29 January, 2022


Undue Focus On Negatives & Non-Communication Of Positive In Governance 

By Jehan Perera

Jehan Perera

Political attention at the present time is focused on two issues that are being used to create a sense of larger governmental failure. The first is that of payments made by a single business company, PTL and its subsidiaries, to a large number of parliamentarians whose number seems to be increasing by the day. Although the sums being mentioned are in the millions, which is very large by the calculations of ordinary citizens, they are nowhere near the tens and hundreds of millions that are understood to be part of every major infrastructure project, some of which have turned out to be pure white elephants, such as the Mattala International airport. As mentioned by some of the politicians whose receipts of funding have been exposed, the practice of receiving funds from business enterprises is widespread.

The other matter that has been receiving considerable attention is the issue of the targeting of media institutions, TNL and Lanka E News, by regulatory action. It is suspected that there has been a political motivation behind the singling out of these two organisations for adverse action. However, those who focus on this do not give their attention to the larger context in which freedom of speech and media has expanded from what it was in the not so distant past. In the same way that the PTL case is being used as a political instrument to target individual politicians so is the harassment of media institutions being used to target individual politicians. What is necessary is a wider focus in which actions taken to highlight and restrict corruption and the equal treatment of media institutions are made part and parcel of the system of governance.

This broader perspective is to be found in the European Union’s assessment of governmental progress with regard to human rights for its trading purposes and to see if Sri Lanka continues to qualify for the GSP Plus tariff concessions. This is a trade benefit that is given to countries that are making a serious effort to create a more democratic and human rights respecting environment within their polities. Sri Lanka has passed this test again, which is for the benefit of the country’s economy. The promotion of Sri Lanka’s exports by providing them with easier access to European markets is a way of promoting economic growth within the country. Export-led economic growth leads to a strengthening of the productive capacities within the country and compares favorably to loan-led infrastructure development which is often squandered on uneconomical projects.

EU Statement 

Following the third meeting of the Working Group on Governance, Rule of Law and Human Rights under the European Union-Sri Lanka Joint Commission, the EU commended efforts by the Sri Lankan government for its progress in protecting and enhancing human rights. The meeting took place in the context of Sri Lanka being granted access to the EU for its exports under the EU’s Generalised Scheme of Preferences Plus (GSP+) in May 2017. The EU noted that progress has been made by the Government of Sri Lanka in protecting and enhancing human rights and fundamental freedoms in the country.

The EU also pointed out that a number of important measures have been taken, including the operationalisation of the Office on Missing Persons, the ratification of the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and the passing of the Right to Information Bill. The EU also noted many important ongoing reforms, such as the replacement of the Prevention of Terrorism Act and reform of the Code of Criminal Procedure Act to bring them in line with international standards, and the status of the Constitution. However, it also noted that the full implementation of the UN Human Rights Council Resolution of October 2015, including the urgent return of land, remains a priority and expressed its readiness to continue supporting the Government in advancing national reconciliation.

The irony is that most of the positive developments that the EU has noted are not in the political debate within Sri Lanka at the present time and instead it only the negative ones such as bribe taking and political in-fighting within the government alliance that are getting attention both in the media and on political and intellectual platforms. The political scandals and rivalries within the government are being reported and commented upon in great detail. But the passage of new laws and formation of new institutions that will bring about changes in the political culture in the longer term are not being adequately communicated to the general population.

Each of these laws have been advocated for decades by civil society and human rights activists as being essential for good governance in the country, and they have come to fruition during the period of the National Unity Government. For instance, the issue of large numbers of people going missing during times of anti state violence has been with Sri Lanka from 1971 when the first JVP insurrection took place. Subsequently there have cycles of repression that led to more and more missing persons being added to the list, but with the victim families having no place to go to get an adequate response. The Office of Missing Persons has been set up as a permanent institution with a substantial budget and with commissioners with proven track records.

Alliance Achievements 

The new laws and institutions that the EU has noted, and which has the potential to transform the life of the citizens in the years to come, are the result of the UNP-SLFP alliance that is led by President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe. They have used the 2/3 majority in parliament that their alliance has made possible to pass the landmark 19th Amendment and also important laws such as the Office of Missing Persons, Right to Information and law against Enforced Disappearances. These are significant achievements and the fullest credit for them needs to be given to the president and prime minister who head their respective political parties and have steered the country to achieve these tasks which have earned the commendation of the international community and won their support and access to their markets.

There are many who are frustrated by the infighting within the government and its failure to take decisive action on its promises with regard to anti corruption and economic prosperity. They may believe that an end to the UNP-SLFP alliance is the way forward for Sri Lanka. However, such a break in relations, if it takes place, could take the country on another path of instability and uncertainty. It is necessary to appreciate and commend the Government of National Unity for its achievements that have been noted internationally by the EU and use those achievements for the purposes of reconciliation both within and outside the government. It is also necessary to build public opinion for them to stay together. The government has more tasks to accomplish which may still happen.

