Selecting Election Candidates

I allude to the recent letters to the Editor by Mr. Peter Wijetunge and Dr. A. C. Visvalingam seeking public views on the above subject.

Improve efficiency of Public Sector Institutions

At the outset, my view is that Mr. Wijetunge’s suggestion seems practical only for Local Government Elections provided they are held in a de-politicised environment devoid of any political hues. A proposal to depoliticize Local Govt. elections was made by the writer through an article to the press titled ‘An alternate system to Local Govt. elections’ as far back as in 1997. Well, after 20 years it looks like some people still feel that they need Political intervention to resolve their problems at grass-root level.

The stubborn fact is that many a times people tend to go behind politicians to get undue favours done! In our view, the real solution lies in enhancing the work ethic, efficiency and effectiveness of the systems and procedures in the Govt. Offices, Police and the Judiciary. Under a robust decentralized public administration system buttressed by advanced information and communication technology, media and transport we should surely jettison our overt dependence and subservience to politicians.

 

Select political professionals 

Let me now dwell on the subject matter covering the much larger Provincial and National Elections. People have witnessed the recurring, unprofessional conduct and unproductive contributions from many of our present ‘Mace- raiding’ Provincial Councilors and Parliamentarians who make a mess out of the sacred Parliament premises! The shattered and disillusioned voting public now crave for ‘Good and disciplined Behaviour’ and enhanced productivity from the Provincial and Central Parliaments through selection of a decent, honest, uncorrupt, ethical and a principled set of Political professionals who will always place the country first in their agenda.

 

Voters have failed in electing most suitable persons

Hitherto, our voters have exhibited a good sense in changing Governments. But in regard to selection of individual candidates they have failed miserably. For example they have voted tele-drama actresses and Cricketers beating experienced politicians. They have also sent to parliament, inexperienced candidates defeating efficient parliamentarians as well as candidates languishing in remand jail for criminal acts. Let us not hide the fact that our sincere and simple voters are swayed by temporary handouts/bribes in the form of cash and kind doled out by money throwing and notoriously popular politicians.

 

Only alternative and Methodology  for selecting candidates

In this scenario, the only alternative is to compel the respective parties to field their best teams of Political professionals in District-wise merit order to achieve the goals of the country as well as the goals of their respective Election Manifesto at Provincial and National level.

For this purpose, the parties as corporate entities should introduce at the behest of the Elections Dept/Commission, a robust, unbiased and a very transparent process of screening followed by a meticulously structured interview method to select their nominees.

The screening criteria already set out by ‘Paffrel’ through the ‘All-party March 12th declaration’ surely had a salutary effect on party nominations at the last General election.

This process must be further strengthened and given legal teeth by the Elections Commission. Towards this end, I suggest the following measures:

 

1) Strengthen ‘Paffrel’ pre-interview criteria with following additional criteria.

 

i) The applicant should have at least 2 passes in GCE (A.Level ) in not more than 3 sittings. (It is not a tall order in the present times.)

ii) Should possess at least one added professional Qualification from a recognized Professional body.(Even a Diploma would do)

iii) Should produce at the interview, a less than one month old- good health record certified by a Registered Medical Practitioner.

iv) Should be below 75 years of age as at the last date for Nominations.

Note: The above is not an exhaustive list and more conditions may be added to achieve the citizen’s objective of deriving a reasonable return for their investment by having professional Politicians in the Provinces and the Parliament.

 

2) Under the structured interview method, numerical values shall be adduced to traits such as Multi-Lingual skills, debating ability, social integration, political, legal, general knowledge and overall suitability.

Special weightage should be added to women in order to place them in an electable position in the District merit list of the party to fulfill gender representation requirement. Parties may add more value categories to improve quality of selection.

 

3) The aforesaid sets of basic, pre-interview criteria and value categories should be published or gazetted by Elections Commission/Dept. well in advance of the date of Nominations so that parties can frame their pre-Interview screening process and structured interview methods.

