beyond.  We must not forget that children and young people are a high priority area for investment.  Transport, housing etc in Sri Lanka are other major issues, where solutions need to be found at the earliest. We had the CTB which had been the third largest transportation company in the whole world at the time. All that had been sold and privatized for a pittance having given flimsy excuses. We need high rises now. Housing projects similar to Bambalapitiya, Maligawatta housing schemes are a must.  Rent can finance the payment of interest and loan instalments. 

Up to now, none of the politicians have fulfilled their pledges made by them except ending the war. Afterwards, overseas funds intended for development including public money meant for public good have been robbed from State by all these thieves of State. Time has come for Sri Lankan people to come out against corruption because Sri Lankan politicians will never do the needful to minimize corruption. It could also be seen that not only politicians, we have businessmen, public servants and even religious leaders, who are being accused of corruption. 

In our country both major parties have proved again and again that they have failed. Furthermore, during the last few decades we did not have rulers at the top who respect ethics and morality. Corruption has therefore become so ingrained in our society to such an extent that it is so hard to find someone who is not corrupt. We now therefore need to understand the realistic ground situation and educate the masses that honest and patriotic people need to work hard collectively to create the change. Let us now view this situation seriously and say “NO” to corruption.  

In India, Mr. Narendra Modi, Prime Minister, has no reason to worry at all about winning the impending elections, which is due in three more months. Mr. Modi during the past five years has done so much in India to take the country forward, with courage and conviction, and with no malice towards any one. He has taken necessary steps to boost the expectations and the confidence of the masses and taken valiant efforts to build pride among the Indians. It is certainly creditable Mr. Modi has succeeded in achieving industrial and economic growth as well, under his able leadership. 

At the time Mr. Modi was elected to power,  India was steeped in corruption. People therefore having lost faith, had simply wondered that no one will succeed in minimizing corruption in such a vast country like India. Mr. Modi has finally proved conclusively that it is possible to run corruption free central government. It must be mentioned that corruption has so far not been eradicated totally in India. Mr. Modi has given good hopes to people that corruption free governance is an achievable goal. My experience is that  for fighting corruption, long drawn planning and careful strategies are needed to win the anti-corruption struggle.

(To becontinued)    

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Latest comments

  • 0

    Without corruption, India Cannot progress. Every thing would come to a stand still. Filed will not move.
    Corruption is a way of life in varying in degree. That is why no Prime Minister is free of corruption as accused by the parliamentarians.
    Indra Ghandhi, Rajive Ghandhi, , Modi are no exception.

    • 4

      Lucille de Silva,

      JR loved himself so much and hated the parliament and the people so much, he have the Executive Presidency.

      The Ghost of JR still haunts the country. JR is neither in Heaven nor in Hell, and floating around and had infected Sirisena.

  • 1

    Dear Lacille

    ‘Since the investment proposals have not been carefully assessed and judiciously chosen, all these are total waste of funds’

    Most important statement you have made/ du diligence work requires an amazing amount of talent/expertise/experience by specialists in every sector from private and public (both patriotic) people need to do this together………the studies done/proposal reviewed/awarded can not be done unless otherwise we develop the respective capability within the Nation and should have been available by now……….just like Singapore/Malaysia/India over time have developed this kind of technical/engineering capability which can be translated into Nation Building event.

    From 1970 we have had armed misery the energy/wealth should have gone to the above………….we choose to do things otherwise………..in 2009 we could moved forward and payed tribute to the unfortunate misery to all our children since 1970?

    The reason we have corruption now is very simple……..the same forces who have faciliatted this misery have brought the Nation to a weakened state so She can be raped repeatedly……..this is the process you have correctly documented as ‘Corruption’.

    Sooner the TNA and the Muslim parties as well as all other National parties get this into their head sooner we can proceed and get back on track……..most of them do not know the subject matters and we need the local and international Sri Lankans to sit down and plan the matters out to the elected government and play advisory roll. Human dignity beyond a National Question…….where we meet National Need by overcoming our Corrupted Minds as a Nation to pay tribute to all our Children……without the Sinhala Buddhists/Tamils/Muslims/weeping widow/Modaya…. references……where loose identity to extent is spiritual will free us from all ills Lasille.that is what my Father did all his life…..may be we can ask all the Parliamentarians to follow his life will solve all our problems –Thiagarajah Doctrine the Truth.

