By Rajeewa Jayaweera –
Given herewith are the age groups of the 225 specimens in the House by the Diyawanna we call Members of Parliament, elected people’s representatives, and some less generous terms.
A total of 32% belongs to the over 60 categories. 21% are between 60 and 70 years old. The highest number, 33%, belongs to the 50-60 group.
The Head of State is aged 67, Mahinda Rajapaksa 73 and Ranil Wickremesinghe 69 years.
In our culture, it is said, elders need to be respected regardless of their conduct. A counter-narrative to which this writer contribute is, respect needs to be earned and not be demanded.
Words fail to describe the recent fracas inside Parliament now doing the rounds in social media both locally and globally, involving MPs from both sides of the divide. They were heard using foul language. They exchanged insults and blows. At least two of them were brandishing objects which looked very similar to knives. Chili powder mixed with water was thrown at some MPs. State property was damaged, and the Speaker threatened, all inside Parliament, the home of one of the three arms of the state and also responsible for passing legislation for the country.
Any person observing the free for all cannot be blamed for calling our MPs imbeciles.
Both Mahinda Rajapaksa and Ranil Wickremesinghe need be condemned. They are both politicians who have been in politics for over 50 years and have held various events to celebrate as such. Both departed from Parliament when their minions started causing mayhem instead of calling on their party hacks to take their seats and reining them in.
Speaker Karu Jayasuriya too deserves to be condemned. He is eventually responsible for administration within Parliament.
The toxic climate and ugly mood in the political front on that fateful day warranted additional preventive measures. MPs entering Parliament should have been body frisked which would have prevented knife like objects, chili powder and whatever other unacceptable material from being brought into Parliament. Bringing in sniffer dogs subsequently is akin to shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted.
MP’s behavior that day (and on many other days) amounted to sheer thuggery. That is to be expected. There are dozens of MPs who at some time or other have been involved in brewing and selling illicit liquor (Kassippu), bribe taking, snatching gold chains from women, rapists, etc. Then there are the types who have bought into respectability such as one who got himself hospitalized and circumcised to avoid having to appear in court and went on to hold an important office in Parliament. There is another hailing from a well-known and respected political family who threatened to kill a foreigner for not holding back an aircraft belonging to a foreign carrier until he was ready to emplane. It required the intervention of a foreign embassy to put the matter to rest. The list goes on.
By giving party nomination to such persons, both Rajapaksa and Wickremesinghe endorses such boorish behavior.
Such being the disposition of our elected representatives, what are the chances of the younger generations growing up to be law-abiding citizens, especially in a society they are required to respect elders regardless of their conduct and resulting in also emulating them?