By Asoka Seneviratne –
Back in 2016, I was in my sister in law’s house in Colombo attending to a family funeral. She was a stalwart Rajapaksa supporter, a member of parliament and a famous celebrity. She was in a group of hardcore Rajapaksa supporters while I was in a small group of family friends and relatives. While her topic essentially was the greatness of MR, mine was totally opposite. I was trying to highlight the danger of one family running the country. My point was when the key national decisions were taken by one ruling family without being vetted through the parliament or by national debate; we are truly becoming a name -sake Democracy. Transparency, accountability, rule of law, checks and balances etc. all get flushed to toilet.
This boiled into such a point, my sister in law asked me to leave. That was how loyal she was to MR & Co.
But today, I am her biggest fan. She shamefully agrees how correct I was and how silly she was to blindly support a family who was squandering nation’s wealth. She was hugely politically immature and did not understand Democracy 101, or elements of good governance. But she was part and parcel replacing the 19th A with the 20 A, and raising the hand to any legislations R’s brought to the floor of the house. Isn’t this our prime curse? Legislators not knowing the essence of Democracy?
So today, Rajapaksa’s have driven our nation to the brink of economic collapse. People are angry, hungry and desperate. Decades of economic mismanagement by both parties have squandered the nation. However I need extend a small hand of appreciation to President Sirisena for letting go the massive executive power and handing it over to the parliament through the 19th A. 19th A was a rare but a good measure towards a better democracy. Sadly most don’t appreciate the value of the 19th A. But Sirisena deserves huge credit. When all other presidents wanted more and more power, Sirisena devolved power!
I am no fan of the UNP, Ranil, Sajith or Sirisena but I am happy to give credit where credit is due.
20th A was a serious blunder that R’s sold to 6.9 million Lankans who swallowed the bitter pill of a promised land! Perhaps Basil was the architect of this fraud scheme. Not only Gota has the massive power through 19th A, last year he asked for and got emergency power too. What more power does he need? The man has failed the nation. Period.
So now a whole bunch of politicians led by Sajith and Anura Kumara are rallying the public to gain power. Day in and day out, they all seem to say is how bad things are in the country and how R’s have ruined it. They don’t need to keep harping on the burning issues. Millions of Lankans already know the issues full well.
They all keep promising that they would fix the nation. They promise to bring jobs, eliminate corruption and looting, install rule of law and independence of the judiciary etc. In essence they are just talking the talk. Talk is cheap!
So the next time our mainstream media and you tubers confront these leaders, please ask the how they are going to Walk the Talk? Hold their feet to the fire!
What exact policy proposals they have to create jobs? To create wealth? To bring investments? To make the law enforcement and the judiciary truly independent? To hold office holders accountable? To narrow deficits? To create better education? To train technicians, nurses, etc? To promote exports? To eliminate poverty? To bring investments to villages etc. etc.?
Do they plan to bring a new constitution? Who will draft the constitution? Do we need an expensive Prime Minister’s office while we also have an executive President? What will be the job of the PM? Will the ministers get luxury SUV’s and escorts? Why? What is wrong with an air conditioned 4 wheel drive pickup truck with a driver only? Can the nation afford it? Do they plan to change back to the Westminster model? Do they plan to remove 20th A? Do they plan to introduce publicly aired hearings of our ministers and the heads of government institutions? How they intend to make the attorney general’s office insulated from politics? How exactly do they plan to insulate the judiciary and the police from politics? What provisions will be added to a new constitution to enable this? In my opinion, nothing will work right until we make the three branches of government truly independent and have separation of powers, so we install solid checks and balances again.
Why not create a system of primaries to elect those who run for office? Will this not eliminate the desire of a party leader to put his favorites run rather than those capable? Will this not insulate party leader from influencing their legislative votes?
The job of the president is to manage the nation within the law. But not to even remotely interfere into the execution of justice. This one issue is paramount. Without true separation of powers through a smart constitution, nothing will fill fix our nation. Surely not the promises and screaming on rallies. Haven’t we seen enough of this hot air for over 70 long years?
Do they plan to have Ministers appointed from among MP’s? If so how can these MP’s do their job in the legislative branch while also being a part of the Executive branch? Does this not negate the separation of powers? Will they allow foreign companies to own land? If so how much of land? What incentives will thy offer to attract investments and specially blue chip companies? Who will spearhead this task? How do they plan to appoint heads of the government bodies? How do they plan to hold them accountable?
There are million such questions they need to be asked and answered before the public vote.
This message is to our brave media men and you tubers. Don’t just ask what the issues are. Ask them how? Ask for details, Ask for policies and proposals. Don’t let them BS you. Confront them? Ask the tough questions.
In a Democracy a free media is a de-facto 4th branch of government. By design they are meant to be adversarial. They have a huge role to play.
So next time you meet any of these would be leaders of any party, ask them how they actually plan to walk the talk? Failure to do this today runs the risk of today’s squeaky clean JVP becoming yet another corrupt UNP or an SLPP tomorrow!