15 December, 2019

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Incompetency Of Parliament Invites Lawlessness

By S. Ratnajeevan H. Hoole

Prof. S. Ratnajeevan H. Hoole

Bad Laws Make for Lawlessness

The purpose of this article is to show that incompetent MPs are making laws so full of mistakes that we are forced to break the laws.

We have illiterate MPs (94 MPs out of 225 have not passed their Ordinary Level examination while only 25 are graduates, says the DailyFT). They cannot read and understand the papers in parliament. Their illiteracy tells in the mistakes in our laws. I say that even the 25 graduate MPs do not read the laws they pass. Their attitude as I show is, “Ignore the mistakes. Do what you need to do.” This underlies why we are such a lawless country.

The Election Commission (19th Amendment)

We are far from independent as touted. The Constitutional Council (CC) of 10 that appointed us has 7 politicians, all of whom were somehow with the government. The remaining three I think wanted the changes of 2015.

We are financially dependent on the government, and how we work is controlled that way. Many things the Commission wants to do, cannot be done because of financial constraints.

The 19th amendment was rushed. So we have a quorum of three on a membership of three. Therefore some of our decisions can be questioned. We have (or are supposed to have) a Commissioner General of Elections (CGE) who is the Executive implementing Commission decisions. The Chairman was to Chair meetings and tell the CGE to implement our decisions.

However, Parliament forgot to say how the CGE is to be removed if he does not obey the Commission. We have alerted the CC and they have told us to function without the quorum and without the CGE. We alerted the cabinet on the need to change the constitution. They asked us to proceed as indicated by the CC and agreed to make the changes with the new Constitution. In a democracy even the Cabinet cannot say it is all right to violate the constitution.

As things are, our Chairman works as the Executive. He is generally a democrat so it works. But if the next one is a tyrant with the precedents we have set in operating outside the law? The intention of the 19th amendment is really defeated when the Chairman is forced to be the Executive above the other two members, particularly when he was the former executive whom everyone asked for permission to do anything.

Parliament has aggravated matters making people think there is still an Election Commissioner by referring to the Commission as Commissioner in new enactments. The 19th amendment, to simplify having to change every reference in the constitution to “Election Commissioner” to “Election Commission,” laid out an explicit “Transitional Provision”:

§49(3)(d) […]  there shall be substituted for the expressions “Commissioner of Elections” and “Department of the Commissioner Elections” wherever those expressions occur […] the expression “Election Commission”.

The term “transitional provision” makes clear that the substitution of Commission for Commissioner is temporary for things already in the books. But our learned legislators even in new enactments use this provision to continue to say Commissioner, thereby undermining the Commission. If the cause of this error is our customary laziness, even our illiterate MPs should know that the word Commission involves typing two fewer letters!

Taking the cue from Parliament, newspapers have added to the damage by calling the Chairman a Commissioner when that post has been replaced by the Commission. Worse, a Daily Mirror interview refers to the Commission being under the Chairman when in fact the Chairman is under the Commission insofar as he has to abide by Commission decisions.

Adding to the Commission’s devaluation is also the nomenclature. Earlier we had the Election Commissioner, the Czar, and under him Additional-, Deputy-, and Assistant- Commissioners. Now the Election Commissioner has been abolished and we have the Chairman and two Members. However, the reality is that the Additional-, Deputy-, and Assistant- Commissioners are still around and see the Chairman continuing as their boss as before.

The term Commissioner for the Chairman and “Other Commissioners” for the two members has been proposed and given some currency.  That permanently diminishes the two members. The Additional Commissioner is seen as next to the Commissioner while the “Other Members” would be lumped with the Deputy- and Assistant- Commissioners.

The New Local Authorities Act No. 16 of 2017

Like all our enactments, it reeks of the incompetency that permeates our parliament. Take the women’s quota introduced in §7. It says not less than 25% of the members of a local authority shall be women. Then it goes on to say the Commissioner of Elections [who does not exist] shall by gazette notification specify the number of women candidates to be nominated for each local authority. If they meant our Commission, it means we now have the right to specify 25% to 100% to be women. This meets the minimum 25% demand. Surely they did not mean, as they have, to give such immense authority to the Commission. What they intended saying, probably that we should publish the minimum number (rather than the number), is irrelevant. As the law reads, we can make our local councils 100% women!

