A year-end poll by the Business Times and polling partner Second Curve saw respondents hoping and expecting “stable government and decisive decision-making” in 2018. (See Page 1 for poll results). But it also revealed that most respondents are disenchanted with the way the country is being run and have no illusions of a ‘great future’ [...]

Business Times

Sri Lankans hope for stable government, decisive decision-making – Poll

BT-Second Curve poll

A year-end poll by the Business Times and polling partner Second Curve saw respondents hoping and expecting “stable government and decisive decision-making” in 2018. (See Page 1 for poll results).

Tourists: Chinese visitors at a post office in Colombo

But it also revealed that most respondents are disenchanted with the way the country is being run and have no illusions of a ‘great future’ as promised by either ruling party or opposition politicians.

One respondent said the current government is one of the weakest Sri Lanka has had and this is why street protests will continue.

“A law should be passed so that street protests can only be held in areas which will not cause inconvenience to the public. At one time the Government said they were going to do this. What happened?” he asked in an email response.

The two polls received a lot of comments. Here is a sample:

Comments from email
On transparency and governance:

  •  Wrongdoers must be exposed publicly with stern action devoid of any political affiliations. Rewards and bonuses must be performance related not “no choice” gifts from the taxpayer.
  •  This is a long (and winding) road. The Constitutional Council had laid some ground work. The Bond commission has been a deterrent. The RTI will help. But as long as we do not have permanent secretaries at ministries don’t expect much improvement.
  •  We need efficient and timely delivery of services.
  •  Since January 2015 many steps have been taken to strengthen the independence of the Elections Commission and to hold free and fair elections, establish independent commissions and improve transparency and governance, increase tax collections and reduce the fiscal deficit. However there are allegations of interference in some of the functions that should be independent of the Executive. Even if these are true the overall situation is far better now and the country is moving in the right direction.
  •  Transparency and governance was promised by this government when it came to power. But look at what has happened; politicians are engaged in giving jobs, awarding contracts, selecting sportspersons, and so on. The entire public sector is run by politicians. This is not “Good Governance,” they should stop using that word anymore. How unfortunate.


On the sale of SriLankan Airlines:

  •  The sale of SriLankan Airlines is long overdue. Despite a huge net liability position it should have value in landing rights, routes, marketing networks, processes, management and brand which are not reflected on the balance sheet. A sale may be possible if the Government divests 100 per cent of ownership and provides guarantees of non-vesting and non-interference that could be enforced by a multilateral agency.
  •  SriLankan Airlines exists so that the politicians can fly free of charge and get special treatment. We pay for this through our taxes. The chairman is a friend of the PM and the CEO is the brother of the PM’s friend. SriLankan should be liquidated so that we can stop bleeding tax money.
  •  This (sale) has to be stopped by the people by hook or by crook. We cannot let this government sell all the country’s assets. The last regime cannot be blamed for everything. They messed up and now the (new) fellows are ruining it. The crony board should be sacked.
  •  I believe it should be on a joint management basis with the recruitment of locals done by the foreign partner. All decisions should be purely business and not politically-linked. The ruin of Sri Lanka cricket is the perfect example of political meddling and affiliations!
  •  Sell or close shop .
  •  Sell and conduct investigations into the past up to 2014 and the present .


On continuing protests on the streets;

  •  Unfortunately this seems to be the only effective way of getting solutions to long-standing issues.
  •  The government should implement discipline over democracy.
  •  Continuing protests should be completely stopped as issues are not very significant or distorted like the SAITM issue. The electronic media spends time on these protests in their news telecasts, whereas they should concentrate on national issues and not minor protests carried out by certain sections on matters like repairing a road, etc.
  • Looking forward to political and economic stability, less promises and more delivery and ethnic harmony.
  • Seriously think of reducing expenses of parliamentarians.


On reducing Government debt:

  •  As long as there is a budget deficit the debt will continue to grow. Hopefully economic growth will pick up helping reduce the debt to GDP ratio.
  •  While reducing debt, it is also important to reduce costs of governance in parliament and in local government, meaning a reduction in the numbers of elected representatives.
  •  Debt will continue to rise as the government spends money it does not have to keep the economy moving which impacts on the public interest.
Comments from the Colombo/ Galle street poll
On trouble-free elections in February

  •  There will be around 4000 additional crooked politicians at provincial level to rob the village. However without preferential voting there is likely to be a peaceful election 
  •  The election will bring the notorious robbers back; you can never expect development for the country from them. 
  •  Unlike in the past other than some minor incidents among political parties, nothing serious will crop up in this election. 
  •  The Poll would be peaceful with women participation. 
  •  The new election system will produce representatives for each electoral ward which is a positive step. 
  •  25 per cent allocation to women representation is a good move. 
  •  Public should be properly informed on the new election system. 

