Citizens’ Movement for Good Governance responds to Amrit Muttukumaru

Thursday, 29 September 2016 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

Mr. Muttukumaru, whose unflagging efforts to expose various instances of large-scale corruption, are greatly admired by us, has, inter alia, stated in his article: “It is baffling why even those purportedly fighting corruption such as ... Citizens’ Movement for Good Governance and its President Dr. A.C. Visvalingam steer clear of naming and shaming and demanding accountability from the Partners concerned of PwC and Ernst & Young faulted for grave professional misconduct by the Supreme Court, Parliament’s watchdog COPE, the Attorney General and CA Ethics Committee itself in the scandalous SLIC privatisation.”

The resolution of this apparent mystery is to be found right there in what he has written! If the four “disciplinary” entities referred to by him, with the vast powers that they possess under the law and their own rules of engagement, do not take any action, we have to concede the obvious, namely that there is something fundamentally wrong with the Sri Lankan State and many of its principal institutions. It stands to reason that the proper functioning of these entities would have to be achieved first, if instances of corruption and other ills are to be pursued effectively by the public. 

We are convinced that we shall not be able to make a significant impact unless, as a basic step, we get ourselves a Constitution that incorporates a logically-derived electoral system to enable the people to screen potential election candidates right at the outset so as to forestall political parties from nominating an unconscionable number of ill-educated, grossly crooked and foul-mouthed characters to seek public office. There is no sign that any such provision will be built in. 

From the few hints that have been given, it is feared that the proposed new Constitution will contain, a “supreme” Parliament and a Prime Minister who will exercise as much or even more power than before so that Parliamentarians can formulate or amend laws to give themselves more and more rewards from the public purse even though far too many of them attend to Parliamentary business only when their own personal commitments permit.

It also appears that ultimate judicial power will be retained by Parliament and flow from there to a Judiciary that would thus effectively become subservient to the Legislature. There will be no definitive provision to maximise the separation of powers between the Legislature, the Executive and the Judiciary, which, in our view, is a compulsory requirement if we are to eliminate the cancer of corruption that has taken such a strong hold on this country – from the lowest employee to the highest echelons of every institution. 

Without encroaching any further on the space available in your columns, we should like to take this opportunity of reassuring Mr. Muttukumaru that, as far back as June 2008, we most earnestly called upon the Organisation of Professional Associations and the general body of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Sri Lanka (ICASL) to apply pressure on the Executive Council and the Ethics Committee of the ICASL to investigate the conduct of the ICASL’s senior members and clear the good name of this important professional body [ ]. But neither of institutions has, to our knowledge, done anything concrete in this regard.