New Year and after
The Sinhala and Hindu New Year was celebrated on a
grand scale. A contagious spirit of festivity and friendship
filled the air through the length and breadth of the country.
In Colombo streets are deserted and many private and public
offices were running with skeleton staff since most employees
have taken long leave with no concern for the services to be
rendered to the people.
This tradition of taking extra holidays has serious
repercussions on the economy on account of valuable man hours
lost. It is a pity that this factor is glossed over in silence
by the authorities as well as trade unions. Such a situation
would not be tolerated in any other country. This is also a part
of the breakdown of discipline and work ethics in the country.
Political interference and patronage in the appointment and
promotion of public servants is one big factor that has
accentuated indiscipline in work places and eroded employee
enthusiasm and enterprise.
Since employees feel themselves to be just cogs in the wheel
with no appreciation of work done while those that have
political or other patronage rise up the hierarchical ladder in
the work place it is no wonder that they find it more at home
outside their places of work.
Unless a new culture of work is introduced and secures,
unless promotions and salary increases are tied to performance,
unless the bright and enterprising are rewarded ungrudgingly
this new culture cannot be created. It is necessary to do away
with political patronage.
Pasting posters during election time should not be a
criterion for employment or promotions.
There has been talk of public sector reform for several
decades. Both politicians and top bureaucrats have been speaking
about it. Yet with no example coming from the top the reform is
still at ground level.
The President has called upon everybody to support the
Government’s development drive which would get top priority in
the days to come. However, its success depends most on the human
resources that could be mustered for the drive and their pace of
work and commitment.
No amount of capital expenditure or foreign aid could drive a
project without the participation of active human labour. That
is why long holidays and slack working patterns harm the
There are many accusations levelled against the authorities
for wastage. Yet, how many consider wastage of man-hours of work
an economic wastage? This country would grow faster if every
employee, whatever his or her designation performs an honest
eight-hour labour. This is true of politicians as well as public
and private sector employees.
It is not a question of discipline alone. It is also a
question of attitude. Nor is that all. The lack of an efficient
transport service for employees to travel to work in time as
well as inordinate delays due to traffic jams are also causes.
Thus, a holistic approach to the problem is essential. The
system of constant monitoring of the progress of work is either
absent or it is only a ritual performed without any commitment
for better performance.
Now that the New Year and the festivities that goes with it
are almost over, it is high time that everybody gets down to
work in earnest.
Show no lenience
The people who went to the polls and performed their
civic duty are still waiting to see the final result. It is
denied to them due to the misguided and arrogant actions of a
few individuals who took the law into their own hands. The
actions of these few insolent and callous individuals are a
disgrace to the country and an affront to its dignity and honour.
The authorities should not sweep under the carpet these
misdeeds for the sake of preserving party unity or for avoiding
party embarrassment. Such persons should not be allowed to
escape with impunity. It would open the door for many others to
follow their example, even if the system of preferential voting
is done away with. It is such impunity repeated for the nth time
that has emboldened these few shameless individuals.
What is intra-party today may become inter-party tomorrow. It
is time to put a permanent full stop to all such misdemeanours.