Having seen what happened in the past, it is not an overstatement to say that the Sri Lankan voter has become either indifferent to the crucial issues, or has become immune to the ill-effects, the system has been generating unabated.
The time has come now, to be more cautious as it has become necessary to prevent history repeating. It is the only way to make the politicians understand that the voters mean business, and that they would be rejected unless they become interested in reforming themselves. It goes for all the politicians regardless their parties and also for the few who can qualify as who can do something for the people.
Understanding the needs
Being a loyal and a long standing member of a political party should not be the consideration anymore. Giving such unconditional support, the voters sent so many to the Parliament to improve their living conditions and it is an obviously undeniable aspect that it was only the living standards of those elected became better. They may have personal satisfaction as they and their kith and kin improved their living. But, due to the way, the democratic styles evolved in Sri Lanka, most of them became non-entities and only flag poles. They hands went up the moment their votes were needed. They did not wish to upset their lifestyles and in the process they believed only in their survival. It was not just the constitution that made persons stronger, but the very members of the party who were ready to raise their hands.
The ‘party’ has to have answers to the ‘needs of the nation’, and all the members should have been capable of understanding what it was all about at the point of making policies. And then serving with commitment to ensure that no one could hijack a party the way one would want. In other words, the policies of a ‘party’ should reflect the needs of the people. Therefore, the personal capacity of each candidate should be up to the standards required as their hands have to come up only with seriousness.
It should not be misunderstood that all the candidates have to be experts on subjects linked to governance. The most essential part is for them to understand the significance so that they can be convincing others. That is where the experts come into the picture.
Role of experts
The team of experts available within the ‘party’ have to understand the total picture in relation to what they are individually responsible. Sri Lanka had enough experts in the past and has even now. But how many were effective when it came to policy making? It is not unfair to state that a person like Dr. NM Perera was unique in understanding the needs of the nation.
His measures were very logical and practical. He understood that there was no point in talking about bringing down the Cost-of-Living without stabilizing the rupee. His policies encouraged domestic production and encouraged exports in non–traditional sectors. While encouraging ‘Import Substitution’ which was aimed at conserving valuable ‘Foreign Exchange’ the encouragement given to export of non–traditional goods resulted in strengthening Foreign Reserves.
Be it in any sector, there should be a clear vision and it is for such a ‘Party’ to be elected through the election of the ‘Party Members’. The voters in the future should have two main concerns and those are – The answers proposed by the party and the members who have their dedication directed only towards the achievement of those. A ‘Party’ having good policies alone will not be elected if they do not have the right candidates. ‘Fire Breathing Talkers’ should not be considered the main strength of a Party. Convincing people through fair reasoning is different from exciting and convincing people to change their thinking.
At a time, the nation is warming up for another election, the voters have to be more mindful this time not to get carried away by entertaining speeches like in the past. The voters must not be carried away by religious fanaticism and racism either. It applies not only to the majority Singhalese, but also to Tamils as well as ambitious Muslims who think they are in a ‘Jihad’ situation.
There is already a President, whose stature may have looked uncertain initially, but now has proven that he has a mind of his own. And not seems to be shaken by odds. Divided SLFP is actually a development which proves the necessity that ‘parties’ have to be concerned more about the needs of the people than boosting individuals. People have no time for individuals. What they want will be what is good for all. If all the ‘parties’ are really concerned about doing only what is good for the people, what really matters will be the policies.
Can there be a better democratic combination than having a President from one party and the government of all represented by a committed set of ministers. If they do it wrong, the whole Parliament can act against them. If what is happening now was possible, why cannot such a position be realistic ?