By Shyamon Jayasinghe –
You and I are very familiar with dogs’ fighting and biting each other. What happened in Parliament yesterday (10/01/18) was a similar mindless and juvenile militancy. I am scared to look at Al Jazeera tonight as they are bound to give clips of our Parliamentarians’ performance. When these things go global, Sri Lanka and Sri Lankans will be looked down upon everywhere they go. There is a fellow jogger belonging to the Albanian community here in Melbourne. He is a frequent Al Jazeera watcher and he has been in the habit of pointing out to me anything that is specially said of Sri Lanka. I dread to see the bloke today and hence I shifted my jogging ground temporarily.
This is our predicament! A country where Bana is dished out every day via radio and TV channels, where the church bells ring for the faithful, and where mosques relay, regardless of sound pollution, the word of the prophet.
Religion has not touched the collective psyche of Sri Lankans; so has free education; so has the heritage of an impressive civilisation. It is just a dog-eating dog culture that has permeated our society from the top echelons of political behaviour. Sixty per cent of our MPs are without O’levels, whereas sixty per cent of Indian MPs are graduates. With the replacement of the system of electorally-sourced and electorally accountable representatives by a party hierarchy nominated system of picking candidates for a party list to be presented as a fiat accompli to hapless electors the worsening culture has worsened beyond measure.
Creepy fellows crept into Parliament. Drug magnates, womanisers, rapists and jewellery snatchers even got Ministerial portfolios under the previous government. An alleged drug magnet was appointed ‘Supervising MP’ in the Defence Ministry! Fortunately he has since been convicted for murder and is awaiting the hangman’s noose! One former Minister who is a notorious liquor dealer and who hasn’t got beyond year nine at school is reported to have been one of the attackers last evening.
Many of these fellows are alleged criminals at-large with cases in court before them. Why their cases are not disposed of and why they not converted to jailbirds, we can only ask the President and the Prime Minister. We have been asking and we can only ask. In a sense, the government deserved this. We had a President of whom former Chief Justice says he regrets he did not convict for misappropriating Tsunami funds. We have had officials, once upon a time, in charge of security who have been charged with wheeler-dealing in MiG purchases and murdering dissentients. They are going about trying to woo our monks in order that they can soon take over political leadership.
One thing I cannot understand is why the Speaker has not issued instructions that in the event of his suspending Parliament or postponing same, the broadcasting facilities should be jammed. Had this been done, the Opposition will not keep screaming and dramatising in the well of Parliament.They want the whole country to see and that is their motivation. Cut off that chance of broadcasting, and protestors like this will be defused. Other strict house rules should be made legal and enforced to discourage such happenings again. For instance, any MP violating the symbol of the house, which is the mace, should be automatically punishable by suspension for one year. CCTV facilities would make it easy to ascertain who and who are responsible for violations. Likewise, no banners etc should be allowed into the House. In this particular instance, the JO men and women came in readiness with banners to disrupt proceedings. Similar tightening can be done in other relevant areas. For heavens’s sake, Mr Speaker do tighten the rules of the House as far as is possible and seek agreement beforehand, from all party leaders for the new rules.
We can go a far way towards a sane Parliament then.
*The writer can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org