Thereafter, parties can complete the screening and interview process; prepare their preliminary District merit lists of candidates and publish same in at least one National Newspaper in Sinhala, Tamil and English before a specified date well in advance for public to raise any objections also before a specified date with the Elections Dept.

 

4) If there are valid objections conveyed by the Elections Dept. the parties should amend their lists accordingly, before submitting them on the nominations date.

 

5) The parties should certify the correctness of the pre-interview information to the Returning officer through an affidavit.

Any, immediate misinformation should allow the Returning officer to reject the name of such nominee/s or else if found later can be contested through an election petition.

 

By following the above method, it should be possible to erase the public opinion that the Party leader is the sole selector of candidates.

On the contrary, the parties would become the best judges for selecting election candidates in District-wise merit order.

We appeal to all readers and civil activists to support this proposed system of ‘Modern Representative Democracy’ to ensure a professional and a productive parliamentary system where MP’s Chit system, Cross-overs, ‘hung’ or ‘unstable’ Parliaments would relegate in to the limbo of forgotten things!

 

Bernard Fernando

Moratuwa

 

 

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Commitment, Dedication,

Perseverance, Path To Eminence

 

Dr. Wijayatunga Mudalige Harischandra Wijayatunga, the eminent erudite scholar and superseding celebrity in Sinhala science and literature was born on October 25, 1931 at Madamulla in Minuwangoda, Sri Lanka.

His father, Wijayatunga Mudalige Don Bastian Wijayatunga, was an Ayurvedic eye physician cum a wealthy landed proprietor and a planter owning coconut and paddy cultivations.

Dr. Wijayatunga had obtained his elementary education at the Government Bilingual School in Minuwangoda and continued his studies at Nalanda College. His father’s ambition had been to groom his son to be a doctor for prestige sake.

But young Wijayatunga had other ideas to devote his time for accepting the challenge to translate English science books to Sinhala, which then hitherto not accomplished, and to author many science books in Sinhala which he achieved consequently with honour and dignity. This was since at that juncture there was a huge uproar in the country that Science could not be taught in Sinhala.

At Nalanda College some of Wijayatunga’s distinguished contemporaries were Karunaratne Abeysekera, Dr. Hudson Silva, Dr. Dharmasena Attygalle, Rupa Karunatilleke, Ravindra Rupasena, Gunadasa Amarasekera and Stanley Jayasinghe.

Dr. Wijayatunga, the mythical celebrity, possess milestones of triumphs as a BSc science graduate, a PhD for his thesis ‘Legal Philosophy in Medieval Sinhale’ by the University of Kelaniya in 1990 based on research work on ‘Nithi Niganduwa’, Senior lawyer of the Supreme Court, Hela Wadanpathi, External Lecturer of the Kelaniya University, Translator, Author and many more. His political philosophy Mahasammatavada (‘Great Consensus’ or comprehensive consultation) envisages consulting all people which he described ‘as going beyond democracy’.

He is Editor in Chief of the latest huge Practical Sinhala dictionary volume 11, the most comprehensive Sinhala dictionary consisting of over 3,000 pages, an enhancement of volume 1 published in 1982 with over 130,000 key Sinhala words, launched during the Colombo International book fair in September 2017.

In 1955, he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Science, BSc. The medium of language then was English. During this decade there had been the proposal to make Sinhala the state official language. At the same time there had been resistance opposing the proposal that science could not be taught in Sinhala. However, in contrary to this concept, young Wijayatunga undertook a mammoth exercise to translate the standard Practical Chemistry book written by Browning and Joseph to Sinhala, and without prejudice a gigantic endeavour in year 1956. Subsequently he completed translating and publishing in 1962 the standard book ‘Inorganic Chemistry’ by P. J. Durrent also a hectic venture. This book is what was used by the Advanced Level students for decades.

