TISL urges politicians to display dignity and integrity
Transparency International Sri Lanka (TISL) is concerned with the serious allegations of misconduct often made against politicians, especially some of the cabinet and non-cabinet Ministers, whose serious misbehavior has been reported in the media over the last few months.Although the allegations remains to be investigated, TISL notes that there is an inexplicable silence on the part of the political leadership either to investigate these allegations or to sufficiently respond to them in a constructive manner so that the integrity of political leadership would be revived.
TISL also notes with regret the serious nature of allegations made against some of the Ministers such as bribery, corruption, nepotism, favoritism and obstructing the public administrators in the performance of their duties. In addition, there has been deep public concern as to the deplorable state of certain parliamentarians behavior within Parliament itself. As an organization, raising systemic issues of corruption rather than individual cases, we do not wish to name and shame those who are allegedly responsible for this situation.
Politicians specially the Ministers, being part of two organs of the government, namely the executive and the legislature, are expected to set an example to society and to other political actors by maintaining the dignity and the decorum of their respective positions. Allegations against ministers and silence to investigate such allegations in a transparent manner tarnish the credibility of any government. The ethical values of these highly political positions need to be protected if democracy in Sri Lanka is to be sustained. This goal cannot become reality under the present legal framework, unless the political parties themselves discipline their members.
However, TISL noted with sense of relief an attempt made by the Prime Minister in the recent past to introduce a code of ethics for the members of his political party. We also acknowledge that the Prime Minister’s party has suspended four errant politicians at local government level. However, TISL strongly believes that the mere commitment of political leadership or dealing with politicians of local government level will not suffice, in the absence of demonstrable strong actions being taken against such misbehaving Ministers.
TISL also considers it important for the independent commissions established under the 17th Amendment to the Constitution, the Commission to Inquire into Allegations of Bribery and Corruption, the police and other law enforcement authorities to deal with the situation independently.
We also call upon all individuals, civil society organizations, the media, and Trade Unions including public sector unions to act courageously but with responsibility to voice their protest against the trend of political corruption with impunity. They must urge the political leadership in the country to control this situation by having strict internal party discipline, while leaving the law enforcement agencies to act independently to deal with individual actors responsible for violating the law.
Finally, we call upon the Ministers to display their integrity in their public affairs and show their commitment to protect ethical values in governance. TISL firmly believes that the political leadership should not compromise accountability standards, including independent investigations into allegations of bribery and corruption, in order to secure majority rule in parliament.
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