Do not make public servants your stooges, Karu tells Govt
by Karu Jayasuriya
Jan 19, 2010

We wish to make this special appeal to all patriotic public servants of our country as we reach this crucial juncture in our country’s destination. We are well aware of the calibre and integrity of our public service. Unfortunately due to the actions of a few politically motivated, corrupt officers the whole public service and the Police Department in particular have been brought in to disrepute. The current election campaign has also strained the public service to its limits with enormous pressure being exerted upon civil servants to support the incumbent in his desperate efforts to remain in power.

While the constitutional provisions have now been put in place through the 17th amendment to rectify the politicisation of the public service and the police, the present regime, particularly the President has shown no interest in implementing it. Due to their inaction, the Constitutional Council was never established, thereby rendering the independent Public Service and Police commissions defunct. Never is the crying need for these institutions to be established better highlighted than during a crucial national election, when the lack of independence and the blatant political interference seriously impedes the prospect of holding democratic, free and fair elections in this country.

As the constitutional dictates have been relegated to the backburner by the present administration, the public service which still boasts men and women of an excellent calibre is being suffocated by the weight of political interference. Officers who choose the path of integrity and dignity are sidelined to make way for political stooges and loyalists who will bend the law to the advantage of the incumbent regime.

There was a time not so long ago when Secretaries to a Ministry or Government Agents of a District were the most coveted positions in the Administrative Service. Yet today, the only criteria for appointment to these revered positions, is political affiliation. This results in the appointment of several outsiders and political affiliates who have no knowledge about the workings of the government service and the laws of conduct by which such servants are bound to key positions such as Ministry Secretaries.

The state of the Police service is no better. While there are many dedicated, dignified officers who would be the pride of any nation, only those who are willing to dance to the tune of their political masters are given promotions and positions of power. As a result many crimes, particular politically motivated ones go unresolved while the Police have been used as a weapon to intimidate opponents of the regime.

The last four years have also seen an enormous degradation of our Foreign Service. The number of political appointees has skyrocketed at all levels. The colourful array includes, offspring, siblings, in laws, relatives and friends. It is with such an array of inexperienced and incompetent individuals that the administration expects to carry out a serious interaction with the international community.

We have never seen instances in the past there Sri Lankan Envoys take part in political campaigns. It is disgraceful that some of our senior diplomats are fully active and campaign openly in support of the incumbent President. Politicization of the public service, police and armed forces and the diplomatic missions would result in lowering the morale of the employees and the very fabric of their services. For the sake of the country we ask the government at this late stage to refrain from doing so.

We are aware that state resources including vehicles, official residences, bungalows and other assets are being grossly abused, some times sadly with the ministry secretaries including the Secretary to the President, being chief accounting officers, would be accountable and responsible for the proper management of these resources.

The UNP sends an urgent appeal out to all members of the public service in this country. We stand with you at this time to ensure that the election is conducted in a free and fair manner. If you do your duty with integrity and honour there is no doubt that you will be safeguarded and cherished when the present governance trends in Sri Lanka are changed as we hope to do. We urge you to remain impartial and unbowed to the political pressures you face on a daily basis and remember always that you are a servant of the Sri Lankan state and in no way a lackey of the ruling government.