Post War responsibilities of politicians, bureaucrats and NGOs
The guns and grievance of war have fallen silent and here we stand at
the threshold of an era of development a time for Rebuilding Sri Lanka.
This it must not merely be interpreted as a physical state of growth and
expansion; we need also to rebuild the human values and ties that form
the basis of a progressive nation and people, involving all sectors of
Now that the country has closed the chapter on terrorism, our
collective attention should be diverted to the next challenge of
rehabilitation reconstruction and reconciliation of a shattered nation.
The challenge no doubt is monumental considering the many facets and the
diverse issues that have to be taken into the equation.
The responsibility and expectation from every Sri Lankan to recognise
this need, and subscribe to a national movement of solidarity and social
harmony keeping the broader objectives of peace and national integration
cannot be over emphasised.
In short what is required is a holistic approach to address the past
war needs. While the Government will map out the blue print for post war
rehabilitation, reconstruction and reconciliation all sectors of society
have a scared duty to contribute to the efforts of the Government
particularly, Politicians, Bureaucarts and Non Governmental
Lessons of the past
The problems we faced as nation after the tsunami have been
demoralizing and horrendous. Looking back at these problems we can with
a degree of certainly assert that these can be attributed to the lack of
adequate appreciation and understanding of the responsibilities and
accountabilities of Politicians, Bureaucrats and Non Governmental
Organizations. They regrettably failed to realize that they were
accountable and responsible for their actions and official conduct to
It is accepted without dispute that the ultimate success or failure
of politicians are interwoven and dependent on the degree of their
commitment to their responsibilities and manifestation of their conduct
and the transparency and accountability to the people. Sir Winston
Churchill said, "the price of greatness is responsibility" while Albert
Schwiertzer maintained, "Man must cease attributing his problems to his
environment and learn to exercise his will, his personal responsibility
in the realm of faith and morals."
Very simply "accountability" implies responsibility and the
requirement to account for one's action. In a democratic society control
by Parliament becomes imperative as any Government in power becomes
accountable automatically to the people. An essential feature of a
democracy is that responsibility of rulers to the people, unlike in an
This responsibility is secured by the responsibility of the Ministers
to Parliament. Democratic governments have continuously attempted to
jealously maintain this responsibility or accountability of politicians
and office holders to the people." This is the cornerstone of democracy,
since those elected to govern are answerable to the people who elected
It is sad that in this hour of national reconciliation, certain
politicians continue to harp on ethnic divisions and military defeats
and victories. Unless all politicians act with a greater sense of
responsibility, accountability and transparency the efforts of the
Government to rebuild, rehabilitate and re-build will be invain.
The responsibility of the leadership of all political parties should
be to create a strong sense of citizenship that would help to build
loyalty. This will not happened unless the leadership place the
country's interest before that of their narrow political loyalties and
unite to build up the foundation to create among the citizens the
essence of a national identity. Patriotism is intrinsically linked to
that of developing a national identity.
At the present time we see most politicians covering wrapping
themselves within the euphoria of victory and pronouncements of freedom,
but one wonders how many of them will forego their own parochial
interests in order to build up a consensus to build a national identity
which will while accepting cultural differences also ensure equal
opportunities for all and thereby creating a Sri Lankan identity.
Aid an assistance
With the spontaneous surge of sympathy among the local as well as the
international community, expressive of their desire and generosity to
help rehabilitate unfortunate, the displaced relief collection centers
that are mushrooming in every nook and corner of the island and with the
aid that is flowing from abroad, the need for absolute transparency and
accountability in the disbursement of aid is an absolute necessity.
It is necessary to emphasise that all political parties should be
committed to participate and contribute to the rehabilitation and re
construction and rehabilitation drive of the Government. All political
leaders should not lose this opportunity to unite the country, and the
people and also zealously ensure the best utilization of the assistance
from the international community.
The bureaucracy and the public servants are essential cogs in the
state machinery. They have a very important role to play in bringing Sri
Lanka out of the tragic predicament. 'Bureaucracy' means different
things to different people. Following the tsunami devastation, people
became increasingly aware of the growing significance of the bureaucracy
in the reconstruction, rebuilding and rehabilitation process.
Very rarely do people think of the bureaucracy as an essential
organization to carry out complex activities in a more complex modern
society. However following the re-assessment of the government machinery
and the infrastructure the need to effectively make use of the
bureaucracy was adequately realized during the post tsunami period, it
had a significant role, but how effectively it performed its role is
It must be appreciated that public officials today work in an
acquisitive society where money is of paramount importance and people
are hooked to consumerism. Therefore it is hardly fair to expect
unquestionable integrity only from the public officers either at top or
bottom of the scale.
Appreciating the present scenario in the public service and the
problems encountered during the post tsunami period in the process for
disbursement of relief, adequate safeguards should be adopted
emphasizing the humanitarian aspects of their service, this is crucial
to the proper functioning of the government and in the task of
reconstruction and rehabilitation.
The achievement of high standard of ethical conduct among public
officials is central to the maintenance of public trust and confidence
in the whole process.
The distribution of relief is not just another routine office job. It
needs the commitment of a dedication and empathy on the part of the
social worker. In an era where self aggrandizement is taken as a virtue
with politicians giving the lead, committed social workers are rare
among public servant.
