Friday, May 6, 2016

Follow UP on the RTI Bill and the SC rulings

I read today that the Govt. will make the necessary amendments so that the Bill will only require a simple majority to pass. If one is to believe the attached link, the Govt. says it will only strengthen the Bill with the amendments!

Frankly it is a level of logic I just don’t buy, but in order to study it further, I tried to obtain a copy and tied to understand the goings on as to why the SC ruled such and so come to my conclusions. I was however thwarted in my search, as it is NOT freely available to download and study.

If there is any one who reads this and has the latest draft of the Bill that was submitted to the SC I would like to get a link to where it can be found, together with the particular clauses which were of concern.

I am making this statement following on from the earlier entry in the link below

It is important that the RTI Bill and thereafter the ACT is reflective of the best practice, taking into consideration the various ACTs currently in existence throughout the world, and the inconsistencies, and the inability of some, to be practiced, due to impractical considerations, that were not pointed out prior to their enactment. We, by delaying this for so long, have a wealth of experience from around the world to use, in order to improve the quality so the right balance is achieved, where certain information if divulged too early would lead to missing opportunities benefitting Sri Lanka, would be recognized as being sacred cows that do not have to be disclosed.

There must be some ability to make minor amendments to the ACT to take account of unforeseen possibilities that may suddenly occur, that the ACT interprets in a way that is detrimental to the common good that obviously requires immediate amendment, due either an anomalous situation, or a previously unforeseen even taking place that makes an ass of the current legislation in that particular area.

The most important point now is NOT to make any more excuses, but to immediately do the needful to have the Bill make into law, and there is excellent communication, with the people, and a responsible media to explain the parts that will help with good governance and efficient government.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Let’s talk about the RTI Bill requiring a two thirds majority

I have not studied the details of the Supreme Court ruling regarding the draft RTI bill that HAS received assent by all the Provincial Councils, and has been a part of the Govt. 100 day plan that is yet to take shape, and is an integral part of the political reforms that the public have VOTED FOR and are WAITING FOR!

So it is incumbent upon the Govt. to ensure this Bill becomes law, by taking every endeavor to get the two thirds majority it needs in the Parliament. I am apprehensive that there may be horse-trading, where rogues in Parliament may wish their particular investigations be permanently dropped if they are to give their vote for the Bill! That smacks of getting away with murder!

It has caught the Govt. between a rock and hard place and those parliamentarians who want to play the game of bluff and counter bluff with the people are those who are most happy with this ruling. In fact that number amounts to the whole parliament, with no one really wanting it to be passed, as it is them and them only who are at most risk of exposure due to the waste of public money that they continue to daily indulge in.

So my dear reader, what has happened? This independent Supreme Court has just put on the blinkers of legal status as it pertains to the present discredited Constitution, and said that two thirds is needed knowing very well that it will not be forthcoming and if they remove those important clauses of the bill, then the whole value of a basically decent RTI Bill becomes indecent, and WORTHLESS.

The people of Sri Lanka are yet caught up between a rock and hard place. Is there any condition upon which the Supreme Court can determine otherwise? Especially because without the clauses the spirit of the January 8th revolution is cast aside to a more sedate and less stringent one, that does not achieve the ends of Good Governance.

I will appreciate an opinion of a more educated person who can give me an answer as to how this problem can be resolved in the best interests of the Spirit of the Bill to be of benefit in the QUEST FOR GOOD GOVERNANCE.

I am concerned that this is the tip of the iceberg in delaying tactics, and we just cannot afford to be tripped up at every step of the way, opening the gates for those who are power hungry to grab whatever chance by fooling the people yet again, and not being honest with what is best for the Country. 

I am appalled that I have not seen any analysis of this in the press, or any concern stated by Govt. to ensure all steps will be taken to make this bill, LAW!  

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

We the people want to defend our institutions against the destructive onslaught!

BUT our elected leaders acting like clowns make it harder for us to defend this stance. Drastic steps must be taken to correct this status if we are to preserve the Unitary Nature of our Country, and forever banish any idea of putting up any barriers within this tiny island, with a population less than many cities.

There is NO decorum nor manners in Parliament because the ATA PASS KATTIYA rule over us, and we seem to like to elect this genre as they have the foulest mouths, and proven track record of criminals. Little wonder then that an incarcerated Politician scored the highest preferential votes at the last Election, because people feel sympathy for crooks, but don’t like those who work for a living, as the example of noble life are of those WHO DON’T EARN A LIVING BY THEIR PHYSICAL OR MENTAL TOIL.