§25 amending §65AA(2) in English and Tamil exempts small parties with less than 20% of the vote and less [sic.] than 3 seats from being forced to appoint women. But the Sinhalese version says with 3 seats, so if they get 1 or 2, they have to appoint women! We do as we like, I suppose.

Foreign Nationals as Representatives

The 19th Amendment does not allow an MP to be a dual citizen. The Local government Act from pre-independence days did not permit someone owing allegiance to a foreign power or state to be an LG representative. Our law-makers are so lackadaisical that the modern Sinhalese version of the Local Government Act allows Commonwealth Citizens to be LG Reps while the English version, does not allow any foreign national to be an LG representative. The Sinhalese translation, even when wrong, has precedence.

The Provincial Council Elections Act of 1987 in §3, in saying who is disqualified, simply referred to the disqualifications in §91(1) of the 1987 constitution for being an MP. These disqualifications had nothing about dual citizenship or allegiance to foreign powers. However, the 19th amendment of 2015 to the Constitution added holding the citizenship of another country as a new disqualification for being an MP in §91(1).  However, amendments subsequent to the 1987 PC Elections Act do not retroactively apply to PC Members. For example, if I name my child after a woman who subsequently changes her name. That act of hers does not change my child’s name. My child needs formally to change her name if she still wants to go by that woman’s name. Likewise, the PC Bill needs to be amended if foreign citizens are debarred.

Parliament’s Pretentious Nationalism

In explanation of these numerous mistakes, recall Colvin R de Silva who drafted the 1972 Constitution in English. The Professor of Sinhalese at Peradeniya would go every weekend to Colvin’s home in Colombo and translate. Then Colvin put in a clause to the effect that the Constitution was drafted in Sinhalese and in case of a conflict, the Sinhalese version would prevail.

Thus, reading the English version of the Local Authorities Elections Act No, 16 of 2017, one will be surprised by many sentences like this: in such and such a section replace the words “polling district” by the words “polling district.” Why replace a phrase with itself? It is because the original draft of the Act being amended was in English and there is no correction. The mistakes are in the Sinhalese translation. So the amendment bill in English will not match that in Sinhalese which substitutes the correct set of words for the wrong set! That mismatch in the amendment bill’s versions surely is also problematic because they are not translations of each other.

The Attorney General and Legal Representation

The AG is the Chief Government Lawyer. Before our Commission-days, we were a Government Department and had to use the AG’s legal services. But now, despite being an independent Commission, this expectation remains and we are forced to be represented by an arm of the government. So how are we independent?

When the Provincial Council Elections Act, No. 17 of 2017 went as a bill to the Committee stage, Parliament Standing Order §56 became operative;

Any amendment may be made to a clause, or clauses may be deleted or new clauses may be added, provided the same be relevant to the subject matter of the Bill [emphasis mine] and be otherwise in conformity with the Standing Orders.

However, the amendments were very different and not “relevant to the subject matter of the Bill.” The AG, representing the government, advised the Speaker giving the impression that the Speaker may proceed, without giving any advice at all in reality, being rather focused on giving the green light while saving his skin. Wrote he, correctly,

“an amendment to a Bill could be introduced at the Committee Stage and the authority that can determine its admissibility is the Hon. Speaker. […] I have to advise the aforesaid Bill, after having incorporated the committee stage amendments, have [sic.] to be passed by a special majority […]”

The crux of the issue was the committee stage amendments, and he left it to the Speaker without telling him that he is bound by the Standing Orders. He could have asked the Speaker to invoke Standing Orders §135 through a motion to suspend standing orders to make it all legal, but he failed to do so. Instead, like a good bad lawyer, the AG skirted around the question of committee stage amendments by the phrase “after [my emphasis] having incorporated the committee stage amendments.” He escaped answering “What of those amendments? Are they legal?” A truly good lawyer, especially a PC and the Lawyer-in-Chief for the State, we expect to have a good grasp of grammar to enable interpreting the subtleties and nuances of the law without being lost in the phrase “the Bill have to be passed.”

