Here we are, at the dawn of a new year, and unable to enjoy it fully as another election has been declared before it’s due. For the politicians, election fever has set in. For the common man, it is the one time at which they hold some real power. Like colourful birds that strut around proudly puffing their chests to attract the attention of the female, so are our politicians. They speak eloquently and promise us so much with the hope of getting our vote, but whether what is promised will turn into a reality is another game completely.
Many have asked from me as to who I would vote for. Here’s my answer.
My vote is deserved by…
- The one that is not afraid to admit to his mistakes, because he is only human.
- The one that is not corrupt.
- The one that does not forget that he is elected from the people, by the people, for the people.
- The one that can garner enough votes to establish a stable government without needing a coalition so that the party with 3 seats does not control the party with 111 seats.
- The one that places the Judiciary above the legislature, so that even the rulers are answerable to the Law.
- The one that abolishes the Executive Presidency and transfers the authority to the Parliament duly composed of elected members.
- The one that strengthens democracy and encourages debate, rather than labeling the rulers as Patriots and the opposition as Traitors. Instead we should have shadow ministers appointed from the opposition like they do in the United Kingdom. They keep an eye on the Minister and point out any issues and keep things in check. If the government were to change, the Shadow Minister would become the Minister. He or she can easily take over and effectively manage matters.
- The one that reduces bribery and corruption from the top to the bottom, without just concentrating on the small Frye that accepts a Rs 500 bribe.
- The one that develops the infrastructure of the entire country, and not just in one area.
- The one that can build international relations with foreign governments so that we are respected even if we are small. Sri Lanka has the potential to be a moderate to big player in the global village.
- The one that heads disciplined parliamentarians who answer questions with facts and figures rather than diverting the topic by saying “we are better compared to your time when you did x, y, and z…” and acting like young children in pre-school.
- The one with sound economic policies that will help steer Sri Lanka towards economic prosperity, using multiple pathways and not just singular pathways such as Tourism. Emphasis should be put on manufacturing and related industries, knowledge workers, and more foreign direct investments in strategic areas. Gone are the days where our major earners were tea, rubber, and coconuts. Gone should be the days where our major export is labour.
- The one that instills discipline on the roads where the traffic rules are obeyed. Building roads and highways and expressways is not enough when the people don’t know how to use them.
- The one that makes the Police force truly independent and only answerable to the Police Commission and the Courts.
- The one that ensures that true freedom of the press is maintained, and that they operate under a set of rules based on ethics, and answerable to the Media / Press Commission, which in turn answers to the judiciary. This should not equate to a free license to insult someone with baseless facts. Any defamations or libel would be handled via the Press Complaints Commission and the judiciary.
- The one that enforces the rule of law in the land. Criminals and Terrorists should be punished, no matter who they are or who they know.
- The one that appoints Ministers and Secretaries and Diplomats based on their knowledge, qualifications, experience, and capability and not on personal ties and relationships.
- The one that ensures that State resources are not abused, and that projects are awarded rightly and justly by way of tenders and expert panels, and not based on friendship.
- The one that ensures that Politicians and their families understand that they are not above the Citizens, but equals. They are not entitled to use emergency flashers and sirens that are reserved for emergency vehicles such as ambulances, fire brigade, and police and cannot travel on the wrong side of the road.
- The one that takes the bold move to abolish the private bus system which has lead to unhealthy competition and bus races, leading to unsafe roadways. Instead, the buses can be leased and operated by the SLTB under a common scheme with a time table.
These are my reasonable expectations from the next Head of State. Now then…. Who would like my vote…?