Over two years late but it is finally upon us. Thanks to a whole host of concerns expressed from various quarters including the private media, the government have finally relented and the local government polls are upon us.

We are at an interesting crossroad. On the one hand we have had claim and claim that the previous administration were ever so corrupt. The claimants inter-alia gave us an assurance that corruption would end and that a new beginning would emerge. They promised that the previously corrupt ones would be held accountable and dealt with to the full extent the law of our land permits.

On the other hand we have upon us a scenario of intense corruption and a departure from process so huge in number that it threatens to lay siege to the very fabric of the life we lead – the Sri Lankan way of life.

It has become apparent to the voting public – the innocent – that no matter which of the parties secure most of our votes, corruption has become almost set in stone. The battle to eradicate that or reduce it even, to the barest of minimums is a long hard trek.

Hard because the beneficiaries of corruption have become used to a lifestyle that is far beyond their wildest imaginations and because they have become addicted to the benefits of corruption.

Living way beyond their station of life, spending sums of monies they are unlikely to legitimately earn in their day job, the corrupt are changing the way in which corruption is being viewed and received. The public at large now simply know that without the consideration of ‘something small’ some people in authority will not deliver, ever.

The problem of course is that ‘something small’ is now running into millions of dollars. Clearly the explosion of the economy has also meant that the levels of monies made outside of the system (corruption) has also grown exponentially.

It is therefore essential that every opportunity be created and made even, to fight the cancer of corruption.

The public must be able to insist (as the Prime Minister did about the introduction of the auction system for bonds) that every Ministry, Minister, Department, government official, is transparent about their dealings especially when any form of public expenditure is even contemplated upon.

This would mean that when any person with a potential for obtaining financial benefit is to meet with government agencies and officials it would be incumbent on them to disclose any and all dealings before the actual meeting. And to report on the outcome too.

Sri Lanka will need to take corruption and its horrendous, cancerous march into our souls if not our bank accounts, very seriously indeed.

There is no gain remembering that in the years gone by we had outstanding Ministers including Don Stephen Senanayake. He welcomed the opportunity for Ceylon (as it then was) to uncover and elicit details of the allegations surrounding his own brother who was Chairman of a corporate accused of receiving favour.

No gain because it is up to the people of this country to tackle corruption and to instil solid values to our children – our future. This is one component that the public can play the most critical of roles. They can achieve this by starting with their own children and to instil a sense of pride and duty on their children – in the sure knowledge that as they pass from children to adults, they will have with them a pretty good idea of what is wrong and right. They must also instil on their children a sense of pride and a duty of care. To lead a life that will be not only exemplary but also inspiring to the next man on the street.

Sri Lanka cannot afford to leave it all in the hands of the legislators. Over 70 years ago we became masters of our own destiny.

Sri Lanka needs to take quiet stock. Savour the truth. What have we achieved and where are we going now?

We must be in a position to insist that our legislators become accountable to us. Regular weekly ‘meet the constituency’ surgeries must be essential. And the practise of members crossing over from party to party almost like vermin on the hunt for scraps must be put to bed soon rather than later.

Never before has the time been apt for Sri Lanka to ask for legislation be introduced that will control election funding. The principal cause of political patronage and then corruption can be traced back to this inequitable state of affairs – where finance or crudely put, Money – shapes the working plans of government and impacts directly on the government’s plans to manage its finances and our economy prudently as though the Prime Minister or the President were looking after their own personal, legitimately earned finances.

Unfortunately we are unable to disclose quite who will fit the bill – suffice to say that there are 8,500 plus newcomers at this local government poll and there must be a good chance that future leaders will be there amongst that number.

The art would be to identify that person, nurture that person, encourage that person and continuously hold that person responsible and accountable at each and every opportunity.

It may pay to remember that you should consider ‘ Vote against corruption – if you do not vote it may well be a vote for corruption ‘.

We simply can’t have that, now, can we?

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