By Ameer Ali –
The constitutional provision for appointing members to the parliament through the national list is based on a very sound democratic and ethical principle. It is a measure to rectify an unfortunate shortcoming arising from the way parliamentary democracy functions. Party-based parliamentary elections do not always produce the most desirable results. The candidates who contest the elections and win, either under a party ticket or as independents, may be popular with the voters for all sort of reasons but some of them may not have the intellectual capacity and ethical and moral composure expected of them to contribute meaningfully to the debates in the parliament and to the formation of sound and positive national policies. The national list provision therefore enables the parties concerned to fill this gap by bringing in personalities to the parliament through the backdoor who would otherwise remain reluctant to enter and face the rough and tumble of electioneering. Such individuals would have the intellectual calibre and moral and ethical principles to make invaluable contributions to the affairs of the nation. Such people are badly needed as leaders in Sri Lanka and the country is not bereft of such personalities. They are available in all ethnic communities.
In the past, when the Sri Lankan parliament operated under the bicameral legislature system the Senate or the Upper House performed that function. Without mentioning names I can vividly remember the contributions made by some of those senators in debating such crucial issues like citizenship, national language and nationalization. In the current system the National List provision is an adequate substitute to that type of representation.
What happened after the elections held last week has made that provision a mockery. By bringing into the parliament through the backdoor candidates who had already fought and lost the electoral contest the respective political parties had imposed those very same candidates on an electorate that had rejected them. This is not only a blatant travesty of democratic justice but also a scandalous abuse of a sound ethical and constitutional principle. The violence that took place at Kattankudy in the Eastern Province over the week end is the direct consequence of this high handed abuse.
Not only that, by empowering the lost candidate the government has provided that individual a golden opportunity to seek revenge on those who the candidate thought had voted against him in the first place. The entire responsibility for the damage done by this candidate or his supporters falls squarely on the head of the party leaders and indirectly on the President.
The condemnation of the violence unleashed in Kattankudy by that town’s Jamiat ul Ulama does not go far enough, but Rev. Sobitha’s call to reject recalling the lost candidates and back to the parliament does. The Reverend’s call should be supported by all who love democracy and harmony in Sri Lanka.
Please act Mr. President!