The Sri Lanka Parliament was dissolved, and the old set of parliamentarians appears to be behaving like a disturbed hornet’s nest, with fierce competition and bickering going on, concerning nominations of their names from the respective party lists.
The Chief Prelates of the Buddhist Monastic edifices, His Eminence Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith, The Bishop of Colombo, along with the majority of the public are requesting the party leaders not to recommend any previous tarnished names to represent again, from any political party. Everyone believes that ‘just by changing heads or names’ will not help Sri Lanka to reap the much-needed economic growth in the future by nominating the same old corrupt representatives to re-appear and turn politics into an industry and thrive on bribes and corruption.
The present political situation is somewhat chaotic in this country. The public has learnt the bitter lesson by getting fooled, over and over again, with false promises by the elected representatives, and also not affording any choice to the voters to choose their option, because the party’s ‘so-called election committee selects all the nominees’. It means that the voter is pushed into a situation between the devil and the deep blue sea!
Since Gotabaya Rajapaksa became the President of Sri Lanka, who was not a politician but a disciplined administrator with a military background, it has become clear to many about his future visions for the country. In an attempt to put a stop to foreign exchange drain from the government coffers, the very first thing he did was to ban the importation of luxury, duty-free car permits to all Members of Parliament, Provincial Council Members and Governors appointed by the Government. People believed this as a positive approach toward the resurrection of the country’s economy.
His decision to do away with the contingent of security vehicles that followed government ministers and members of parliament like shadows, shoving the motorists off the road, so that the parliamentarians and VIPs could travel at rocket speed, was also seen as yet another operation to cut down on wastage of government expenditure.
The outlay on government money on petrol and overtime payments to security parades was enormous.
The prohibition order also acted as a way of paying respect to the general motorists on the road. Until then, the recumbent MPs travelling in comfortable limousines happened to be in cloud nine, forgetting the fact that they were appointed to serve people by the people. The new President repeatedly reiterated to MPs and Ministers what their responsibilities and obligations are towards the people. It is where one could differentiate politicians from administrators.
In the immediate past, an ambulance used to follow the President wherever he travelled. That too was ‘by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa. The police squads, ‘ imported from various parts of the country to Colombo’, caused additional traffic jams especially during special occasions when the ordinary motorist had to wait until the President’s entourage disappeared from the scene. Such operations not only incurred additional costs in the form of extra pay, overtime and other subsistence allowances paid to police. Similar expenses incurred on security personnel, fuel used for security vehicles were countless. The ordinary citizens had no choice in the matter, but to grin and gaze at this extravaganza with horror! Did any of the parliamentarians sympathise with the ordinary people except they were hell-bent on seeking their cosiness? Putting an end to such nonsensical operations, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa accomplished his administrative duties to a maximum.
Covid-19 ( Coronavirus)
The latest Covid-19 ( coronavirus) is spreading thick and fast throughout the world. It has already affected the global economy to a greater extent. Many countries have declared ‘closed cities’ and airports bringing additional misery to travellers. Panic buying at Supermarkets and other stores show empty shelves. Sri Lanka will be worst hit if this contagious disease is allowed to spread. President Rajapaksa used his executive powers and managed to bring the situation under control. He implemented various restrictions and declared 12 hospitals as suitable to care for possible COVID-19 cases across the country; imposed a 24- day quarantine period for Sri Lankan returning home and banned visitors from several countries although despite it affects the tourism industry. On 15 March, he arranged a video conference with the heads of SAARC countries to explore solutions to the depleting economy and to discuss the fiscal recovery. Consequently, India voluntarily offered a sum of US $10 million toward fiscal recovery of SAARC countries. In an attempt to curb the spreading of the virus, a three-day public holiday was declared by the government on the 17th of March.
President Gotabaya Rajapaksa highlights his civility out of the plain white shirt he adorns. He did so even during the swearing-in ceremony as the new President of Sri Lanka. His initial foreign visit to India became a simple tour, minus additional displays or unnecessary accomplices.
