– by Shenali Waduge –
The nation has been discussing 2 issues but not a single person seems to have the guts to do away with either though everyone gives a nod that both are adversely affecting the nation. The first is nothing that has been indigenously incorporated and will always be seen as a stepping stone to carving out a separate state while the other is a bizarre system of electing representatives who end up killing each other and they happen to be from the same political party.
The signing of the Indo-Lanka Peace Accord signed in July 1987 did not deliver any of the promises it made. Instead it secured a dubious provincial council system that provides no relief to the masses in terms of productivity or service and has ended up eating into the taxpayers pockets while nurturing a bandwagon of goons and thugs throughout the provinces indulging in all sorts of crimes and even murder.
Be that as it may the question of legality of the 13th amendment itself gives rise to why legislatures are delaying seriously addressing the issue. Its not a case of making India happy that should concern the Sri Lankan state. We need to do what suits our country not what makes India happy.
The Government needs to realize that the majority populace dislikes anything that associates the country with India given that the people are well aware of how India can betray the friendship Sri Lanka offered. The manner in which India has betrayed Sri Lanka is nothing that the people of Sri Lanka will ever forget even if the Sri Lankan Government has forgotten. People are all the while alert to the Indian fishermen incursions, the Indian labor that continues to flood into the nation whatever excuses the Government gives, the Indian condominiums coming up spelling dangers of Indians likely to take residency in Sri Lanka, public official lethargy in monitoring Indian illegals and legals pouring into Sri Lanka, the unclear land ownership rights that would facilitate Indians marrying Sri Lanka women and taking stake in Sri Lankan state lands whereby incrementally we may find no land belonging to Sri Lankans in time to come, businesses now being taken by India and run including Sri Lanka’s famed Ceylon Tea, strategic locations given to India that rings alarm bells… the list goes on.
The 13th amendment is illegal because it does not have the clear determination of the Supreme Court which was of the opinion that a referendum was needed. President Jayawardena bypassed the Supreme Court ruling in particular Justice Ranasinghe’s judgement and went on to pass the Provincial Council Bill by parliament. This itself reveals the unconstitutional nature of the 13th amendment and the fact that the will of the people was totally ignored. The present Government cannot ignore the will of the people too. The majority populace are all in agreement that the 13th amendment was forced upon Sri Lanka by India in a terrorist problem that India created which eventually ended up an international proxy continuing to give Sri Lanka endless headaches by foreign destabilizing operators. We do not know who the enemy is now. That is the tragedy that prevails in Sri Lanka.
The country has become an open house for all sorts of destabilizing operations and it has become a tedious effort for the Defense Secretary and the Military to handle though the entire nation remains grateful to the service they continue to do.
The politicians are too naïve or busy with gathering personal goodies to realize the dangers and risks some of the decisions they take or do not take will end up for the nation in time to come. What can we expect when the quality of those that we vote to office is nothing that can merit any better performance. What is of paramount importance is that with all the loopholes in place India is forcing a Northern Provincial election and we are well aware with the LTTE proxy TNA contesting it is likely to lead to a declaration of independence no different to what Vadarajah Perumal declared as the North’s first Chief Minister. The Governments representative at the Northern election is to be a one time LTTEr and seriously questions how many votes he can seriously bring to the Government from pro-LTTE Tamils or anti-LTTE Tamils.
The country’s situation is further accentuated because virtually all key public officials holding posts are those whose background reveals a clear personal preference for ideologies that stand for separatism, devolution, federalism none of the ingredients that would maintain the unitary nature of Sri Lanka. A mistake that most Governments make is appointing such officials without taking a good look at their background bonafides.
Be that as it may it was lack of decision taking at proper times, delaying of decisions and the decisions usurped for personal gain that ended up with the country facing 30 years of bloodshed which lost a lot of unnecessary lives and affected the entire nation. That damage should not be repeated by decisions that should be taken and which are not for personal gain of a handful or because of foreign pressures. It is far better to reveal the truth and become a hero by telling the truth amongst one’s own people than ending up a traitor once the people ultimately find out the truth.
Get rid of the Manape too
The controversial preferential voting system turned out to be a headache to all political parties since its implementation by former President J R Jayawardena through his 1978 constitution. From candidates of opposing parties fighting each other to secure votes the new system ended with the same political party members of the same area fighting between them to woo preferential votes – the manaapaya system is a nightmare to both candidate and voter. Animosities are created between colleagues of the same party, political friends turn into political foes and in worst case scenarios deaths have also occurred.
The present Government has made moves to amend the laws governing local government elections and to do away with the preferential voting system partially at future elections (Local Authorities Special Provisions Bill and Local Authorities Elections Amendment Bill). This will mean that the electoral process will revert to the ward system under which 60% of councilors will be directly elected to local government bodies while the rest get elected on the PR system. Ideally, the PR system should be abolished in toto. The manape system has meant that only those with money can stand for elections because to woo voters the bribes and handouts are nothing that an honest candidate aspiring to lead the nation can match. Therefore, only those who are backed by notorious elements to secure their enterprises continue to thrive unabated and untouched come forward to place their stakes on any man willing to offer them exclusive protection status.
Nevertheless, the will even to go this far is commendable given the years of campaigning by national movements to abolish the system. What needs to also change is the type of candidates political parties nominate as candidates given the fanfare associated with nominations we can but wonder exactly how the general secretaries of political parties choose their nominees. The candidates that we are left to vote for end up unwholesome choices – people who often turn violent, over ambitious and surrounded by thugs and underworld. Therefore, whatever the system introduced if the candidates are of such character it is really pointless for a nation aspiring to achieve development status. What is desirable is the need to have a new team of young, professionals who are intelligent, well read aware of the global political scene and having the ability to reach out to the masses something that the elite of the post-independence lacked. It is not difficult for political party secretaries to know the qualities needed of its party’s aspiring candidates if it proposes to offer a genuine change that voters can accept.
By and large, all political parties remain on par in terms of the quality of those they select to run for elections and unless and until political parties seriously address and put an end to cross-overs Sri Lanka is unlikely to have “ethical” leadership.
If as a nation we are to progress there is much that the politicians of Sri Lanka seriously need to introvert to change before they go lecturing to the masses.