    • 0

      Thank you so much Venu. I think we we should give hand holding support to those want this change. I am taking all this pain to send this message across. We must join hands without delay. That is our duty at this juncture. Thanks once again.

  • 3

    “Ours is a country, where politicos abuse and manipulate political office, with efficiency and effectiveness” – Lacille De Silva
    I partly agree with you Mr. De Silva. Manipulation and abuse of our political and judicial processes by politicians (of all political parties), officers of the judiciary and their minions have led to our downfall. Mr. De Silva, this abuse of power has not created any “efficiency” or “effectiveness” to anyone. Not even for any politician’s criminal career. Even for dictators, their divisive politics have been short-lived because they stumbled and fell short of efficiency and effectiveness. I agree that political abuse has only brought chaos and caused irreparable damage to the people and country. The damage has now reached apocalyptic proportions. Surely you will agree that our country is at the nadir of a sewer. I say this with bitterness and sadness. It is even more tragic that we do not have any oversight in this country to hold accountable or a judicial process in place to prosecute politicians for their abuse, mismanagement and failures. This is the reason that our politicians pillage, plunder and murder people knowing well that there is no punishment in return. Their impunity has no limit. They squash political dissent that end in murder. They unleash their minions to extra-judicially execute protesters, kidnap and disappear anyone that oppose their views. They perpetrate war crimes. Disappear people in white vans. They kidnap citizens, torture and cremate the victims in military installations. Then reward the murders with UN and diplomatic posts in our foreign service. They misuse and abuse our state banks to launder money. They steal from Samurdhi loans, the employee trust funds, pensions and national retirement funds. They commandeer the state media, civil service, state apparatus and military to further their criminal agenda.

    • 2

      Time has come to unite the forces to fight the common enemy. I agree with you wholeheartedly. Thank you.

    • 0

      Thank you

  • 2

    Very well thought out and written, Lacille. I strongly believe that corruption is due to avarice and personal gain. I agree that politicians abuse and manipulate their office for personal gain. This can be seen with all politicians. Correction of this trend is a near impossible task. Remember I said “near impossible”. To eradicate this menace or wolf in sheep’s clothing, we have to and must have people totally committed to their cause and dedicated to the country. Their integrity should not have to be questioned as they are visibly, totally devoted to their work and the country. They must be compensated sufficiently to be able to live comfortably and above any want. I am sure such people could be found if strong backing is there for them. I am not talking about choice of politicians but those that guard the laws of our country.

    • 0

      Thank you Sunil ayya.

    • 0

      Thank you.

    • 2

      Sunil Panabokke,

      I know you are well-meaning but I have to disagree with you.

      “we have to and must have people totally committed to their cause and dedicated to the country. Their integrity should not have to be questioned as they are visibly, totally devoted to their work and the country.”

      There were people who were honest and dedicated to the war-effort ……… but the people who gained from the war was “soldiers” who knew how to exploit the “war.” Look around. The honest and dedicated are either dead or missing limbs …….. while the humbugs who never even stepped on to the theatre of war are enjoying all the fruits of the victorious war-effort.

      No one is willing to make the sacrifice to be dedicated to an unappreciative society and finally to end up as a fool.

      What is required is methods/laws/regulations to harness/corral people’s natural selfishness for the betterment of the country ………… a la Adam Smith’s “Invisible Hand.”

      America didn’t become the preeminent economy/nation by the work of selfless dedicated men. Their founding fathers got the “mix” right in the initial setting-up of the country and the laws/regulations/constitution to harness but set limits on inherent natural human-selfishness.

  • 3

    Everything you say is applicable if the politicians are honest or Capable. corruption was legitimized in 1978 by JRJ. I tis the JRJ did lot of harm to Sri lanka by chaning the constitution by implementaing a different Economy. Since inthe name of improving the constitution behind JVP and LTTE wars, they changed the political system, constitution and every thing they needed to increase the their existence which through through corruption.
    We were blaming Mahinda Rajapakse govgt saying it was very corrupt. What we got defeating that was anothe rone like. AS WE DEFINITELY HAVE ANOTHER PROTEST VOTE OR REJECTION VOTE OF THR PRESENT GOVT, the previous rejected govt will be in power again. Even for the yahapalana Cabinet which was corrupt, they REappointed even the EX-Finance Mininister who was accused for accpeting bribes from LTTE, money laundering, one engaged in the bond scam, supposed to be a foreign agent, accepted pent house as a bribe, accepted Money in bags. NOW HE IS THE MINISTER FOR POWER AND ENERGY, a bankrupt and money losing enterprise. HIS FIRST TASK WAS TO BUY ELELCTRICITY FROM PRIVATE PRODUCERS WHICH will come with commis to his bank account. So, what is the fairness. DO YOU SAY RANIL WCIRAMSINGHE IS BLIND AND DEAF TO ALL THESE. SIMILAR THEFTS ARE EVERY WHERE and even UNP parliament is not sure with respect to the way they are heading.
    If you find out the constitution changes since 1978 which made the present very electoral system and the parliament, in other words, the 19 amendments are COMPLETE FRAUDS. EVERY FRAUD THAT THE PARLIAMENT DOES IS WRITTEN IN THE CONSTITUTION.

