‘Yahapalanaya’ government in

retrospect

2017-02-22

The present government came to power pledging to
establish good governance. According to

a publication by the United Nations
Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific
the main characteristics of good governance include being
participatory, consensus oriented, accountable,
transparent, responsive, effective, efficient, equitable,
inclusive and follows the rule of law. Good governance is
supposed to minimize corruption. The views of minorities
and vulnerable people should be taken into consideration
when making decisions. While certain characteristics are
reflected in the activities of the current regime it seems
that certain characteristics have been overlooked as well.
The present govt. has come under heavy criticism by the
very parties that thrived to make them victorious at the
2015 Presidential election. Against this backdrop
the Dailymirror asked a few parties who were once very
vocal in overthrowing the past regime and establishing
the current govt. on its merits
and demerits.
“The economic front is not very good”

“The judiciary is independent to a
greater extent. It will take at least another two to three years to
ensure the independence of the police and the public service
though they are comparatively independent now,” he said.

Commenting on the economic situation of the country he said,
“We have been a debt ridden country for many years and
therefore the economic front is not very good. There has to be
consistency of the economic policies. Now the government is at
least attempting to have consistency. They have taken serious
steps to win the international community which we had lost
previously.”

When asked about the demerits of the government he said that
the people involved in corruption and who were holding high
authority were not penalized, but were instead retained in office.

“The government does not have a good communication strategy.
So the positive actions they take are not communicated to the
public. The print and private media are not favouring the
government. They were linked very closely to the previous regime
and they continue to support them,” he said.
He also said that since the government was a coalition of two
main parties’ positives and negative will have to be experienced.
“In both sides there are people who want to have their own
government instead of a coalition. That is seen in many aspects. If
the President and Prime Minister are committed to push the social
political reforms together there is still hope,” he added.
Elaborating on the way forward, Weliamuna said that the
President and Prime Minister should make decisions together.
“They have to take bold decisions as well. For example they must
get rid of the corrupt few high officials. They must take harsh but
realistic decisions on Macro Economic decisions. You can’t please
the people all the time,” he said.
“There is a lack of communication and it leads to
confusion and a sense of drift”
“As far as the future of the yahapalanaya government is
concerned what is absolutely necessary

is for there to be a strategic
communication plan which is unveiled and which requires the
government to go out and champion both a new constitution,
transitional justice and all the other aspects of its reform
programme in a conversation with the people of this country.
There is a lack of communication and this is leading to confusion
and a sense of drift. This has to be rectified very importantly if
this government is, in full or substantial measure, to achieve its
reform programme,” said Dr. Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu, the
Executive Director of the Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA).

He said that there were still many promises with regards to
transitional justice and constitutional reform to be fulfilled. “Now,
it is not at all clear that the government is not going to fulfil them
but certainly there seems to be concern that it is taking time. It is
very important that the promises with regards to anti-corruption
are kept. We have not yet had a conviction in respect of a major
case,” he added.

“The government has failed miserably in fulfilling people’s
aspirations”
The government has failed miserably in fulfilling people’s
aspirations which were manifested

through various parties in the
presidential campaign.
“Now their activities are in line with the narrow agendas of the
political elite. Rather than critically engaging,the government
does things in an extremely arbitrary manner. When there is a lot
of criticism about the development strategy they are not ready to
discuss them. They are not willing to listen to the people who
brought this government into power,” he said.
“Toppling the government is not possible because constitutionally
you need to win the support of the majority in parliament.
Therefore I don’t see any big obstacle for them to continue until
the next election,” he remarked.

He noted, however, that the government was not popular among
the populace. “They are not popular among the Southern Sinhala
Buddhist constituency. The Tamils in the North, though not so
happy, don’t mind this government in power because they can’t
afford to create a situation where the Rajapaksas come back,” he
said.
He added that the government was at an advantage as its
dissenting forces are divided.

“We have our hopes with the govt.”
The 19th Amendment which curtailed the power of the executive

president and the establishment of the
independent commissions to have a proper, efficient, public
service without political influence.“Then there is the constitutional
council which is an independent body. The Right to Information
Act has been implemented,” he added.
“As a whole I believe there is an atmosphere of freedom. Anyone
can criticize the President, Prime Minister or the government
without fear of being harmed. We didn’t have this freedom during
the previous regime where we can draw examples of media
persons being abducted, and murdered. That situation has
changed now,” he said.
“This is seen today in how demonstrations are held on a daily
basis by doctors, students, and various trade unions. So you can
see the democratic freedom exercised by a vast majority of our
population which opened up after this government came to
power,’ he remarked.
Commenting on the negative aspect of the current government
Viyangoda said that the people are very much dissatisfied with
the government for not bringing to book those alleged to have
been involved in mega deals during the previous regime. “But up
till now nothing has been done except the prosecution of certain
individuals who are kept in remand and later bailed out. No single
case has been completed. No one has been convicted except
Duminda Silva who was accused of murder. This was not
organized by the government of that time. It was an individual
who was involved. That is why the law was not obstructed,” he
said.

“They said that billions of money was squandered by the previous
government. You don’t see anybody being brought before courts,”
he added.

He noted that there was delay in bringing the new constitution.
“We have pledged to the international community on the
transitional justice process. Under this process we have been
obliged to open the Office of Missing Persons. Though the act was
passed in parliament, the office has not been opened. As far as
the new constitution is concerned they have appointed six sub
committees and a main committee. But it seems that everything
has come to a standstill,’ he said.

“Two years have passed but still there is doubt about the new
constitution and the devolution of power as the solution to the
ethnic friction. Yet, we have our hopes with the government.
There are so many practical problems in making this a reality
which we can understand. At the same time we have some
suspicion that high ups in the new government are interfering in
certain investigations which are going on. If our politicians can
keep away from those investigations justice can be meted out
very soon. That is what the people expect from the government.”
he added.
Posted by Thavam