28 March, 2020

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Unethical Mosstroopers Have Entered Politics & Running Governance – Part II

By Lacille de Silva –

Lacille de Silva

Man occupies an exalted position on the earth. John Adams had pronounced “If the meanest man in the republic is deprived of his rights then every man in the republic is deprived of his rights”. Abraham Lincoln, former President, USA, a statesman par excellence, who had led the nation, during the American civil war,  through its greatest moral, constitutional, and political crisis had said – “I am not ashamed to confess that twenty-five years ago I was a hired labourer, hauling rails, at work on a flatboat – just what might happen to any poor man’s son. I want every single man given opportunities”.  

He had added that “America will not be destroyed from outside, if we falter our freedoms, we will destroy America from within”. President Lincoln was responsible for abolishing slavery, strengthening the federal government and modernizing the US economy.  He had also said “with malice towards none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nations wounds”.   

Strong leadership is the capacity to translate vision into reality. It is a pre-requisite to achieve growth and development. A strong leader should essentially ‘walk the talk’. He should model good governance behaviour and demonstrate the commitment to achieve government objectives through accountable processes.  

I believe the ‘tone at the top’ influences virtually all elements of governance. We have a top-heavy government. The composition of the House of Representatives in USA with a population of 330.4 million is 435. In Indian Lok Sabha with a population of 1.386 billion is 545. We have 225 with a population of 21.44 million. Shouldn’t it be halved? It is a white elephant. Tax payer carries a burden of nearly 9,000 elected representatives at all levels.

The President, the Cabinet of Ministers are the ultimate decision makers of the government. The Cabinet ratifies all the decisions with collective responsibility. I am unable to believe Mahinda Rajapaksa, former President, said that he did not take pains to study the cabinet papers in detail. That proves they did not do honest governance. They have not been responsive to the needs of the country. They had failed to exercise prudence in policy/decision making in the best interest of the citizens.

They had violated the basic tenets of statecraft: (a) being responsive to public demands; (b) being transparent in the allocation of resources and; (c) being equitable in the distribution of goods. They were busy thinking of ways how to increase their personal wealth. 

It was our misfortune past leaders did not serve; they were served. When holding positions, they behaved as a superior class. They thought they were omnipotent. JRJ, the first executive President had said – “Only thing I cannot do is to make a man a woman and vice versa”.  Such leaders and their cronies considered they are above the law. They have ruined statecraft for personal gain.

Powers that be should know that they have been empowered to perform the assigned duties and responsibilities within the framework of the Constitution. It has been so designed to ensure that the peoples’ rights are well taken care of by these institutions, elected representatives and appointed public officers within the rule of law.  

The Constitution requires the entire system should fundamentally operate with the understanding that all elected and appointed officials, including the President are accountable to the general public through the Parliament and to the government. It is a good omen that the present Presidents goes through every word carefully in cabinet papers, as former President had hinted. 

The Cabinet of Ministers should only include the resourceful, dedicated, hardworking good people. They should bring their ideas, experiences, preferences and other human strengths to the policy-making table of the government – the Cabinet. 

There is also a need to democratise the oldest democracy in Asia, the model democracy then, by adding innovative resources to all democratic institutions. All have been weakened and malnourished. Good governance is the only possible path to limit and restrain state power to strengthen democratic governance. The application of doctrine of separation of powers is the finest and the best technique to establish good governance and say ‘NO’ to extractive type of politicos in the system. 

We now need a leader who is strong, courageous, fearless and farsighted. Shouldn’t we also as a nation take the bull by the horn, by taking the onerous task of re-building the Nation.  It is my personal experience serving people with humility and grace is the very essence of good leadership. Good leadership spells good governance, creates pathway to peace, unity, progress and development.  

President Gotabaya in his Manifesto – VISTAS OF PROSPERITY AND SPLENDOUR, it says – “The ultimate aim of all governments in the world is to achieve a series of desirable objectives such as reduction of poverty, healthy population, education for all, and a clean environment etc., which are among the sustainable development goals of the United Nations”. 

In UK, the Prime Minister, Theresa May, had issued similar guidelines that needs to be adhered to by the Members of the Cabinet. I quote: “The mission of this government is to build a country that works for everyone, not just the privileged few. That means putting ourselves firmly at the service of ordinary working people across the nation who are looking to us to step up and take the big decisions necessary to guide our country through this period of great national change.

That is what politics is all about: taking the big decisions, serving the people, getting on with the job. It is why I have spoken of the need to recognise the good that government can do and of what an enormous privilege it is to have the chance to serve the public in this way”. 

