作者Chaminda Abeysinghe/斯里蘭卡Kelaniya大學國際研究學系高級講師(Senior Lecturer)
Written by Chaminda Abeysinghe, Senior Lecturer, Dept. of International Studies University of Kelaniya

翻譯:林洺宥/中興大學國際政治所碩士
Translation by Min-You Lin, MA, Graduate Institute of International Politics, NCHU

Introduction

During recent years, issues related to governance have been gaining much attention among academics as well as policymakers (Pierre and Peters, 2012:1). The failure of achieving anticipated development objectives as well as the burden of newly emerging socio-economic needs of the peoples have paved the way for it. The emergence of good governance reforms, particularly in the developing world, became key to governance policy discourses by the end of the 1990s and first decade of the millennium under the patronage of international financial institutions. Sri Lanka, as a developing country, which suffered by protracted civil war, unbearable foreign debt, and the inefficient and incompetent governance, was seeking more accountable, responsible and effective, development oriented governance in post-war scenario. As a result of the culmination of this argument raised by different both local and foreign-funded pressure groups, policy makers and intellectuals, inspired the opposition alliance to make the public vigilant on good governance in Sri Lanka. Accordingly, a government change took place on 08th January, 2015, with higher expectations, given the newly elected United National Alliance, knowns as “Yahapalana government[1]” to establish democratic and development oriented good governance in Sri Lanka.  During the election campaign, the United National Party led opposition alliance assured the establishment of a democratic governance system in Sri Lanka with much-needed constitutional reform for strengthening good governance and political awareness in the country. In order to fulfill its promises, soon after the election, the newly elected government opened up a fresh discourse which was aimed at strengthening good governance practices which has been recognized highly by the external and internal supportive groups. Then, United National Alliance government introduced 19th amendment to the constitution to establish the promised good governance atmosphere in Sri Lanka during its “hundred days’ program”[2] in 2015.  The main objective of this paper is to explore the effectiveness of good governance practices which were strengthen by constitutional reform and examine the issues and challenges that have been met during last three and half years in Sri Lanka .

The Concept of Good Governance

Despite the fact that the notion of governance is as old as human history, the modern concept of good governance is relatively new (Woods, 2000). It first appeared in 1989 in the World Bank’s report on Aid efficiency of Sub-Saharan Africa (World Bank, 1989). Based on this report, the Bank called into question the ability, capacity and willingness of political authorities to govern effectively in the common interest. There was a heightened awareness that the quality of a country’s governance system is a key determinant of the ability to pursue sustainable economic and social development. Thus, the World Bank produced eight key elements which are involved in establishment of good governance.

Good Governance

Characteristics of the good governance

According to the World Bank, good governance can be defined as “the manner in which power is exercised in the management of a country’s economic and social resources for development” (World Bank, 1992). The UNDP definition of good governance is set out in a 1997 UNDP policy document entitled Governance for “Sustainable Human development”. The document states that governance can be seen as the exercise of economic, political and administrative authority to manage a country’s affairs at all levels. Osborne and Gaebler define the term Good Governance as a “panacea for all political ills in the march of democracy” (Osborn and Gaebler, 1991).  Through these definitions one can see that good governance is associated with efficient and effective administration in a democratic framework. It is equivalent to purposive and development oriented administration which is committed to improving the quality life of the people.

Back ground of the Good Governance Discourses in Sri Lanka

Sri Lank is a country which enjoyed democracy before it gain independence from the British.  Compared to other neighboring countries in the region, it obtained universal franchise early in 1931. Since then, Sri Lanka maintains a relatively vibrant democratic governance while achieving significant social, economic and political development standards. It has become ‘role model’ for newly independent countries during the second half of the 20th century.   However, after the 1956 general election, a new political economic approach was introduced by the newly elected government under the premiership of the SWRD Banadaranayeke who was backed by socialist parties. This government introduced a state-led, planned economic system to which was popular among many developing countries. After his assassination, his widow, Sirima  Bandaranayeke also continued the closed economic policies until end of her government. During Bandaranakekes’s regimes, many policies were welfare oriented and relied upon the Import Subsidiary Industrialization policies (ISI) which aimed at alleviation the poverty and inequality. Despite the fact that effective development policies were formulated by policy makers, many argue that, anticipated outcomes were hindered by the prevalence of inefficient, wasteful, and corrupt practices of the respective governments (Lakshmen, 1986).

In the general election held in 1977, the United National Party (UNP)[3], led by the JR Jayawardena won a landslide victory and it paved the way for creating radical political and economic changes. As its dominant as economic development perspective, the Jayewardene’s regime introduced open-economic policies by bringing neoliberal structural changes to the national economy. In order to safeguard economic stability, his government introduced new governmental and political changes under the constitutional reform of 1978. As result of that constitutional reform, the west-minister system inherited from the British (cabinet) was replaced by the executive-presidential system along with the representative governing system.

