It is nearing two years since the ‘Good Governance’ regime (‘Yahapalanaya’) came into power. Through Sri Lanka’s civil intellectuals, civil organizations, the Muslim and Tamil communities, and the political movement build by the UNP, the present government was built.
In recent years, many Nations of the world which obtained their power through a political header, saw the country torn apart, crisis’ emerging and going from bad to worse. It didn’t take as much as 6 months for these nations to face such an unfortunate fate, and there are many examples to this effect – Egypt, Libya, Afghanistan, Iraq and Iran. However, in Sri Lanka, with a two-thirds majority, an established rule of law, and securing the democratic rights of the citizens, we can see the nation entering a stable phase even after 2 years.
However, there is a certain level of technical weaknesses which can be seen within that stability. Those travelling the path of Good Governance are not merely those who made personal sacrifices to bring about the present government. Much like the infamous poem by Premakeerthi de Alwis, after January 8th, thieves, robbers, fascists, fools, madmen and enemies were added into the system. And so, the path of good governance did not become the safe and convenient path which many expected.
This is a common situation which can be expected when a Party assumes power after a political movement of such proportions. Particularly, in a society like Sri Lanka where there is high political participation, any issues in the system will cause discomfort and irk members of society. And this, more or less, is the ongoing situation today.
The Prime Minister’s dominant strategic views which him and his team are committed towards establishing, is to stabilize the nation’s economy, protect democracy and the rule of law, and build a society where every member feels at ease and can live in peace and harmony.
Through the Prime Ministers broad and inclusive public process, the entire nation is set to be beneficiaries therein; which will result in short-term and long-term results. However, over the course of the last two years, there has been a growing disconnect between the United National Party, its members and leaders. As a result, the main critics of the government are the UNP-ers – much like the reaction of children towards a neglecting father. We have even seen these conditions in our villages, families, schools and social service workers. In my opinion, this is a strong failure of the system.
If this situation is left to continue, it will increase the risk of UNP-ers forsaking the voting polls in the future. Aside from the Prime Minister’s post in the Good Governance regime, the UNP possesses a little less than 50% of the government power. Also, a majority of those who hold government posts, officials and ministers, are those who championed the maintenance of the system which prevailed prior to January 8th. While it can be said that the UNP is having difficulty in realizing this reality, it is definitely something which they must face and understand immediately.
While the UNP might appoint their personnel to this government, the state and local government processes take place at the hands of a team on the outside. If UNP ministers and political officers are part of the government process, that amount is a fraction of what people imagine. Keep in mind that the traditional enemy of the UNP – the SLFP – now has a President in power in Sri Lanka. The same can be said for a majority of the Ministers as well. A majority of the government officials are those who benefitted from the previous regime and worked tirelessly to maintain its power. The SLFP, more so than the UNP, are biased towards both parties.
The Prime Minister is now stuck at a crossroad. That is to say, he is faced with an impossible situation. On one hand, he must keep his promise to the people to bring about good governance. That responsibility has fallen upon his shoulders. On the other hand, he must relieve the nation from the economic pressures. Where the party is concerned, he also needs to control the situation and relieve the pressure faced from the UNP. As an important and reputable leader, he must employ world standard strategies and techniques to achieve the goals he has set out. The Prime Minister has no faith nor regard to the illegal and futile methods used by the previous regime, nor does he believe in throwing around bags of money to maintain power – that much is certain.
Therefore, at a time when our country is facing a serious economic, social and political breakdown, we should be civilized in allowing the good governance regime – appointed through enacting our democratic rights and public mandate – to carry out their proposed reforms towards healing and rebuilding a prosperous Sri Lanka. Countries like Malaysia, Korea and Singapore are examples for where the citizens possessed immense patience and faith in the party leader, the party, or the council, while they enacted reforms which built a strong country in its wake.
However, all these reforms should be carried out according to the public mandate, and in relation to the power possessed by the Prime Minister and the Government; and there doesn’t seem to be any challenge in sight to the existence of the continuation of the government.