24 September, 2020

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The Pursuit Of Good Governance Must Continue 

By Jehan Perera

Jehan Perera

Jehan Perera

The coalition of political parties and civil society groups that came together to ensure victory for President Maithripala Sirisena at the presidential elections of January 2015 under the theme of good governance is no more. The distancing started soon after the formation of the new UNP-led coalition government and the implementation of the 100 day programme. Sharp disagreements began to emerge within the political parties in the government on issues such as the extent of power to be taken away from the president and given to the prime minister in terms of the 19th Amendment. The practice of good governance itself came under scrutiny due to the problem of the bond issue by the Central Bank that has continued to fester with damning disclosures coming to the fore. The inability to pass the 20th Amendment despite the commitment of the president showed the waning of his influence in parliament.

However, the desire of people of all walks of life to have a government that acts according to principles of good governance continues to find its expression in civil society. The better educated sections of the voting population especially in the urban areas, and the ethnic minorities who were at the receiving end of lawless rule continue to value good governance. The March 12 Movement, which intends to hold political parties to their promise to only nominate candidates who abide by the values of good governance, and who are not corrupt, violent or contravene basic standards of political conduct is an expression of this. During the past fortnight they have been going around the country collecting signatures to meet their target of one million. This is a declaration that has also been signed by the leaders of all major political parties, including the president, prime minister and leader of the opposition.

In the context of the exposures of corruption and promises made of good governance during the presidential election campaign, and the continuing civil society desire for good governance, the decision of President Sirisena to agree to nominate the former president has come as a major surprise. During the presidential election that took place in January, the parties that supported President Sirisena, and the president himself, made it clear that the practices of former president, Mahinda Rajapaksa, were the very epitome of what had to change. The way in which the former president had concentrated power in himself and his family, and the abuse of power for personal and monetary gain, was highlighted in the election campaign. But today, in a turn of events that is shocking to many who sought a new Sri Lanka, the former president is back in the SLFP and will presumably be campaigning on the same platform as the president.

Silent Revolution 

Political parties are machines meant to capture and retain political power. The problem for President Sirisena has been his dual role as president of the country committed to good governance, and his role as president of the SLFP committed to giving his party members the best chance of electoral victory. Unless there is a higher morality at play in society that affirms, as the March 12 Movement is saying, that some things cannot be done, such as nominating those who are corrupt and violent to hold office, political parties will nominate them to win elections. In the absence of this higher morality, and as the leader of the SLFP, President Sirisena was bound to give deference to the majority opinion within his party. Their argument was simple and logical. The party would do best if President Sirisena and former president Rajapaksa were on the same side and did not divide their forces. As a personality who is non-authoritarian and in the absence of any institutionalization of the values of the March 12 Movement, President Sirisena seems to have felt that he had no option but to accept the wishes of the majority.

MaithripalaIt is a time honoured observation that politics is the art of the possible. The compulsion of securing victory or the best possible result for his political party at the general election seems to have forced President Sirisena to permit the former president to contest from within the party, even though the former president’s practice of governance when he was in power was in direct opposition to the fundamental precepts of good governance. However, it is also worthy of note that no sooner had he agreed to the nomination of the former president, President Sirisena promised that would not abandon good governance or permit those who are corrupt to ruin the country again. He recalled that his presidential election victory “brought about a change which the country needed. The expectations of the people who brought about the silent revolution will not be shattered.”

In bowing to the wishes of the SLFP to bring former president Rajapaksa into the electoral contest, President Sirisena has been democratic to his party members. He has heeded the voice of the majority in the party who wish to win at the forthcoming general elections and believe that the former president’s presence at the campaign will contribute to their victory. However, the active presence of the former president during the election campaign, within the party and in parliament in the future, does not necessarily mean that President Sirisena will abandon his commitment to good governance. It is still possible that having led his party to the best possible electoral outcome, the president will be able to obtain the cooperation and loyalty of his party members after the elections to institutionalize good governance in the country.

President’s Role 

Former president Rajapaksa has shown himself to be a resilient politician. When he lost the presidential election with two years left of his second term, after a bitterly contested election, it seemed unlikely that he could have staged the comeback that he has. But though he has been brought back into the SLFP as a candidate for election it does not necessarily mean that he will command the same degree of popular support he once enjoyed. At the presidential election in January the former president had the benefit of unlimited state resources, including government money and media, which were used in a way that contravened election law and for which crimes some of the former government members are facing prosecution. He got 5.8 million votes, but still lost. This time around neither the former president nor the SLFP will have such advantages. They no longer hold governmental power during the election. In addition, during the past six months there has been a stream of revelations of misuse of power and corrupt practices.