President Mahinda Rajapaksa has, with single-minded determination
destroying the capacity of the LTTE to wage war in any serious form.
Also by speaking to the Tamil speaking population in their langauge on
more than one occasion, he has demonstrated his wish to establish a
genuine rapport with them.
Considering the President's efforts to communicate with the Tamil
people in their language, we everyone would like to see the bureaucracy
to do likewise in their day to day work. All of us are well aware that
the provisions relating to the use of Tamil in state activities have
been mostly ignored in the past.
Hence the first priority would be to ensure in a very proactive
manner, that the bureaucracy does not continue with the lapses and
contravention of the past three or more decades.
Non Government Organizations
Non-Governmental Organization should recognize that they stand to
lose a unique opportunity to play a significant role in supporting the
Government effort to foster and maintain peace and effectively caring
for the nearly 300,000 displaced persons. They should show genuine
passion for these innocents in war and that the generous foreign
assistance coming in from abroad direct to various voluntary
organizations, are used strictly for rehabilitation.
These funds requires strict monitoring. Some of these voluntary
organizations in the past have been linked to political and even
terrorist organizations given the appalling track record of some NGO and
dubious activities while that have been operating in Sri Lanka, there is
little to trust as for their motives and modus operandi.
Some of them are headed by extremely dubious characters that have
gained international notoriety. They may have created extremely fertile
political for the seeds of political destabilization to be sown.
Also some expatriate workers based in the island cannot be completely
trusted to ensure that the aid is such massive quantities will be
distributed equally in a transparent manner. We are all aware that head
of a leading in go Forut were ordered out on grounds of national
security. This ugly aspect has revealed itself in the past with
The need to emphasis and impress on all NGOs of their
responsibilities cannot be over emphasized. Further the activities and
operations of NGOs who apparently are trying to fish in trouble waters
should carefully be monitored.
Magnitude of the task
Sri Lanka delivered a spectacular victory against all, national and
internationally aspected terrorism which is unique in the world today.
All this now stands before the Sri Lankan people in their triumph as a
mighty example to the whole world of how to deal with terrorists that
are intransigent to compromise, realism and reason. The task before us
Finding the finance required for rehabilitations from within the
country, in a particularly several financial bind the country finds
itself in, is difficult, if not impossible. Catering to the daily needs
of about 300,000 refugees in the camps by providing them with
accommodation, water, food, medicines and shelter are staggering tasks.
Although the UN Secretary General's and some foreign accounts of the
conditions of these people are dismal, there are reliable reports that
indicate the Government is making a good effort in the overwhelming
situation of the huge refugee problem.
The international accounts appear to not recognize the enormity of
the task, the limitation in resources both physical and personnel and
the security concerns that have to be looked into in the admission of
personnel and suppliers. It is in this context that the work of the
Government is unenviable.
While the Government will make valiant attempt to bring about
development. But tangible will not come as fest as we would like.
Infrastructure takes time to be laid out, economies and markets take
time to respond, and deep rooted structural deficiencies in public
sector finance and governance cannot be changed overnight. We must be
If Sri Lanka is to come out the percent predicament, values and
attitudes have to change and the sense of right and wrong has to be
restored and "accountability" and "responsibility" be zealously ensured
at all levels. Can the Government bring about this change? If so how?
Yes, it is possible by effective strategies formulated and directed to
build "values" and zealously promote ethical behaviour and conduct at
all levels of those who hold public office.
In 1945 Tokyo was completely devastated robbery, stench, begging,
prostitution, demoralization, lack of public service, confronted the
Japanese. They began to live under macarthur's occupation. Yet today
Tokyo is among the most affluent, progressive, safe and orderly cities
in the world.
How did they graft new values to the traditional culture? The
humiliating and ignominious defeat in the war and economic consequences
placed Japan in an unenviable predicament.
In its effort to rebuild, the concept of the four D's - Diligence,
Dexterity, Discipline and Dedication which attributes were deep rooted
in Japanese society were significantly and painstakingly instilled in
the Japanese mind. The significance and relevance of such concepts in
the present cannot be overstated. All politicians, bureaucrats and NGOs
have a sacred duty to effectively support the Government in rebuilding,
reconstruction and rehabilitation efforts.
The Government and the valiant armed forces have done their duty to
the country by freeing it from terror and giving us an opportunity to
start with a clean state. Now it is our turn of all citizens of this
country, especially the Sinhalese, to help make the dream of peace a
reality and reflect "peace" in our thoughts and actions and act with
compassion considering thousands of innocents in war, now in refuge
His Holiness, the Dalai Lama has emphatically stated says
responsibility dose not only lie with the leaders of our countries or
with those who have been appointed or elected to do a particular job. It
lies with each of us individually. Peace, for example, starts within
each one of us.
When we have inner peace, we can be at peace with those around us.
Reconciliation will take time. It will need all our prayers and most
importantly, all our efforts. Prejudices still abound. In this regard,
while our Politicians any Bureaucrats have a big role to play, the
responsibility lies with every single one of us. We have a long way to
go before we can rest. It is a journey that can only be taken together.