Following the AG’s failure, a spate of cases has now been filed in the Supreme Court challenging the Bill. All three of us on the Commission are Respondents as is the AG himself. The one by G.L. Peiris and some of the others are in refreshingly excellent English with convincing logic, unlike our enactments which have behind them a phalanx of legal experts and professionals at the office of the Legal Draughtsman.

While it is my view that the AG was at fault for having misadvised the Speaker, it is natural for the AG to defend his actions. Would he, however, while defending his actions at the Supreme Court, also say as my attorney that in my view he was at fault? He has a conflict of interest and should not represent me. Hence my refusal to sign over my proxy to him. My two colleagues on the Commission think if we took this line, he will refuse to represent us ever again and that would be “too expensive.” If the Supreme Court grants leave to proceed and the Commission has no money to pay for my private lawyer, I will neither pay a private lawyer for business that is really the state’s, nor allow the AG to speak for me. The court can decide what it wants.

The present system where different parties with their conflicting interests must be represented by the office of the AG is obnoxious, especially when recent AGs have shamelessly stooged for Supreme Court appointments. Further, a Jaffna Lecturer accused of sexually harassing his students was on suspension without pay. So he moved a fundamental rights plaint. The AG’s attorney representing the university without informing the university of the Supreme Court date, made his appearance and informed the university that the bench wanted the man to be placed on half-pay which the university promptly implemented. A suspicious Council member checked the court proceedings and found no such record of the request in the docket.

Thankfully we still have a few shining lights like Elmore Perera who lets clients pay what they choose. He was victimized by the judiciary with no Justice taking a stand for him. May Perera’s breed flourish in our midst.

Concluding

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, Leader of the House Lakshman Kiriella and subject minister Faiszer Musthapha are all lawyers. Either they are so lazy as to not read the laws they are midwives to, or, the worse alternative, they are victims of our universities that credential the unfit. MPs must stop going for public functions to make speeches and on foreign junkets. Instead, they must read; they must work.

*S. Ratnajeevan H. Hoole, Member, Election Commission

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Latest comments

  • 19
    0

    Incompetency Of Parliament is mainly due to the incompetence of the current spineless speaker Karu Jayasuriya.

    • 5
      1

      The incompetence lies with the PM who tries to have his way by hook or crook. His government Ministers/MPP are mere puppets who throw misguided round-shots now and then. 95% of these MPP should be replaced with carefully chosen new people at the next general election, who wish to enter into politics to serve people not for themselves, their kith and kin.
      .
      When talking about the incompetence of the government, I have an example which I witnessed today.
      .
      Hon. Wimal Weerawansa, M.P., raised a question in the Parliament today with regard to government’s decision to issue petrol only to vehicles thereby banning pumping petrol to cans and bottles. He sought a solution for people who have stalled vehicles at home and roadside for not having petrol. The Minister failed to give a solution who only repeated his mumbled answer. The Minister said that the government had to issue a Circular in order to prevent some crafty businessmen having a field day by sending their workers to bring petrol in bottles and cans and then reselling them at a higher price outside. Well, I can tell him the solution. What the Minister should do is, simply tell those who need petrol for their stalled vehicles to submit their Vehicle Registration document along with the National ID at gas-stations for proof of the ownership of their vehicle and then issue a Circular allowing pumping petrol to bottles and cans of those people only, who could prove that they take petrol only for their personal needs not for resale.
      .
      I felt uplifted to see Wimal receiving some specific time-slot to speak and also to raise questions/seek answers although through his strenuous arguments. I sincerely thank him for his constant attempt to be the voice of the voiceless .
      .
      Contd’ 1/2

    • 3
      0

      Prof. S. Ratnajeevan H. Hoole,

      RE: Incompetency Of Parliament Invites Lawlessness

      Stupidity is a characteristic of the Paras in the Land of Native Veddah Aethho, and naturally it extends to the Para Parliament, resulting in Incompetency Of Parliament and Lawlessness.

      The Paras all should be sent back home to their homeland, India, Baharat, Damba-Diva.

      • 7
        0

        So Sri Lankan parliament at least in this sense looks like a true democracy. Govt of the people, by the people and for the people. When the majority are incompetent idiots naturally you will have a majority running for elected office and getting elected by their piers who in return are incompetent idiots.

      • 0
        0

        When are you going then?? your wife also joining??