Successive Presidents and their cronies have hoodwinked the masses and destroyed the rule of law, demolished almost all democratic institutions and had been complicit in brazen acts of corruption. Transparency International defines corruption as the use of entrusted power for private gain. Shouldn’t we therefore adhere to advice of PM Theresa May from now onwards?

Corruption that had taken place in our country could be classified as grand, petty and political. The blatant abuse of power has undermined the political system and skewed it toward the politically connected at the expense of everyone else. Top elected officials and their misconduct has created the need to begin more significant reforms, if there is sufficient political will with the newly elected President.

President Gotabaya’s resounding election victory should therefore usher in long-awaited meritocratic government which will be responsible to create, internationally respectable government and the promised land of unity with financial probity, security, peace, progress, happiness and development. President Gotabaya should ensure -:

1. Public debt which has exceeded manageable limits should be re-scheduled to be maintained at fiscally sustainable levels to ensure that the delivery of programs, projects and services are not adversely impacted;

2. Financial risks should be managed prudently;

3. A fiscal decision-making system that is rational, fair, efficient, credible, transparent and accountable should be maintained and

4. Government will only authorize to borrow for the following purposes:

a) Short-term – operational requirements

b) Long-term – Infrastructure investments

c) Long-term    – self-liquidating investments

d) Short-term/long-term – self-sustaining loan programmes

Lawlessness and corruption should become a thing of the past. Hence, executing the laws according to the letter of the Constitution and providing the ideal service to our motherland should be the name of the game.  

I strongly believe we need an honest visionary leadership with political will and altruistic enthusiasm to combine all our energies to uplift our ransacked motherland. A purposefully drawn up, well-planned, orchestrated, bold, pragmatic, persistent program of action is the need of the hour.  Gotabaya government should therefore usher in justice, peace and end impunity. 

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa should necessarily create a meaningful, efficient, effective ethical political network to restrain the abuse of power, and produce socioeconomic development policies which could reduce weighty social inequities and contribute to sustainable peace, economic growth, political stability and social development.  

The Parliament and public sector should play their key role for the government and for the benefit of the citizens. This has not been done. They have disgracefully disregarded the fact that the public sector and the Parliament should essentially win the confidence of the masses and their endorsement. Both Parliament and the public sector need a paradigm shift to embrace professionalism and know-how and undergo significant reforms without delay to fulfil the new President’s goals.

Let me quote in regard to the post-Watergate reforms carried out after the doomed presidency of Richard Nixon. The US authorities had expeditiously done several reforms to introduce new measures to combat the corrupting influence of big money in politics by promoting transparency, protecting people against abuses of government power and limiting certain extraordinary exercises of presidential authority. They had created the Federal Election Commission (FEC) too and had introduced limits on election expenditure etc.  

The Inspector General Act was quickly enacted as a means of strengthening integrity and accountability in the Executive Branch. Wide-powers had been granted to carry out audits and investigations and report the outcomes and make recommendations to promote economy, efficiency, and effectiveness. This agency had thereafter been able to save billions of dollars, propose transformational reforms and prosecute thousands of offenders throughout USA. Why is that we don’t act like in USA?

The then Chief Justice Earl Warren (USA) had said “If anything is to be learned from our present difficulties, compendiously known as Watergate, it is that we must open our public affairs to public scrutiny on every level of management. It was in this vein that congress passed two separate laws to enhance government transparency. The first of these laws, the Federal Advisory Committee Act – enacted before Nixon even left office – sets out rules requiring certain processes for federal advisory committees to ensure that advice by the various advisory committees formed over the years is objective and accessible to the public”.

There is enough empirical evidence in countries like Sweden how they have succeeded in creating employment, reducing the budget deficit etc. Their government, which was elected in 1994, amidst a severe economic crisis had remediated all policies, and had achieved resounding success having eradicated the budget deficit just in a few years. The Swedish economy had quickly gathered growth speedily and unemployment too had fallen. 

It is therefore vital to seek maximum co-operation from both elected and appointed public officers to revise, renew and implant new policies, principles, values, mission and the purpose of the public service with new dynamism and strength. These need to be fortified with honesty, trust and openness to win the hearts and minds of the people.

It is essential that the entire public service needs to be re-organized totally to become a much more dynamic and responsive organization. Sadly, the top layer in the governance system lacks leadership capabilities including professionalism. We also shouldn’t think of there being only two sectors of society, the state and the marketplace – which I mean is both the public and private sectors. How about the civil society? To take the country forward, shouldn’t we build our democracy with their total support and approval too. Former Prime Minister of Great Britain had said – “Don’t follow the crowd, let the crowd follow you”.

