Losers fishing in troubled waters
Posted on April 22nd, 2020

By Rohana R. Wasala

The November 2019 inauguration of president Gotabhaya Rajapaksa rekindled bright hopes of national resurgence. The visions of peace and prosperity that bloomed in the years following the end of nearly three decades of civil war in 2009 faded in the years 2015-19. While the people were eagerly looking forward to electing a new parliament, the entirely unexpected COVID-19 pandemic struck the world and its deleterious impact is being currently experienced in Sri Lanka as well. The state health and security forces tasked with containing the spread of the disease are doing their job extremely well, hardly caring for their own health. The leadership provided by the president and the government is a vital factor here, as much as the patriotic commitment of the health sector workers (doctors, nurses, and paramedics), the triforces and the police personnel, and the intelligence sectors. This was complemented by the high level of cooperation extended by ordinary citizens. However, such galvanizing of the state machinery and the citizenry would be inconceivable without the kind of true leadership that is being provided by those at the helm today.   As Simon Sinek said, Leadership is a responsibility. It is not about being in charge. It’s about taking care of those in your charge.” The president and the government-appointed under him are taking care of the country and the people.

How well this is being done by them has already been acknowledged even internationally. A research study commissioned by the Institute of Certified Management Accountants (Australia) to evaluate the response and leadership observed in each country, and to thereby develop a Global Response to Infectious Diseases (GRID) index to indicate the level of efficiency and effectiveness of its leadership and the preparedness of its health system demonstrated in confronting the Covid-19 pandemic. The ICMA thinks that the index will be a motivator for the relevant country in tackling a future pandemic or other crisis situation. Sri Lanka is ranked 9 in the highly reliable ICMA study. New Zealand ranks 1, and Australia 4, and America 70..  This is unprejudiced international recognition of the efficiency and effectiveness of Sri Lanka’s current political leadership.(Information used here about the ICMA and its GRID Index, and the Simon Sinek quote above is taken from the cmawebline.org website)

Former UNP MP and current SJB member Ajith Perera was heard (April 19) trying to discredit this distinguished ICMA ranking of Sri Lanka by arguing that the government got its friends in Australia to produce that allegedly fake result. He said that some Sri Lankans including Nalaka Godahewa are influential members of the  ICMA. Such baseless accusations are more likely to be condemned as an unwarranted smear on that globally operating civic organization of certified management accountants than a blind attack on the Sri Lankan government on its management of the effects of the pandemic. The only saving grace in this Ajith Perera episode is that he himself has not much credibility as a local politician and that therefore his words need to be taken with a pinch of salt. As for the  Melbourne headquartered ICMA, it is a legally established business professional body; it was duly incorporated under the laws of the Victoria State government in the year of its inauguration (1996) and is accredited by the Commonwealth of Nations under the category of Civic Organisations. There are many certified management accountants of Sri Lankan origin who are members of the ICMA. Nalaka Godahewa, with a Ph.D. in Economics from the University of South Australia (2008), and various other advanced qualifications from UK universities relating to his field of speciality,  demonstrated his excellent management skills as a brilliant technocrat during the time of the 2009-14 government of the then president Mahinda Rajapaksa. His well-intended, result-oriented but his novel, daringly unconventional methods earned him the envy of his detractors and made him vulnerable to legal persecution at the hands of MR’s successors in 2015. Ajith Perera may be reverting to his partisan dislike of Dr. Nalaka Godahewa.

The ICMA sponsored study obtained its raw data (i.e., unprocessed information or data not subjected to doctoring) from the Worldometer website, something that guarantees the credibility of the results. Dr. Chris D’Souza is Chief Financial Officer (CFO) and Chief Operating Officer (COO) of CMA, Australia.  So contrary to what local critics like Ajith Perera may say, the authenticity of the  Global Response to Infectious Diseases (GRID) index assigned to Sri Lanka cannot be called into question.   

While the government is thus handling the Covid-19 crisis with a fair degree of success, the opposition consisting of the estranged Yahapalana politicos, currently left high and dry, appear to be seeking to make a comeback courtesy the coronavirus pandemic, all the time pretending that the government is anxious to have early elections at any cost. Even the Yahapalanaya appointed Election Commission seems to be sympathetic to them. The EC’s constitutional role is of vital importance in this context. The EC commissioners are responsible for conducting the electoral process in absolute impartiality. However, the sayings and doings of two members of the three members of the Election Commission over the past four or five years have been perceived by neutral observers as favouring a return to the anarchical Yahapalana state of affairs. The Island editorial points out today (April 20), one of the serious flaws of the controversial 19A is that for meetings of the EC to be quorate, all three members must attend them. This gives anyone dissident member to absent himself so as to make the meetings inquorate. I remember Foreign Relations minister Dinesh Gunawardane predicting, a few weeks ago, a situation like this that could worsen a possible constitutional crisis involving the holding of elections. Meanwhile, Jayampathy Wickremaratne PC, a former national list MP and a so-called constitutional expert who is usually made out to be the principal drafter of the faulty 19A is calling for reconvening the malfunctioning parliament of buffoons that stands dissolved today.    Such attempted sabotage of the country’s transition from Yahapalana anarchy to political stability under the SLPP will be lethal for democracy, which these worthies habitually swear by. The Island had to interview Hoole while he is apparently holed up in Jaffna due to the curfew is significant. (A new date for the next parliamentary election – June 20 –  was declared, apparently amidst controversy, by the Election Commission after the first draft of this article was emailed to The Island newspaper, where it appeared yesterday/April 22, 2020. It was marginally touched up for Lankaweb.)

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