President's new role for LG bodies | Daily News

President's new role for LG bodies

President Maithripala Sirisena’s plan to transform Local Government institutions to be focal points for the moral development of the people is to be welcomed, albeit with some reservations. Addressing a workshop attended by newly elected local government representatives held at Polonnaruwa over the weekend, the President said all this time Local Government institutions operated only for the purpose of physical resources development. It was his intention to make these institutions centres contributing towards the creation of a good disciplined society by ensuring the moral and spiritual development of the people. In furtherance of this objective a series of moral development workshops will be held for the benefit of local government representatives at provincial level shortly to establish a conducive Local Government institutional structure in the country, the President stated.

At the outset we expressed our reservations as to the success of this project. To guide the people on the moral path it is incumbent that the elected LG representatives be shining examples of moral crusaders and persons with unquestioned integrity. They should be in a position to persuade the people on the lines suggested by the President. In short, they should be in a position to inspire the people to lead disciplined and moral lives free of crime and vice.

But have we got the necessary material among our elected LG representatives who will be able to lead from the front, so to speak, in this endeavour? It was only the other day that a recently elected LG member from Anuradhapura was arrested by the police for dealing in stolen goods. It is now being revealed that one of the suspects in the shooting of national cricketer Dananjaya De Silva's father, Dehiwela Mt. Lavinia Municipal Councillor Ranjan De Silva was a defeated candidate, at the Feb. 10 poll. The former chairman of the Tangalle Pradeshiya Sabha is currently serving a life term for the murder of a foreign national while another ex-PS chairman is similarly doomed to spend the rest of his life in prison for the murder of an Estate Superintendent.

How such types will fit into the roles of guiding and advising the people to tread on a moral and righteous path is, indeed, difficult to fathom. Besides, how they will fit into such educative programmes like workshops too is beyond comprehension. For, there certainly cannot be that many LG councillors among the current crop with even minimal learning, a good majority of them, school dropouts, from every appearance. The quality of some of these candidates could be judged by the fact that their posters put up during the election campaign identified them by their aliases rather than by their real names.

This brings us once again to the perennial question that is bandied about ad nauseam among all right thinking members of the public with regard to malaise affecting all elected bodies in this country starting from the supreme legislature to the pradeshiya sabhas at the ground level -the quality of our elected representatives.

It is undeniable that all political parties nominate thugs and undesirables to contest elections and the recent LG poll was no exception. According to media reports there was a liberal sprinkling of underworld figures and drug dealers that adorned the nomination lists of all political parties. It is the end result that matters to the party leaders who opt for characters who can muscle their way to obtain victory for their parties. The uncouth behaviour and language used by some of our parliamentarians bear this out in ample measure.

More often it is the progeny, or, kith and kin of such types who adorn the lower tires of government such as the provincial councils and pradeshiya sabhas which invariably are the finishing schools for the juniors to take over when the time is ripe for their papas and mamas to leave the House by the Diyawanna. It is natural that some of their traits rub off on the offspring resulting in the indiscipline that we see all around, be it the parliament, provincial councils or the pradeshiya sabhas.

Hence, it is incumbent that the Augean stables be cleaned if the new role suggested by the President for the local bodies is to have any meaning. All would be representatives from parliament down words should be vetted in order to weed out the scum. Ideally, parliament should hark back to the days when it was adorned by men and women of social acceptance and good standing who were beacons of propriety and moral standing. This was the time parliament debate was marked by good humour and sharp wit where the parry and thrust dominated.

Ideally, the two major parties should give the lead in this connection. Parliament should be a place for professionals, academics and intellectuals, like in the case of Singapore, if Sri Lanka is to achieve her development goals. This would also have an impact on society at large. This country cannot afford to meander along in this fashion where mediocrity is allowed to reign on all fronts. The cleanup should begin from the local government level, if the President's well intentioned transformation is to take place. 


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