*To be Continued….

Prat I – Unethical Mosstroopers Have Entered Politics & Running Governance

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Latest comments

  • 6
    3

    I hope this general election will be one waking up election for the voter. 1977, it is being legislatively set up. Sri Lanka has the most hilarious political system in the world. It is simply a JOKE. Unintelligent run it. So, they take immense pride it. Otherwise, four levels of elections, The last level of local election is dysfunctional and it can not be set up to function. Both the provincial system and the parliamentary system are made of crooks, criminals, cheaters and fraudsters. Political parties are Mafia Organizations. Mafia leader is always a very good gentlemen. They carry a little cat to say, I HAVE LOT OF HART. They are very generous too. Only so many know how ruthless they are and how they got rich.
    Anyway, Sri Lanka needs a functioning political system – that is not to the politicians, but to the country. Forget the 9000 politicians, their henchmen and their extended families want to work for Sri Lanka, we need smaller parliament.
    The govt can fulfill the need of input from others by conducting many working committee meetings all over the country similar to those of LLRC.
    This corrupt and dysfunctional system which provides employment to crooks must be stopped.

  • 8
    1

    First of all, Gotabaya is anti-democratic. Those who voted for him were not motivated by his democratic vision to serve all peoples of this country because he had no such vision; in fact, his vision was clearly just the opposite. 47.75% of the voters did not vote for him. He nonetheless has the responsibility of serving the entire country. He is ignorant of it. He doesn’t care for it.

    Even if Gotabaya were to acquire such noble characteristics, he is inept; he’d done a good job of fooling those adoring voters to think he had all the answers. He doesn’t. Case in point, he has just called on researchers to research an economic model that will work for SriLanka! How long is this research going to take to arrive at a model and how long will it take to implement the model and see it bear fruit? And what is the guarantee that it will bear fruit? Is SriLanka so unique in the region that the academics need to research out a model?

    And social policies? Militarisation seems to be the key theme.

    Meritocracy? Mostly cronyism and nepotism thus far.

    Whining and pining for 2/3rd parliamentary majority for SLPP? And shamelessly blames his ineffectiveness entirely on it.

    If the executive presidency requires a 2/3rd majority of its own party in the parliament to be effective, then clearly we need to abolish the executive presidency and adopt a truly democratic parliamentary system that can enable bipartisan cooperation.

    • 0
      5

      Stupid comment. You are just may be Yahapalanaya Gunda.
      In competant politicians run it. I am not sure, where the IMF/ADB inatructions which comes with their loans come with PROMOTE THE CORRUPTION CLAUSE or the instructions indirectly says it or promotes it. Western business are set up to bribe and get business.

      • 2
        0

        And you’re calling others’ comments as stupid!

  • 6
    0

    Let us accept it both SWRD and JRJ set this country on fire.That was to save face to cover up the economic the crisis the country was walking into. JRJ’s open economy was a failure, Mrs B initiated many projects, which may have had their short coming. The solution was not to destroy them or hand them over to their friends in order to destroy them, but to introduce measures to improve.JRJ started by distributing govt owned lands among his friends.I overheard to one party, who boasted that the large rubber property he got, he obtained govt assistance to replant.There was no replanting the Rubber trees were sold and the land fragmented.The story of the Textile Coproration and the Paper Mills corporation w as similar. Read Gavin Karunaratne former GA Matara on the damage done to the country’s economy.
    The worst damage was the closure of the Fertilizer Manufacturing Corporation by Ronnie de Mel.Mel shoul;d be prosecuted for treason for what he did.

    • 8
      0

      JRJ when he introduced the Executive President form of Govt, he said that he copied both the French and the US form of Executive Govts.

      That was a lie.

      As far as I am aware, in the US when the President is elected, he forms his cabinet from those intellectuals, people who had delivered in life, Ther are specialists in their fields.One post of Secretaryship is reserved to a member of Opposition party.Secretary Kerry was from the Republican party in Obama’ s Cabinet. Obama was from the Democratic party.

      President Obama had Steven Chu a Nobel Prize winning physicist as he Sec of energy.

      In France, when the cabinetis formed, if a sitting member of the parliament is selected, he has to resign from his seat in the parliament.

      These strictures had been introduced to make the Administration Proffessional.

      What did JRJ do- he created a form of cabinet where the cabinet members could be corrupt, manipulate the system for the Minister, for the Party and for the Minister’s family. The manner in which JRJ turned the Not Guilty verdict imposed on Mrs B by bringing in a new legislation over night was a good example.