    • 2
      0

      Contd’ 2/2
      .
      Most of the senior politicians are bad examples to the nation. They don’t work for the best interest of the country or listen to voice of the majority. Almost all senior politicians are selfish and power hungry, who don’t think twice to exploit masses who are vulnerable, for their self-gain. Their only attempt is – one group to retain power by hook-or-crook and the other to grab power by hook-or-crook.
      .
      I am totally against government’s attempt to give prominence to the Chairman/Election Commission. He is a political appointee. He failed to hold a free and fair election in 2015. For the first time in the Sri Lanka Election history, there was a 4 hour black-out just before the final announcement of the election results and in the morning of the election day he announced that computers were down making voters seriously suspicious of his motives. His partiality to Yahaplanaya government is pretty obvious. For future elections, the Commissioner General of the Department of Elections, who is an impartial civil servant should be the deciding authority, who is directly responsible to the government and the masses. People have no faith in the Chairman/Election Commission who is a political appointee to hold a free and fair election.
      .
      The President must understand that, the general public, irrespective of party politics, place their trust in three institutions to be impartial and fair. 1. The Department of Examinations 2. The Department of Elections. 3. The Supreme Court.
      .
      Anyways, contrary to what MR/JO/Wimal says, I am against holding LG Elections at this juncture. Government have no money to allocate to LG Bodies and maintain 8000+, Holy Cow, 8000+ NEW POLITICIANS. Who is going to pay their salaries and other perks? It is totally unfair to put more burden on masses.

      • 2
        3

        CHAMPA: wimal Weerawansha; Is a thief. HE is being exposed only for his vehicle abuse. He is not prosecuted for rea estates he collected in different names, both his relatives and firneds. As Yahapalanaya are bigger thieves, IT looks wimal Weerawansha will not be prosecuted. —————- President was elected by people. but, he is laying in the eggs and he waiting until the MPs elected PM take decisons. Whole yahapalanaya is a joke. PREsident proves that even the people elected president is uselees excpet for opening buildings.

        • 0
          0

          Jimsofty
          .
          I can call you also a thief, can’t I? I don’t have to prove, according to your logic. Man, I never believe in hearsay, like you. If you have proof, why waste time, go to the nearest Police Station and give a statement. I am sure Yahapalanaya government will be very happy to use you as a government witness, as at the moment WW is the most formidable opponent to the government.
          .
          Why do people bother about him this much? Same as the government, Rajapaksas are also terrified of him, so much so some even go to the extent to be gatecrashers and kitchen-invaders. Hey Jims, how about Lalith and Anusha who were sentenced to 3-year RI? They are having nice time at home, instead of prison, thanks to their super class and wealth. Anybody who could throw money to hire a lawyer with a big name and make an appeal in a famous (for what) Court, can go home even though they were found guilty without doubt for misusing Rs. 600 million, while the poor man who took Rs. 4000 has to go RI right away as he has no money to hire a lawyer with a big name to make an Appeal and seek bail. The judgments of Sri Lankan Judiciary is clearly influenced by wealth and the class.

          .

          .

    • 3
      0

      On a separate note on a non related critical topic.

      The Minister of Petroleum Resources Development Arjuna Ranatunga must hand in his resignation for failing to maintain an emergency stockpile of fuel for 3 months…

      The CPC has an 80% market share so
      Privatization of the CPC might be needed if they allowed this crisis to occur even after holding an 80% market share and blaming the LIOC to cover up for its pathetic shortcomings while maintaining no sufficient fuel stockpiles for emergencies…

      What is the Minister going to do to increase our emergency fuel stockpile to a minimum of 3 months to be able to deal with future emergencies/disasters!?

      • 0
        0

        Had to post here because the Daily Mirror website does not post any of my comments… when they do they change my wording!! Does this happen to anyone else who tries to post on the Daily Mirror website!?
        Do they approve you comments!?

        • 1
          0

          Yes Daily Mirror does not post any of my posts either. I suggest you keep writing but knowing it wont be posted, you can download hoping the editing staff will read it. Have some fun.

          • 1
            0

            They don’t publish my comment either.

            • 0
              0

              Is there a way of reporting them to the media minister or a relevant body that governs media ethical practices!?

