Daily Archives: May 15, 2007
Leader of UNP and Opposition Ranil Wickremesinghe in his letter to popular actor Ranjan Ramanayake has explained that he has obtained approval from the UNP Executive Committee to take measures to stamp out corruption within the first three years of the UNP coming into power.. He has given seven points to achieve this:
In his reply Ranil Wickremesinghe says thus :
I fully endorse your views on this subject as you will be aware that corruption is an absolute anathema to me.
I have intimated our discussion to the UNP Executive Committee, as we and yourself are on the same platform, the UNP has lauded this.
This scheme spells out to eliminate corruption at all levels as promptly as possible within the three years of the United National party being installed in power:
Implementing the provisions of the law allowing freedom to gather information and data.
A central unit to be established to deal with and decide on the purchases of the government’s requirements of goods and services.
Implementation of the recommendations of the United Nations against corruption.
A joint program with the ADB-OECD organizations on the lines of the scheme originated by the Asia pacific region to eradicate corruption.
Making a request to those countries which have Trade relations with Sri Lanka and who have not signed with the OECD ‘s elimination of bribery proposals to become signatories thereto.
Withdrawing the existing measures against corruption which are weak and replacing them with a fool proof system with no loopholes.
Implementation of the provisions recommended in the Lima report
- Withdrawal of the conditions whereby Ministers, Parliamentarians, Government officials and representatives take refuge after illegal acceptance of gifts and donations.
- A system to legally bind those in public offices and their families to declare their assets and to show that they were legally acquired .
- Establishment of an Independent Authority to periodically investigate the wealth and assets position of those Officers in the higher rungs of the Government and of their families.
- New and stringent legislation to confiscate or impound the assets of those Ministers, Parliamentarians, officials of the State and those connected therewith who are found guilty of amassing wealth illegally and misappropriation of State assets.
- Providing adequate security to the witnesses and their families who come forth to give evidence.
- Introducing a scheme to record the gifts and presents received by Ministers, parliamentarians, and State officials
- Prohibiting Ministers, parliamentarians and State officials from receiving gifts and presents at all levels and tightening the laws against bribery and corruption. And totally forbidding those found guilty of these offenses to enter politics.
- A Commission to be set up to take up cases of bribery, corruption and frauds of Ministers, Parliamentarians and State officials on the model of the United States of America Justice dispensing Court Agencies.
This is UNP ‘s long term and primary plan to completely eradicate corruption in this country. We expect to further develop these remedies with the people’s ideas. People’s assistance and co-operation to rid this country of this scourge which has reached alarming proportions will therefore be of great value.
Powered by Post2Blog Express
It was not so long ago that visits by visiting foreign dignitaries, especially those from the countries that had taken a special interest in the Sri Lankan peace process, evoked a sense of great expectations in a positive sense. But it was not so this time. The changed perception about the international community was brought to the fore with the recent visit to the country of US Assistant Secretary for State, Richard Boucher. His main effort appears to have been to express US concern about the deteriorating human rights situation, the threats to media freedom and the absence of progress in the formulation of a government proposal for a political solution to the ethnic conflict.
By Jehan Perera
Mr Boucher’s visit to the northern capital of Jaffna was a clear indication of his effort to show solidarity with the civilian victims of the ongoing military confrontation that has pitted the Sri Lankan government against its long term nemesis, the LTTE. Unlike past visits by US dignitaries, which were eagerly awaited by governments hoping to obtain reassurances of continuing and strengthening of support from the US this one was viewed with more circumspection. The government clearly felt itself on the defensive with the visiting US dignitary, even persuading him to restrict his movements in Jaffna on the grounds of security.
Providing context to the visit was the expression of concern by several US senators and congressmen about the deteriorating human rights situation in the country and the shift in power away from the hawkish Bush administration to the more moderate Democrats. International human rights organisations such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have been openly critical of the government. However, in keeping with the better traditions of diplomacy, Mr Boucher is reported to have struck a balance with his introductory comments reiterating the US government’s commitment to help Sri Lanka face the threat of terrorism, and his later comments expressing US concerns.
