PM tells MPs: Learn or depart - EDITORIAL

10 September 2015 06:30 pm - 2     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}


With the goal of restoring a model Parliament in six months, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe is taking a commendable initiative to bring about a commitment by MPs to discipline and hard work, honesty and sincere service to the people. Mr. Wickremesinghe—acting on the lines of his alma mater Royal College’s motto  “disce auf discede” (learn or depart)— made his goal and vision clear when he addressed  MPs at a two-day workshop which began in the parliamentary complex yesterday. 

Expressing regret that only 63 of the 225 MPs were present at the inaugural session yesterday morning, the Prime Minister said he had requested the new Speaker Karu Jayasuriya to compile a list of new MPs who failed to reach the minimum attendance levels at the workshop. The workshop was being held to brief MPs not only on their rights, powers and privileges, but more so on their sacred responsibility towards the suffering people who elected them to be good stewards for five years. The MPs who failed to reach this minimum level of discipline and commitment would not be given their share of the decentralised development budget for next year. 

During the past decade and mainly during the past five years, Parliament was not only reduced to a rubber stamp but values and standards crumbled to such levels that most people and analysts lamented that the august assembly had degenerated to a den of robbers. Restoring the diginity and honour and the spirit of sacrificial service in Parliament will be a tough task but the Prime Minister with solid support from President Maithripala Sirisena and the speaker, appears to be determined to rebuild the image of Parliament.

 On September 3 when the new Parliament met for its first full debate on the appointment of a National Government with an enlarged Cabinet, Mr. Wickremesinghe showed how firm he could become. National Freedom Front leader Wimal Weerawansa was raving about what he saw as an injustice in the appointment of the Leader of the Opposition when the Prime Minister told him sternly there would be no screaming or thuggery in the new Parliament. He told Mr. Weerawansa to stop shouting and sit, otherwise he could get out of Parliament.  

Yesterday, while stressing the need for a code of conduct and ethics among MPs, the Prime Minister said parliamentary proceedings would be shown live on TV from next year and that was all the more reason why the MPs should be on their best behaviour because the sovereign people, specially the younger generation, would be watching. 

The Prime Minister, addressing a ceremony on Wednesday evening to mark the swearing-in of Ministers of State and Deputy Ministers, appealed to those holding high posts to make sacrifices and act selflessly so that they could genuinely serve the people. He urged the large number of Ministers, Ministers of State and Deputy Ministers to reduce foreign trips to an essential minimum so that they could be present in Parliament to answer questions and give more attention to the people’s needs by streamlining the process of parliamentary democracy and good governance.  

 Yesterday another major step was taken towards the vision of restoring good governance, democracy, social justice, accountability and transparency. The newly-appointed, high-powered Constitutional Council met for the first time.  It comprises Speaker Karu Jayasuriya as the Chairman, Premier Wickremesinghe and Opposition Leader R. Sampanthan as ex-officio members. The others are Minister Patali Champika Ranawaka as the representative of the President, Minister Wijedasa Rajapakshe as the nominee of the Premier and parliamentarian Vijitha Herath as the representative of the minority parties. Civil society movements are represented in this Council by three widely-respected figures—Sarvodaya founder A. T. Ariyaratne,  United Nations Human Rights activist Radhika Koomaraswamy and former Attorney General Shibly Aziz. The Constitutional Council is expected to work fast to appoint a majority of the 11 Independent Commissions which will consolidate the democratic foundation to make Sri Lanka a centre for excellence and a model for Asia. 

  Comments - 2

  • No Pay Friday, 11 September 2015 01:47 PM

    No Pay for MPs who did not attend Classes..

    Nimal Saturday, 12 September 2015 04:11 PM

    About time these MPs serve the country.

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