By Shyamon Jayasinghe –
“Today’s MP stands at a village in his district as a bureaucrat flying in a duty free luxury car, hemmed by state-paid security. Villagers are frightened at the sight of the luxury car and fleet of security vehicles.”
Member of parliament Diana Gamage has been sacked by her party, the SJB!
Diana may now jump to Pohottuwa since it was her Pohottuwa support measure that cost her SJB slot. Diana voted for the 20th Amendment! This was clearly against her party’s decision. Anything better the party could have done for Diana?
Yet, Diana is undaunted. She attacks Sajith and the party in personal terms whereas Sajith Premadasa did his duty to ensure party discipline.
Support for 20th Amendment
But why did Dian support that awful legislation to clothe Gotabaya Sir with powers more than that of the President of the United States? Does she not regret that? Did she know before hand what 20th Amendment meant? Or did she think it was legislation to stop encroachment on temple land?
Well, she has lived in parliament months after that law had been passed. Diana should, surely, have witnessed the damage done? And where the country is heading?
The fact that she must have realised the damaging consequences of the law is clear. On that assumption Diana should have hidden her mortal body in a cupboard or disappeared during Lanka Lockdown. Now that she is sacked she should feel a guilt gone.
Full Of Dianas
To go on record, I haven’t heard Diana making any sensible speech in parliament – ever and the party badly needs good debaters.
The point is that our parliament is full of Dianas both in male and female formations. Most of the MPs are ignorant. Their economic literacy is low;their sociological literacy is low and even their political literacy is naive. Most persons want to become MPs for the perks; for the power to show their pakum to fellowmen;to get pensions; to eat free lunches and, of course, not blink an eyelid about the possibility of eking out a portfolio, which is the path to political nirvana.
Getting Better Than Dianas
The existence of Dainas reminds us more desperately to think of ways and means of getting better quality men and women as members to parliament. Over the last two decades, Sri Lanka has lost quality MPs. Many of those we have are riff-raff brought in by party leaders for their thuggery and ability to entice voters through fright. They are like what the cat brings in. We have a murder convict, who had been heading to the gallows, now ensconced and looking respectable in a member’s chair.
How many of our MPs have had an education beyond O’Level? Persons with mere nine grade, run key ministries having huge budgetary allocations. In the days of the pre-JR constitution, Sri Lanka had candidates for parliamentary election who had to pass the most important hurdle of popular acceptability and respect at village electorate level. After JR, the party bureaucracy and party head does the pick of candidates from the centre. This introduces impurities and malevolent influences and other corruptions into the selection process. No need for village level acceptance. Electorates became District -based and not village-cluster based. The vital nexus between the Village population and the candidate, who often was a Village Headmen, was lost. This immediate nexus was the primary control of a politician about to go weird. The people knew their man better. On the other hand, the District PR system ruined that base link. Today’s MP stands at a village in his district as a bureaucrat flying in a duty free luxury car, hemmed by state -paid security. Villagers are frightened at the sight of the luxury car and fleet of security vehicles. No genuine camaraderie can be built with villagers in a context such as this.
The distance of today’s MP from villagers mean that the former must depend on ‘catchers’ to keep the necessary subservient connection. In turn, these brokers must be given portions of village-level petty contracts. Sri Lanka had a hundred- year- old local government system that was running well. I can say that, as primary level witness as I was in charge of local government in my young days of the administrative service. The context post-JR ruined this grassroots local government system.
Relief For Diana
Lots of things more to say. But thinking of Diana I will stop. Diana can overcome any frustration by the factual realisation that any other MP at her level will do the same as she has done. What is more, any sacked MP can go to court and attempt getting her disciplinary action removed or suspended. The side-effects of democracy!
*The writer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org