The local Govt. elections have now been postponed for more than a reasonable number of times, riding on the excuse that the ‘De-limitation Exercise’ is not complete. It has led to suspicions among even ‘Yahapalana’ activists that the govt. is waiting for a suitable time to obtain the election results in its favour.In an environment of party politics such as in Sri Lanka, the successive governments have been resorting to such tactics since inception.
Given this scenario, we as citizens see several political pundits and civil activists writing and dwelling at length on analyzing the symptoms of the problem without properly diagnosing and suggesting solutions to overcome such problem. Unfortunately, even the media seem to be carried away by the purely academic nature of such submissions and devote valuable space and prime-time to the readers and the viewers who are more interested in solutions.
In this instance, the solution to this vexed problem in our view is, to de-politicise local govt. bodies and hold elections with all candidates contesting as Independents so that political parties need not worry about the results. This is the initial step to changing our corrupt and unproductive political culture which the civil society should advocate and push.
No doubt, such a paradigm shift cannot be done overnight, but we should gradually install robust supporting mechanisms to achieve the desired result. This is one such mechanism as the people at local level need genuine, respectable and acceptable facilitators (Not Politicians) to meet out justice to their problems, if any, they encounter with the Local Govt. machinery and the rule of the law.
The politicos, who are hell-bent on expanding their unproductive lot or the fraternity, are very likely to oppose this solution, stating that local bodies and provincial councils are the nurseries for identifying and growing national level politicians. Although there is some truth in it, we must remember that many of those who directly entered the National Parliament have performed their primary role as law-makers better than some of those who graduated from the ranks.
This change of system will certainly compel the political parties to nominate the much desired, genuine professionals to the National legislature who will work assiduously to introduce the necessary laws and systems to ensure an efficient Public service, Police and a Judiciary while managing the finances to the benefit of the country and its people.
It is heartening to note that some civil organizations such as the ‘Paffrel’ did initiate a meaningful step through their ‘March 12 Declaration’ though with limited results. In this regard, I have also appeared before the public committee on constitutional reforms and given my proposals for electoral reforms which were published in the press and e-mailed to a concerned few.
The sad irony is some of them have not even cared to acknowledge receipt. In my view, the said paradigm shift in our out- dated political culture can no doubt be facilitated with the implementation of those proposals.
We as citizens with the country at heart are more interested in seeing a productive and an effective political system in place than seeing a particular Political party in power. It is evident that the politicians in this country have taken the voting public for a ride, making them helpless onlookers after electing a party to govern the country. The civil society should now take the bull by its horns; another cultural change that should happen!
Bernard Fernando Moratuwa