Late Lakshman Kadirgamar, a distinguished lawyer turned politician as Foreign Minister told that relationships between nations should be based on mutual respect and affection; apply equally well to relationships between the Sri Lankan political parties in power and in opposition as the size, importance and power of the government should not have disproportionate influence on the opposition. It was this lack of good relationship with no mutual respect and affection to the other from the days of independence between the two major political parties soaked in cold war that caused bad governance that led the nation to the civil war. This phenomenon existed for seven decades should have disappeared with the Wind of Change that gusted in a new President in 2015 and formed a coalition between the two major political parties. Understandably every community wanting their problems resolved first, most Sri Lankans accept the reality that it cannot be done overnight as lot more changes are needed at all levels of power and some issues bound to take years to solve than others. But achievable if every Sri Lankan dream of the changes and cast their vote correctly, first to elect good candidates at the LG polls and with hope continue the work at all future polls until the change becomes a reality.
With the LG polls due next month bad governance continues as the government is caught with the wrong foot with no mutual respect and affection to their political opponents. Perhaps in 2015, the people who invited the President to contest the Presidential poll should have put a condition to rule the whole country as the Head of State, by telling him at the time of taking oath, to make a positive gesture by resigning the secretary post to elevate him above party politics and possibly frozen his political party membership at least for the period of his presidency. After all the whole idea of a change was conceived outside the parliament by civil society members led by a respectable monk and the politicians including the President were brought in for the ‘ACT’ as a necessity to bring back on track to democratic rule. If they had done that in 2015, it would have helped the President to guide the government to resolve many problems faced by the people and punish the thieves, who continue to deprive the country of good governance.
Today there is a coalition of VIPs in parliament, who had for years reaped the benefit of bad governance prior to 2015 exploiting the weakness of the governments with their activities aided by the thieves outside. Though the change caught them off guard, these VIPs did filter through to get nominations and were voted in at the 2015 General Elections to parliament by voters, who were as always dozed in party politics. They with few others who got in abusing the available national list system are sprinkled both in the government and the opposition. Thereafter these VIPs have managed to put spanner in the works on a regular basis, with crocodile tears in the well of the chamber and on the streets that the government is selling the country, dividing the nation and so on causing mockery in the House of Parliament, thus delaying many important debates preventing any good governance to occur for the past three years.
While the people expected the parties in the government to keep their alliance and face the LG Polls, regrettably the two major political parties have opted to face the polls separately, considered as a wrong move for the country and reflects they are of the same old mindset of the governments of the pre 2015 era; for it is not possible to change the government after the Local Government election as it is only a poll to elect representatives for the local bodies. The madness of it all is that the government is requesting voters not to invite more political turmoil by handing over the responsibility of running the local authorities to another party which does not administer the Central Government for fear that if another party is given the opportunity of running local bodies that party could sabotage the development which the central government intends to implement. Whereas the government should have selected common candidates with mutual respect and affection to each other political parties in their alliance and at the same time identify the faulting coalition of VIPs to the voters. That way people could have opted to vote for the government alliance parties and not for the twisted candidates backed by the coalition of VIPs.
In short the fear of political turmoil expressed by the government is due to these ‘Acts’ of the said coalition of VIPs in the legislature some of whom are in the cabinet. A Presidential commission was called in to investigate and the “Treasury bond scam” that implicated many coalition VIPs and others in the government administration is a proof of their bad ‘Act’. A political turmoil that has soiled the good governance promised by the government to the people at the 2015 elections. Another political turmoil occurred when the government took up the matter with China, on realising that as part of the countries that come under China’s ‘One Belt One Road’ (OBOR) initiative, significant infrastructure development could take place in Sri Lanka. Though there was no reason for any Sri Lankans to get agitated, including the coalition of VIPs in the legislature, who as responsible veterans in parliament should have facilitated the government to iron out problems, if any that comes up with any bilateral ties. Instead they openly choose to create political turmoil in the country towards the development activities that are to be carried out in Hambantota with Chinese assistance under the OBOR initiative. All done to prevent any investigations into the past wrong “Acts” of the coalition of VIPs in the legislature and their outside thieves.
The irony of it all is that valuable sitting times at the parliament were lost in the last three years due to the said ‘Acts’ of the coalition of VIPs in parliament monkeying around, leaving many major important issues were left unattended or half finished. The media gives irresponsible publicity to these ‘Acts’ , that project these actors as ‘champions’, that pollutes the mind of the average voters already dozed in party politics to cast their vote to these VIPs again and again, preventing the real change to materialise. Thus people are perturbed when the government put off all the issues debated at the 2015 elections back on the shelf till the local government elections results are declared; probably done knowing from past experience that any controversies could spark off polarizing election debates to their detriment. The moderates led by the Leader of the Opposition with their people’s political aspirations remaining unfulfilled, as a temporary phenomenon have accepted the government’s strategy putting off issues of constitutional reform and transitional justice until after the local government elections. But to the voters in the areas of these moderates, with unfulfilled promises, the government has no moral right to ask these voters to keep the government alliance going does not reflect well on the government.
Once again it shows up that the government is not serving the whole country and by default justifies the call for the system of government to be changed when issues of constitutional reform and transitional justice are taken up in parliament after LG polls. For many local authorities are already with parties not in the government and to tell these people to hand over the responsibility of running their local authorities is but silly and besides it is a matter for the voters to decide. The government must earn the vote by serving the people, just requesting amount to violating the rights of these voters. In an all-inclusive environment it would be healthy and a necessity under democracy to share power with opponents, a fact not understood by those veteran VIPs even after warming the seats in parliament for several years with all the benefits.
With the LG poll round the corner the clear message filtering through to wise voters is that the relationship between political parties be they in government or opposition are not based on mutual respect and affection in spite of 2015 change. As always it is when there is an election the politicians check their vote bank and look to their voters; the wise voters must cast their vote correctly to elect quality representatives to their local bodies, who could serve them to improve day to day life and their economic well being. Thereafter the government should resume reconciliation process and other central government related matters and continue with the 2015 change process to take country to prosperity.