Good Governance is Good Politics,Mr.President,Not Necessarily the Other Way Around




“When you’ve told someone that you’ve left them a legacy the only decent thing to do is to die at once.”

~Samuel Butler

Politics refers to achieving and exercising positions of governance — organized control over a human community, particularly a state. Once you achieve the position of governance, how you manage it, governance, to the best of those who are governed is good governance. But when politics assumes a superior power over governance, you get something akin to what we have today in Sri Lanka- the uneducated trying to teach the educated; the incompetent dictating to the competent, the corrupt corrupting the incorruptible and the tail wagging the dog!

This all-pervasive phenomenon has seeped into every possible layer of society and in the process of that oozing, without its knowledge, each layer is being eaten into, in a manner akin to a bookworm destroying some priceless writings of a celebrated author of yesteryear.

The utter magnitude of destruction initiated against the very fabric of our value system is increasing at alarming dimensions. The smallest schoolboy is becoming part and parcel of the system that is replacing the old: he is bartering his pocket money for a packet of drugs; pawning the stolen bangles of his mother for a couple of drams of illicit arrack and he is engaged, on a fulltime basis, in doing away with the values taught at bedtime by his mother for some merchandize he thinks is more ‘valuable’.

He has willy-nilly become an essential ingredient in the recipe for total destruction of a culture that his leaders, who are more corrupt than a rotten tomato in a barrel of grime, are preaching about from the top of political platforms. This habit of pontificating from their chosen platforms is a cardinal trait of all politicians. Mostly because people tend to believe that all politicians are role models and their second generation should follow them as heroes.

In a country and at a time when we are starved of idols whom the younger generation could look up to and hero-worship, these uncouth merchants of nepotism, corruption and violence whose newly-gotten wealth and power exceeds even the fantasies of most optimistic dreamers, roam the streets in their brand new limousines attracting the envy of those who continue to dream and portray themselves as ‘know-all’ philosophers and historians and gurus.

The vacuum that has been created by the demise of great leaders along with the death of that culture that gave birth to, nursed and nurtured those leaders into limelight and life, is getting overflowingly filled by the aforementioned ‘half-past-two-thirty’ politicians. For these politicians, the fate of the country and its people are secondary; the people’s, aspirations, hopes and dreams are being shattered and a brand new culture, a culture based on proximity to power, liquid cash and other tangible assets, both material and ‘human’, is playing a decisive and conclusive role in identifying, selecting and executing massive infrastructure projects; that culture is determining as to who gets what project at what commission; that culture is manufacturing the rules of the game and this culture has captured every breathing moment of the topmost officials of the Government as well as the lowest, from Secretary to Ministry to the grass-root level Grama Niladhari.

This culture has caught hold of the Daya Masters, the KPs, the Karunas and the Pillayans lock stock and barrel, and converted these one-time criminals into the ‘pets’ and favorites of the regime. Their power is more widespread and throat-throttling than it was ever dreamt to be possible. Their gruesome and frightening history has been turned into forgotten chapters of ‘also happened’. Their crimes and atrocities are not referred to even in tabloids and/or spurious emails.

Their purification has begun with their close identification and association with the ‘Defense Establishment’ of the country and even the so-called ‘messiahs and guardians’ of the Sinhala race, Jathika Hela Urumaya is conspicuously muted on the issue. The silence, on the part of the Ranawakas and the Weerawansas, on the inhumanities caused to the Sinhalese, especially the Buddhist clergy, by these ex-LTTE soldiers of torture, mayhem and murder speaks more voluminously than the most vocal oratory.

While that new culture has created this bizarre environment in the North, the rest of the country is witness to the most alarming rise of pacifism and political and social apathy and complacency among the Sinhalese population bent on making merry while sun shines. That again is part of that new culture. The majority of the people, at least in the South, cannot be bothered with the morals of society. Such luxuries are too foreign and uncomfortable for them. Making a buck when it is possible and making it in the fastest possible time takes priority over everything else.

No sane person would advocate giving up all mundane pursuits and retiring into a recluse’s life. Nevertheless, observation of basic human covenants and adherence to a reasonable degree of ethical and moral conduct is expected of every person if he or she were to be accepted as a responsible fellow of the human family. When their elected leaders show the way by example on how to steal, how to cheat, how to intimidate and how to prosper by whatever means available to one, the ensuing degeneration is certain and inevitable.

When the Parliamentary corridors are crowded with the Dumindas and Mervyn Silvas, when the Provincial Council halls are occupied by the Ananda Sarath Kumaras, when Pradesheeya Sabha members are queuing up in a line of bribe-takers and women-molesters, the higher-ups are continuing the usual carnival-spending and gambling with the people’s choices. Senior Police officers, as high as Deputy Inspectors General are accused of being ‘contract killers’ and their spouses are making a circus of it by intimidating the officers of law. Street demonstrations are taking place almost on ‘one a day’ basis. Trains struck and an omnibus strike was thwarted at the eleventh hour, most say by way of intimidation of the ‘mafia style’.

Prostitutes are selling their bodies and pleasure on mobile vehicles. The sophistication in the trade has reached such dizzy heights but those who indulge in the first profession man has known are the unemployed and unemployable men and women.

On top of this power cakecake, sits our circle of rulers. Instead of governing the country with decorum and dignity, the rulers are dragging the whole society down a precipitous route, at the end of which exists sheer nothing but a fall. Maybe we have not arrived at the point-of-no-return yet. But an illusory mirage is beckoning us. Human society has faced many hazards and calamities ever since its inception. Man has fought with courage and dignity and resolve.

The undying spirit of man has kept the great saga of humanity rolling, advancing from one disaster to another, mandating the future generations to keep prodding, keep going forward. The saga will continue, but countries like Sri Lanka would be left in the dustbin of history unless and until we make a conscious choice in the coming days and months. Salivating for a better future while everyone is sulking away in the misery of the present predicament is not an option, nor is it an acceptable answer for the younger generation.

When new bonds occur, the old would burst asunder. It’s time that we bonded anew, afresh and left something worthwhile. Instead of politics, let us leave good governance as our legacy .

(Pic courtesy of: Sunday Observer)