        • 0
          0

          Can any of the trio who have a problem getting the Daily Mirror to publish, advise me on the problem that has dogged me for four days on Colombo Telegraph. I’ve reported it, and CT has tried to help.

          *

          Mozilla Firefox was impossible, now I can post a comment using Google Chrome. Avatar may come right: I’ve discovered that a spelling mistake had crept in to my e-mail address.

          *

          I find that I can again use my mouse to block a passage by dragging the mouse, but the mouse isn’t allowed the range of options which includes “paste”. I cannot, therefore, check the length of my comments by pasting on to a word document. Is this because I’ve been over-using this feature? The spell-check underlines, but doesn’t respond to the mouse with suggestions. This happens only within the articles on CT. Next, I must try another mouse.

          *

          I guess that we ought to publish in the most widely circulated printed newspapers; the real need obviously is to publish in Sinhala – “Lankadeepa”, I guess. But I find it so much easier doing it in English. Why not try posting on “Financial Times”? Same publishers. We’ve got to balance between wide readership and discriminating readers.

          *

          By the way, changing wording is generally considered unacceptable. Will they claim that our English needs improving? That may be true, but we may still feel that nobody has the right to stand between us and the reader.

          The Tower of Babel sure has created many problems for us.

    • 2
      0

      Indrajith
      Parliament is the representation of General Public.
      Incompetency or competency of Parliamentarians is representation of competency level (foolishness) of us , the General Public…
      We keep democratically electing our representatives in the last 80 years and … still we (GP) keep blaming our social leaders as fools, incompetent, etc, for the 80 years. This is the utter foolishness of us, GP..
      It is “self-lying” to ourselves as … “we, the GP, are good and smart”.. only our selected/elected social leaders are bad, fools.. This is BS (because it is going on for 80 years) … I think, our (GP) main problem is our “cowardliness”..
      Forget about MPs, think about our elected/selected leaders in our small social groups.. Can’t you see similarities of these people?? Honest people with “selfless” attitudes can’t survive in our societies , with us…
      Why we tolerate those small level crooks .. and why we are NOT really supporting honest leaders?
      .. My conclusion is that our cowardliness generate these cunning leaders…
      Unless we (GP) focus on our foolishness & cowardliness and make ourselves better, nothing would change in SL.. It has to be Bottom-Up approach..

  • 18
    0

    “MPs must stop going for public functions”
    This statement should apply to the president of the country as well. The incumbent president (Sirisena) is only making speeches at public functions but does nothing else for the benefit of the country.

  • 15
    0

    Thanks. This is appalling. Even taking the example of what is drafted in the 19th Amendment for the Election Commission, the situation is crystal clear, as the article reveals. Only three members, all have to sit as the quorum, and the Chairman is forced to function as the Commissioner (CGE) in the administrative sense! These are not merely mistakes in language or in the English version. These are primarily conceptual errors.
    *******
    I totally agree that one part of the problem is the poor quality of law makers in Parliament. But these also show mistakes on the part of the Cabinet, the officials assisting the Cabinet, and the legal drafters in the Attorney General’s Department. It appears to me that the legal profession has deteriorated a lot. A clear separation of public prosecution and legal drafting can be a remedy within the department or as two departments. If I remember correct, even similar absurdities were there even in the 17th Amendment. I remember the Commissioner saying at a seminar that he cannot retire without breaking the law. He was tied up to the position as the full Commission was not appointed because of political rifts.

    • 13
      1

      What a bloody mess we endure in this country. Legislators do everything else, but legislate. Massive duty free car permit bonanzas, pensions after mere 5 years of service to this impoverished nation, 5 star lunches at nearly no cost, even subsidized massages. YES! SUBSIDIZED MASSAGES! Not to mention criminal activities they engage in outside the parliament. Meanwhile, stupid citizens are bickering about endless, petty ethnic and religious trivialities. Those 225 corrupt monkeys in Parliament, their cronies and henchmen just love this status quo. We are bound to have a very bright future!

    • 1
      0

      Laksiri F
      “I remember the Commissioner saying that he cannot retire without breaking the law.”
      *
      I wonder if he could have died without breaking the law.
      The point is that he did retire eventually; and until then prolonging his service suited both him and his master.
      *
      Such loopholes have been there even earlier. One such loophole let Sir Nicholas Attygalle be elected Vice Chancellor of the University of Ceylon after he passed the intended age of retirement.