On transparency and governance

  •  What has changed under Yahapalanaya? No transparency no accountability, everything is done in secrecy. 
  •  The Rule of Law applies only to the small man. The affluent sleeps keeping the law under the pillow. The law does not apply to them. 
  •  They are used to robbery with the experience in daylight theft in the Central Bank as an example and irrespective who is in power. Always the top must lead for the subordinates to follow. 
  •  They will be accountable in small projects and rob the mega projects, Where is the legal system to try these offences in this country? 
  •  There needs to be leaders of honesty to make good the promise of Yahapalanaya or Good Governance. 
  •  The rogues in both the major political parties need to move out to make way for patriotic, educated people to do an honest job. 
  •  The Government is attempting to reduce the COL from the time the country was released from the dictatorship of Mahinda but hasn’t got its act together. 
  •  Ranil is laying the base for Mahinda to take over. Mahinda in turn is misleading the public to give comfort to Ranil. The people get crushed in the middle. 
  •  They sold the Port and leased the adjacent land. 
  •  This Government will betray the people since it shed its responsibility to arrest the culprits and are protecting them. 
  •  This country need to be resurrected by a collective approach by the leaders of the Sinhalese. Instead, they are engaged in destroying the resources of the island. 
  •  Dependency on black money circulation for the election will ease. 
  •  The new ward system will create a representative answerable to the ward. They will have to be answerable in their performance to win the next election 
  •  The public service must be above politics. 
  •  Need for a system to create the right man for the right job 
  •  Recover the value of the Bond scam and return it to the coffers.

On the sale of SriLankan Airlines

  •  They will sell the airline as it (authorities) have sold everything. 
  •  They will give the airline to their ‘friends’; that is how the Central Bank was robbed. 
  •  Laws are passed unnoticeable and the whole Parliament connives with the system to sell enterprises with the airline being no exception. 
  •  The airline needs to be sold if income is forthcoming. 
  •  Development is not leasing or selling like the Hambantota Port. 
  •  We need an affordable airline, an airline that meets the needs of the country. 
  •  Selling SriLankan will tarnish our world image. 
  •  Stop selling everything and restore efficiency in public enterprises.

On continuing protests on the streets

  •  Protests do not result in public opinion but is the agenda of the politicians. 
  •  The SAITM issue has eased and there are fewer street demonstrations. 
  •  The tyre of protest has deflated on the road for some time. 
  •  Let the New Year be free of the SAITM ISSUE. 
  •  Tap the intelligentsia, protect the right to protest; thereby respect public opinion. Avoid hasty decisions and expand the horizon to Good Governance.

 On reducing Government debt

  •  They mortgage the country to get revenue to pay out the debts; thereby the whole country is mortgaged in the near future. 
  •  The Government was sharp to give the debtors the projects they initiated as loans. 
  •  The debt increases gradually but will soar in time to come. That is the truth, the absolute truth. 
  •  Need to develop local SMEs. 
  •  Do not privatise education. 
  •  Need to improve efficiency of the public service. 
  •  Irresponsible borrowings have deepened the crisis and make it worse by under-utilisation of state funds. 
  •  Selling state enterprises to recover loans is going unchecked 
  •  To sell major economic points like airports and ports to pay debts is a joke.

SriLankan Airlines: People are not in favour of selling

Anger against politicians
Questions on “Selling SriLankan Airlines” and “Governance” drew the most number of comments from the polls. The following are two comments from a respondent who appears to have some knowledge in the airline transport industry, and another on governance: 

Selling SriLankan Airlines

  •  The government should allow a professional management to steer the airline out of the mess. This should include: 
  •  A thorough evaluation of the existing resources including landing rights in the various countries; 
  •  An evaluation of all equipment and resources owned and operated by the airline and whether accounting procedures followed conform to internationally accepted standards. 
  •  A study should be done of the RPK (Revenue Passenger Kilometres) on the different routes over the past 10 years. 
  •  A thorough study should also be made of the competitive environment globally. 
  •  A study should also be made to ascertain whether the decision to acquire and divest aircraft over the past 10 years has been done in an objective and transparent manner, and if not, whether any losses incurred as a result can be recovered and from whom. A similar study should be done to ascertain the causes and remedies for all other losses within the airline. 
  •  An evaluation should also be made of the staffing at SriLankan Airlines to justify every position within the airline. 
  •  A study should be done on SriLankan’s conformity with various regulatory requirements and guidelines including EASA Regulations and conformity with Sri Lanka’s labour laws and international norms on flying crew change-overs and rest periods. 
  •  Free and discounted travel allowed to all others including government officials, ministers and members of parliament should be withdrawn and the government should pay SriLankan for all such travel from the various entities originating the travel. Even the President should pay the airline for travel by the President and presidential staff.

 On Governance

  •  Civil society and people should express disapproval of street protests and industrial action. 
  •  Firstly nothing much will change in Sri Lanka because the UNP and SLFP are a bunch of thieves whose main aim is make money at the cost of the ordinary people. 
  •  Can anyone buy an apartment for example in Mount Lavinia at Rs. 27 million or in Colombo 3 for Rs. 50 million? Many of the politicians have already bought this type of property. This is the situation in the country. 
  •  The media has to encourage the best and brightest in our country to enter politics. We should be looking for a Sri Lankan Lee Kuan Yew. Sometimes I feel that the politicians deliberately neglected education to rule over the uneducated (this literacy thing is a myth). Wise people will realize that free education in our country is a disadvantage because there is no quality in it. 
  •  I have seen so many so-called “thought leaders” and “experts” give their theories for the last 30 years but things have actually got worse. The apartment example above is indicative of this.

Protests: Sri Lankans hope for less street disturbances this year

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