An Earnest Appeal to Sri Lanka’s Political Leaders

Mervyn De Silva, in a Memo entitled  “Suggestions for Good Governance sans Rhetoric”

Upon the wreckage that our country is now left in, even after a journey of decades since the Independence ,o ne has to design the structure of its future by laying strong cornerstones with strength and  purpose.  In order to achieve this goal you should focus on the following measures
1) Through a process of careful selection, assemble a team of concerned, patriotic, and educated politicians, senior experienced and nationally
recognized intellectuals and professionals, former administrators and judicial officers of the highest caliber and, clean & uncorrupt businessmen, who have
the capacity and the will, to place the interest of the country and the people before their own, at all times, in carrying out all the duties & responsibilities
entrusted to them. Honesty, Integrity, diligence, and faithfulness to our country’s goal will be the hallmark.
2) The Team referred to above, will be advised and supported by strong inter- disciplinary teams of local experts in the various fields who are qualified,
experienced, and, fully alive to the ground situation, and more importantly, committed to the country’s cause.
3) Those constituting these teams will be persons committed to avoiding confrontational politics and at no time will act in a manner that will be
detrimental to any individual or, organization on racial, religious, social or political grounds.

Major areas for a consensus.

1) The unitary state and territorial Integrity will be strengthened and preserved but, the principle of a carefully calibrated devolution within a unitary state as a means of bringing democracy, development, and peace to all the people will be explored.

2) Concurrently, the District, which is economically and administratively, the most viable and workable unit, will be strengthened .as the point of convergence of all state activities.

3) The principle of authentic democracy will be fostered and implemented right up to the grass root level, through local bodies that are constituted without political interference.

4) The two main minority communities will be helped to dislodge themselves from the hold of politicians, who have used ethnicity and/or religion to serve their
ambition for gaining power, at the expense of a united country.

5) The supremacy of parliament will be restored with all its executive powers as in the past.
A) The executive presidential system will be abolished. The 18th Amendment will be rescinded and 17 th Amendment brought in.
Immediate action to have the Independent Commissions must be taken. A separate Commission for National Economic, Social Development
and planning should be priority. The Commission will have men and material to function properly as the States Think Tank with a modern
operations room.
B) The Prime Minister will be the head of the Cabinet. The Cabinet of Ministers will be collectively answerable to Parliament and, through Parliament to the people. A maximum of 20 Cabinet Ministers, with an equal number of Deputy Ministers, and no more, is suggested. There is no need for an army of Ministers for a small country such as ours.
C) In order to foster mutual trust among all ethnic communities, power will be shared at the centre of the legislative process by a system of subject committees (Agriculture, Industries, Fisheries etc.). The participation of all political parties and, the members representing electorates with ethnic majorities, in the framing of national policy and decision making will go a long way to cement understanding and friendship.
D) Strict codes will be framed so that parliamentarians and others holding political office will have to step down from the pedestals they have placed themselves as super citizens of the country.
E) The media will be totally freed and encouraged to play a responsible role as the watch dogs of democracy and decent civil society. All laws inconsistent with the freedom of expression, publications, and information will be rescinded so as to function in the public interest for the public benefit.
F) A modern National Economy that protects national independence and recognizes market forces, and its failures, will be put in place. A pragmatic strategy implies a key role for the state, with effective governance.
i) Dynamic & sustainable development plans for each sector will be formulated by specialists and implemented by skilled scientist-administrators & managers.
ii) In the rapid and balanced development of the economy, National Entrepreneurs and the private sector will be called upon to participate actively, but, with a responsibility towards the Nation and, its people.
iii) The state will play a regulatory role to ensure that the direction of the economy is not prejudicial to the desired social order and value system. It should be open-minded, and, not oppressive in implementation
iv) In a politically democratic society, the economy MUST ensure food, shelter, health, education, and transport for all. Besides, it must be just and fair to the economical disadvantage, specially, the desperately poor, the unemployed youth, and our respected elders.

G) Restoring Law & Order. The laws of jungle are operative in every conceivable human activity in our country today. Restoring law and
order and discipline must be a priority area..
i) Ridding the country of the culture of violence that has engulfed our society, so that people can live without fear in peace.
ii) Restoring public discipline and ensuring that no one emphasis, on NO ONE, is above the law.
iii) Rolling back the unprecedented politicization of the public service in all areas of civil society and the social fabric at large.

iv) Putting an immediate stop to the shameful & wasteful use of public funds by politicians on extravagant projects, merely to enhance their egos and/or for the frivolous entertainment oftheir spoilt brats.

-Dr . Mervyn D De Silva –Former Director, Ministry of Plan Implementation and SLFP National List MP

*** THIS ITEM reached my email box and I am not sure whether it will be publicly aired elsewhere. It is an appeal from an experienced professional person driven by patriotism. Alas, the prospect of a Sage emerging from Adam’s Peak to lead earnest patriots to a New Socio-Political Order are nil.

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