The President’s wish and reality | Daily News

The President’s wish and reality

President Maithripala Sirisena has stated that the people will be afforded an opportunity to elect a new Government in another five months and this time around they ought to make sure they elect a Government that would be free from corruption. Addressing a meeting which followed the official opening of the Nuwara-Eliya District General Hospital on Monday the President said; “A new Government was elected to power defeating the previous rulers on a mandate to eliminate bribery, fraud and corruption. Unfortunately the objective had become so illusive to the point that the people had started to brand both past and present rulers, as frauds. Since there will be an election in another five months, the people will have the opportunity to elect a new Government devoid of fraud and corruption.”

Of course, there are many who would endorse the President’s views in this regard. The people elected the present Government to power with much expectations. They rejected the Rajapaksa regime in the hope that the mistakes made by the former rulers will not be repeated, especially in the realm of corruption. That the public had been disappointed on this score cannot be denied. The local government election last year reflected the dashed hopes of the voters. It surely was a warning to Government to mend its ways. There was a good opportunity for the Government to redeem itself in the immediate aftermath of the constitutional coup where it appeared that the tide swung in its favour. However this euphoria too was short lived. The public is now left with no alternative but to choose from either of the two sides. This is because as much as the President wishes for the public to use their discretion in electing a corrupt free regime we are in all probability going to see the same old faces again in the fray.

By asking the people to elect a new Government the President certainly meant a new Prime Minister and Cabinet of ministers who will ensure clean governance. The President, no doubt, had in mind the sweeping powers that will be vested in the next Prime Minister in terms of the 19th Amendment. Hence his plea to ensure that a new ‘clean’ Government is elected.

But even the President knows that this is asking for too much. In any event the people have no choice in the matter. They will have to elect their representatives from among the lists prepared by the leaders of the respective political parties. Even if they dropout some from among present lot the leaders will know that the replacements will not be any different. This we say going by past experience. Therefore we will yet again see thugs, hooligans, thieves, rapists, drug dealers, musclemen etc. as candidates with a fair sprinkling of film stars to boot. This is because such elements are indispensable if elections are to be won for it is they who have what it takes to rake in the votes. The system is far too entrenched to expect a change for the better. Hence it is wrong to leave the decision in electing a clean regime only to the people for it will be Hobson’s choice for them.

The vicious cycle is going to continue until one day we have a mature electorate who will demand accountability from their political leaders. As things stand the voting public in this country are easily duped unlike in mature democracies in the West. The voters fail to see the larger picture but are influenced by mundane matters and even ethno-religious passions. Besides, it is difficult to visualize the public voting outside the present two-party system. Therefore, with both parties tainted, the chances are zilch at the moment for the President’s wish for a new corruption free Government to bear fruition.

The problem is exacerbated when one considers the fact that among those next in line to enter Parliament are the siblings and kith and kin of the politicians who have corruption cases pending against them. A good many of them, no doubt, will be among the candidates at the next hustings. Therefore, any chance of a new Government that will be free of taint, the next time around, as hoped for by the President, is already a long shot. Even the National List which was meant to accommodate scholars, professionals and intellectuals has been reduced to a joke by making this a refuge for sycophants and political rejects, with every party, including the JVP, guilty on this score.

In our book, only a National Government comprising all stakeholders, with a fair sprinkling of honest professionals will meet the President’s requirement. It is time that such a concept engages the attention of our political leaders, if the country is to be pulled out of the present quagmire. The National Government concept had also been advocated by the Maha Sangha time and again. It would also be a catalyst to unite the country’s largely polarized society. A National Government can also be the ideal antidote to the present strife caused by religious friction.


 

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