He needs to clean- up the cobwebs in the public service by developing computer skills throughout all government offices. The right path for any country’s progress should include precise policies. Today the majority of government offices are working according to the old systems confining to written ledgers. If one visits a police station to lodge an entry, one has to waste a considerable amount of time until a sergeant writes down the complaint in the ledger. It causes a lot of inconveniences and irritates the complainant. Equally, the next citizen has to twiddle his/her thumbs until the sergeant is free. It is the very reason why people refrain from visiting a police station to lodge a complaint. Maligawatta Registration office is another example. Huge ledgers are nicely bound, according to respective areas, and districts lie scattered on the floor and racks of the second floor. A fire can quickly destroy millions of peoples’ birth and death records. In a computer-based office, all such records could be micro-filmed and confined to a cassette, thus saving storage space.
Until the people elect a new government at the general elections on 25 April 2020, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa will not be able to execute any of his designed goals unless he gets a new government, with a two-thirds majority in the Parliament. People witnessed during the Yahapalanaya regime, how the former president and the prime minister locked horns, especially after the 19th Amendment to the Constitution.
Recently, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa shared a meeting with the editors of print and electronic media. As an answer to a question, he questioned whether the ” independent Commissions were impartial? Referring to the conduct of an official at the Election Commission, he continued: “People saw how one of the members in a commission tried to promote his personal views as the commission’s agenda. ‘One is free to hold one’s views, but personal objectives interpreted as an official of a Commission by any member should not be allowed to interfere with the commission’s mandate; the country has to be the beneficiary.”
During the same interview, another clarification on the Election Commissioner’s viewpoint to impede all graduate training for jobs until the end of the general elections on 25 April 2020 cropped up.
The President was perplexed to hear about the Election Commission taking rash decisions even before the nominations. It would have been appropriate and logical, he said, had the Election Commission requested the Government before acting in such a manner to stop recruiting the graduates.
“ It is rather silly to obstruct the training of recruited candidates, and that would affect the entire State administration’. He further clarified how the recruits hired needed training to do their job dedicatedly. Concluding his argument, the President questioned the editors as to how the recruits could work without any training or having to wait until the general elections are over! Stressing further, he explained that recruitment of graduates was done based on their curriculum vitae application forms that suited themselves best, and solely on their merits and without being partisan or giving preference to any political party or a particular electorate.
During the meeting with Editors, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa attempted to explain the root cause of the present economic calamity, which commenced from the 1971 insurgency that erupted due to the prevailed economic issues at the time in the country. He explained how the politicians came up with their interpretations as the root causes of the rebellion. He, however, rejected arguments based on ethnicity. He then posed a vital question to the journalists gathered at the meeting by questioning: “Aren’t there any affluent Tamils in this country; didn’t some of the Sinhalese have to survive on ‘Murunga leaves”? To develop any economy and to raise the living standards of Sri Lankans, irrespective of ethnicity, religion or any other boundaries, a state requires proper policies. In this respect, all Sri Lankans are entitled to a decent education, healthcare and other services to live peacefully and with dignity.” He commented.
As people always keeps repeating, ‘it is not the politician but a hardworking, enthusiastic administrator as a President, who can see beyond his nose, but not half-baked politicians who appear as an eyewash in front of the public for five years’. Fortunately, the majority of Sri Lankans has appointed a proper administrator as the President in this country finally, who can steer the country forward economically & socially.
So, do Sri Lankans want to fall into the same pit they fell over for seventy years of various political administrations? The final opportunity for party leaders to choose a set of clean and perfect representative as candidates for the general election on 25 April becomes imminent. So, let the voters use their intelligence and allow them to choose the right candidates to form a stable government, which can support the novel ideas of the new President. Sri Lanka may not have another opportunity to rescue this country from the present catastrophe, during this generation’s lifetime, except it will remain rotting while corruption and bribery will continue to thrive. As the nominations are getting nearer, backbiting among political parties seems to be the order of the day. God help Sri Lanka!
Picture credit: Ceylon Today newspaper, google pics