|(7) Social Policy|
Liberals believe that government should be confined to areas in which individuals or families or companies need assistance and support. It is not the business of state to interfere in areas in which smaller units can function on their own. We believe that local administrations should do or regulate whatever they can, provincial governments should do only what local administrations cannot manage, and central governments only what provincial governments in turn cannot manage. In the same way we believe that what individuals can do or decide should be left to them. The government may interfere to ensure a fair playing field and equality of opportunity, but it should not take control of the lives of citizens and unduly restrict their freedoms.
Liberals then, in the interests of equity, advocate a greater allocation of resources than was available in the last few years for education and health services. But we also believe that individuals able to pay for such services should be allowed the freedom to do so, and not be a drain on government resources. We also believe that taking the private sector into partnership in such areas can contribute to efficiency and thus produce a better service for citizens.
Certainly private sector style management is necessary in a situation in which What should be public services have been turned by successive governments into employment agencies for those who have political influence. A relatively recent ruling by the government, that employment in universities should be confined to those placed on a list by the Minister, is ample evidence that state resources that should be spent on social development are instead used for political purposes.
Other instances in which state controls, in the interests of political or personal goals, have been enforced are manifold. Continuing absurdities in the Ministry of Sport we believe are not due just to particular personalities, but to the fact that politics should have no place in such social activities. Sports bodies, subject to regulations that ensure transparency and accountability, should run themselves, with a Ministry acting at the very most as a funding agency.
Meanwhile unwarranted state interference has in fact been expanded with regard to personal freedoms. The 1995 amendments to the Penal Code imposed further restrictions on individual freedom. Meanwhile, along with unwarranted restrictions on adults goes a failure to protect minors. Thus marriage of girls of twelve still continues to be accepted in Sri Lanka. This contempt for women is further seen in the failure to criminalize marital rape or to liberalize the wholesale ban on abortions.
We therefore advocate a comprehensive review of social legislation, whereby individual freedoms would be maximized subject to medical and other expert opinion regarding the protection necessary for those unable to take decisions for themselves.
We advocate too the development of health services to ensure adequate counselling and the dissemination of information especially in rural areas so as to promote mental and physical well being.
Finally, while Liberals believe strongly in tolerance and individual freedom and self-expression, we are also anxious that a sense of responsibility towards society be developed. For this reason Liberals advocate the introduction of a system of national service. This will help in creating a sense of discipline and commitment. It will also, whether in a military or non-military capacity, by bringing together young people from diverse regional, ethnic and socio-eocnomic backgrounds, be an extremely useful tool in nation building.