Towards good governance and Sri Lankan identity | Daily News

Towards good governance and Sri Lankan identity

Our Yahapalana Government is embroiled in an oil conundrum. It apparently has no idea whether oil prices, meaning crude oil prices are moving up or down. Despite the IMF blessed and much touted automatic price revision formula oil prices went up one fine night but came down tumbling by dawn the next day.

It was the Finance Ministry that increased prices and they were brought down by the President. Either the President was unaware of the price increase or he had come to know of it only through the media. We do not imagine a lesser minion deliberately keeping His Excellency in the dark.

The excuse given by the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC) was that it was not officially informed of the increase. It is hilarious since the CPC is the distributor and stockiest of oil. May be this is the Wonder of Asia or a small miracle, to use an old form of expression.

Another news item that appeared simultaneously is that the President has ordered the word SAITM removed from the degree certificate that would be given to former SAITM students after completing their degree at the Defense University. This also happened after the relevant Bill was passed by the Parliament.

There were also many instances of taxes being introduced and collected but changed soon on orders from the top. It was also reported in the press that pass marks at an interview to recruit Prison Guards were raised at the last minute when letters of appointments were about to be mailed, once again on orders from the “top”. What the “top” means is unknown. It is a hidden figure or a VVIP avatar.

All this shows that the government’s left hand does not know what its right hand does. This happens when the brain is unable to coordinate action or when the brain falls sick. It is the result of a brainless action. It is as alien to the concept of good governance as chalk to cheese. Instead of good governance it seems more like non-governance.

Agricultural Ministry’s rent issue

There is also the infamous example of the government paying an exorbitant sum of money to a sub-standard building to house the Agricultural Ministry. Rent was paid even before occupation and repairs. This is not the practice when renting a house for an individual wherein rent is paid for a house after occupation. No one rents a house years ahead. Major repairs are generally done by the owner or deducted from the rent. Hence, it is an example of bad governance. That it prevailed till the Minister was changed is no credit to the Minister who defended the transaction despite public opposition.

The three years of governance had virtually devalued the rule of law despite certain initial advances at the outset. The independent Commissions are under-performing or constrained by existing laws. Or else executive action overrides them. Flimsy excuses are given for law’s delays and promises are not transformed into actions.

Let me take a digression at this point. Our political leaders on either side of the divide talk well. For example they swear by their respective religions to develop a Sri Lankan identity and vow to even pay with their lives to secure and consolidate the territorial integrity of the country. But in action they behave as if the country is already divided. There is only a geographical union of territory or a unified land mass and islets belonging to it.

According to dominant political thought, Sri Lanka is divided, at least into two. For there is always a distinction between the North and the South or a distinction separating the Sinhala Buddhists and the rest. In this division the Sinhala Christians or Catholics have no place at all and they acquiesce in silence. An articulate group of Sinhala Buddhists want to practice ethno-religious hegemony over Tamils and Muslims.

In place of unity in diversity they preach uniformity through obedience or subjugation and at best through assimilation. Ideologically, the country stands separated de facto though not de jure. It would be futile to expect a Sri Lankan identity as long as the North – South division or the “We –They” approach is strong in the psychology of the public. It is tragic that well-known religious leaders and erudite scholars also espouse this division instead of attempting to forge a harmonious Sri Lankan human identity. They have silently forgotten the Buddha’s teaching that hatred begets hatred. Instead they poison the public mind with hate-mongering.

outcry over Vijayakala’s remark

It is this psychological division that is at the root of the controversy over former Deputy Minister Vijayakala Maheswaran‘s reference to a resurrection of the LTTE. The same thought has been expressed by several others in various instances and in various contexts but without such furor. Calls have been made to expel her from Parliament. The Judiciary is extending its long hand in order to grab and punish her. While former LTTE leaders such as Kumaran Pathmnathan and Vinayagamurthy Muralitharan are at large enjoying freedom, Vijayakala, a lady widowed by the LTTE killing her husband, is to be tried and “made a heroine” among the pro-LTTE followers worldwide with scant considerations for the political fall-out from such an event.

If it suits their interests the chauvinist forces would consider the Constitution a sacred cow. They are enraged as they allege that Vijayakala has acted against the Constitution. When political leaders refused to implement the 13th Amendment to the Constitution, which is now a part of the Basic Law of the land and call for its abrogation these very same people were silent.

Political leaders, both of the Government and the Opposition are engaged in useless debates over utterances of persons without discussing and finding solutions to the existential problems of the people. This happens to such an extent that the public is beginning to suspect whether these debates are by prior agreement.

The continuation of these debates would mean exactly the continuation of a state of non-governance. It is time for the people to seek an alternative way forward discarding these politicians to the dustbin of history.



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