  • 5
    2

    Dy minister Ranjan Ramanayaka is one of the infamous 94 and he is a prominent ‘low’ maker among Diyawanna mafia. As he has declared openly at Siri Kotha, he could not pass his GCE (OL) but does a ‘wonderful’ job as a parliamentarian. He wants the country’s law to be like a film script that can be changed according to the plot. Now people who voted this government to power say there are brainier bulls and cows in Ambewela farm than them: a bit too late confession!
    ‘Venasa sapada? (Is the Change jolly and comfortable) many ask, specially with the new wave of fuel crisis?
    A fed-up man who was pushing his tuk tuk near a petrol shed, said this government has no time to think of the people’s issues since the top cabinet ministers are too busy planning how to rob another bank (doesn’t matter even if it is a foreign Bank) before the next election.

  • 4
    5

    Indrajith,

    Incompetency Of Parliament is mainly due to the incompetence of the current spineless speaker Karu Jayasuriya.

    How about bringing back Chamal rajapaksa or Lokubandara.

  • 2
    0

    The 94 OLevel failures and the 25 Sinhala Only graduates are unable to read what S.R.H. Hoole is saying here either.
    He is thus lucky, as they would have taken umbrage and decided to fire him and his commission members too.

    We are unique in having a parliament which does not understand the laws it enacts.
    Another “record” for Sri Lanka.

    P.S What happened to his traffic (speeding) case ?

  • 1
    0

    President allowing part of SLFP to sit in the opposition and Speaker recognizing them as Joint Opposition creating a second set of opposition are two major faults. Speaker is also not strict enough with the parliamentarians who behave badly inside the chamber. Changes have to be made if order to be installed.

  • 2
    2

    Prof: Ratnajeevan.

    Napoleon famously remarked that in Politics stupidity is not a Handicap.
    But see the damage that it has caused to all of us.
    Napoleon for most of these MPP could be a brand of Broiler Chicken like Bairaha or a model of a Japanese car. What is uppermost in their minds is food and cars on duty free permits!

  • 3
    0

    Sri Lankans in general, including both the rulers and the ruled, are poor readers and bad listeners, but they are big talkers! I know many people who never read any books at all. There are also many people who read only one book and they read it over and over again as a daily ritual. But then, with an I.Q. of 79 what else could we expect?

  • 0
    0

    How come people in the front group of this photo were marching like they were going to report to the QUEEN? Please don’t make fun of our MPs. We are working on it to make SL great again! What happened to my man Vimal MP and his friends?

    • 1
      0

      The picture is the sub text to the joke.

      When law makers ponce about in fancy dress, no wonder ordinary people look on and treat the laws they make, and administer, as a bit of a laugh.

  • 0
    0

    The incompetency of parliament filters down to the ministers who govern, and their in lies the problem. The majority of our ministers are appointed on their ability to suck-up to the leader. Every incompetence flows from that.

    Our latest debacle has been an accident waiting to happen. When Captain Not-So-Cool-Now was appointed he promptly put in place family to help him milk the national cow. Getting the job done was secondary. Last weekend billions was lost as the Miracle of Asia ground to a halt. The common man was incandescent. Once again the man with the bullock cart became king.

    A few more set backs like last week, and the people will be rioting in the streets.

  • 1
    0

    I have doubts on the accuracy of various details given about how Colvin R de Silva drafted the 1972 Constitution.
    That besides, since Colvin’s draft invariably adopted much of the text of the previous constitution, the source English text would have served as template. The specific problem pointed out by Hoole probably has nothing to do with translation to Sinhala and back.
    Also, how the Sinhala version came into being is irrelevant to its being made the authentic version.
    *
    ‘…in such and such a section replace the words “polling district” by the words “polling district.” Why replace a phrase with itself?’
    The term “polling district” may itself have been changed at some stage and changed back subsequently. The “replacement of a phrase by itself” could have been a result of that. Even then, such redundancy is not a flaw that affects content.
    *
    As for incompetence, incompetent politicians appoint people to various bodies, often under external pressure.
    Can such appointees be any competent?

    • 7
      3

      Being appointed by incompetent politician does not necessarily make the appointee incompetent. Or are you thinking of the Council of the University of Jaffna?