By the way some who claim degrees or doctorates are in fact ATA PASS actors.

Workers of Sri Lanka, we must regain Sri Lanka from the SHIRKERS, who have made it an art and science to rule over the workers, and tax them when they breathe or even take the phone to make a call, while they overspend the public money, have NO concern for those who pay all their bills, and have not the slightest concern for the long suffering public who provide them with their lifestyle, almost as a GOD GIVEN right to them to live, leaching on us!!

There is NO quick fix to solve our problems. However it is easy to solve if we live by a few principles of Government, if enacted into our New Constitution. All along in my blog I have made suggestions for improvement in every aspect of our lives, and so far they have fallen on deaf ears. However I note that now people have begun to realize the truth and practicality of what I have been saying for the last 11 years in Sri Lanka, that unless we have fundamental change of mindset we cannot make the changes we need to reverse this mass desecration of our Island by our elected representatives, and their stooges who ingratiate themselves to their coat tails, be they the Law Enforcement Officers, the Judiciary, the village thugs or the Big Business Tycoons, all who have put self-interest above common interest.

The stumbling block as I see it is the voter, who is still easily fooled by divisive politics and lies, not having the education to dissect between truth and evil, choosing evil or good! None of those in power seem to want to change that status quo as it appears that they benefit from that mindset. SO it is up to us workers, to begin a movement of informing the people, painstakingly at first, but once there is sufficient momentum, those convinced can then seek more converts of their own, so that by the next election, the babies are thrown out with the bath water.

Just see what roadblocks have been put up on the RTI Bill, has anyone even dissected what the problem is and how one can solve the SC impasse? Even Colombo Telegraph only inform, NOT opine, so we have a 4th Estate that has yet to grow up, further burdening the public to do their job too to get over that hurdle. BUT WE CAN and let us all join in this ESSENTIAL DUTY for the sake of A future for Sri Lanka.

“Mal Kadana Aka” - Sathuta Labapu akama dayata VAT baddath gahuwa!

Everyone I have asked “How much do you spend on reloading your phone each month?” has NOT been able to give me an answer to that. Why is that?

The telecommunication revolution of the mobile phone, reloading and sim cards has permitted ALL the people access to talking relatively cheaply with their friends acquaintances, and family. The pre-paid card used by 95% of mobile phone users, has further encouraged this activity as they are freely available at any kiosk or small kade. Today, there are more phones and sim cards than people who live in this Country.

So if I told the man in the street, that for every rupee they spend on their phone call, 54cents goes to the Govt. they will either NOT believe me, or invariably be unable to prove or disprove, as they don’t get a bill at the end of the month to be paid, which will hopefully show that analysis of calls, and the taxes paid thereon, and come to the reality that they pay a tax averaging Rs1,000 pm.

This is a highly insidious, but an extremely high yield (in excess of Rs50Billion in taxes to the Govt. per annum) revenue source to the state, funded exclusively by the MASSES who are mostly living hand to mouth.   

Of course you will say that they don’t have to use the phone, so then they will not pay the tax, it is almost like telling them don’t use electricity either! It is simply a way of life in 2016 and the broadband, smart phone, internet and data packages are also part and parcel of this same necessity that is NOT an option!

I would hazard a guess and say that most young people today, spend more on their phone than on their food and clothing in a month, and they choose to do so as they believe their life is curtailed somewhat if they are unable to be in mobile contact, at least by way of sms with their nearest and dearest!

What therefore is the most discretionary part of the phone usage, that may have to be cut to reduce the call time and therefore cost? The Sinhala idiom of “Mal Kadanawa” being the word used when someone is enjoying a conversation with a close friend, usually with romantic connotations, which gives the two in the conversation an air of passing the time of day on the phone with someone they love! 

That to me is something that is the most discretionary, and if one is forced to cut down on phone usage that is what gives.

Of course in the scheme of a person’s discretionary spending, they could cut down on food and NOT on phone calls, so it is a purely personal sacrifice.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Why is foreign Investment into Sri Lanka still a very chancy affair?

I have had many personal interactions with foreign investors and potential foreign investors into Sri Lanka, and have been privy to many deals, especially of those that have gone sour, in that the potential investor walked away due the actions of usually one individual who because he did not receive what was asked for, effectively unilaterally turned DOWN an extremely valuable proposal for the Country.