Immediately after obtaining his BSc degree Wijayatunga obtained an appointment as the science teacher at Dharmaraja College, Kandly. Concurrently he had been offered to teach Chemistry at Mahamaya Girl’s College, Kandy. He was very soon appointed as the Vice Principal of Dharmaraja College. During this period he utilized his practical familiarity in the school laboratory to write his first science book in Sinhala ‘Miridiya Jivihu’. Wijayatunga based the book on life that was not seen to the naked eye but to verify that still living beings, both creatures and plants existed.

During his tenure at Dharmaraja College he ventured on publishing a Sinhala ‘kavi’ book titled ‘Pahan Wana Da’. One verse he had dedicated to Mahaweli River titled ‘Gangawe Andonawa’ which means ‘Mahaweli River is crying’. A copy of this book Wijayatunga had presented to his close comrade Arisen Ahubudu, who had a terrific knack to compose lyrics for Sinhala songs had shuffled the words therein had written the lyrics for Sunil Shantha’s popular song ‘Emba Ganga… Gangawe…..’. In year 1965 he was appointed to the Sri Lanka Standards Institution (SLSI). He was the pioneer member appointed to the staff, functioning as its solitary Secretary. SLSI is the National Standards Body of Sri Lanka, established under the Bureau of Ceylon Standards Act No. 38 of 1964. This Act was repealed and replaced by the Sri Lanka Standards Institution Act No. 6 of 1984. During his tenure at SLSI, he had been instrumental in issuing 180 SLS standards for certification.

One of Dr. Wijayatunga’s ambitions in early life was also to serve as an Attorney-at-law. After joining Law College he took oaths in year 1973.

It is significant to cite that Dr. Wijayatunga had changed the concept of writing letters on double ruled exercise books introduced by the Englishmen for Sinhala letters. His hypothesis had urged the authorities to print six ruled exercise books for Sinhala letters. Dr. Wijayatunga was adamant that students should be familiar with the correct spelling of scientific words such as ‘chlorophyll’, ‘chlorine’ in Sinhala.

After compiling the Practical Sinhala dictionary in 1978, the cabinet Minister E. L. B. Hurulle, the then Minister of Cultural Affairs, who was present at the launch, had asked Dr. Wijayatunga whether he could compile a more sophisticated Practical Sinhala dictionary Volume 1 in less than two years time within his tenure. He had said ‘yes’ provided the desirable staff was given with the words that had been already searched and preserved.

Dr, Wijayatunga had obliged within the specified phase, which was launched as Volume 1 of the Practical Sinhala dictionary in year 1982, in a colossal exertion.

Dr. Harischandra Wijayatunga has contributed immeasurably as a translator and author. A person via such accomplishments has done incredible yeoman service to the advanced level students and undergraduates to unprecedented levels.

In a nutshell the erudite scholar had entered the corridor of celebrity revolving around authoring books on science, creative works, religion and history, politics, philosophical, biological works, languages, translating science books culminating with of course the huge Practical Sinhala Dictionary Volume 11 undoubtedly one of the largest books ever compiled and published in this country. We all Sri Lankans should pray for him for superior wellbeing and prolonged life in his 86th year.

Sunil Thenabadu,

18, Nevron Drive Bahrs Scrub,

4207,Queensland,

Australia

Tel 0061738041967//0061469862769

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Annual Diplomatic

 Training Programme A Success

The Annual Diplomatic Training Programme, the main feature in the calendar of the Technical Cooperation Programme of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, concluded successfully, on September 29 at the Ministry with a ceremony to present the certificates to the participants. The programme was conducted in collaboration with the Bandaranaike International Diplomatic Training Institute (BIDTI).

