The Citizens’ Movement for Good Governance (CIMOGG) welcomes the proposal made by Professor S.T.Hettige of the University of Colombo in a recent newspaper article to have an All Party Conference on Good Governance. We fear, however, that where political interests predominate, the Conference is bound to be faced with immense difficulties in arriving at any kind of a consensus. We suggest, therefore, that Professor Hettige’s proposal be modified slightly to achieve the same ends that he has in mind but with a greater probability of success.
We propose that Parliament should appoint a Select Committee of its own Members to function as a de facto All Party Committee on Good Governance and that it should create an autonomous AConsultative Committee for Good Governance (CCGG) to assist and advise the Select Committee, ie. to do the initial thinking and working out of details in a less politically-charged atmosphere. Each registered party having at least one Member in Parliament, would be called upon to nominate two persons of eminence and integrity to the CCGG. Every effort should be made to select persons who are knowledgeable and experienced in subjects such as constitutional safeguards, public administration, public finance, education, agriculture, health, employment, trade, the police service, and so on. Appointments should be subject to approval by the Constitutional Council, which we trust will soon be appointed. If this is done, there would be a high probability that the CCGG would collectively look at issues in a mostly apolitical and professional way. It would not be moved excessively by emotions relating to race, religion, caste or conflicting political agendas and would concentrate on practical problems relating to governance. Given permanent status, it would be an efficient force for arriving at consensual decisions, free of sectarian agendas, on a wide range of matters pertaining to the promotion of good governance.
A summary of the agreement reached by a two-thirds majority of the CCGG on any issue should be published in the Press and adequate time (say, two months) allowed for public comment. Any amendments required to accommodate suggestions offered by the public would be made by the CCGG. Its final report would then be communicated to the Select Committee, which would study the report and come to an AAll Party position on the contents of the CCGG’s report. The original report and the AAll Party views would be presented to the Cabinet by the relevant line Minister for whatever follow-up action is required. Thereafter, the Cabinet may recommend action by the Executive within the existing laws or the matter may be referred to Parliament as a whole for any necessary legislation to be passed. By adopting this proposal, Parliament would have the benefit of good, expert advice and yet be able to keep ultimate control of what is to be done.
If something on these lines is implemented, we believe that hope will be rekindled in the minds of those uncountable number of Sri Lankans who feel that there is no way to halt the downward spiral towards national self-destruction that would be the inevitable consequence of continuing with our present very poor level of governance. We, therefore, call upon the leaders of the various parties in Parliament to give earnest consideration to this proposal and to have the necessary legislation passed for its implementation.