After much haggling and wrangling the cabinet of Ministers was appointed consisting mainly of UNP and SLFP politicos for the first time in Sri Lanka’s political history. During the hectic election campaign, the members of these two parties traded charges against each other as corrupt individuals and thieves. Now, is it not amusing to note that these thieves have joined together in the bandwagon of the national government?
As far as I know national governments are formed in an emergency situation or when there’s a national crisis, a national calamity like the tsunami, etc. the best example of this kind of government was seen in Britain during World War II when all the parties combined to form a government under Sir Winston Churchill, famously referred as the British war-time Prime Minister. Ironically, he lost the elections held subsequent to the war
When our country was gripped in a civil war for decades and bleeding, and the people in deep despair and agony with bombs and bullets reigning in all corners, no politician came forward to form a national government. But the then opposition party ridiculed the attempts of the government which with steadfast dedication and immense sacrifice was battling against brutal terror. It did score a creditable victory for the ex-President to earn the deserved plaudits and encomiums for ushering peace which we all yearn.
Now, it is time. I do not see the logic of forming a national government. Such a government must accommodate all the parties in Parliament. In contrast, we find two main parties signing an MOU and calling it national. It is a misnomer. The correct terminology should be ‘coalition’. By the way, the UPFA never campaigned for a national government as its leaders was cocksure of winning 117 seats. There were three die-hard stalwarts of the leader who blindly supported him. Today, they have shamelessly joined, earning ministerial portfolios to enjoy all perks and privileges. This is how these jokers play politics. They sacrifice principles for the political expediency. They don’t care two hoots for the people’s welfare. This is true of all politicos.
Be that as it may. Since January 8, yahapalana has come with a bang like the JR’s Dharmishta of 1977. Good Governance has hit the political landscape like a syndrome after dethroning a ruling cabal that indulged in rampant corruption, wanton waste, reckless extravagance, rank nepotism, family bandyism, ruthless exploitation and kicked in the butt the rule of law, paying scant respect for accountability and transparency.
Let’s hark back. The common candidate, aided and abetted by the UNP and civil society groups, fought on a platform to eliminate the top root of corruption, nepotism, criminal deeds and to usher in good governance. Subsequently, avalanche of shady deals, misappropriation of funds, etc were exposed and the miscreants were hauled up before relevant institutions. Many are awaiting to face the music. What a change there was in the conduct of the recent elections compared to the previous ones under various regimes. The Commissioner of Elections and the IGP had a free hand to play their roles admirably without any interference from the incumbency.
As per the 19th Amendment, the stipulated number of ministers should not exceed thirty, yet there is a clause to say that in the event of a national government number of ministers could exceed. Even the common candidate promised to limit his cabinet and now having consented to a national government has to break the promise with the appointment of 43 ministers. It is said another five ministers would take office besides a sizable proportion of deputy and state ministers. The same old story repeated under a flagship brand ‘National’.
The Nation of September 6 shouted “the Mumbo-Jumbo Cabinet” in its caption depicting the cabinet ministers along with the President and Prime Minister on page one of the weekly. One of the reasons people sent home the former incumbent is because of his mega cabinet where there were corrupt elements, ethanol dealers, swindlers, rapists, shady characters and commis kakkas. Parliament should have been turned to a business place. The leader said he had files on them. One of them admitted they had ‘earned’. This black sheep has now enjoying the plums under the benevolence of good governance!
This is the reason why the President warned the new ministers not to resort to nefarious activities and indulge in secret deals of corruption. He said they would come under eagle eyes and the culprits caught red-handed would be hounded out lock, stock and barrel. Very easy to say this. To put it into action is tough. Come what may, he must walk the talk. This what the common masses expect. The previous incumbent molly-coddled these jokers in Parliament.
We all know the mild-mannered President is an honest politician with clean hands, enjoying an unimpeachable integrity. We hope others under his fold would live up to his expectations. Even the Prime Minister could share the kudos for his exemplary character and gentleman politics. The nation is fortunate to have two worthies of opposing camps sitting at the helm. A fine example of unity in diversity.
There is a flaw, however, candidates rejected by the people entering parliament through the National List. The President takes the liberty to appoint seven such politicos for whatever reason. Through this the number is 113 members, a working majority for the government. Appointing some of them to the responsible posts is icing on the cake! Oh good governance! What methods are resorted to in thy name? UNP, JVP and SLMC are in the same boat. This gridlock should be got rid of.
Now that about 70 blues have joined 113 greens, there is stability in the legislature to effect necessary electoral reforms, to pass the important laws and even to overhaul the Constitution. It is the fervent hope of beleaguered people the new regime will deliver the goods. We await with optimism the much-needed reconciliation with our Tamil brethren.
We expect the ministers and MPs to maintain dignity and decorum and put their shoulders to the wheel honestly and sincerely. Say goodbye to personal aggrandizements and dedicate for the cause of the country without tarnishing the image of good governance. Let’s wish them the best of luck.
M Azhar Dawood