According to the UNP government those comprehensive political and economic changes were aimed at the generating economic growth which is vital for socio-economic development.  However, unexpectedly, the country was dragged into an ethnic rivalry which was triggered out in July, 1983.  The ethnic unrest badly escalated into a protracted civil war and reached its worsen stage in the millennium. President Mahinda Rajapaksha’s People Alliance Government which came into the power in 2005 under the patronage of nationalists, was able to eliminate terrorism by defeating the LTTE in 2009. It was evident that during the thirty year civil war, many aspects of political, economic and social development were jeopardized by the disastrous consequences of war. The re-construction, rehabilitation and peace building and democratization of the war affected country were the alarming challenges in post-war Sri Lanka. It required visionary leadership and disciplined governance to materialize the above objectives.  However, despite the fact that the Mahinda Rajapacksha government was able to launch  massive  infrastructure development projects, many criticisms were raised against the Post-War Rajapaksha regime that it was not able to managing unnecessary waste, nepotism, bribery and corruption, violating the rule of law, suppression of media freedom and  managing the unbearable debt-burden of the country.  The government’s behaviors, the international community and international organizations such as the UNCHR and the European Union urged the government to perform its duties and responsibilities on restoring democratic governance and intensifying peace building process in Sri Lanka. Meanwhile, bilateral and multi-lateral donor agencies used their good governance policies as an instruments for giving development assistance to the country. Amidst, external pressure coming from different frontiers, local intellectual and opposition parties were able to open up a discussion on good governance in Sri Lanka.

The Culmination of the discourse raised by both local and foreign-funded pressure groups, reached its peak during 2012 and 2015. These political changes directly affected the formation of the United National Alliance which included faction of Maithreepala Sirisena, General Secretary and veteran politicians of the SLFP, UNP, JVP, TNA and Muslim Congress parties that came together in opposition.  Consequently, a government change took place on 08th January, 2015, with high expectations, starts giving the mandate to the newly elected United National Alliance (UNA), knowns as Yahapalana government” to establish democratic and development-oriented good governance in Sri Lanka. In order to fulfill its promises, soon after the election, the newly elected government opened up a fresh discourse which was aimed at strengthening good governance practices which were recognized by external and internal parties. Then, the UNA government brought 19th amendment into the constitution to establish the promised good governance atmosphere in Sri Lanka during its “hundred days’ program”[4] in 2015.

Introduction of Good Governance Elements under the 19th Amendment to the Constitution

The 19th amendment to the constitution which was introduced in 2015 was aimed at strengthening participation, accountability, and rule of law, minimize the corruption and media freedom in country. Since many critics have raised their opposition to the executive presidency, some of the constitutional changes introduced to the amendments have focused on checking the autocratic power of the President. Thus, its 6th year tenure was limited 5 years, and its immunity that couldn’t be challenged at any court throughout a president’s life time was also changed. Moreover, the president’s power to dissolve parliament was also curtailed the under the amendment (19th Amendment to the Constitution, 2015).

In order to strengthen the accountability of the government, under the article 35 of the constitution, the establishment of Constitutional Commission, Election Commission, Public Service Commission, National Police Commission, Audit Service Commission, Human Right Commission in Sri Lanka, Commission to investigate allegation of bribery and corruptions, Finance Commission, The Delimitation Commission, National Procurement Commission were set up. As a result the president will be unable to appoint or remove any person   without consent of those councils (19th Amendment to the Constitution, 2015)(41c (1). Furthermore, the Right to Information Act introduced in 2016 also aiming at strengthening the transparency of government and media freedom of the country.

 Impact of the Political Culture

As pointed out by the Huntington (2005), the success of the political system depends on the existing political culture of a country.  The political culture itself reflects the nature of beliefs, values and attitudes towards the polity in a particular society. Strengthening good governance in a country also requires a favorable political culture which welcomes democratic values, traditions, attitudes and practices. Many argue that despite the fact that the democratic political system goes back to the pre-independence Sri Lanka, there are many cultural issues that have hindered the political modernization of the country. For instance, since 1977 Sri Lanka introduced an executive presidency along with a proportionate representation system which heavily contributed to undermining parliamentary democracy. Since then, all aspect of politics were dominated by the president and his ruling party. The political system adopted the domination of the political elites and nonresistance of the citizens which became a part of the political culture of the country. Thus, individual and political elites became charismatic leaders which paved the way for the aggravation of nepotism or family politics. This has significantly affected the establishment of competent and democratic political institutional system in the country (De Silva, 2018). Despite the fact that, more effective and development oriented political institutional set up has been established the popular politics are still dominant. For instance, some political individuals who likely got involved in the misuse of public funds were again able to secure their positions in the political party hierarchy as well as in the Yahapalana government with enormous support from the party’s leadership and clients (Perera, 2017).   Thus establishing accountable and democratic governance in the country has been severely affected by the prevailing backward political culture of the country.

