The 13th Amendment to the Constitution [forced down our throats by the Indian Government] was an unmitigated disaster which resulted in the creation of Eight ‘White Elephants’ called ‘Provincial Councils’ and a proliferation of political functionaries in the form of Provincial Ministers, Members of Provincial Councils and their ‘hangers on’ which drained the public purse of colossal amounts of funds which ought to have been used for the benefit of the People and not for the benefit of such functionaries.
There can be no doubt that both the 13th Amendment and the Provincial Councils Act which followed should be repealed forthwith: it is, however self evident that neither the present Government nor any other would have the political will to do so because the abolition of Provincial Councils will deny to any government [and even parties in opposition], vast vistas of opportunity to grant political patronage to all kinds of good for nothing sycophants so loved by politicians of all hues.
In these tragic circumstances the 13th Amendment and the Provincial Council Act are a part of the law of the Land and likely to remain so, and must, therefore, be implemented: they are evils with which we are compelled to live, and all we can do is to strive to make the best of a woeful situation. Accordingly, the APRC cannot be faulted for proposing the full implementation of the 13th Amendment and hence the Provincial Councils Act and the holding of Provincial Council Elections in the Eastern Province.
In addition the APRC was perfectly correct in stating that Provincial Council Elections cannot be held in the Northern Province because of the prevailing situation in that Province; and equally wrong in suggesting the creation of an `Interim Council’ to aid and advise the Governor until such elections could be held. Various functionaries of the Government have, from time to time, made statements regarding the proposed Interim Council from which it may be gathered that the idea is to constitute an Interim Council to function as a de facto Provincial Council;and that the members thereof would be politicians selected on the basis of political affiliation and ethnicity.
One fact that needs to be borne in mind in this connection is that neither the 13th Amendment nor the Provincial Councils Act requires the establishment of any ‘Interim Council’.
One can well visualise what will happen if such a crazy scheme as the appointment of an Interim Council is implemented. First, with so many politicians of no use to man or beast shamelessly clamouring for body-guards, and being granted their demands, the ‘ appointed to that Council will also clamour for an even greater number of personal security officers resulting in our security forces having to face a reduction of the personnel available for the ‘make or break’ battle with the LTTE purely in order to furnish these political jackanapes, their families and their staff with personal security. Only the LTTE and not the law abiding citizens of the North or elsewhere would stand to gain from such idiocy .
Further, it must follow as the night the day that they will promptly demand and probably get luxurious official vehicles, plush official accommodation, plush offices, a large personal staff to which they could appoint their kith and kin and hangers on, and many perquisites of office such as permits for duty free vehicles. The public purse will doubtless be bled to satisfy the cupidity of these Interim Councillors to the detriment of the People. Thirdly, they will indisputably seek to interfere in all aspects of governance of the Northern Province in pursuit of their own political agendas thereby retarding the Governor’s ability to make objective decisions and implement them promptly, resulting in political interference which is and has been the bane of all parts of the Country being entrenched in the Northern Province even before a Provincial Council is established for that Province.
What the People of the Northern Province require [as do the People of the other 8 Provinces] is good governance. The Government has a golden opportunity to provide them with such good governance free of political interference [a pearl of great price which the People of no other Province is blessed] by appointing a competent administrator with a commitment to the Country who, unlike a politician, will have no political debts to repay or grudges to pay off, and will have the ability to examine the problems facing the People objectively and find rational solutions to them without having to cater to the whims and fancies of vested interests.
Such a Governor will necessarily need assistance and advice in various fields such as agriculture, irrigation, marketing, public health and sanitation etc.: but it is he and not any other authority who should be given the power to select his Advisors-for if that were not so and advisors with their own agendas are appointed on political grounds, the Governor and his Advisors are likely to be at cross-purposes to the detriment of the People. Further, under no condition should ethnicity or political affinity be a criterion for the selection of Advisors: the sole criterion for selection should be knowledge, expertise and proven ability in the field in which the advice is needed.
If the Northern Province could be so administered, it could become a model for the rest of the Country, and living proof of the fact that the devolution of power and the creation of ‘White Elephants’ that will go hand in hand with it is not necessary for good governance. Let not the Government let slip this opportunity and create a Ninth ‘White Elephant’ by establishing the proposed Interim Council.