    • 3

      Agree JD…..we went from cottage industries/agriculture(you could not find a square foot of an empty plot in Jaffna not farmed)………on the path to self sufficiency…….living within our means to importing box of matches………to all other trashes overnight with the change of Economic policies indeed……………fell into the debt trap.

      what a blunder……….complemented by the TULF…THE 1977 election was the black July for the Nation…………….197719811983 all are thereafter the world can not see……….or wanted just that perhaps. We delivered at the expense of our children.

    • 1

      Thank you. We must say NO to all that.

  • 1

    Dear Lacille

    Both your lovely article need to be read with the following writeup/narrative


    When we do not have a corrupt mind the above article set out to explains what/how we need to evaluate to get on the ‘critical path’ to development…….this is where visionary parliament come into play……not in the technicalities because they are left to the experts.

    The Foundation for this should have a’ Technocrat schooling’ for all wannabe politician as a minimum qualification you will find answers to all issues beautifully captured in both these articles.

    We also need to appreciate what was achieved and failed by the respective governments and work on these subjects collctively to improve………not fight over every hurdle come our way………..we failed in this aspect miserably as a Nation.

    This is the space/dirty washing in public is what exploited by the outside forces to sell everything that is ‘corrupt to the corrupt bypassing the Population of the country.

    We do not fall into the trap of West/China/India………..or any other. We can stand in our own feet and ask what is best for us a collective Nation. Everyone has to compete to deliver the best to us because is a business opportunity for them.

    Now this was done at the expense of our Children…….arm them…manipulate them…….wrong them…..hence they have been dying since 1948 in one form or the other.

    I suggest we lock up the Clergy/JVP/TNA/Muslim parties in one room and ask them sort out matters amongst themselves such they ‘explain to each others’ all their doubts and leave us the Sri Lankans alone to run our lives without interruption from them…….as we have more imporatnat matters to take care.

    Now we are dealing with the above destabilisation issues not our normal life leading to all the corruption/misunderstanding/loss of time/going backward etc.

  • 3

    The purchasing power of what we, layLankans, earn is dwindling by the day. The nonchalance of our leaders to this?
    We are past the stage of “Prevention Is Better Than Cure…….”. The elites who choose our rulers are well entrenched.
    We must start using our vote power to force the elites to clean themselves.

  • 2

    CWW Kannangara received a free education throughout his childhood as the vernacular schools were free where the teachers were paid by the (colonial) government and the schools were built by local philanthropists (grandfathers of free education). Kannangara’s secondary education in English was funded by a Methodist church scholarship. Kannangara did head the 12 man committee (which included the likes of HW Amarasuriya who had personally funded schools) that bought about educational reforms under the very government……
    Sri Lankan failure is now largely habitual and common, not just in practice, but even in theory. The remedy remains largely elusive, a few inter-related families usually at the helm of power, masses with a third-world mind set awaiting a saviour figure and retorting to tribal politics. The politician is the winner, elected on this basis from the dawn of our political history, have evolved into a class of its own, even education is not required. The country was not ripe for dominion status then, the result of which is that the country is not ripe for good governance even now.

  • 0

    Yesterday MS expressed his intention to emulate the President of Philippines, Rodrigo Duterte.
    Please tell us Lacille de Silva: Is this “Prevention” or is it “Cure”?
    Our only hope is MS to cleanse himself.

  • 0

    Drug Menace involves even politicians and very influential people. Al the politicians know who the drug dealers are. What Maithriapal doing is correct. JUST THINK WHY THEE USA WAS UPSET WHEN DRUG DEALERS WERE SHOT AND ELIMINATED..

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