It is reported that there is rapprochement taking place between the UNP and SLFP, and the president and prime minister in which the two focal points of discussion were about fast tracking development plans and fulfilling the pledges made to the people ahead of the January 2015 presidential election. They agreed that there was a need for a limited common programme and to finalise it during future meetings. They reportedly spent considerable time on the pledges already made. That brought about a discussion on police investigations in both corruption cases and the abduction, torture and killing of several persons. It is important that systems be put in place and ensure that those who lead the country are those who respect those systems and not believe they are above the law.

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Latest comments

  • 6

    Dude. Jehan,
    Ms. Tamara Kunanayakam was so right to say that, Colombo Think tanks and NGOs are controlled by US funds and Fake reconciliation and economic development “advisers”.

    • 0

      Jehan has to come out and say something now and then to justify getting funds from these Western countries

  • 3

    Dr. JP: We need critical thinking in an era of Fake news, spin, and post-facts, and a knowledge and media industry controlled by big corporations.

    1. Your hero, Ranil Wickramasingha should be impeached for grand theft and destruction of Central Bank of SL.

    2. JVP’s Sunil Handuntti or AKD should run and be next Prez of Lanka if 20 Amendment fails – to abolish it!

    Post-war Lanka is a Land of Fake Democracy, Fake Development, and Fake Reconciliation and of course Fake Foreign Aid, experts and advisers who mastermind corruption and bondscams.

    Income inequality is growing like the foreign aid Debt trap and rupee crashing.

    Fake reconciliation and Dev. is a co-efficient of fake Aid and corrupt “Advice” that benefits Donors security and business interests (China, USA, India, Japan, U), and loans that induce massive Debt with collusion of Corrupt politicians.
    Today dev. aid model and projects cause Disasters and Debt– Financial and environmental Disaster, pollution, erosion etc. and Debt to impoverish people.
    This is the story of Foreign Aid, Fake experts and Debt trap to crash rupee on IMF advice. Meanwhile IMF warns China about Aid causing Debt in Africa! The Pot calling Kettle black – IMF and China Aid spat?!
    The Development and Reconciliation model is ” Colonialism by other means”.

  • 5

    Dr. Jehan,
    Did EU Report mention the stalled National Audit Bill, Or Economic Rights and Justice for all Lankans? ???
    They always play ethnic and religious identity politics to divide and Rule us – as in colonial times.
    Today all Lankans, Tamils, Muslims and Sinhalas, have one BIG common problem. Corrupt political leaders who use Hate Speach to Distract, Divide and Rule and loot mother Lanka with help of Fake Aid experts and projects.
    Also, what happened to anti-corruption experts from EU, UK and US to track down funds looted from Lanka by Mahinda Jarapassa family, and also those named in Panama Papers? Not a single corrupt Rajapakse was jailed.
    Its the economy Stupid – Get real!

  • 3


    You were anti nation before. have you reformed? No ltte links anymore? can guarantee?

  • 1

    I invite readers to a TV discussion named “Insight” conducted by a journalist Chapa Bandara. The importance of that discussion is none other than the invited guest is the present Secretary of SLFP. He is “Mahachariya” (Professor) Mr. Piyadasa – a “Product of 1956 Revolution”, as he himself says. He was referred to the proposal of allocation of 62,000 acres of land to a Investor to grow sugar cane, in Uva Wellassa. He , being a “Professor” and holding the position of Secretary of a major political party, without any shame says: “I don’t know about such move”. So what more, you think of these “Professors” and what more “Focus” on “Negative” and “Positive” Governance the people of this country expect. This is only one matter, but many more “Insights” could be gathered of the “FOCUS” on that “Positives” and “Negatives” on any type of Governance by these major political parties are going to institute in Sri Lanka, in observing the continuance of the programme.

    • 0

      This comment was removed by a moderator because it didn’t abide by our Comment policy.For more detail see our Comment policy https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/comments-policy-2/

    • 1

      President of Sri Lanka Sirisena yesterday (9 th) requested Britain to have London-based Lanka e News Editor Pradeep Sandaruwan Senadheera arrested or sent back to Sri Lanka, Sunday Times (10) reported in its front page.
      This Madthiri has already sealed the TNL ..

  • 1

    Political sarcasm or expected reality. May be jist garbage in expecting to be reality.

  • 0

    Another path to address the ‘national issue’ lost? Or is this a selfish attempt to survive?

  • 0

    “It is important that systems be put in place and ensure that those who lead the country are those who respect those systems and not believe they are above the law.”

    Will Jehan PhD confirm that if the Sinhalese think they are above the law, they should not be allowed to vote?

