18 June 2015

"Good Governance Vs Corruption" and Sajith Premadasa's cheap talk

Sajith Premadasa has taken a long break from attacking his leader, Ranil Wickremesinghe.  Perhaps he’s been sobered by recent developments.  Perhaps he has taken the trouble to read the party constitution and has realised that it is next to impossible to oust the man.  Perhaps he decided to follow his father Ranasinghe Premadasa who dug in and stayed the course until his time came.  

Having dropped the ‘I am better than Ranil’ slogan, Premadasa apparently needs a new ‘other’, a new ‘Us Vs Them’ drama.  He’s got himself one.  The other day he said ‘This is a war between the good governors and the corrupt’ [යහ පාලකයින් සහ දූෂිතයින් අතර සටනක් ].  It is tempting to write about the good governor and all that is bad about the Central Bank, but let’s leave that aside.  Let us focus instead on the fundamental point that Premadasa has missed.  

It is not a battle between the good and the bad.  If it was then all the good guys would be on one side and all the baddies on the other.  It is not that the good people are all in one party and the bad in some other group.  And that’s the reality that Premadasa cannot or doesn’t want to see.  The problem is that if you can’t or don’t see it you are not serious about good governance or anything for that matter. It’s just politics.  

Just the other day there was a challenge posted on Facebook.  People were asked to name politicians who understood what ‘shame’ is.  The implication of course is that the vast majority are shameless.  What was being sought was the identification of men and women with principles.  The cupboard, as the comments showed, is pretty bare.  There are precious few people who have the moral authority to think and talk of ‘good governance’.  

It is not a problem or an issue or a malady that is specific to politicians and politicians alone.  If there are corrupt politicians who are, let’s say, ‘in the take’ then there are also non-politicians who are ‘in the give’.  The same goes for public officials.  There’s corruption of all kinds in the private sector (over and above what might be called theft constitutionally sanctioned).  Premedasa cannot pretend not to know all this.  

If he is serious about this ‘Good Governors Vs The Corrupt’ Saith Premadasa should look around him.  Does he really think that his colleagues in the United National Party (UNP) are serious about good governance? 

If he were to pick randomly from the campaign speeches against Mahinda Rajapaksa he would have come across words and terms such as corruption, nepotism, fraud, bribery and wastage.  Can Premadasa look us in the face and say that none of this has happened since January 8, 2015?  Wouldn’t he have to admit that a lot of shady things are being justified by saying something along the lines of ‘the previous regime did the same!’ or ‘it was worse under the Rajapakasas’?  If so, wouldn’t he have to throw in some qualifiers?  For example, should he not talk about ‘better governance’ and about ‘less corruption’?  Or, if he is going to be holier-than-thou about it, should the man not resign forthwith?

Take is cheap, Mr Premadasa.