By Srima Warusawithana –
Too long they have survived sans discipline. So it is a significant moment when Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe uttered the stern warning to the loud mouthed persons in the opposition over Mohan Pieris’ fiasco. “Do not shout. Sit down and act calm”. No saner words than those from the Prime Minister himself.
Watching some of the parliamentary proceedings on TV, I have seen how the speaker – whoever it was, helpless as the rapscallions shout and throw chairs at each other, utter vulgarities and disrupt the proceedings in a most disgusting manner.
I recall how as a young school girl over fifty years ago, my father would take me to view the parliamentary debates in the House by the Indian Ocean. The Speaker ( it was Sir Francis Molamure) entered the Chamber led by the Sergeant at Arms bearing the mace and there was pin-drop silence.
The proceedings were so dignified and members were such a disciplined lot. Here was the prime centre of governance and its sanctity was preserved most conscientiously. Over the years discipline seems to have reached a dismal low and there has been callous disregard to any kind of discipline in both words and deeds. Some years ago, school children were taken as a sort of ‘field trip’ to view parliamentary proceedings to help them in their social studies as part of the curriculum. But these visits stopped abruptly as parliament became a place of hooliganism and a bad influence for young growing minds. The worst human instincts of hatred, ill-will, ignorance and gross misbehaviour were exhibited here. Hence, the PM’s tough words will certainly be a warning to all to keep their “voices low, sit down, be calm” and present your case in a civilized manner. This reprimand had to come at some point because shouting had been the norm, and misbehaviour the creed of these rapscallions. Discipline and dignity has to be restored. Recall how Alavaka yaka – was tamed.
The Prime Minister is thought to be a very gentle natured person, calm and unruffled in any situation but hats off to him for this stern warning to those who profess to be representing the people of our country in the august Assembly – which is our Parliament. I have seen even some of the other leading members speak in loud rattling voices and wondered why they do so; could not the person in authority instill some sense into their feather brained egos all this while? Taming the wild is indeed a good move.