31 October, 2020

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Disce Aut Discede – Learn Or Depart 

By Srima Warusawithana

Srima Warusawithana

Srima Warusawithana

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has echoed the watchword of Royal College when addressing the new recruits to Parliament. Over the years from the time of Don Stephen Senanayake (DS) the first Prime Minister of independent Ceylon as SL was called then – I as a septuagenarian cannot recall if ever a speech of this nature, a stern message of this kind was ever made by a party leader or a Prime Minister or Executive President of the country. DS had a philosophy of governance all his own, so had Sir John Kotelawala and Dudley Senanayake the mild and gentle man he was. SWRD with his pancha maha balavegaya – sanga, veda guru, govi, kamkaru steered a more lenient path with commoners like MS Themis – the postal clerk rubbing shoulders with the elite and intellectuals in the cabinet. Themis was a rustic yet the refined conduct of his colleagues in Parliament must have induced in him certain traits of character and conduct acceptable to the legislature. Mrs Sirimavo Bandaranaike was a disciplinarian and stood no nonsense from her parliamentary group just as she had been a very firm mother to her children – I remember reading an article in a newspaper many years ago how when her children recounted practical jokes and pranks they had played at school, the father SWRD enjoyed hearing these encounters but the mother would give a sideways glance that said ;

“I am not amused”

PM Ranil Wickremesinghe must be the first leader of any party to lay down a set of clear rules to instill discipline into a group of parliamentarians that people have come to associate with unruly behavior, foul mouthing, thuggery and vices of every hue. This type of message was not necessary in the olden days – when parliament comprised of civilized men and women. It was a place where healthy debating and exchange of constructive ideas took place; where most members of the august assembly were well read scholars and intellectuals whose speeches were pure gems of profound thoughts and ideas. One wonders what happened ? a steep decline in decorum, in scholarly men, in refinement. Discipline came with a sound upbringing, and from childhood to adulthood and into responsible persons in parliament, in state employees and in private enterprise, these values stood unshaken in the discharge of ones duties and obligations.

RanilThe CCS and CAS officers (Ceylon Civil Service and Ceylon Administrative Service) who rolled the wheels of governance were true role models – they resorted not to evil. – they stood tall in their attitudes and in their actions. I recall some fifty years ago when I was a young teacher in a government school, my staff mate Malini Silva was the wife of Mahinda Silva – a CAS officer noted for his honesty and integrity. Malini said how she was standing at the bus halt waiting to go home and her husband Mahinda Silva going in the same direction after work saw her waiting for the bus but did not stop to give a ride as he was travelling in his official vehicle. Such was the sense of discipline that prevailed in days gone by. When such men retired they took away only their good name and a meager pension and not ill-gotten millions and billions. Today in Sri Lanka, Honesty, integrity, Good character have indeed sunk to abysmal depths.

Prime Minister has uttered a note of caution regarding attendance at parliament sittings. This has been a matter of grave concern as members had developed the habit of being unpunctual or totally absent and neither the speaker nor the party leaders took serious note of these lapses. It had now gone beyond control and therefore the PM’s words of warning are most timely and important.

There was another great point in the PM’s address regarding using the parliament library to spend time reading and expanding their knowledge and he has even suggested what to read. “Reading maketh a full man” so said Francis Bacon but today texting, sms and other distorted language forms used extensively in technology seems to make a person not a full man but a midget.

Once in a while it would be a good idea to set a MCQ test or a Quiz for these parliamentarians on general topics that would test their intelligence, aptitude and knowledge on matters pertaining to governance. If students in schools and Universities and other technical institutes have to face such tests, why not these men and women who are sent to parliament as representatives of the public. They are supposed to be law-makers and therefore must know what happens in the world around them. They enjoy free sumptuous meals, and many another perk as well as a fat pension after 3 years in the assembly, all on tax payers money; so it is only right and proper that their worth is assessed regularly by an independent panel. This would certainly be a better way to test their value rather than through preference votes which is a corrupt method.

Though the Prime Minster has uttered these words of caution and given a stern message it is left to be seen if the message has sunk into the thick skins of the ruffians in the other group in the Assembly. The Prime Minister would really do what he says – true to his watchword – Disce aut Discede – but what about applying the same warning to those in the rogues gallery that consists of rejects who have been given plum portfolios in the coalition. They certainly will be oblivious to any threats or warnings.

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Latest comments

  • 12
    0

    Doubt it very much whether the morons in parliament would have understood the speech made by Ranil.

    It would have been beyond most of them. Last parliament had around 90 fellows who did not pass the OLs and around 140 who failed the ALs.

  • 13
    1

    Madam

    A beautiful piece of writing . We have all heard stern speeches , but we need runs on the board . When a man arrested for armed robbery was given nominations from the western province , some loyalists were alarmed. Right now, things seem to be moving at snail’s pace with regard to bringing massive fraudsters to book . Let’s wait a while before getting too excited about our knights in shining armour !

  • 4
    3

    Today in Sri Lanka, Honesty, integrity, Good character have indeed sunk to abysmal depths says Srima! How about the Central Bank Bond scam? What is Ranil doing about Mahendran? He has already got rid of most of the staff in the Public Debt department(the division that handled the bond issue) with the 200 staff transfer! We have to have a honest person at Central Bank!!!

  • 4
    1

    Madam, I admire your speech very much. It encapsulates what Parliament and Parliamentarians ought to be. But in today’s context the speech sounded like coming from your would be final resting place, not from this world.

    I guarantee that Ranil will be villified for his speech, and used as more fodder to condemn him as a dictator.

