One People, two Government
An oft-quoted theory is that the best government is where there is the least government. The reasoning attributed to this school of thought is that a people left alone, without too much government interference will allow the free flow of private endeavour.

Sri Lanka, paradoxically is in this situation, though for the wrong reasons. It was in this extra-ordinary situation where the Head of Government was also the Leader of the Opposition in the country. And the Head of Government and the Leader of the Parliamentary Opposition came from the same party.

Since November this year, however, it broke new ground when the President of the Republic snatched three ministries which the People mandated to the leader of the party with the majority in Parliament - the Prime Minister - and began running it.

Then came the hilarious situation in Parliament during the just concluded Budget where the Opposition moved a cut in the Budget, votes for the three ministries under the President during the Committee stage of the Budget, and then votes against the total Budget.

Clearly, as we close this year, Sri Lanka's political leaders have got themselves into a twist, and the People are faced with two governments, which is no government at all. This, indeed is fertile terrain for those who wish to exploit the fast impending chaos as we face the new year. And there are many such forces around, not least the separatists of the north, now operating from the north-east.

To say that the whole edifice of government is crumbling, is not an over-statement. Various institutions were already groaning under the weight of too much government.

What was meant to be a leap forward in good governance i.e. the appointment of independent Commissions to handle key elements of administration, have not got off the ground.

Take the appointment of the independent Elections Commission. An objection to a solitary nominee has prevented the appointment of this Commission - with a string of elections to come in the new year. Take the case of the independent Bribery and Corruption Commission. One single vacancy has not been filled since February this year, and all indictments and inquiries are suspended in mid-air.

Now, the peace process with the northern separatists. With all its shortcomings and dangerous implications, it was a progressive exercise towards ending 20 years of civil war that has dragged this country, and all her People into the mire.

That too is in suspense Government leaders are trifling with serious issues. Throughout the year, in fact since last year, we have been advocating an institutionalised mechanism to co-ordinate work between the Executive Presidency and the Legislature in the cohabitation arrangement we have been lugged with.

The so-called Mano-Malik Committee needs to be expanded into a bigger co-ordinating unit devoid of parochial party politics. Not to be a committee which goes into limbo when two individuals go on Christmas vacation overseas.

Easier said than done, but there seems to be no other way. The present thinking seems to be yet another parliamentary election as the only way out of this impasse.Only to have a hung parliament returned again, for sure. And the same old headaches of this year brought forward like a bad debt to the country's ledger books next year.

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