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Our democracy of seventy years and more has clearly left this country without political leadership of quality.


Lucien Rajakarunanayake

President Sirisena must be enjoying his stay in Britain, watching the campaign for the election of the next Conservative Party leader and Prime Minister, there.

Will he be getting new ideas for an anti-democratic leadership campaign for the SLFP, even the SLPP, and to again be the common candidate at the coming presidential poll?

His thinking on resuming the Death Penalty with four executions has been given a good push back by the Supreme Court, putting off such punishments till end October this year.

Will he be dreaming of another ‘constitutional coup’ come October, and the closer reach of the end of his first only term as Executive President, as promised at his swearing in as president, and in many statements after that?

Let’s put aside those Sirisena troubles, and look at the bigger worries that face the people today, as we see political peraheras being lined up for the presidential poll and the general elections.

The SLPP is trying to fool the people with silence about its next presidential candidate. We are promised the name in mid-August, and there must be many poojas and offerings to both devas and demons on the choice of this person.

Will it be a genuine solo-citizen of Sri Lanka, and not one with duality of citizenship? Are we to be given a candidate who was glad to renounce Sri Lankan citizenship, and swear to be an American citizen when this country was fighting LTTE terror, and later signed the ACSA Agreement with the US for Sri Lanka, while still being an American citizen?

It was two US citizens signing an agreement relating to the US and another country. The crookedness of dual citizenship in power politics!

Looking at the emerging presidential perahera of today’s politicians, it is clear that none of the performers, active or suggested, can be classed as true leaders of the people.

Our democracy of seventy years and more has clearly left this country without political leadership of quality. It is largely due to the two main political parties – UNP and SLFP – not building a second line of leadership through several decades.

After the tragic demise of Lalith Athulathmudali and Gamini Dissanayake, the UNP leadership has been one of manipulative politics and not genuine leadership. The SLFP was confined to one of family succession – after the assassination of SWRD Bandaranaike, until the emergence of Mahinda Rajapaksa as President in 2005. That change only brought about another family line up for succession, with no second line leadership outside Medamulana.

Sajith Premadasa is also claiming a paternal succession, with all the blatant publicity of Gam Udava and huge money flow from Samurdhi. He has so far shown no qualities of true leadership, even in whatever is seen in the ranks of the UNP. This remains so for Karu Jayasuriya too, despite his short record of challenging the party leadership, and jumping across the well of the House, only to return to the swing of the same leader.

In the three months of political chicanery left before the presidential polls, the public will certainly have to search for good leadership, away from the political corruption of the past seven decades, and find a person or a team of leadership with commitment to clean governance and service to people, not politics. This is a task to be done without any role for the current political leadership, and with genuine concerns about any future common candidate seeing who could take us to crooked disaster as Sirisena has taken us to.

If the Maha Perahera for national leadership poses these problems to be people, the Podu Perahera or Common Procession of those seeking election to the Diyawanna Kuhaka Ranganaya – Theatre of Crooked Performance – is another huge problem facing the people.

There may be one of two persons in the Diyawanna Theatre today who may be considered genuine representatives of the people – not more than the fingers of one hand. The overall reality is that the entire 225 – elected and appointed are vastly unsuitable to be returned to this political playhouse. The situation is made worse for the people by the changes needed for the electoral process not being carried out by the Sirisena-Ranil Team; and voters left with the District-wise percentage poll selection for seats in the theatre – the JRJ’s manipulative and corrupt politics thrust on the people in 1978.

Can the voters in every electorate and the larger districts find candidates suitable to represent the people, as many of our former MPs from many parties did? Are the youth interested in politics that paves the way to corruption? Do we have professionals with courage and commitment to serve the people and the country, away from the parties of the corrupt?

This is clearly not an area that could be left to our major political parties to handle or resolve. The UNP, SLPP, SLFP and the other political parties in the Joint Opposition, as well as ethnic based political parties largely benefitting from the JRJ electoral changes, are not the sources of candidates with a dedication to clean government. There is a need for a new countrywide search for good candidates, having an allegiance to serve the people against politics.

Are the organizations of Civil Society, of professionals, relief and social service workers, and religious groups committed to the teachings of understanding and service – against those of widespread hatred, ready to face up to these new challenges?

The history of our democracy is good on our very early gain of universal franchise, among the earliest in the world. But the record of our democracy is one of political manipulation reaching the netherworld of the crooked.

Do we have enough forces of the good in our land and society anymore to face up to the challenges ahead, or are we to continue with the processions of corruption and crookedness that has defiled our freedom through seven decades?

Courtesy:The Island