23 September, 2019

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The Arena Of Written Questions In Parliament Is Dominated By A Few Gladiators: Research

There are multiple mechanisms through which a parliamentarian can engage with the house, to take forward his responsibility as a representative of the people.  But some of those opportunities are dominated by only a very few. “Just 5 of the 225 MPs ask two-thirds of all the ‘written questions’ in Parliament”, says the Verite Research.

Verite Research’s Manthri.lk is an online platform that allows activities of MPs to be evaluated. According to its data, in the 16 months from 1 May 2012 to 31 August 2013, 952 written questions were asked in Parliament – which means about 60 questions a month and 7 to 8 questions on each sitting day of Parliament.

MLKOf the total, 622 questions (two thirds!) – about 5 of the questions on each day – come from the same few “gladiator” MPs that are dominating the written questions arena in Parliament.

To explain another way, just 5 MPs (the “gladiators”) ask twice as many questions as all the other 220 MPs combined!

As shown in the figure, the five “gladiators” are all from the UNP. (Manthri.lk has previously analysed parliamentary petitions, where government MPs dominate).

The “gladiators” in order of “written questions” performance are: John Amaratunga, Buddhika Pathirana, Ravi Karunanayake, Dayasiri Jayasekera and Sajith Premadasa. (Jayasekera has now resigned his seat).

Purpose of the “Written Question” Method: The purpose of the mechanism of “written questions” is explained in section 29 (1) of the standing orders of Parliament:  “The proper object of a question is to obtain information on a matter of fact within the special cognizance of the Minister to whom it is addressed or to urge that action be taken.”

This comes under the section of “Public Business” in Parliament, where an MP, acting on behalf of the public is able to present a case, elicit information and urge action that is of interest to the public from the relevant government ministers and the bureaucracy.

The Weakness of “Written Question” Method: The weakness is in the process adopted by the standing orders. First, because the time spent on written questions on any given day is limited to just half an hour (even though in practice it is often an hour), not too many questions can be dealt with properly on a given day; second, because the questions are dealt with on a first-come, first-served basis (subject to a limit of three questions a day from a single MP), a few MPs can easily clog up the pipeline and dominate the system by filing a large number of questions at once.

These weaknesses maybe something that members of Parliament should seek to rectify by suitably amending the standing orders. But for now, the “gladiators” of the “written questions” arena have shown how the system can be used to maximum effect!

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Latest comments

  • 1
    0

    Hmmmm..?

    Sajith P is not among the gladiators. Others in the opposition may be sending the written questions UNHRC, USA, EU, UK and Norway. If they are not Gladiators what can they be? Slithery slippery snakes?

    • 3
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      We have a Rubber Stamp Parliament. Specially after 18th amendment.

      Is there any point in asking questions in Parliament?

      Nothing was ever changed by questions in Parliament. Until Parlimentary democracy is fully restored to our country, why not shut it down. Why maintain 225 members and their extavagant lifestyles for nothing?

      Questions should be sent to Gota, Basil, Chamal & his CM son, Namal or The King himself. They call all the shots in our Banana Republic.

      Cheers!

      PS: Please shut down the Jumbo Cabinet too.

      • 0
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        All debates in and out of parliament, in and out of political alliances and among CT Readers finally end up with Executive Presidency and 13th, 17th and 18th amendments to constitution. JRJ must be watching happily from above.

        • 0
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          who says he’s above ?

  • 0
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    interesting and revealing – looks like JVP who likes to call themselves guardians of all that is good and uncorrupted do not bother to question much. John Amaratunga – way to go.. good work (what was he asking so much – never seen him on TV asking a single question tho’ – unsung hero or master of trivial questions ?- wld love to know) overall good work

    • 0
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      I hear there is talk of fast-tracking 2 questions per day (e.g answers within 48hours). This would certainly be a step in the right direction.

      The issue seems to be that the system is broken. It isn’t the case that 5 MPs want to dominate and the other 220 MPs don’t care. Rather it is the case that the 5 MPs (or a handful) flood the system, and given the first come first served basis (with very limited checks – max of 3 questions on the order paper per day), they create a backlog which means they dominate and get the coverage that comes along with it.

      Can you imagine, when an event such as Rathupaswala happens, if a MP files a written question, they have to wait over a month for a response. The system does not allow for discussions of a contemporaneous nature. Lets hope the mooted changes are implemented and a small but important positive step is witnessed.

  • 1
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    Oh my BUDU HAMUDURUWANE?????????????.

    Doesn’t this “Verite Research” understand that,

    This Diywannaoya Piggery is a some collection of Bloody idiotic Pigs with Horns who are not educated to even to write their Names.
    comprising IRCS, Kudu dealers, Underworld Killing contractors, Public wealth thieves, rapist, Selling the topics and words like LTTE, KOTIYA, PATRIOTS, TRAITORS TO THE NATION,
    And coming to have a food feeding service for them for a song and to get Fat from head to toe.
    Cheat and lie to the Poor people of Sri lanka.
    “Verite Research should do a research on those pigs and their close FAMILY RELETIVES HOW THEY GOT SO SUPER RICH IN FEW YEARS, And GOT SO FATTY IN A VERY SHORT PERIOD.

  • 1
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    some gladiators do publicity stunts

  • 1
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    Anyone know what A H M Azwer is asking? :-D

    • 0
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      asking who DEV is ? !

  • 0
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    A recent question by an MP,about the total cost of all trips abroad by the President,was disallowed as it was seen as “questioning the conduct of the president”.
    This does not happen in any other country.

  • 0
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    gladiators ? you must be joking . muspenthu sajith and his loyalists are well known for asking questions written by business interests against their rivals. very unlikely that this is done for free.
    Johna , senasinghe and rosy have sought and enjoyed personal favours from the regime. so for what purpose are they asking these questions? they are merely to pre-empt serious investigation, accept whatever stupid reply given by the govt side and thereby assist planned coverups and whitewashing. these scoundrels are all on the same side and the gullible public are the losers.

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