The rapid decline in international support to the Sri Lankan government is one of the most serious problems that the country faces today. Only some countries such as Japan have set themselves against this trend, and continue to believe in the value of constructive engagement. Government spokespersons and nationalist allies have begun to take the fight back to the international community, which could turn into a rout. Western diplomats in Colombo have begun to voice their concern that they are being denied access to government leaders who no longer seem interested in engaging with them, or listening to the concerns they have. Unfortunately this has set off a negative reaction within the government that is dangerous to the country.
Last week, government allies held protest demonstrations in front of the British High Commission. This was to register their anger against the interference by a group of Parliamentarians from Britain who have formed an all party group to support the Tamils of Sri Lanka. So far the British government has not distanced itself from this endeavour, even though the British parliamentary group has proposed to invite the LTTE’s political wing leader to have discussions with them in London. The British decision to partially suspend its aid programme on account of the deteriorating human rights situation may be the beginning of more bad tidings to come.
Spokespersons for the government who believe that they can argue their point of view with the representatives of foreign governments are dealing with only one part of the problem. A few weeks ago government spokespersons began dropping hints that the government intended to take some drastic measures against foreign diplomats who have been interfering in domestic affairs of Sri Lanka. Some western diplomats have been publicly critical of government policies in respect of human rights and the rule of law. But this may be less a sign of personal arrogance than a sign of the democratic pressures from within their own societies that these diplomats are responding to.
Those in Sri Lanka who feel that the international community is being unduly critical of the Sri Lankan government need to understand the imperatives of politics that influence the decisions of democratically elected governments. Most foreign governments that are playing an important role in Sri Lanka are subject to democratic pressures from their constituents. They have a problem when they are seen as giving public funds to governments that are violating human rights. The Tamil expatriate community living in those countries have been generally effective in getting their viewpoint across at the expense of the government’s viewpoint.
Most Tamils living abroad feel that they have been compelled to leave their land of birth due to intolerable persecution and threats to personal security that they faced. This has given them more passion and commitment in their efforts to shape international public opinion. Also, the sentiment of most people is to side with the underdog, even without much study of the problem. The Tamil case of being an ethnic minority that is suffering at the hands of an ethnic majority has a natural appeal. Added to this is the streamlined and disciplined fundraising and propaganda machine that the LTTE has been able to develop over the years, both within Sri Lanka and abroad.
What Sri Lanka appears to be experiencing at the present time is a clash of cultures. The present Sri Lankan government, and in particular the President, have demonstrated a creative ability to communicate to the masses of Sri Lankan people. This accounts for the patience with which the people are tolerating the many setbacks that they cannot fail to be seeing the country as experiencing, both in terms of the sharply rising cost of living, as well as absence of progress in quelling the power of the LTTE especially after the LTTE air raids. However, this same government appears to be unable to communicate its point of view to the international community, or more specifically its western component.
Therefore what is happening is that there is a growing sense of estrangement and antagonism between the western countries and the government, which is leading to a breakdown in communication. It is reported that many western diplomats are unable to obtan appointments to meet with senior government authorities, who seem to have written them off as being hopelessly biased. The lack of engagement and communication, in turn adds to the sense of estrangement. This is not in the interests of either side, particularly the Sri Lankan people who yearn for peace, a just solution to the ethnic conflict and the hope of prosperity at least for their children.
Sri Lanka’s garment industry, for instance, is heavily dependent on the goodwill of the western countries and a responsible government will know that it cannot afford to lose that market. Currently the European Union provides Sri Lankan garment exports the benefit of duty free status. This same concession has not been provided to China. The 12.5 percent duty waiver that Sri Lankan exports receive, help it to have a cost advantage against Chinese exports. If this concession were to be withdrawn due to the breakdown in relations between the EU and Sri Lanka, it is likely that the Sri Lankan garment industry will be devastated, with adverse consequences on the country’s foreign exchange earnings and the livelihoods of tens of thousands of families.
As a small and relatively under developed country Sri Lanka needs the international community for its welfare, and what it offers, more than the other way round. Although the nationalist allies of the government, who have power without responsibility, appear to be itching for confrontation with the international community, it appears that the government is having second thoughts. Sharp retaliation can be satisfying in the long term, but the long term viability of such an approach is doubtful if the country’s best interests are to be foremost. Mutual engagement that includes moves to satisfy each other’s concerns may be the more statesmanlike path that a responsible government needs to follow in dealing with its western critics. -Wijeya Newspapers
Powered by Post2Blog Express