      There had been calls to change the constitution, in fact 19th amendment was said to be one. But no body want to change the basic philosophy, have a subservient parliament to fill each other’s pockets.

  • 6
    0

    JRJ when he introduced the Executive President form of Govt, he said that he copied both the French and the US form of Executive Govts.

    That was a lie.

    As far as I am aware, in the US when the President is elected, he forms his cabinet from those intellectuals, people who had delivered in life, Ther are specialists in their fields.One post of Secretaryship is reserved to a member of Opposition party.Secretary Kerry was from the Republican party in Obama’ s Cabinet. Obama was from the Democratic party.

    President Obama had Steven Chu a Nobel Prize winning physicist as he Sec of energy.

    In France, when the cabinetis formed, if a sitting member of the parliament is selected, he has to resign from his seat in the parliament.

    These strictures had been introduced to make the Administration Proffessional.

    What did JRJ do- he created a form of cabinet where the cabinet members could be corrupt, manipulate the system for the Minister, for the Party and for the Minister’s family. The manner in which JRJ turned the Not Guilty verdict imposed on Mrs B by bringing in a new legislation over night was a good example.

    There had been calls to change the constitution, in fact 19th amendment was said to be one. But no body want to change the basic philosophy, have a subservient parliament to fill each other’s pockets.

  • 3
    0

    A boat on an even keel has a very good chance of sailing smoothly,
    While a boat loaded on one side tends to tilt.
    Let us hope Sanity prevails and Democracy Thrives.

  • 5
    0

    Lucille, I sincerly admire your thoughts and intent. But as a well experienced civil servant with years of public service behind you, I am sure you are hoping for a long due radical change in our whole political system, the way voters think and a better model in governance which is too much to ask for. All this you expect to come from one single individual and it has be GR who is the President. The reality is the same peerson and his family had a decade to at least initiate this change and what we saw at the end was the same people dismantling the already broken system. Take a look at the new appointments, and you see the same old clowns who are back promising changes. Prior to that we had RW/MS who were elected promising the same. Lankans in general believe in doing the same again and again expecting a different result. We have gone way too far and there is no point of return. One of the reason the numbers swelled to 225 is for bargaining, offering position for support, horse trading, getting 2/3, breaking up opposition and now a MP seat is used as a bribe to buy their allegience. Hence you see our MP,s jumping much frequently than their ancestors.This is what our Lankan politics is about.

  • 4
    0

    A side question. Was Lincoln’s decision to abolish slavery was, at least in part, due to the fear that continued importation of African slaves would upset the demographics in the US, making the Africans the majority eventually? Was it also not the reason for repatriating slaves back to the African continent, to the newly created Liberia? Did Lincoln fear a slave uprising, as in Haiti in 1791, and take over the US (or parts of it)? In many lofty acts, self-interest is the driving force; goodness and moral principles, more often than not, is just a façade to hide a deeper objective. And so it is, in our neck of the woods.

  • 4
    0

    CBG, you may be right. My question is, if Lincoln didn,t bring civic rights for all , do you think any President after him , would have done the same. I sincerely doubt it. (definitely not Trump ????). We also have to keep in mind Lincoln first had to win the Civil war to implement what he thought was right. Obama, had stated many times that if not for Lincoln it would have taken that many years more for a black to become President. Hence he started his campaign at the very same site where Lincoln began and his maiden address too was in Chicago where exactly Lincoln addressed the nation as a president.. Finally Lincoln had to pay the price, where he was assassinated by a white fanatic. Last but not least remnants of Major Lee (white supremacy) are still plenty in US and prime example will be Trump and his cohorts. The difference is , US was fortunate to have a Lincoln where as we Lankans never had.

    • 3
      0

      chiv. How right you are. With the change of the Govt in 1956, the contextas of the History book was changed.The names of the kings were changed and new geneology introduced.
      We never had Leaders, the exception is one or two but they too were not fully fledged.

  • 0
    0

    Mr. Lacille de Silva –”That is what politics is all about: taking the big decisions, serving the people, getting on with the job. It is why I have spoken of the need to recognise the good that government can do and of what an enormous privilege it is to have the chance to serve the public in this way”.
    Do you truly believe that with the set of guys in politics, Parliament Govt and Opposition, Local Govt Govt and Opposition and the buddhist priests who seem to think that they run the country, it is possible to create a good government system even if we have a dedicated leader.

    What N.Kodituwakku proposed was right and appropriate.With the presidential election the present constitution should go. If one wait for the guys in the parliment to vote for a good Constitution at least one like the Soulbury, one is waiting for a long night.

    The only system to get it through is to copy Gen Cromwell.

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