Forgotten power balance

Sunday, 10 October 2010 22:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

The disorganisation of opposition parties to address an important issue has never been more in evidence than in the former Army Commander’s cause. Much has been written and said on the subject on many occasions, but what cannot be denied is that the opposition parties have not managed to muster sufficient clout to make even a short-lived impact on the Government. While this can be dismissed by people who may not necessarily sympathise with the Fonseka cause, the issue becomes a far more imperative one when it is extended to how an opposition must function to balance out the actions of the Government.

Last week there was a chorus of mismanagement and uncooperative incidents from the opposition, showing in detail the pure incompetency of gathering public support behind a cause. In fact, it often didn’t go that far, with the UNP and DNA members reportedly having many divisions within their ranks and being ineffective with gathering their own towards a set goal.

The week sped by with reports of internal rifts within both the DNA and UNP, which culminated in the Sunday newspapers splashing many stories of how the poster campaign that was initiated by the latter hardly got any mileage as the police swooped in to clean up almost before the paste was dry.

On Friday, opposition members were so scarce in Parliament that proceedings had to be called off. In the previous general election, the people rightly displayed their disillusionment with Parliament by foregoing the voting completely, with only about a 45% turnout. This has been exacerbated by the opposition’s inability to get its act together and work for the development concerns of the people. The duties of the opposition have gone begging while Government is being allowed to make arbitrary and often harmful decisions without proper debate, discussion or even awareness of what is being approved.

On Sunday, a website carried a story on how President Rajapaksa had made comments to the effect that any unprofitable company under the Board of Investment (BOI) would be taken over by the Government. Foreign companies in particular would find such a remark perturbing in the extreme as that would mean their investments could be taken over without consideration of the contracts that have been signed – legal frameworks that most countries would consider binding – and relegate Sri Lanka’s reputation further into the shadows.

This is clearly an issue that hinges on good governance. The opposition should be taking up these issues in Parliament and ensuring that transparency, accountability, law and order are maintained. As the people’s representatives, the member of the opposition parties should prove their worthiness by putting issues of national concern before the policymakers and politicians of the land. Cabinet decisions should be strongly monitored and discussed in the House and other public forums so that people are made aware of the negative aspects of the steps taken and how they should be mitigated.

Therefore, it is time for the Opposition to move away from its consistent penchant for failure and understand that politics is not about individuals, but people. What is important for the people is ultimately the future of Sri Lanka and in not paying attention to their needs, not only is the opposition getting set for further power reductions in and out of Parliament but also jeopardising the development of this land.