When personal interest is put in front of the National Interest, there have been numerous investment opportunities that have gone away. I particularly recall one from the Hungarians, about 10 years ago, which could have completely transformed our ecologically destructive sand mining industry, by using sea sand dredging using huge off shore dredging (unlimited sea sand is available at low cost, if this proposal had passed) and we could have saved over Rs 300 Billion on cost on sand in the economy alone! The investment would have paid for itself 10 times over by now too, therefore with NO cost to the State. The sand miners would have done other jobs that contributed to the economy, and filled the 250,000 vacancies we still have.

Of course one can only imagine what happened there. There were two sets of competing interests that put paid to this ecologically beneficial scheme, one being the existing local sand mining interests, especially the BIG MAFIA with political backing, and you can only guess how high it went, and in that case it was NOT a Rajapakse at the helm of the existing mafia. 

Secondly of course the commission requested, amounted to 50 % of the value of the project, and you can only guess who wanted that! Both these parties were traitors, and the Country is the sufferer, and I don’t understand why it is not a project now in the radar of the “yahapalanaya” government. Are the self interests still the same that prevent such a project from succeeding?  

So when I read the attached article it call came back to me, as there are PERSONAL agendas always, that are put before the National Good, that has lost so much for Sri Lanka. This Government continues to indulge in the same system, despite them professing not to. I wonder if the PM realizes the extent of these barriers to foreign investment, happening right under his nose.

In the above case in the link, we have a renewable energy authority that must keep abreast of the latest in technology in the world, and prepare a national policy statement that addresses this to solve our domestic energy needs, one of the most important policy decisions that this Govt. is NOT making despite statements to the contrary. Let’s do it as a starter, without delay. It is NOT right to give the decision making to the CEB whose knowledge on the latest technology is to say the least, so last century!

Monday, April 25, 2016

Time we had a serious re-evaluation of where we are headed!

Sri Lanka is a Country that is so out of touch with what is trending that we seem to be immersing ourselves with things behavior and ideas that other people have begun to reject, after learning the hard truths of life.

If examples are needed: The Scots who have plenty of Coal for the next thousand years, is closing down their Coal Power Plants due to its toxic effect on the Environment amongst other disastrous consequences, and we are EMBRACING this like it is the latest fad!

San Francisco is banning bottled water, and insisting on re-usable containers to sell, carry and transport potable water, whilst we are encouraging more bottlers to produce drinking water. Can you remember when this fad came into being? Look at the landfills with plastic bottles, that other Countries are recycling.

The link below is particularly poignant, where people in England are gong back to have their milk delivered to their homes by the milk man in reusable bottles. I used to have two gold topped pints of milk delivered to my digs in Uni, as that was all I could afford at one time for a full day’s meal, and I am not the worst for it now, struggling to keep off the weight gained in the past 5 years due to the difficulty of exercising from an injury received in a vehicle accident.

We in Sri Lanka, MUST MUST MUST think about our consumption habits, and return to the great habits that seem to be dying out, like using only glass reusable bottles when we drink tonics and sodas and soft drinks, instead of these huge mega bottles we are getting addicted to. I must confess, I am guilty too, but I am now trying to reduce my consumption of items with a lot of packaging that one finds hard to dispose of.

As part of this it is high time our local authorities, take the trash collection to another level, as fly tipping is becoming common in Sri Lanka with rubbish strewn all over the place, in a NOT IN MY BACK YARD syndrome, where your neighbors fence is fair game. How tragic is this thinking amongst our people.

The whole area of trash collection, sorting out by the homeowners, and receptacles for different types of garbage is sorely required as it will take years to train our extremely indifferent and hard to change people into thinking of the best interests of their environment, will be their own best interests too!

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Mandating a one term Politician – the only answer to our perennial problem

I don’t believe there are any contradictions to the phrase, that “politics and politicians have been at the root cause of the disaster that is Sri Lanka” So what may the simple answer to that problem of a turnaround from disaster to success!

Simple, not have politics or politicians at the helm, and only have people who are willing to sacrifice one term (5 years of their lives) for their Country, from various fields, be they farmers, or nurses, that actually contribute to the collective knowledge of democratically elected representatives. This will prevent lifers in Politics, many of whom litter the chairs in Parliament. A lifer just tries to justify his existence but has not contributed ONE IOTA to the betterment of his Country.

