Groundviews

Corruption: Where is Sri Lanka Now?

December 9 is global Anti-Corruption Day. To mark the occasion, Groundviews used Twitter’s new poll feature in order to gauge what our followers felt about corruption.

Since the option to add short polls is still relatively new and under-used, only a few who had the latest version of the mobile app or cast their vote through the web version of Twitter were able to participate. By the end of the day, 89% of those who took the poll said that corruption was an important issue.

On December 9, we also asked our readers over Twitter whether they thought the situation regarding corruption had improved or deteriorated after January 8th.

Interestingly, the majority of respondents on Twitter (49%) felt that there was no real difference with regards to the situation since January 8. This perhaps reflects frustrations with the current Government, that even with an ambitious 100 day plan and stance on good governance has erred, including President Sirisena appointing his brother Kumarasinghe Sirisena to head Sri Lanka Telecom. The appointment of Arjuna Mahendran as Central Bank Governor also raised eyebrows following some controversy over Government bond sales.

Clearly, with the prevalence of social media, people especially amongst a younger demographic, are less tolerant of what they perceive as corruption. Bulk text messages sent out to raise awareness about the Anti Corruption walk organized by the Director General of the Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery and Corruption was met by ire by many on social media:

 

Some also questioned their service providers on how the Bribery Commission had access to their phone numbers:

Some were incisive in their commentary on the situation in Sri Lanka:

Others were more optimistic:

Heavy rain didn’t stop many civil society organisations as well as students from participating in a walk against corruption from Viharamahadevi Park to Independence Square.

Participants for the Walk queuing up before the rains set in

While the public had much to say about corruption, the case wasn’t necessarily so in Parliament, as Groundviews discovered.

Good governance: The discourse in Parliament

According to manthri.lk good governance (under which category the topic of corruption falls) has been discussed a total of 78 times in Parliament across three years (from 2012-2015) by just 39 politicians.

The majority of the discussion around good governance has come post the January 8 Presidential election – an estimated 75% of the discourse in fact, comes in 2015 alone.

Unsurprisingly, Justice Minister Wijayadasa Rajapakse has discussed good governance the most – 55 times. Next comes Prime Minister Wickremesinghe, who has discussed good governance 22 times.

Below is the full table, provided to us courtesy manthri.lk:

MP Contributions
MP Number of Times Score in productive minutes
Wijeyadasa 55 516.6
Ranil Wickramasinghe 26 411.4
Nimal Siripala De Silva 12 253.55
Anura Kumara Disanayaka 13 247.25
Ajith Mannapperuma 4 233.7
Palitha Range Bandara 3 223.3
Dinesh Gunawardena 23 188.5
John Seneviratne 2 187
Joseph Michael Perera 1 175.5
Tissa Vitharana 6 167.95
Harsha De Silva 3 157.15
TB Ekanayake 2 148.5
Mahindananda Aluthgamage 3 139.7
MKDS Gunawardana 1 134.5
DM Swaminathan 1 126.5
Buddhika Pathirana 2 125.3
J Sri Ranga 1 121
Ajith Kumara 3 115.55
DM Jayarathne 4 115.35
Gamini Jayawickrama 1 114
Selvam Adaikkalanathan 1 113.5
Felix Perera 1 112
Weerakumara Dissanayake 1 109
Ranjith Madduma Bandara 1 107
Maithripala Sirisena 1 106
Lalith Disanayaka 2 105.45
Susil Premajayantha 5 102.35
Chandrakumar Murugesu 1 96
Ranjith De Soyza 1 87
Athauda Seneviratne 2 77.5
Chandrasiri Gajadeera 1 76.5
Ajith P Perera 9 75.8
Nalin Bandara Jayamaha 2 70.75
Sarath Weerasekara 1 68
Eran Wickramaratne 1 67.5
Ratnasiri Wickramanayaka 4 67
Lakshman Kiriella 4 66.85
P Dayaratne 1 57
Rajiva Wijesinghe 8 50
Vasudeva Nanayakkara 7 41.85
Sajin VasGunawardene 3 38.5
Wimal Weerawansa 7 35.75
GL Peiris 6 34.3
Rathna Athuraliya 2 30.25
Dunesh Gankanda 3 30
Susantha Punchinilame 4 30
Anura Priyadarshana Yapa 3 26.8
HR Mithrapala 1 23
Suresh Premachandran 1 19.35
AHM Azwer 1 19.05
Sujeewa Senasinghe 1 15.6
Ravi Karunananyake 1 14.85
Sriyani Wijewickrama 2 14.85
Douglas Devananda 3 12.95
MA Sumanthiran 1 12.5
Tissa Attanayake 2 11.95
Vijitha Herath 1 11.75
Janaka Priyantha Bandara 1 10.9
Bandula Gunawardane 2 10.6
DEW Gunesekara 1 7.5
Chamal Rajapakse 2 4.15
Rajitha Senarathne 1 3.5
Rauff Hakeem 1 2.9
Gamini Lokuge 1 2.55
S Radhakrishnan 1 2.5
Rishad Badhiutheen 1 1.75
Dullas Alahapperuma 1 1.3

As the table shows, governance has only been intensively discussed by 4 or 5 MPs – Wijayadasa Rajapakse, Ranil Wickremesinghe, Nimal Siripala de Silva, Anura Kumara Dissanayake and Dinesh Gunawardena.

Corruption, specifically has been addressed even fewer times than the data provided by manthri.lk – which is notable in itself.

In Transparency International’s last released Global Corruptions Index Sri Lanka is ranked 85th out of a 175 countries, improving its score by just one point compared to the previous year.

Independent reports have shown that corruption in Sri Lanka is rife – not just in the business sector but also in the judicial sector, police and land, tax and customs administration.

The question is, will this Government make a concerted effort to eradicate corruption and improve Sri Lanka’s standing? President Sirisena said on Twitter that ‘steady progress’ was being made to eradicate corruption

It was also heartening to see so many different civil society organisations participating in the Anti-Corruption walk, together with representatives of the Bribery Commission.

Yet the Twitter polls and the general pulse on social media made it clear that the public remains sceptical about the new Government’s ability to deliver on its promises. Unless some concrete action is taken towards combating it, President Sirisena’s statement will be seen as a mere token, and Sri Lankans with power and influence will continue to grease palms in order to get ahead.