Additional Secretary – Foreign Affairs Ambassador Grace Asirwatham, Director General – BIDTI Pamela Deen, Heads of Mission of the participating countries, representatives from the Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau (SLTPB), Sri Lanka Tea Board and Board of Investment and other dignitaries graced the award ceremony. Addressing the participants, Additional Secretary Ambassador Asirwatham pointed out that the course was tailor made to cover a range of topics that is currently being discussed internationally, exposing the young diplomats to the contemporary global issues, which enable them to harness their skills and develop their aptitude for diplomacy. She expressed gratitude to the SLTPB and other institutions that extended sponsorship and assistance for the success of the Programme.

Director General – BIDTI Pamela Deen commended the participants for their enthusiasm and interactive nature. She observed that BIDTI, together with the Foreign Ministry will strive to enrich the course content from the experience gathered to project Sri Lanka in the region as a hub for knowledge sharing.

Young diplomats from 23 countries, including Colombo Plan member countries, were trained for a period of two weeks at the BIDTI, with a diverse programme covering areas related to diplomacy, international relations, global and regional issues as well as sessions on Sri Lanka. The presentations were conducted by experts in the respective subjects, providing comprehensive and cutting edge knowledge.  During their stay in Sri Lanka, the participants were provided opportunities to witness the development projects in the country, including the Colombo Port City and Colombo Harbour Expansion project, giving them an insight into the socio-economic development process of the country. They also visited the Central Bank, Colombo Stock Exchange and had an audience with the Speaker of the Parliament.  The young diplomats also visited Ratnapura to get a firsthand impression of the Sri Lanka’s gem industry, after which they visited Nuwara Eliya, Kandy Dalada Maligawa, Peradeniya Botanical Gardens, Gannoruwa National Agriculture Technology Park and the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage, exposing them to the diverse and compact beauty of the island too.

The training programme is conducted as Sri Lanka committed at the 44th Consultative Committee Meeting of Colombo Plan in Kathmandu in 2014 to impart technical assistance as a means of human resource development to member countries of the Colombo Plan.

 

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Arangethram – Namal Wewaldeniya Dance Academy

Studying the profound authentic genre of dance ‘Bharathanatyam’ under the masterful guidance of Kala Chiththakar Vijendran Weerasingham of Namal Wewaldeniya Dance Academy, Sanuri Perera, Sashini Fernando, Upekkha Karunanayake and Dulmi Samaradiwakara are getting ready for the inaugural grand performance of their lives which is ‘Arangethram’ on the 14th Saturday of October  2017 at 6.30 pm.

The occasion is held at the auditorium of ‘Ave Maria Girls Convent Negombo in the presence of an esteemed line of specially invited guests. Being students of ‘Namal Wewaldeniya Dancing Academy’ and mastering many dance genres such as ‘Udarata , Pahatharata, Western and Bharatha Natyam for years, These four girls have proved themselves to be dedicated and devoted towards nourishing the culture and arts of mother Sri Lanka.

‘Visharadha of Dance’ Sanuri Perera got through her advanced levels from ‘Nimala Maria Girls School Ja Ela’ and is hoping  to start her higher studies at the University Of Preforming Arts’. Shashini Fernando who is studying at ‘Harischandra Maha Vidyalaya, Negombo’ is a student of dance at the ‘Namal Wewaldeniya Dance Academy for the past eight years and also has mastered the Udarata dance form as well as Baratha Natyam. She looks forward to follow dance as a subject in her advance levels and expects to get in to the University Of Performing Arts for higher studies.

Upekkha Karunanayake is getting ready for her ‘Visharadha of Dance’ exams in ‘Namal Wewaldeniya Dance Academy while completing her secondary education at Loyola College Negombo. She hopes to become a great Dancer to enrich the field of dancing someday.

Dulmi Samaradiwakara of Holy Cross College Gampaha resembles a shining star on the skies of dance.  With a born talent for dance, Dulmi never misses a chance to honor her school with her dedication in dance every which way possible.  Under the guidance of her loving parents, Dulmi expects to continue her higher Studies in the field of arts with immense respect and devotion.

 

 

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