This country has over 4,000 elected people`s representatives in Parliament, Provincial Councils and local government bodies. They and their institutions are maintained at a huge cost to the public purse. We are about to set a world record as the only country to have a government of ministers ! The record is only a few ministerial appointments away. Besides parasitic politicians, there is a massive bureaucracy characterised by lethargy, inefficiency, bungling and callousness.
Together, they have proved that we can do without them! We need only the executive presidency and the judiciary to run this country. For, nothing gets done without either presidential or judicial intervention. We have come to such a pass that not even a simple task like setting a school term test paper could be accomplished unless the President intervenes. School admissions, the conducting of examinations and answer script evaluations etc require the involvement of the apex court.
The Supreme Court has also had to attend, at the expense of its precious time, to innocuous matters such as determining the price of gas cylinders and working out bus fare revisions! What are politicians and their mandarins paid to handle such matters doing? Haven`t they outsourced their work to the President and the Judiciary? The President seems left without any time to attend to his own workload. He has become a veritable Man Friday for others, solving as he does mundane problems like strikes and salary anomalies. It looks as if he now had to set term test papers for government schools.
Minister of Education Susil Premjayantha was quoted in this newspaper on Wednesday as saying that term tests had been conducted in Jaffna free from trouble as there was no Chief Minister! One cannot but agree with the minister, though there is much to be desired from the performance of his own ministry.
If things could be done better without a Chief Minister, why should there be Provincial Councils for the North? Minister Premjayantha`s statement not only amounts to a damning indictment of the provincial council system but runs counter to the government`s devolution project. Going by what he says, one may ask: Will the government mess up school term tests among other things by setting up a Provincial Council in the North and bringing schools in that part of the country under the purview of a Chief Minister?
Critics of devolution under the 13th Amendment are questioning the wisdom of an alleged move to grant land and police powers to Provincial Councils, which cannot even conduct a term test properly. However, the situation is no better at the government level, as could be seen from the unholy mess in the education sector.
Minister Premjayantha is to be commended for pointing out motes in Chief Ministers` eyes similarly he needs to be requested to mind the beam in his own.
Hans Christian Andersen would spin in his grave if he came to know our politicians` flair for creating far better fairy tales than his. They would have us believe that we are only a hop, skip and a jump from Shangri-La, where streams of honey flow from mountains of candy and everybody lives in clover like Cabinet ministers in Sri Lanka.
The latest fairy tale of the government has just been released: The United People`s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) is determined to cleanse politics by not fielding candidates with a criminal track record at the Southern Provincial Council polls, we are told. This pronouncement has come from UPFA General Secretary and Minister of Education Susil Premjayantha, as reported in this newspaper yesterday. One is intrigued! Does it mean that the UPFA had no such rule/criterion at previous elections and criminals did enter the fray and were returned on its ticket?
Never mind future elections and candidates contesting them. What about anti-social elements already in the government ranks? They have become the biggest impediment to the government`s ostensible campaign to rid the country of crime, narcotics and bootlegging. When a much advertised operations against the underworld was launched the other day, we editorially pointed out that many criminals had found a safe haven in the Kelaniya area and contract killers like Anamalu Imtias were getting killed as they did not have the right political connections. Had that killer joined forces with the ruling party and shifted base to Kelaniya, we said, he would have been safe. No sooner had we said so than a minister known for his violence and aggression his name is withheld not out of any fear but because we are wary of an expensive law suit helped a notorious drug czar known as Kudu Lal flee the country. The ministerial bad egg provided the drug baron with security by escorting him all the way up to his flight at BIA! He had previously taken Kudu Lal to a high ranking police officer whose men were looking for him and demanded to know why the police were on his trail.
So much for the government`s anti-crime operations! How can the police battle the narcotics menace vis- -vis such blatant political interference?
The government pronouncement that it would not field criminal offenders at the SPC polls, in our book, smacks of an attempt by powers that be to oust from the race someone who has fallen out of grace.