The likely scenario at the forthcoming general elections is that no single party, or alliance of parties, will get an absolute majority in parliament. While the former president’s entry into the nomination list of the SLFP will prevent the breakup of the party and its campaign, it will also alienate a significant sector in society who are looking for good governance and who will now need to look elsewhere for their political representation. The UNP, which has been out of power for most of the past two decades, and which showed the possibility of a change in political culture and governance over the past six months, is most likely to be the beneficiary. In particular, the lifting of the fear psychosis that held society in mental chains and the steps towards the reintegration of the ethnic and religious minorities into the mainstream of society came almost instantaneously due to the shift in the policy and outlook of President Maithripala Sirisena and the UNP government.

In the eventuality that no one party secures a majority in parliament the role of the small parties and ethnic minority parties will increase. This will mean the formation of a government in which power is checked and balanced. In these circumstances the role of President Sirisena who, despite the passage of the 19th Amendment, continues to be vested with significant executive powers, will be crucial. The campaign of the March 12 Movement and other civic campaigns need to be strengthened so that the President is constantly reminded of, and supported in, his commitment to good governance even in the new circumstances.

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Latest comments

  • 5
    10

    Mahinda must be elected for the Pursuit Of Good Governance to Continue.

    He is a serious man for the business.

    • 5
      1

      Jehan Perera

      RE: The Pursuit Of Good Governance Must Continue

      Mahinda Rajapaksa and his cronies are cow dung, “Goma”, that has spoiled the SLFP Milk and the Sr Lanka Milk.

      If Mahinda Rajapaksa and his cronies are brought back, it is like putting cow ding. “goma” into milk. The milk will be spoiled.

      Both the SLFP and the country will be spoiled.

      So, Maitripala Sirisena should not be in a dilemma. He should be a Leader and a stateman. He Should just do it. No no nominations for the cow dung, goma, Mahinda Rajapaksa and his cronies.

    • 4
      0

      Good one Mr. Perera.

      To ensure good governance and good politicians elected at this time elections, civil society groups must.

      1. Ask election commissioner to eliminate all GHOST VOTERS, who are illegal votes for corrupt politicians from voter registers.
      According to Election Commissioner: there is 15 million registered voters in Sri Lanka though country has only 21 million people with almost one third below voting age. This does not make numerical or demographic sense when the below 18 population does not vote. Also, others who are genuinely entitled to vote are unregistered. High number of ‘ registered’ voters is due to Basil Jarapassa and the previous regime’s enrollment of ghost voters to rig elections. Election register must be pruned otherwise ghost voters will elect MR and his band of corrupt criminals to parliament..

      2. Civil society must force Ranil Wickramasinghe to get rid of Mahendran at Central bank. Mahendran is not qualified to run CB and is following Nivard Cabraals corrupt lead and destroying Lanka economy by accumulating DBT – print money and bond scams..

      • 1
        0

        JP: Civil society needs urgently, a movement to clean up Sri Lanka’s corrupt POLITICAL PARTIES which are to root cause of the rot in political Culture.
        All political parties are mini dictatorships of the so-called leaders and their corrupt cronies today, in UNP and SLFP, which are main parties and all minority parties like SLMC, TNA, and dead leftist parties run by geriatrics who will not hand over to younger generation, despite youth insurrections..
        Internal democracy must be brought back to POLITICAL PARTIES and current generation of leadership of all political parties must be got rid.
        This generation of corrupt leaders used racism and money politics for their private gain and destroy post-independence Sri Lanka. We need new Younger Generation of clean politicians..

        Civil society dudes like you JP need to do a deeper and better analysis of the rot within all the political parties that is root of Sri Lanka’s rotten political culture.

        Civil society needs to press for internal democracy in these parties and for clean YOUNG leaders to take over..

    • 2
      0

      Not long ago, by listening to Balumgala programme on Nethfm, I felt that Mr. MY3 Sirisena would be one of the top men of the country in the future. It was just after listening to him in that interview. Today, he is the prez of the country. I think there is no comparable personality in the country today, who could hold speeches to that of a Mr. Sirisena. I have also listened to those of MR. But most of the time, his speeches are not far from those of Kelaniya Mervin to me. Not forgetting what he happened to say about ” 3 TIMES winning” – pointing at his own sons as the prodcuts – were for me beyond all margins. It was solely because RW has no own children. How can a presidential personality could fall into that level of a country whose literacy is that high ? All in all, former Prez Rajapakshe was for me not a respectable person comparing with the two that handle the country today… by two I meant was Prez MS and PM Ranil. Latter personalities are miles decent to me when looking back.

    • 2
      0

      I think Mahinda is serious man for his family wealth exppansion.

      How dare you to say – that he is good at Business of the people ?

      Looking at the manner MR handle all the drug related and Duminda Silva related issues, even the blind would not agree with you. They the blind can sense it betterthat MR is pro-CRIME- pro-abusive man who is born to sow criminal seeds across the country.

