Home / FT View/ Time to get to work

Time to get to work

Comments / {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}} Views / Wednesday, 14 February 2018 00:00

The national level political fallout from the Local Government elections continues to dominate public discourse but that should not overshadow a larger commitment to hold the 8,325 newly-selected councillors to their promises and ensure they remain corruption-free and accountable for their actions over the next five years.  

The Local Government polls were important for reasons other than to test the popularity of the Government. It introduced a new electoral system to Sri Lanka and this first term will test its efficacy only if public involvement is at its core and the people demand that their local governments become better managed, reduce wastage and fight corruption. 

The public fight against corruption and the movement towards good governance can make a critical restart in the aftermath of these elections. 

It is a time to tell even the re-elected politicians who may have served terms under the previous Government that the change in 2015 was real and while political commitment to end corruption might be flagging, the people’s commitment to it has not waned. If this message does not come across at the start, this latest batch of councillors is in danger of becoming oblivious to the message of the masses. This must not be allowed to happen.     

As much as the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) loves to tout its victory, the reality is that they did not get 51% of the vote and will have to form coalitions with other political parties in order to govern many of the wards and districts. As the public has seen over the last three years, coalition politics is a dangerous animal that can bottleneck policy and rarely works to fast-track reform. Therefore it is doubly important for the public to be vigilant to ensure that this same stagnation does not happen to the local governments. 

Thirdly, these local government bodies will see an unprecedented number of female councillors. For the first time there is the opportunity for strong women’s voices to be raised on critical issues and for gender-sensitive decision-making. The women’s quota is an important reform that took decades of fighting to achieve and this hard won opportunity should not be squandered by enmeshed patriarchal attitudes and by politics-as-usual. 

The quota system in local governments is critically important to push forward the progressive agenda of women’s representation and should be a platform to enable more women are elected to the provincial and parliament level in the future. In fact it would be accurate to say the hardest part of the battle is ahead and the performance of the women will have to be better than their male counterparts to take this cause forward. 

This is the chance to give 52% of the population a voice. It must not be sacrificed to political expediency. Hopefully the elected female candidates know what is at stake.

The SLPP so far has shown itself to be a party obsessed with national politics and returning former President Mahinda Rajapaksa to some semblance of power. Yet they must not forget that the mandate given to them is to develop the village and improve the lot of the average person. In this task they will for the first time come into contact with the Sri Lankan public who have shown themselves to be demanding stakeholders. The SLPP must now understand it is its duty to genuinely serve the people.           

Share This Article


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.


Today's Columnists

In the desert of Tamil films, actor Sivaji Ganesan was an oasis

Saturday, 22 September 2018

‘Indian Film,’ first published in 1963 and co-authored by former Columbia University Professor Erik Barnouw and his student Dr. Subrahmanyam Krishnaswamy, is considered a seminal study of the evolution and growth of Indian cinema. The book is cit

Imran may turn blind eye to blasphemy law and persecution of Ahmadiyyas

Saturday, 22 September 2018

There are clear signs that Pakistan’s freshly minted Prime Minister, Imran Khan, will make a sincere effort to reduce corruption and maladministration in the domestic sphere. In foreign affairs he is likely to make a brave attempt to mend fences wi

The rate of exchange, capital flight and the Central Bank

Friday, 21 September 2018

The Central Bank (CBSL) exists for the sole purpose of price stability. Its controls on the financial system and monetary policy exist to maintain price stability. As put forth many times by the Governor, the failing of the CBSL to control inflation

Red flag over the Sri Lankan Navy

Friday, 21 September 2018

Shocking story Rusiripala, a former banker in Sri Lanka, who has taken to writing in Daily FT, is perturbed by the red flag I have raised (Daily FT article 18 September) over the shocking charge that our Navy had operated a ransom gang that had abduc

Columnists More