Lack of Political and Administrative Will

As pointed out by Osborne and Gaebler (1991) good governance is another name for democratic governance. Democracy is a process with values and attitudes. It requires awareness and commitment from the rulers and those being ruled. Despite the fact there is a well design democratic governance system its success depends on the political will of the people who function in the country. The Sri Lankan case contributes to this argument by providing empirical examples. Under the 19th amendment to the constitution some of the legal hindrances were removed and new provisions which require democratic and accountable governance, such as independent commissions were introduced.  However, even after the Yahapalana government came to power political leaders are reluctant to perform their duties to follow good governance practices. For instance, the political leadership of the Yahapalana government pledged to take strong measures to crackdown on bribery and corruption, abuse of public funds, nepotism, cronyism and make the government accountable  and bring the accuses of the previous governments to the court. Moreover they pleaded to bring sustainable peace to Sri Lanka by producing a much needed political solution to national building issues under a comprehensive constitutional reform (Sunday Times 2018. Neither the accountability of the government or the enhancement the democracy of the country have been strengthened yet. However, individuals facing charges of serious financial and legal irregularities have been appointed to some of the highest offices of the Yahapalana government. These appointments and subsequent outcomes have raised public concern over good governance and anti-corruption (Hariharan, 2016). Even some of the constitutional provisions are violated by the leadership of the Yahapalana government in the country throwing the country into a political dilemma. Many argue that, the lack of political will of the leadership of the country has jeopardized to the establishment of good governance in the country.

Lack of Impartiality of Social Actors

One of the strong characteristics of a democratic society is the active engagement the civil society actors. Many argue that pressure groups, NGO and media’s role in developing countries are decisive for enhancing good governance. In Sri Lanka, most actors who were able to lay the foundation for good governance discourses against previous government were social actors, such as the Anti-Corruption Front, Organization for a Fair and Just Society, Organization for Free Media. Despite the fact that these social actor have opened up the dialogue, many argue that they were unable to continue their engagement with good governance after the government change. It is said that some of the leaders of the pressure groups and NGOs have built close relations with the Yahapalana government (The Island, 2018). Thus, some of them represent the government rather that their own by losing their impartiality. This situation hinders for consolidation of the good governance in the country.

Conclusion

Governance issues faced by developing countries have paved the way for the emergence of good governance discourses during 1990s. Some argue that good governance is the panacea for all political ills of the democratic governance. Good governance, in a nut shell, is a process that is associated with efficient and effective administration within a democratic framework. It is equivalent to purposive and development oriented administration which is committed to improvement in quality life of the people. International trend in the democratic governance sphere as well as the unfavorable internal political and economic atmosphere in Sri Lanka, laid the foundation for establishment of good governance in post-civil war Sri Lanka. The Presidential election held in 8th January 2015 is considered as a hurdle for the establishment of good governance on contemporary Sri Lanka. UNA government, soon after its victory, introduced new legislative provisions under the 19th amendment to the constitution to bring the country ty to the democratic path which could sustain good governance in Sri Lanka. However, notwithstanding the institutional and procedural changes made for the establishment of good governance in Sri Lanka, during the three and half years of the yahapalana government, good governance practices are hardly to be seen yet. There are many allegation by critics against the government on accountability, bribery and corruption, violating the rule of law and violating democratic rights and negligence on peace building process in Sri Lanka. This paper concludes that the impact of the political culture, lack of political and administrative will, the lack of impartial and inactive role of the social actors have negatively effects on the sustainability of  good governance in Sri Lanka. Good governance requires more comprehensive social, economic, political and cultural reforms which could bring material and ideological development of society.

[1] The United National Alliance was established in end 2014 to contest to the presidential election held on 8th January. United National Party, faction of Maithreepala Sirisena who was the General Secretory of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party, Peoples Liberated Front, Tamil National Alliance, Muslims congress and some other regional parties were the members of the alliance. UNA alliance won the election and this government was named as a Yahapalana Government.

[2] Hundred days program is a development program which is announced by the President Maiithreepala Sirisena and his United national Alliance  starting from the date,9th January 2015, his government was elected  to introduce the short-term and long-term reforms which were required for bring the country’s back into the democratic, development oriented and sustainable path.

[3] United national party is the main political party which founded by the D.S.senanayeke in the amalgamating majority Sinhalese minorities Tamils and Muslims in the country in 1946 .  First government of independent was established under the UNP leadership.

[4] Hundred days program is a development program which is announced by the President Maiithreepala Sirisena and his United national Alliance  starting from the date,9th January 2015, his government was elected  to introduce the short-term and long-term reforms which were required for bring the country’s back into the democratic, development oriented and sustainable path.

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