Hardly anyone would disagree that UPFA members at all levels (Local Authority/Provincial/ National level) have been elected and key officials and advisors hold their positions courtesy Mahinda Chinthana and Mahinda Rajapakse and the trust placed by the people. They all have heavily and extensively used both Mahinda Chinthana and Mahinda Rajapakse (since they have nothing else to use) during respective elections. The President’s popularity, his charisma, his leadership and his portrait was virtually on sale on their elections platforms. In fact, to think of it, Mahinda Chinthana and Mahinda Rajapakse must have some unusual attraction as it is not only used by constituent members of UPFA but more by those who opposed it. Supporters as well as opponents are equally defending, promoting and using Mahinda Chinthana. The trust, faith, confidence and also hopes placed upon Mahinda Rajapakse were as such that people gave sweeping powers and a mandate to UPFA at all levels.
We have been taught to be grateful to our mother for breastfeeding us and free education for grooming us to what we are today. Those who are clung onto UPFA Government should be grateful solely to Mahinda Rajapakse for what they are today as most of them do not behave like being breastfed and educated. How much and how many of them return that gratitude to Mahinda Rajapakse? Of course, they carry a copy of Mahinda Chinthana wherever they go; they make reference to Mahinda Chinthana whenever they utter a word even if it is irrelevant; they have advertising materials with a huge portrait of Mahinda Rajapakse; They use all rosy (or is it less rough) words to do hosannas on the man; They say "Yes Sir! Whatever you say Sir"; They go even to extent of wearing a ‘Red Satakaya’; they will nod the head any number of times but unfortunately do not wag the tail as they do not have one. The eloquent way of their speaking at length of Mahinda Chinthana, no one would ever doubt that all what they have read is only the cover page. What more do they have to do to show their gratitude?
Now look at two news headings appeared in a Daily paper recently.
* "Prisons chief wants Defence Ministry to take over jails";
* "Sirisena admits health Ministry full of sex maniacs";
Prisons chief admits that there are many irregularities and they are beyond his control. Minister Sirisena expresses similar sentiments. A political master heading a Ministry and an administrator heading the prisons tell the public that things are happening under their nose and nothing much can be done. Who is the public? It is you and I who maintain the political master and the administrator. These two incidents are not isolated or occasional. They reflect omissions and commissions commonly taking place in our own motherland today. They happen; media reports; explanations and excuses are provided; no remedial/corrective measures are taken; no culprits but scapegoats; buck passes; saga continues.
People placed the trust and confidence on Mahinda Rajapakse; not once, but many a times. President of a country, be it Obama be it Mahinda Rajapakse he/she cannot humanly be expected to have mastered all the subjects and possess the capacity to manage all the affairs of a country. A President, therefore, places trust and confidence and appoints his Generals and Lieutenants to assist him in sorting out issues and problems; he expects them to improve the efficiency and impact of the sector. Do they honor the trust placed upon them? Leave alone what they are expected to do by people and the President. They sit tightly safe in between the President and people and add new issues and problems. Some are by default while the rest is by design.
Issues created by political masters and key officials either move upwards and end up on President’s table (they don’t even stop on the tables of advisors and officials around the President) or move downwards and end up with the people. In the former case, President is the accused, the victim and the insulted and in the latter case it is the people.
One Minister and his officials request people to turn empty coconut shells upside down to solve a national crisis - Dengue mosquito menace. A micro approach being taken to address a macro issue and vice versa is not uncommon today. Another Minister blames exposed legs for mosquito biting and raping, abusing and slaughtering of women; Exposed legs have attracted not only the mosquitoes, rapists and criminals but also the Ministers. Another will disclaim the responsibility for placing orders for fuel with a blacklisted supplier or for selling sub-standard fuel or for hedging deal; His excuse is that decisions were not made by him but by Tender Boards and in his absence. There are issues from Admission to Z-score in the Education sector in spite of having 11 Ministers plus 3 Deputy Ministers at national and provincial level with 12 Secretaries to look after the Education (or is it themselves?). None of them knew that there are children who do not own a pair of shoes and do not possess a second set of uniform until it was realized by the President.
Ministers, Key officials and Advisors appointed by the President act in collusion and in a complimentary manner to each other and pass the buck and blame to anyone but themselves confusing the people and the President. They remind the story of Raigamaya and Gampolaya. According to pictures appearing in Electronic and print media, they open their mouths for food for consumption and hardly for food for thought. Compare a picture taken after signing the Ceasefire Agreement in 2002 and one that taken after the elimination of LTTE in 2009. In the former, Ranil Wickramasinghe with a few Ministers who were carrying the "Peace Flag"; in the latter, Mahinda Rajapakse with the same Ministers carrying the "War Flag". Only difference is that the latter is with tinted hair and wrinkled faces.
Do Ministers, Advisors and key officials provide the correct picture to the President or the people? They feed inaccurate and inadequate information inhibiting from taking timely remedial or preventive measures. They launch massive eye catching projects costing a fortune and invite people and the President and provide detailed accounts of the "potential benefits". Hardly a Feasibility Study or an Environment Impact Assessment is conducted; a programme to realize these so called potential benefits is absent; the project is quietly neglected and forgotten. People foot the bill; the President gets the blame.
United Nations and the international community moved a resolution against the Government on human rights violations. UN Secretary General appointed a Commission. President acted single handedly and wisely and appointed Lessons Learn and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC). The composition of LLRC was excellent. Well qualified, experienced, quality, credible and a diverse group of members were appointed by President giving due attention to ethnic and gender concerns. LLRC came out with a series of recommendations. It gave an excellent escape valve to the Government. Then what happened? Ministers, Advisors and Officials came out with all possible reasons why the LLRC recommendations could and should not be implemented. Who is at the receiving end? It is the President and the people.
President appointed a Chief Justice. His Parliamentarians moved an impeachment motion against her. Whom do they doubt and challenge? Is it the Chief Justice? Or is it her appointing authority, the President? Or is it the people who are supposed to enjoy the sovereignty.
Ministers are elected and Officials are selected by the President. In place of coming out with a concept or a programme of their own they have caused inaction, confusion, chaos and repeated hosannas. In contrast, readers may recall that in the past, Ministers conceptualized and initiated programmes. A few are listed below.
Paddy Land Act - Philip Gunawardena; Peoples’ Bank-Ilangaratna; Mid-day meal-(Banis Mama) Dahanayake; Mahapola-Lalith Athulathmudali; Mahaveli-Gamini Dissanayake; Million Housing Programme-Premadasa; Youth Council–Ranil Wickramasinghe; Workers’ Charter-Mahinda Rajapakse; Constitutional Reforms-Colvin R de Silva; Land Reforms-Kobbekaduwa.
As children we used to enjoy the stories of King Kekille who meted out justice in his own way and Mahadenamutta who was always ready to make the remedy worse than the malady in addition to Raigamaya and gampolaya. Unfortunately we do not have a King Kekille but plenty of Mahadenamuttas, Raigamayas and Gampolayas. Fortunately we continue to behave like children enjoying the stories of King Kekille, Mahadenamutta, Raigamaya and Gampolaya.
According to the Constitution, People enjoy the sovereignty and the President enjoys the executive power. The people and the President have, however, fallen victim and become prisoners of the actions of others who are there courtesy people and the President. It is time that they get their act together and put the foot down for the sake of themselves and the country.
(Writer can be reached on email@example.com)