There is at least one valid vote for barter, are there any takers?
This is election time. Unlike any other time this is the time for hope and promises. This is also the time that the man on the street like me and Johnny next door become important and we get to use the best weapon that we posses to effective use even if it is for some one else’s’ cause.
In the English language we have opted to call it the vote and at the same time in a more eloquent term it is called the “Universal Suffrage”. Universal or not, the suffering comes later on when the typical politicians conveniently forgets to deliver the goods that they promised while Johnny and I were the kings and they were seeking our support.
To drive the point home we have to be more specific. In Sri Lanka sports has been one vehicle that our tiny island nation’s image has been exported in a positive manner. Sri Lanka has produced individual Champions in the caliber of M.J.M. Lafir, Duncan White and Susanthika Jayasinghe. Their efforts in their given fields have made the World get up and see to spot where this tiny nation is.
At the same time Sri Lanka also produced the World Champion Cricket team when the squad under Arjuna Ranatunga beat Australia in the finals at Lahore in the 1996 Cricket World Cup, thus converting a pack of minnows into a world recognized and respected outfit.
For a country of its size the achievements that it has had is truly great. But, has Lanka’s sports been afforded the same freedom to grow like elsewhere in the world?As we see the biggest bane to sport in this country has been the political interference that has come behind the sporting community… like a bad dream.
The irony is that this political interference or shall we call it the tool that was thrust upon the sports minister through an act of parliament – an act which initially intended it to be of great assistance to the sporting community of the island. It was the act passed by the then sports minister K.B. Ratnayake thus thwarting errant sports officials misusing the powers bestowed upon them by the rest of the community. It gave the Sports Minister the powers to overrule any errant decisions taken by officials for personal gain rather than the betterment of a given sport.
There onwards every sport that was registered with the Sports Ministry had to send in the list of names that was to leave our shores for the ratification of the Sports Minister. K.B. Ratnayake being a sportsman himself knew what it was all about and it worked well.
In the past the then leaders made sure on most occasions that there was a person who understood sports at the helm of activities as sports ministers. Persons of the caliber of V.A. Sugathadasa a soccerite and a soccer fanatic who was instrumental in building the very stadium that is Sri Lanka’s Sports icon which is named after him along with people like Nanda Mathew and S.B. Dissanayake were a few Sports Minister who really understood what it meant for the day-to-day life of mankind.
However the first occasion that the Sports Law was put into real action was when the then Sports Minister Vincent Perera appointed Maj. Gen B.R. Heyn – the former President of the Board of Control for Cricket in Sri Lankan and a prominent sports administrator of yesteryear, as a one-man-commission to probe into the Lankan athletic debacle after the 1982 Asian Games in New Delhi where the Lankan contingent failed to win any medals. In the aftermath of this commission the Sports Minister dissolved the AAASL under Ranjith Weerasena and appointed the first Sports Interim Committee.
Now at present out of the fifty registered sports bodies under the Sports Ministry Aquatic Sport, Body Building, Badminton, Cricket, Netball, Power Lifting and Rugby Football are run with the assistance of Interim Committees. According to Sports Ministry sources they are ready to hold elections for Body Building, Badminton, Aquatic Sports and Netball early next year, but the rest will continue to be ruled under these very unsporting institutions during the foreseeable future.
The word Interim according to the Oxford dictionary reads as “During the period of time between two events; until a particular event happens”. That does not indicate that they could be termed as permanent institutions that could go on for years on end.
For instance the moment an interim committee is appointed it is a bunch of persons related to the particular sport, but appointed by the Sports Minister who will be the custodians of the game. This means the persons who relate to the sport and strive for the development of it loses its grip on it and there onwards the particular sport begins to run to the whims and fancies of a few given individuals.
Interim Committees do serve a purpose. However the people who strive to get elected to these sports bodies are always not the real lovers of the game, but, they may be individuals who look to thrive on the credentials of heading that particular sport. Then the Sports Minister intervening for the larger interest of the game and dissolving the particular body AFTER AN IMPARTIAL INQUIRY till the problem is solved to call for fresh elections is acceptable. But, what happens now is suddenly the Minister of Sport decides that a man whom he does not like should not be there should go and it just takes place. The next day an interim committee comprising some individuals is put in and the game is supposed to go on. At the same time how can one rule out the Politicians making undue advantage from sports in the guise of Interim Committeess.
What ideally should happen is that the interim committee should have a specified life span and within that given period fresh elections should take place. Then the people who are really involved in the particular sport gets the game back into their control. At the same time the law also must be amended so that anyone in a sport body who is accountable for any misdeeds that leads to the dissolving of the particular sports body will be barred from contesting or holding any post directly or indirectly for a given period of time or if the misdeed is great it can be recommended for life.
If any politician is willing to include this in their agenda I feel that there will be many people who would want to vote for that. However I will guarantee that if any leader has that in his package my vote will go along with him.