    Jehan PhD is, as usual, mixing here and bluffing with some big idea. In English a behavior is known as Penny wise Pound foolish. In Tamil, they say one knows where the needle is kept, but cannot find out Motor Bar.
    For him, 150,000 Murders are not matter to talk about. The signature given to UNHRC is discounted as not serious. If somebody talks about it Lankawe is threatening to pull out of UNHRC. Country’s 80% of the income is going to one single nation in the world, to China to service loan. Jehan PhD wants to hide these pumpkins in the plate of rice. He wants to celebrate a puny victory of Yahapalanaya over Old King, who lost the EU GSP+ but Yahapalanaya has restored by telling all kind of lies EU. That means EU would any time cancel the GSP+ though it cannot retake any tax it allowed.

    There is news that China is not happy with Mahampura Harbor purchase for 200 years. It is said that China believed that it was getting the neighboring areas free for it so it can develop and keep it permanently for it. This could cause another round of computer failures in the main departments in Lankawe. Is that not serious to talk about? Lankawe is rated as number one in areaways murders. It is number two in rape, drug abuse and abortion – a serious health and metal issue for young women. Lankawe was 175th in 179 countries in Media safety.

  • 0

    Recently there were beating and murder attempts in North East on media personal. Country is one in the 22 nation using rape as weapon. Country is one the 18 rated as safe haven for money laundering activities. The rupee is now 160 for a dollar. Growth rate is 3%, even in the falsified CB data. If one doesn’t want to talk about this, what do they honestly want to talk as countries problem?

    What is Jehan PhD thinking in CB looting is not serious enough to talk about.
    1.) SLFP & UNP’s all senior members are in that; No exclusion it seems; is that not serious?
    2). Minimum 120 Parliamentarians (50%) are suspected of involved in that; is that not serious?
    3.) A Rs 10 Billion was handled though fraudulent dealings; is that not serious?
    4). A smaller first Robbery took place. It was noted. Then they courageously went ahead and did another robbery, much larger; it that not serious?
    5). It was done with preplanning of employing a foreign worker with one year’s contract. Is that not serious?
    6).The main investigative commission in the Land on those matters, COPE, had found about it, to suppress any legal proceeding or parliamentary discussion, they dismissed whole Parliament itself; is that not serious?
    7). This was thought as a big deal by SLFP and its president loaded all the theft on UNP leadership and defeated UNP in LG election; Still it is not serious?
    Cone on guys, then it is Jehan PhD who is not serious writer; a hobby writer or a paid coolie writer.

    Can Jehan PhD explain why CB issue is petty for him but the whole country is evaluating it as big? We are not talking about that some media just trying to load this only on Mahendran or Ranil. But when the country is bankrupt is not serious somebody robbing the CB in this manner?

  • 2

    Dr Jehan wants our Inhabitants to not worry about Aloysious’s Santhosams. but to focus on Positives.
    Galkissa PS member gets Gunned down by the Pathalaya in Dehiwala.
    Karandeniya PS vice President get blasted with AK 47 in Urubokka.
    That is with in a one week. Just last week.
    How many Pathalaya blasts this year..
    No jobs, People can’t afford a Coconut….
    May be the elite class where Dr Jehan hangs out do not eat Polsambol. .

  • 0

    I thought Lanka E news is by a Tamil journalist who was really negative about the president. Lanka E news was similarly negative about Mahinda Rajapakse govt. when I understand that Lanka e News was either owned or funded by Ranil Wickramasinghe’s brother, I could understand everything. Only important thing is Sirikotha does not have to have a Advertising budget as What Ranil collect from businesses goes directly to the brother’s business.

    • 0

      Lanka-e-News operates only in English and Sinhala. There is nothing in Tamil.

      I used to think it could be Sinhalese paper because of its deep penetrated internal nature of the news it releases.

      Now, after New King was seeking his extradition like Mahendran, I suspect if the Editor is a Tamil. If not at least he could be a race-less(Not recognized as Sinhalese- but not Tamil) like Fernandopulle. It should be the problem he has to have the news media accepted in Lankawe.

  • 0

    EU big deal. I wish USA make for degredation of EU. they are bankrupt as country wise. they are now trying to build an empire based on free trade block. but, they are dominated by china.

  • 0

    Sri lanka has to give up greed ans should cut down the inflation, salary increases, imports by that way Sri lanka can reduce the dependence on foreign influences. country can be developed that way. One people are self sufficient whther you want to go along more hard awya be rich and suffer. Sri lanka should go against the failed economic models of the West.

  • 0

    So in other words this lout of a commentator is saying “hide all the misdeeds and faults of the govt including the massive corruption, and show the Tamils and Muslims how much the govt is doing for them How low and partial can a public commentator stoop to? This is incredible!

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