It looks as if astringent criticism of undesirables in politics were beginning to sink in. President Mahinda Rajapaksa is reported to have asked the SLFP General Secretary and Minister Maithripala Sirisena to impress on the UPFA candidates in the parliamentary fray that they will have to forego ministerial posts etc in the event of their election, if they antagonise the Elections Commissioner and/or violate the law during their campaigns.
We hope the President really means what he says and his words will be translated into action. Regrettably, he failed to restrain those elements during his own presidential election campaign. Anyway, now that he has decided to put his executive foot down at long last, we would like to think that he means business. Hope springs eternal in the human breast!
What the President has undertaken is a Herculean task purging the ruling party of lawbreakers is like cleaning the Augean stables. Politicians have underworld links. The PR system has placed them at the mercy of moneybags and some of them have amassed enough ill-gotten wealth to be generously expended on electioneering which involves staggering costs. Several rich candidates are said to have set aside as much as Rs. 600 million each for campaigning! Drug barons, fraudsters and racketeers of all sorts bankroll election campaigns of others and turn them into pliable tools later on.
The police descended on a narco den in Grandpass the other day and arrested a notorious female drug peddler known as Kachal Siriya with several packets of heroin secreted under her night dress. The Sub Inspector who ordered the raid came under immense pressure allegedly from a UPFA politician seeking nominations for the parliamentary election, to let her off the hook. The police officer`s defiance was met with an immediate transfer! Will the government probe this and take action against the politician concerned? Unless this kind of unholy alliance between politicians and narcotic dealers is stamped out once and for all, ridding the country of the scourge of dangerous drugs will remain a pipe dream.
President Rajapaksa said prior to the recent presidential polls that he would scrap the manape or the Preferential Vote system, which is a real curse. Unfortunately, he could not carry out his promise in time for the general election, but he ought to do away with manape at least later as part of the electoral reforms to be implemented. The prohibitive cost of campaigning has stood only the affluent scum of the earth in good stead.
Successive governments have abused the National List mechanism to appoint their favourites to Parliament. Will President Rajapaksa desist from bringing political rejects and other unsavoury elements to Parliament through the National List?
It is also imperative that the President make candidates reveal the sources of funding. We urged both the President and his main contender Gen. Sarath Fonseka to reveal the identities of their main financiers, but in vain. Transparency is the most efficacious antidote to corruption which has eaten into the vitals of this country and is one of the most potent weapons western powers are using against it. No amount of effort is going to eliminate/curtail corruption so long as lawmakers remain beholden to the corrupt moneybags bent on putting crooked deals through.
If the President managed to rid the UPFA of evil elements in the garb of people`s representatives or candidates, hey presto, we would be free from one half (or more?) of the undesirables in politics! However, even if he does not do as he says, it is up to the discerning voting public to cast their votes wisely and ensure the defeat of all misfits in the contest.