    Bandaranaike, the Christian Convert to Buddhism for political reason, set the trend. One look at the Sirisena doings convinced me it is here to stay. Corruption, Nepotism, Cronyism, Unprofessionalism, Bandyism, Murder and Mayhem, JAYAWEWA!!

  • 0
    0

    Dear Madam
    With your permission may I add something for consideration.

    The parliament should conduct free English classes for the new parliamentarians. Teach them about what is meant by good governance, human rights and (nepotism). How to change the prevailing political culture is a major challenge. Except for a handful, all the politicians are putting all their efforts to make money some how.
    Top level should set an example first. I had very high hopes on President Sirisena but the way he favours family made me sick. I believe still it is not too late for him as he is a very humble and simple person unlike his predecessor who thought he was the eternal king of this country.
    The SLAS officers too, not all, following the politicians making money whenever possible.See the quality of Secretaries appointed to Ministries. How many of them can conduct a meeting in English. Not even the Ranil’s Secretary can conduct a meeting in English! He is groping in the dark and it is unbelievable that Ranil is tolerating him.
    The government should identify about 50 talented mid level SLAS officers and build a pool from which future Ministry secretaries could be appointed. Send these officers to Harvard University for training in advanced management. It will be a sound and solid investment for the future. I suggest that this task be handed over to Dr. Sarath Amunugama, who has displayed his vision for the bureaucracy of Sri Lanka. Perhaps the US government may arrange a training programme, if requested. We must learn from Malaysia with regard to training in Human Resources. One time Sri Lanka sent consultants to train Malaysian bureaucrats. But Malaysia had a very long term programme to train her managerial staff abroad. Today all the Malaysian Ministry secretaries are very smart in handling their affairs.

  • 3
    0

    Madam, your generation of honest people who stood for integrity & self discipline are long gone. They have been replaced with uneducated, selfish, thugs & yobs who have no sense of morality, shame or honesty. The PM seems to be above the current bunch of politicians & I have confidence in his leadership, which is more than the current President is capable of but the present pickle of a political system, thanks to the old fox, JR, will always be an obstruction if the President & PM are from different parties. Ranil’s hands are tied but he should at least make sure his house is in order.

  • 1
    0

    Madam, I admire your speech very much. It encapsulates what Parliament and Parliamentarians ought to be. But in today’s context the speech sounded like coming from another world.

    I guarantee that Ranil will be villified for his speech, and used as more fodder to condemn him as a dictator.

    Bandaranaike, the Christian Convert to Buddhism for political reason, set the trend. One look at the Sirisena doings convinced me it is here to stay. Corruption, Nepotism, Cronyism, Unprofessionalism, Bandyism, Murder and Mayhem, JAYAWEWA!!

  • 8
    4

    YES ,TEACHER ! What trivial nonsense is this. This kind of writing (political ? social ? satire ? Bana? I dont know what this is !)Only good to show what a mediocre country Sri Lanka really is.

    • 0
      7

      Harry Hp

      But I know for certain that your comment says you are an odious person.

  • 1
    6

    Ah…the anonymity of the internet. It allows donkeys like Harry Hatton to display their mental weakness and it allows me to call them DAMNED FOOLS !

  • 3
    1

    “The Prime Minister would really do what he says – true to his watchword – Disce aut Discede – but what about applying the same warning to those in the rogues gallery that consists of rejects who have been given plum portfolios in the coalition”

    Who gave the plum portfolios to Rogues of the last government? It was none other than Ranil and president Sirisena. Now Ranil is globe-trotting with Rogue Susil Premajayanth. Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe is talking “Vadi Bana”.

  • 0
    0

    Wonder whether Ranil too like Premadasa is going to build clock towers in every junction so that the author of this article will get the contract to install clocks again.

  • 1
    1

    Madam well said. Yes Ranil is the best suited to lead this country and the honour that Japan afforded to him by giving the rare privilege to address the Japanese Parliament is a case in point. His school motto “Disce aut Discede” meaning learn or depart has sure come into his mind when addressing the Members of Parliament and I could add that a line from his school song “Learnt of Books and learnt of men” could be another experience of his at Royal when tackling the gigantic task ahead for putting this country on track after years and years of corruption,dictatorship under the guise of democracy and plundering of State resources.
    Ranil is the perfect gentleman and Mr.Clean all the way and is welcome in all capitals of the world where he is given a warm welcome in spite of his leanings towards the West,
    As for critics who cry out he being slow in bringing the corrupt politicians to book they should understand that Ranil wishes to do it within the framework of the law so thereby the process will take time, Ranil is a no nonsense man and no doubt only the guilty should fear him and the greatest quality he possesses is that he will give the most suitable man the job irreswpective of race,religion or caste. Isnt that a clear indication that he has the Nation at heart?
    He is the last and best hope for Sri Lanka and as Sri Lankans we are duty bound to give him all the backing if we have our country at heart

  • 0
    0

    The PM beating the Parliamentarians over the head in Latin is not going to accomplish anything beyond the Parliamentarians staring at each other in puzzlement and wondering what the strange sounds are..

    Of course, we must also not forget that these Parliamentarians were ushered in by the same person who is now throwing “Disces” and “Discedes” about rather freely.

    All this is just Fluff and Window Dressing, designed to fool the gullible. Just see how many people are oh-so-impressed with this speech that accomplished precisely NOTHING.

    It’s Business As Usual in Sri Lankan Politics.

  • 0
    0

    Ranil may not be following his own rules in his behavior in Parliament. He should follow his advice
    and discede

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