  • 3
    0

    The expectation of ‘Good Governance’ cannot be a reality with a Govt. of the UNP or SLFP or any coalition led by either of them. Both these parties have contributed for all the negative situations prevailing in the country. Whoever becomes the leader of these parties or whatever promises they might make a real change towards the better cannot take place as either the leader himself or those on whom the leader has to rely to govern come from the same old lot who were responsible or from the same culture that caused all the problems. The fact that the real change cannot be brought about by these two parties was amply demonstrated within the short period from 8th January when earlier wrong-doings have been repeated and only the survival of the parties were given importance over that of the country. People have to, therefore, look for new directions in politics and consider emerging progressive groups with consistent policies and principles are brought in to govern the country.

  • 5
    0

    Jehan what is this good Governance you refer to ?
    Should it be another Bond scam ??????????????

    The desire of the people can be carried out by any party.
    Nevertheless the implicit faith put in place by the masses with MGO kakas in the perrifery assisting was sgattered within the first Sixty days.
    Then we have a politicallly guided FCID in place.
    What next you NGOs dream of? Hiccups by the GOSL & your income ?

    If the criteria is good governance be it Ranil or Mahinda, they will have to carryout.
    Good Governance need not be pleasing your Pay Masters.

    Why don’t the Harvard educated Jehan Perera get out of his comfort zone and with the knowledge you accquired at Harvard get down to doing something worthwhile for the country instead of engaging in gibberrish.
    We do not need your pay master’s thinking to brain wash the politicians.
    Jehan Perera you are like one of those Negombo Mourners who are paid to wail at funerals as if the deceased was well known and crying out the deceased good deeds whether the deceased had done good deeds or not.
    Whom are you attempting to hoodwink for your pay master?
    Remember the Sri Lanka kopi kade masses are political animals. They could even tell you a thing or two how you should perform to impress your pay master.

    [Edited out]

  • 2
    0

    No one needs to worry about good governance because MS will be the President for the next 5 years. Also by giving nominations to former President MR, H.E has not only maintained democratic values but also has proved good governance again.
    Hats off to Hon President MS. Jayawewaa…….

    • 3
      1

      Democracy is pointless unless there is a descipline. There is a majority support for Mahinda within the United Mahinda Front of SLFP may be true. It is also true that majority within the group including Mahinda are criminals, corrupted, abused their power extensively and most of them are Sinhala Buddhist extremists (fundamentalist). I feel these are not democratic values. If that is an acceptable policy of SLFP or United front even Maithiri should not lead the nation and people did not vote for him for such philosophy. There should be a positive relationship between good governance and behaviour of those candidates to reprent people.

  • 5
    1

    This guy Jehan Perera is not fish, flesh or fowl. Doesent belong anywhere in Sri Lanka but wants to comment on every thing in a very slimy way. What a way to earn a living and hob=nob with the diplomatic corp. They should realize that Jehan perera just sings for his supper and will sell his own own country down the drain.

  • 0
    2

    I sincerely believe that Sri Lanka should become a protectorate of some other country, for the people in Sri Lanka to live peacefully . There cannot be a good governance in Sri Lanka and Sri Lanka do not have one single politician , either a Sinhalese or a Tamil or a Muslim who is sincere, self sacrifice and without greediness and patriotic. There has to be two nation one country and one day it will come.

  • 2
    0

    Any contravention of the election laws, however minor, especially by the good governance proponents, should be exposed mercilessly. We have to see the principles of good governance being practiced at the on-coming elections.

    Let the media investigate the backgrounnd of every candidate nominated for election and question them in public fora organized in every district. Let no stone be left unturned. We should understand what they are, what they know, what they stand for and what they propose to do.

    The Elections Commissioner should leave us legacy that will be firmly imprinted on this country and its mores.

    The coming elections are an opportunity to empower the people. This includes not deceiving them with false propmises, blood curdling slogans and blatant lies.

    Jehan Perera, will you an your NGO, give leadership to this process?

    Dr.Rajasingham Narendran

  • 0
    0

    Pursuit of Good Governance while continuing to travel in the vehicle fitted with the repeatedly repaired wobbling UNP-led or SLFP-led coalition wheels will send the vehicle down the precipice endng-up killing the passengers. Before that happens the two wobbling wheels must be completely removed and dumped and the now available good wheels must be fitted.

  • 0
    0

    Thisman Jehan, [Edited out]

    • 0
      0

      [Edited out]

  • 0
    0

    Oh Yes, Johan. We must pursue good dovernane by more blatant day light robbery of the central bank, by fradulent , brazenly audacious breach of customs

  • 0
    1

    Oh Yes, Johan. We must pursue good dovernane by more blatant day light robbery of the central bank, by fradulent , brazenly audacious breach of customs regulations- with regard to imports of Karunka, where finance minister is allegedly involved and copper wire connected to a powerful deputy minister, and mining for treasures by the minister for law and order, using ministry vehicles. Appointment of relatives to government controlled institutions-eg.finance minister’s brother in law. a police sergeant to head the insurance corporation.
    Jehan has to declare his hand now.

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