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Panel discussion with political party representatives

Representatives of several political parties participated in a panel discussion titled “ Good Governance and Social Justice” held at Caritas Sri Lanka auditorium on 20th July 2015. The meeting was chaired by Rt Rev Dr Cletus Perera, Bishop of Ratnapura and the sessions were moderated by Very Rev Cyril Gamini Fernando, Director of Social Communications of the Archdiocese of Colombo.

Addressing the panelists, Rev Fr George Sigamoney, National Director of Caritas Sri Lanka noted in his welcome address that Caritas has an abiding interest in good governance that leads to social justice. “It is part of our broader search for peace, justice and human development”, he said and called on the political party representatives to declare their commitment to good governance and to the changes brought about in Sri Lanka’s political culture at the Presidential Elections in January this year. Fr Sigamoney reminded the panelists that while the practice of democratic values, adherence to the Rule of Law, transparency and accountability are cornerstones of good governance, these must lead to the attainment of social justice which ensures the enjoyment of benefits by all instead of by a tiny privileged few.

Among the panelists were Ven. Athuraliye Rathana Thero (JHU), Prof. Tissa Vitaharana (LSSP), Mr Eran  Wickremaratne and Ms Hirunika Premachandra (UNP), Mr Vijitha Herath (JVP) and Mr M A Sumanthiran (TNA). In general, they said that proportional representation is a concept they favour, even though they had serious reservations about the existing preferential voting system. They all agreed to ask the people to send good candidates to Parliament at the forthcoming General Elections in August and to reject corrupt politicians. They also stressed that civil society has an equal responsibility as the politicians in transforming the present political culture and that citizens must continue to remain vigilant, watchful and fearless even after the polls are over.

The panel discussion was followed by an open forum and Mr Newman Fernando, Senior Executive Manager of Caritas Sri Lanka proposed a vote of thanks at the conclusion of the programme.