Colombo Telegraph

Yahapālanaya Euphoria Short Lived: Friday Forum

With the coalition government celebrating it’s first year anniversary this month, the Friday Forum has said that the ‘Yahapālanaya’ euphoria among the public has been short-lived as the government has faltered in several areas which has caused deep concern.

In a statement issued today, Friday Forum, which calls themselves an informal and self-financed group dedicated to democracy, good governance, human rights and the rule of law’ has urged the government to ‘redouble’ its effort, and the public to continue to keep permanent vigil and raise their voice to keep the march to yahapālanaya on course.

“It is a year since voters confirmed their revulsion against avapālanaya in August 2015, which they had first expressed clearly in January 2015. The leaders of the political parties who committed themselves to yahapālanaya brought quick relief to a public who had been plagued by a denial of the rule of law and opportunities for free discussion and debate, so much the essence of democracy. Policies of the new government greatly improved relations among the several cultural entities that comprise this nation. With the Nineteenth Amendment to the Constitution, the public saw retreat from initial steps towards tyranny. It also saw the beginning, and some progress, in holding to account those who had held public office and brazenly broken the law, with massive abuse of public office and public property and corruption at all levels of government. Simplicity in behavior among people who held high political office was a most welcome change. So was the deft repair of badly frayed relations with other nations and the international community,” the Forum said in a statement.

“Friday Forum views with deep concern that that euphoria among the public was short-lived. Siblings were appointed soon enough to offices of high profit; friends were appointed to high offices of state whose misdemeanours and abuse of office were overlooked with ease; and advice was sought from among friends and colleagues who were too ready to satisfy the prejudices of leaders. Quick fixes were sought to problems whose solution required wide consultation with all stake holders. These undesirable practices inevitably led to glaring departures from established procedures, by-passing experienced and competent public officers whose advice and implementation capacity went unused,” the statement said.

The Forum noted that large investment projects, whose feasibility had been seriously questioned when initiated during the previous administration, have been re-negotiated, ignoring consultation with the people. “It is the latter who will suffer the ill effects of poorly thought out project activities. Political exigencies have installed a large number of ministries, wasting substantial amounts of public funds, making it absolutely necessary to establish working mechanisms for coordination among them. Their absence is glaringly evident,” the statement said.

Friday Forum noted with dismay that far too much time has been lost looking for a mechanism to replace the wasteful, construction- heavy, loan- financed pattern of growth which had then infused dynamism into the economy, but brought together with it, unbearable burdens of debt service and domestic government budget management, in the absence of income generation from earlier investments.

“These problems have been aggravated by far too generous additional payments to public sector employees and wholly ill-deserving and overly generous perquisites to Members of Parliament. Advice from short-term visitors, however expert and experienced, is no substitute for hard thinking on solutions to problems, which are mostly domestic in origin. Nor can large conferences with eminent panelists be of much help. The sooner government seeks solutions to these problems, the sooner is the public likely to see some fruits of yahapālanaya delivered to it,” the statement said. .

“Steps of the new government towards yahapālanaya are much to be commended. However, that it has faltered, in several areas, is cause for deep concern. Friday Forum urges the government to redouble its effort, and the public to continue to keep permanent vigil and raise their voice to keep the march to yahapalanaya on course,” the Forum added.

*The statement was signed by Dr. G. Usvatte- Aratchi and Prof. Arjuna Aluwihare for and on behalf of Friday Forum: Dr. G. Usvatte- Aratchi, Prof. Arjuna Aluwihare, Mr. Chandra Jayaratne, Mr. Priyantha Gamage, Ms. Shanthi Dias, Mr. Javid Yusuf, Dr. Selvy Thiruchandran, Dr. A.C. Visvalingam, Dr. Upatissa Pethiyagoda, Rev. Dr. Jayasiri Peiris, Prof. Camena Guneratne, Mr. Pulasthi Hewamanna, Rt. Rev. Duleep de Chickera and Mr. Faiz-Ur Rahman.

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