By Upatissa Pethiyagoda –
A newspaper headline caught my eye. It said that the last assembly of our “Pinnacle of Democracy”, the lavishly appointed and imposing edifice by the Diyawanna, recorded the lowest attendance ever, of the 225 Honourable custodians, of all that the State deems fit to bestow on its citizens.
To add insult to injury, we were treated to a glimpse of the vast number of empty seats. I trust, the Quorum was met. Apparently, the proceedings included a Second Reading of two, (maybe) important Bills. What, one may well ask, is the “First”? Never mind. How many of the Assembly read anything? It cannot be a question of literacy, within this “August Assembly”, judging by the number of PhD‘s who sprout like mushrooms (or more accurately Toad’s Tools), after a shower of rain. Despite the very small numbers being present, that forbiddingly expensive “electronic Score Board” comes into play.
Did someone quite aptly, say that our Parliament is “Rich in ritual bur poor in performance”?
Parliament meets, on average, 100 to 115 sitting days per year. This is about a two-day week. Public Servants and others who have a 6-day working week, should not envy this. After all, these representatives carry ponderous responsibilities.
Then the question arises – how do they spend the other 5 days? Evidently, on “Electoral Work”. For which they receive an extra Rs 200,000 per month? Not at all excessive, considering how heavy this load could be, for a mere extra two lakhs per month. Even a tea-plucker can get more than a tenth of this, per month (for a work week of a mere five Days).
As the old itinerant Chinaman cloth-sellers would say “Cheap things no, good: Good things no cheap”. Or, “If you pay Peanuts, you will get monkeys”. One may wickedly say that “Even if you pay Gold ingots, you can still get monkeys”.