I know some people my say this is utopia, others will say it is NOT practical, and still others will say, it will just not work, as NO other Country has that type of policy, and therefore MUST be unworkable. I say no to all of them, as we MUST be at the forefront of thinking, not the laggards we currently are.

The problem is those who contribute to this forum are political scientists and older people with a lot to say about their experiences. To the un-initiated youngster, even the two party system or any party for that matter is unnecessary in this day and age. So having people who continuously feel they must be in politics is just a wholly unnecessary figment of the imagination, that could NOT serve any useful purpose.

It is best to argue that if we have a constitution that mandates policy on the major issues of our society, namely the right to drink clean water, breathe clean air, and eat food free of toxins, as well as equality to all (no discrimination) then we don’t have to give special dispensation to differently abled, minorities or the practice of beliefs different to ours, as long as they do not cause a public nuisance or disturbance!

Under this form of Constitution, my proposal of one term will change the way we elect people. The largest segment of capable people who have hitherto NOT thought of being elected, due to the rogues who occupy these positions will automatically wish to be included, edging out the uneducated and the people who go into politics because they are incapable of earning a living in any other area!

This will at a stroke open the Country up to people willing to dedicate a period of their lives for their country and return to their field or profession, after serving the 5 year term. Then they will have NO need for perks, pensions, permits and patronage, all together will save the Country trillions not just billions. This is the ONLY way out of the current status quo which we ALL agree has been a disaster and if it continues any longer will further reduce this beautiful country to destitution, and desolation.

Just consider those who have left Sri Lanka. They have left for better opportunities, that they have believed will never be available in Sri Lanka. In fact they are the people we can least afford to lose, the most productive of our citizens have been a boon to the host Country to which they migrate to. If only we had them in our midst all this time, we could have already achieved our goals. The reason they left was the absolutely untenable political climate, no matter who was in power, and dishing out the same is not the answer, despite the clamor for the same patronage dispensed by the Rajapakse regime filling 800,000 not needed jobs in Govt. leaving no more room for productive Public Service but a clamor to still get into public service, by the UNP hardcore who believe it is their right to be dished the same gravy.

The unfunded pension liability that the Rajapakse administration is sufficient treachery to send the whole family to the gallows in any other Country, but we have citizens who still believe they have life left in them to further entrap us in mounds more of debt, by filling even more non-existent jobs in the public service as a measure of perceived success.

In short, to get out of this spiraling crisis and vicious cycle, calls for drastic action, and only something like a one term in public office, with no means to graduate from one office to another, is the only answer.

It is a revolutionary idea, which many readers will take a while to understand, once they list out the pros and cons, and realize that in 2016 and beyond, with people (citizens) wherever they may reside, have the ability to vote directly through their fingerprint scanned smartphones ON EVERY BILL, presented in parliament, it avoids the need for parties and peoples representatives, except to safeguard our interests in our constituencies from external threats that affect our future, of ensuring the basic three I mentioned at the start of Water, Air and Food.

The elected representative will not worry about re-election and popularity, and with a conviction to make an impression in their only term in office will do their utmost to create a climate of trust, excellence and durability of action, all of which will contribute to less waste, more productivity and accountability of all decisions for the public good. The public trust will then be respected and rewarded with a Country that will be the envy of the world, not only of a unique experiment in Governing, but also in International Political Innovation.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Sri Lankan Airlines – We have known the truth for years, it is time to take corrective action and if a law has been broken to bring the crooks to book!

Why is it that people go on repeating the mantras without taking any action as a result of the findings of the scandals? We have got used to wastage of public money, by our elected representatives and their henchmen, but we have not yet taken concrete steps to do something about it.

What good is it for the Deputy Minister to explain the size of the loss, something that is not new, and known for over two years. They have only just quantified the actual figure! During these two years, investigations could have been carried out as to who gave the orders, on what basis, and the nature of the deals that were known at that time as being far-fetched to say the least.

Now the PM has also disclosed the extent of the fraud, and the huge debt burden this has placed on Sri Lanka, but that still has not gone far enough to explain what the Govt. is doing about it. Have they cancelled the deal? If so at what cost, if any? As with the state of the airline market and the need for planes of the size that have been ordered, they can easily be transferred onto other airlines, like Iran Air desperate for re-fleeting, with NO COST to Sri Lanka. This has NOT been contemplated, or if so not mentioned in the news item.

Will the Govt. take steps to prosecute those who have broken the law, if in fact this is what has happened. Unless the public are better informed of these, they are unlikely just to give the Govt. a grace period to sort out the mess created by the previous Govt. which is causing this crisis at present.

