Home / Columnists/ Culture and good governance

Culture and good governance


Comments / {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}} Views / Tuesday, 31 July 2018 00:00


Sunil Wijesinha, a well-known business leader and well-recognised administrator, one who pioneered the quality and productivity movement in the country, whom I am privileged to consider to be a distinguished friend, has given a very important message to the country in a contribution to the Opinion page of Daily FT on 24 July. 

His message titled ‘Japanese Football team demonstrates to the world’ (http://www.ft.lk/columns/Japanese-Football-Team-demonstrates-to-the-world/4-659578) draws attention to the Japanese culture “of respecting others and being considerate to others and their philosophy that the other person is more important than you. This is a fundamental trait of the Japanese and not mere practice of 5S.”

Compare this with our behaviour. We are a people with a great history, a culture and civilisation nurtured by the best known religions of the world. Ask our young ladies how they are treated in the buses, ask old ladies how many get up and offer their seats, ask others how many wait for them to alight, to get into the bus or train. We are a nation in a hurry. How many would take their turn in a queue? 

How many have the patience to observe traffic rules? Is it only the uneducated three-wheeler drivers and bus drivers whose behaviour on the roads lead often to loss of lives? Isn’t this all because we don’t care for others? Our whole society, it appears, has been reduced to a state of ‘the survival of the fittest’, though not in the Darwinian sense. 

In the seventies I used to travel often to Singapore on official duty. In fact their behaviour on the road was no better than ours. Maybe we were better behaved. We had learnt in school and at home how to respect elders and others, even strangers. Thus, any move to inculcate good manners must start at home. Today, Singapore is a well-disciplined country. It started there with the political leadership provided by the late Lee Kwan Yew, who ensured that people were disciplined and respected each other.

In our country, to start with, a few Members of Parliament, fortunately only a few, should be taught how to behave decently, at least when school children are watching them. In schools and other institutions of learning, teachers must learn how to earn the respect of students. University dons, to begin with must actively discourage ragging. The only way to do this is to make the perpetrators feel ashamed of their behaviour.

Sri Lanka today is embroiled in a massive political debate on how to get out of the present economic impasse. Isn’t there, however, a strong relationship between ethical behaviour at all levels and economic prosperity? 

We have identified some of the requirements as principles of good governance. Thus, ethics, equity, transparency, accountability, predictability (rule of law) and collective vision are linked to each other and lead to productive partnerships and development. We need leadership to have these requirements enforced. Otherwise the country will remain a land of preachers and not of practitioners.

What should the leader do? He/she should establish a code of social behaviour, through a process of consultation with civil society organisations and religious leaders. A system of enforcement using the carrot and the stick method must be employed. This must be reinforced by a massive educational campaign, using effectively the multimedia facilities that are available, with the medium of teledrama playing a big role. Religious leaders and celebrities could play a big role in the campaign, which, however, must be strictly a-political in character.  

(The writer is a former Chairman of the Marga Institute, Director General of National Planning and currently a member of the Board of Management of the Gamani Corea Foundation and engaged in teaching at the Postgraduate Institute of Management.)


Share This Article


DISCLAIMER:

1. All comments will be moderated by the Daily FT Web Editor.

2. Comments that are abusive, obscene, incendiary, defamatory or irrelevant will not be published.

3. We may remove hyperlinks within comments.

4. Kindly use a genuine email ID and provide your name.

5. Spamming the comments section under different user names may result in being blacklisted.

COMMENTS

Today's Columnists

Challenges in preserving and promoting Pakistan’s Buddhist past

Saturday, 20 October 2018

The international media has been portraying Pakistan as a hotbed of Islamic fundamentalism, especially after the Americans carried out a surgical strike there to kill international terrorist and fugitive, Osama bin Laden.


Government’s cohabitation stuck in the past or what?

Friday, 19 October 2018

The appointment of career judge Nalin Perera as the new Chief Justice, who has served in the judiciary for over 30 years, provides a snapshot into President Maithripala Sirisena’s thought process, amidst various stories of clashes with his coalitio


Profit before principle: Khashoggi and US-Saudi relations

Friday, 19 October 2018

The mysterious disappearance of a Saudi journalist, Jamal Khashoggi, from inside the Saudi Embassy complex in Turkey on 2 October and an array of circumstantial evidence surrounding his disappearance lead one to suspect that Jamal was possibly abduct


When shame and honour take the hypocritical centre stage

Friday, 19 October 2018

As human beings, we experience a gamut of emotions. These help individuals to express themselves, and authorities to exercise control over entire societies. The most common feelings engendered by our race span a spectrum from guilt and shame to fear.


Columnists More