By Nimal Bhareti –
As the election campaign is hotting up with widespread violence, there is no doubt that the people have already made up their minds on which way they should vote and no election meeting rhetoric, the Nil Balakaya advertisements, Bollywood artistes, and other gimmicks will change their decision.
Both candidates have put out what are supposed to be election manifestos. However, it is obvious to anyone reading them that they are mere empty promises with no consideration of finding funds to implement them. While economic factors and development are no doubt very important, more important are the erosion of good governance, rule of law, democracy and rampant corruption at all levels and the restoration of all these ills.
Breakdown in rule of law and law and order
Instances where rule of law and breakdown in law and order have been eroded have been constantly highlighted by all newspapers and TV except of course the state media which always sings hosannas for the government.
While these instances are too numerous to include all, I would like to highlight some of the more important ones.
1. Topping the list is no doubt the abominable and despicable manner in which the 43rd CJ was impeached. This was roundly condemned not only locally but also internationally.
2. Gross corruption and kickbacks in contracts for mega projects. Prof. Amal Kumarage the well known and recognized expert in transport in a recent article in the Sunday Times gave facts and figures to prove how the expressways have cost to the Government four five times the actual cost. Accepted tender procedure was not followed in any of these projects through Chinese funding and Chinese contractors, and obviously there would have been large scale kickbacks and many top politicians would no doubt have fattened their purses. This is the same story in many other projects which would have cost the taxpayer billions of rupees more than their actual cost.
3. Attacks on two TV stations by Government goons. In both cases the perpetrators were identified but no action was taken.
4. The rape and murder case against the Tangalle Pradeeshiya Chairman where for two years absolutely no action was taken. If not for the pressure brought by the British PM who threatened to pull out of the CHGOM, probably the situation would have remained the same.
5. The humiliating incident where a Samurdhi office was tied to a tree and the very hilarious excuse given that the officer had tied himself. After a sham suspension of the then Deputy Minster he was subsequently promoted as a Minister.
7. Apart from above there have been numerous examples where politicians who have broken the law and also were involved in drug and ethanol peddling have been protected by both the police and the higher political authorities
Above is just a microscopic picture of the complete breakdown in law and order in the country.
Repercussions of the draconian 18th amendment
These repercussions have been evident in many areas, some of which are listed below.
1. The emergence of a completely subservient judiciary with many questionable appointments to the highest courts.
2. The deterioration and virtual collapse of the once highly respected public service with the appointment of political stooges who will stoop to any level and themselves be involved in kickbacks and commissions just to please their masters
3. The virtual collapse of the once highly respected foreign service with the appointment of political stooges and family siblings while permitting a monitoring MP to virtually run the foreign service and the Minister remaining just a spectator.
4. The politicization of the police service where both senior and junior police officers dare not take action through fear of reprisals and punishment transfers.
While volumes could be written on the rotten state of the country today, I have just summarized them in a nutshell. All what has been mentioned in this article does not in any way detract from the credit due to the President for the end of the 30 year war and the massive development which has taken place after 2009. Had the government been clean free of corruption, there is no doubt that MR would have won with hands down not only in the traditional vote base of the rural areas but also in the urban areas.
This article is not meant to campaign for any candidate but only to highlight the present rotten state of the country. Whoever comes into power must give first and the highest priority to the issues raised in this article. Other issues like abolition of the Presidency or constitutional changes are secondary and can very well wait.
*The writer, a retired SLAS officer, is former Director General National Budget in the General Treasury