The erratic management of Sri Lankan Airlines has a lot to do with the losses of SOE’s and therefore needs special attention, as the sink hole seems to be open ended, whilst those of Ceylon Petroleum and CEB can now be restructured with less dire consequences! These three accounting for the bulk of the losses of SOE’s.

The intention of the Govt. of how they expect to deal with it, in simple words is LONG OVERDUE, as the mere mention of the problem is NOT ENOUGH, as it is NOT NEWS ANYMORE. The public is losing patience in wondering when these hugely wasteful decisions will result in those being held accountable!  

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

For the sake of Good Governance, the new IGP must be announced at least 90 days in advance of the retirement of predecessor!

In a Country that has still to get its lactating period out of the way, in typical fashion, (take the Attorney General’s Appointment as a guide of our deficiency) has not yet appointed the IGP designate, when the incumbent retires on Ap12th

Ideally the current IGP must be in a position of introducing his sucessor to the major honchos in the police, whilst at the same time taking his leave, as part of good practice, where the old man tells the subordinates, to give their rightful obeisance to the new IGP. This will not happen, as it will probably take, (With the New Year holiday period pending) till after April 20th when the new IGP is announced.

According to the link above there are 3 in the running, but one must in a time of change, break the rules and go for new thinking, even getting a person outside the service, even though it may be unprecedented, to clean up the culture, that is at the root of the present day problems of Sri Lanka and the difficulty of the Govt. to get their Good Governance Agenda to stick.

Today’s papers also speculates on likely appointments and why!

Look we have an unprecedented National Govt. comprising the leaders of the two main rival parties, in an uncomfortable marriage, surely this marriage needs a broker not from the past, but from the future, and a clear thinking HR lawyer of repute is probably more suited to the post of the IGP, who can instill NEW values to the Police Force, desperately needing some blood transfusion to get to change their thinking and vision for the future. All they are talking about as usual is a new uniform for the Police in keeping with their softer side!

It will shake up the ranks of the DIGs immediately, and their performance will be under closer scrutiny, as there will be NO OLD BOY links to a fresh face IGP with no baggage. (Remember DIG Vaas Gunewardena was allowed to run riot during the previous administration) and this way these mavericks will not be tolerated, worse put the whole Force into disrepute.

The police force is ripe for a technological revolution in the practices it currently adopts. The present force is frightened of the change, as they are still stuck with some outdated practices. Just look at the way the B report is written when you go to the police to make a complaint. 19th Century Policing surely! At the end of the day the public need to be served better by those upholding the law  

Friday, March 11, 2016

How can you get what you wish then?

In the previous blog entry, I explained that in order to change our political culture, which everyone I have spoken to subscribes to, that we must introduce term limits for all, and in this case JUST ONE TERM as the slogan, so a bad egg will only last one time, and GOOD EGGS can be replicated many times over! You can trust me that if someone does his job splendidly, another more competent person WILL enter the fray the next time round to out do that person, as there are so many capable people around, all of whom lie dormant not presenting themselves for election.

To go with one term, you open the possibility of Women joining the fray without hesitation, as the goal posts are now a different color, not just moved sideways! YOU DON’T HAVE TO ALLOCATE percentages for women or youth representation. Good people will put themselves forward, and it will be people who can be trusted to represent the interests NOT just of the people who voted them in but the greater community they represent, knowing that no favoritism is needed, as they will not be seeking another term.

Skeptics may say that this is just a pipe dream, but I say NO. I know the draft of the Constitution is being drawn by those with vested interests, but if there is enough of a public outcry, to push for such, because of the need for a referendum, it is likely that it is inserted and passed, even though all those currently in parliament WILL BE REMOVED BY LAW.

This is the ONLY time in our lifetime, and I believe in the next life time too to make this change, and if we don’t our children will curse us for forgoing a golden opportunity to change the system, at a time when the public is just fed up of the business as usual arrangement. Despite the huge political change that took place in 2015, it is the same faces in different disguises, doing almost the same things AGAIN, and now the people are just fed up to a point of disgust!

I know none of the elected politicians are aware of this disgust, as they are living in their own dream, mirage or make believe world, so we don’t have to appeal to them at all. We must select our own alternatives, put our proposals with cast iron foundation and press the powers to come up with a seamless concept devoid of parties, races and beliefs, in one overriding objective of taking control back into our hands.

So how about a slogan