The antics of our political parties being enacted live and free
for all to see in the continuing farce at the Western Province Provincial
Council would be hilarious, if they were not so tragic.
jockeying for power and place, especially the post of Chief Minister
is a tragicomedy even Hollywood scriptwriters would find hard to
match and symptomatic of the dirty politics, nay, 'politricks '
of Sri Lanka.
is political gamesmanship at its lowest. The UNP which introduced
a vote of no-confidence on the incumbent Chief Minister Reginold
Cooray has done a complete volte-face following the JVP's walk-out
from the UPFA coalition and now backs a vote of confidence to have
the Chief Minister they helped dethrone, back in the saddle.
The party's own leader in that council says it was because "there
is an agreement" and says no more. Need he say anymore?
UNP leadership might have grander plans of sidelining the JVP and
splitting the PA, but nowhere in all this political skulduggery
is there any discussion of the fundamental question here: The contents
of the charges in the vote of no-confidence which include.
Requesting a commission of Rs. 5 million for garbage disposal, 2.
Having sold some transport permit, 3. Misusing Council funds by
allowing personal staff to draw monthly allowances not entitled
to, 4. Requesting a commission from a British company for an electricity
project, and the gory list goes on.
UNP has forsaken its political principles at the altar of political
expediency. This is indeed typical of the conduct that has repeatedly
brought the UNP defeat at the hands of a disgusted electorate.
the other hand, the President's actions are indicative of her position
as the head of a tottering Government and a divided State.
first tried to talk the JVP out of supporting the UNP vote of no-confidence
against Cooray and failed, she prorogued the elected Council, resorting
to the practice started by the beleaguered President R. Premadasa
when he prorogued Parliament in 1992. President Kumaratunga blithely
exercises this Presidential privilege.
she went on to appoint a committee - her own appointees - to inquire
into the very serious allegations contained in the vote of no-confidence.
And to compound this by-passing of the decision to probe the Chief
Minister by a majority of the Council's elected members, up-to-date
nothing has been heard from this Committee.
of meeting the allegations, which if proven, should disqualify Mr.
Cooray for life from political office he has taken advantage of
the political fall-out of the JVP from the UPFA, and happily occupies
the exalted seat of the Honourable Chief Minister of the Western
Province in addition to being minister in charge of numerous ministries
is the political conduct that we are witnessing at a national-level
as well. Politics being the art of the possible, has been turned
into a fine art of the possible, but the picture is so smudged and
have long said that the Provincial Council system was forced down
the nation's throat by the Indians to appease the LTTE in 1987.
This it obviously has not done. Instead it has been a useless white
elephant reeking with corruption and soaking up public funds for
its own administration. It has duplicated and complicated local
administration, is enveloped in nepotism and is the breeding ground
for political parasites.
is plain to the common man that it has long outlived its purpose
but the PA constituent partners and the JVP who burnt buses and
power-lines opposing its introduction in 1987 having benefited from
its largesse at the expense of the poor public -- vehicles, free
diesel, fax machines, telephones and the like -- have been blinded
to the folly of this useless system for nearly 20 years now.
parties need to take stock of this reality. We have advocated a
system closer to the District Development Council system of the
1980s as a form of better devolution of power to the peripheral
areas, with the accent on development.
Tamil parties that did not want the District Development Councils
were probably right when they said that the Jaffna DDC elections
were rigged - but their bigger objection which they never articulated
was that the District was too small a unit for their larger objective
of creating a contiguous land mass in the North and East extending
from Jaffna to Ampara.
was the reason for the merged North and East Provincial Council
introduced for a year-in 1987 - and now recast in a miniature ISGA
(Interim Self-Governing Authority) in the form of a P-TOMS (Post-Tsunami
Operations Management Structure).
while the focus has been on the North and East, the Provincial Council
system is simply creating havoc in the rest of the country. And
the shenanigans at the Western Provincial Council these past weeks
- the largest of all councils with as many as 102 elected members
- bear ample testimony to this farce.