      • 1
        0

        S L
        Anyone who gets anywhere in the system by pulling strings or knocking on doors is very much suspect.

  • 2
    0

    S. Ratnajeevan H. Hoole ~ “Incompetency Of Parliament Invites Lawlessness”
    Most parliamentarians are very competent at getting wealthier and wealthier. The ‘incompetence’ is deliberate and is more dangerous because it breeds lawlessness.
    SRH H points out ~ “…….We have illiterate MPs (94 MPs out of 225 have not passed their Ordinary Level examination while only 25 are graduates…..”.
    and goes on to conclude ` “…….They cannot read and understand the papers in parliament……..”.
    Surely SRH H heard of the committee approving the proverbial nuclear plant worth billions in three minutes but debating over a toolshed worth $300/- for over 3 hours!
    What is required is dedication – a degree will not necessarily furnish this.
    They say ~ “It ain’t over till (or until) the fat lady sings”.
    SRH H concludes with a dig at Jaffna University. All the persons in the song are all graduates!
    .

  • 2
    0

    SL
    Anyone who gets anywhere in the system by pulling strings or knocking on doors is very much suspect.
    *
    KP
    Repeated rejection is not something that some cannot cope with. So they throw punches in all directions.
    Be kind and try to understand.
    … the caravan moves.

    • 0
      0

      Correction
      KP
      Repeated rejection is not something that some can cope with. So…

  • 0
    1

    Sir,
    The commission should ask all candidates to pass a registration test with reading comprehension using a passage from the election laws in their language and also a basic English test equivalent to the OL’s. Those who fail should not be on the list of candidates.

    Surely you can impose this to protect this country and us, its poor citizens?

    It seems as the Island Editor said, our kids would think that failing the OL is ok. They can aspire to the highest position in the country, a memebr of the SL Parliament.

    We teachers are wasting our time with the bad students.

    • 0
      0

      Dear Teacher,

      How careless of me! I overlooked the fact that the reading-comprehension test was to be in “their language”. So, I’ve failed that test! I’m always a bit wary about imposing English tests on people who haven’t had any real chance of learning this foreign language.

      *

      Of course I feel that a sound knowledge of English helps immensely. However, language keeps changing; something that every teacher is aware of. So we tend to be more liberal than others (like Prof Jeevan Hoole!) who have had a thorough grounding in the language, but haven’t tried to teach it to the average student.

      *

      I, too, have felt on many occasions that we are wasting time on indifferent students. Well, that’s our view! They possibly think of us as pedants. As for the O. Level “basic English test”, isn’t it so “easy” as to render it “useless”? Which is the reason why so many sit the test popularly referred to as “English Literature” at O. Levels. Students feel that they can prove that they “know” English if they produce that certificate. But employers take it as proof that they don’t know it if, instead of using the language, they proffer the certificate.

      *

      The real problem, highlighted here, is one of indifference, and of unconcern with serving us. These guys are made to feel too important.

  • 0
    0

    I can’t help feeling that we have to leave it to posterity to analyse the reason for this state of affairs that we find so shocking.

    *

    It may be that society is evolving in such a way that we read too much, quite often on subjects that needn’t concern us – well that’s the lot who actually read – on the Internet, jumping from subject to subject.

    *

    The majority don’t read at all, and they are the people who end up electing unsuitable, illiterate persons (like themselves!) to parliament. The only solution would be to do away with democracy, and that is something that we probably don’t want.

    *

    So, while the article itself is valuable, I don’t know what we can possibly do about this situation. I don’t know whether it would be fair to insist that the “uneducated” should only be allowed to vote for persons with “qualifications”- which itself is an “ambiguous” word. I personally consider Maithri the President, as being educated, given the fact that he has obviously read widely, although his fluency is only in one language.

    *

    Yes, our country is such that it does help if we are all trilingual. But that is only one of the problems, as I must tell Sunil and Naren, who have complained above that they can’t get published where they want. I’ve got a different problem right here, which has led to my getting a different Avatar. Life is getting ever more complicated, the more we advance.

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    I don’t quite agree with “Teacher” about tests in reading-comprehension, having myself been a teacher of English, but that is too complicated to explain here.

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