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Citizens' Mail

Empower parliament with genuine professionals

In response to my recent letter to Citizen’s Mail titled as Cure vehicle mania of politicians published on March 13, an engineer friend of mine stated as follows:

“They do what they want. Citizens are helpless and suffering. They will provide answers at the next election.”

I drew similar responses. Therefore, I thought of writing a rejoinder.

Changing party in power every five years is like changing the pillow to get rid of a headache! Instead, we have to continue escalating citizen pressure to change this corrupt and unproductive electoral system, by bringing in genuine and decent, professionals with country at heart to the Parliament by replacing the disgusting ‘Preference voting system’ (which compels one to shoulder a huge financial burden to muster personal votes by hook or by crook!), with a merit-based, robust, ‘Party Nomination list'. With such change, many professionals with country at heart will surely come forward to render a professional service to the country.

It is evident that, though slow, changes are taking place gradually. The initial effort of PAFFEREL through ‘March 12th Declaration’ brought in partial results. The 19th Amendment engineered by late Ven. Sobhitha Thera too brought results though limited, after much haggling in the parliament. As we know, the opposition didn't allow the passage of much maligned ‘Crossover’ clause.

Therefore, I repeat that civilian pressure should continue to be applied to bring about this ‘paradigm shift’ in attitude of both politicians and the voters in order to change the existing unproductive and inefficient political administration system.

For instance, why should we continue the high-cost, politicization of Local Govt. Machinery with political intermediaries who merely add to waste and corruption without much cost benefit? I saw in the press that under the new ‘Mixed voting’ system the number of local politicians which already stands at 4,486 will increase by another 2,000 adding insult to injury.

Thus, depoliticization of Local Govt. elections is the answer though not the ideal. Why? Our present experience shows that, many Local bodies are running quite efficiently without them!

The remedy therefore lies in making the not so efficient 1.5 million strong public service more productive by developing their ‘Soft’ and ‘Hard’ skills through training.

The RTI Act which is now in force should no doubt compel the public service to become more efficient. In fact, it will replace to a great extent, the present intermediary role played by local level politicians.

If there is a bona-fide political will, the time is ripe to conduct LG Elections to elect apolitical, socially oriented, honest and respectable individuals preferred by the people themselves to act as independent facilitators solving people’s issues at local level. Then, this layer of political intermediaries can be phased out leading to a lean, cost- beneficial political Administration system.

On the other hand, in this era of vast advancements in communication technology, ‘Decentralization’ itself can become redundant in a small country like ours. However, due to internationalization of our ethnic issue, we have to carry the cargo of ‘Provincial council’ system! Given this compulsory element, let us make these ‘White Elephants’ more productive and useful to the country through a genuine process of re-structuring/re-engineering/rationalising.

In my view only a Government committed to ‘Yahapalanaya’ could take up this challenge and the mass media can play the crucial role of bringing about the aforesaid ‘Paradigm shift’ or attitudinal change.

Bernard Fernando



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