The mass media are now agog with news involving unsavoury tactics adopted to increase the number of Ministerial Portfolios merely to appease the greedy politicians in search of power and filthy lucre. The President has gone to the extent of using the stage on National Independence Day to disapprove such unethical moves to form a National Government to achieve ulterior motives.
Feeding this shameless greed for power and money by increasing the number of ministerial portfolios is a brazen act of adding insult to injury. The naked reality we should ponder is that at a time when the country is bleeding with a colossal debt repayment and an economic crisis how can we afford to cope up with an unproductive, head- heavy Cabinet and a political administration system? The recent 52-day crisis and the lack of quorum to debate a nationally-important issue amply shows the lackadaisical attitude of the majority of our present-day Parliamentarians in a representative democracy.
In our view, the remedy for the Cabinet mania is to drastically cut down the alarming number of perks and privileges ranging from liberal space, staff allocations and security to luxury duty free vehicles presently enjoyed by Cabinet ministers, so that the position will become unattractive to ministerial aspirants. The resultant tax and resource saving can be diverted to execute critical rural development imperatives of the country.
Secondly, we have been repeatedly exhorting that if our politicians can place the country first in their agenda, the need to garner a two-thirds majority through formation of national governments will not arise, as all bills/proposals shall be objectively fine-tuned in favour of the country through a robust debate irrespective of party affiliations. The party system should be used to arrive at best options for country’s development and not to maintain oneupmanship in Parliament and other institutions in the political administration system.
If this change of heart is not forthcoming from the present set of politicians, the remedy available for the sovereign voters would be to dump them in to the dust bin of history and select genuine political professionals to take over our future political administration.
In the event this process cannot be facilitated by legislation due to time and other obvious constraints, we appeal to the Elections Commission and all civil rights activists and organisations to collaborate with the mass media to pressurise all parties to field only genuine political professionals for the upcoming elections in ‘district wise merit order’.
For this purpose, the message should be given to all parties that the media will highlight the profiles of all candidates well before the election date so that voters will be educated not to cast their optional preference vote to undeserving and dubious candidates if fielded.
Let us remind ourselves that merely holding elections spending billions of taxpayers’ money will be exercises in futility. Forget not, that if there is a will there is always a way!
Bernard Fernando Moratuwa