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Time to reform our lawmakers!

22 November 2018 12:00 am - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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Sri Lankan civil activists demonstrate in Colombo amid an ongoing political crisis (Photo by ISHARA S. KODIKARA / AFP)

It’s time that the school authorities stopped inviting politicians for their functions because the country’s lawmakers have shown through their actions that they care less about the next generation.

The way our politicians plunder state money and waste assets make us think for a moment whether some of them even have children of their own. These lawmakers do the opposite of promoting Sri Lanka in the outside world and give a clear message that their abode-the parliament-is the place where one should aspire to be; because it entertains people with the worst track records. 

Artiste Eraj Weeraratne’s song ‘Gemak Deela’ underscores how the underworld hugely depends on working for these lawmakers for a living. The song also recalls the history of the Parliament, which was once an institute packed with people who possessed the highest educational qualifications and also had a healthy upbringing. 
The parliament once bred politicians who entered politics and spend their hard earned monies on the people. But today, politicians, who have zero assets, take to politics and earn a fortune.

This is why we occasionally have to encounter individuals who don’t value ethics and fair play and need to be put in their place. One such lawmaker was Mervin Silva who was throwing his weight around when Rajapaksa was president of the country

Till recently, people were used to ‘grin and bear’ the actions of these unscrupulous lawmakers. But with the advent of social media and the facility they afford to post video clips, these politicians have been caught with their pants down! Just the other day we read reports of some Western Province Councilors engaging in watching pornographic videos while sessions were on at the council. And what’s alarming is Western Province Chief Minister Isura Devappriya going to the extent of making a request from the telecommunication authorities to block access to websites that have pornography and social media for computer users in the Western Province Council chamber. These councillors had been allegedly watching these movies while the Budget for 2019 was being presented.

‘Rise up’

It is in this backdrop that we see social groups voicing their disapproval at the manner in which politicians are steering this nation towards disaster. Just the other day a citizens collective coming under the banner ‘Rise up’ staged a rally in Colombo. Its participants were disapproving the derogatory status of political affairs in the country and demanding a political change that would render a better service to the nation. 

It’s enlightening to see academics and educated professionals finding the time to make their voices heard and warn the rulers that they should get their act together. All this time what was missing were the voices of the academics, young professionals and the elite. In other words their silence in the past could be termed as a sin. 
Very recently this writer read somewhere that India’s silence- at the time Mahinda Rajapaksa was sworn in as prime minister after Wickremesinghe was unceremoniously sacked -was interpreted as the island’s closest neighbour endorsing what was wrong.

‘Rise Up’ has also called for legal action to be taken against those who misbehaved within the parliament. In this context this writer wishes to underscore that though a decision was taken some time back to have footage of parliament sessions with the view of making it serve as a deterrent against bad behaviour, such an effort has not served the purpose. 

For a fact we know that a good number of politicians haven’t even passed the GCE O’Level Examination. There are reports on social media websites that there is a member of parliament who was selling flowers on the wayside of the road before he worked himself into Parliament. 

Just the other day a citizens collective coming under the banner ‘Rise up’ staged a rally in Colombo. Its participants were disapproving the derogatory status of political affairs in the country and demanding a political change

This is why senior citizens of this country have been suggesting for a long time to raise the qualification level to enter parliament to that of a degree. This will ensure that parliament is full of the cream of brains the country produces. 

But that alone wouldn’t suffice. This is because the power they acquire as politicians does have the potential to corrupt them. As much as a complete education at school is a must, the inculcating of good values in an individual must be done at home by parents.

Sri Lanka has moved away from the colonial times of suppression and today even the least affluent have a say in electing the country’s president at an election. Many years ago just 4% of the population could vote because Crew Mc Callum Reforms allowed only the educated and those who possessed assets to be entitled to a polling card. But that system was replaced by the Donoughmore Commission in 1931 which enabled anyone over 21 years to be entitled to vote. Even inquiring into ones’ caste is seldom heard within Sri Lankan communities because all are now equal where receiving an education and enjoying the opportunities available to enter parliament are concerned. Educated politicians might now notice cast for an example by the way someone cooks and may causally remark ‘Are you from this clan because you people use a bit more chili and the smell of the dish suggest so’. 

Code of Conduct

As the years rolled by more folks from the downtrodden masses saw opportunities opening up to earn university degrees, do business and even enter parliament. Now we have people from all walks of life in all spheres of employment. This is why we occasionally have to encounter individuals who don’t value ethics and fair play and need to be put in their place. One such lawmaker was Mervin Silva who was throwing his weight around when Rajapaksa was president of the country.

We now have politicians of the likes of Thewarapperuma and Weerawansa who make us question the entry qualification to set foot in parliament. There will be more of their kind in the future if the Code of Conduct already stipuated for parliamentarians is not strictly adhered to. 

This is why senior citizens of this country have been suggesting for a long time to raise the qualification level to enter parliament to that of a degree. This will ensure that parliament is full of the cream of brains the country produces

When the last parliament session progressed peacefully it did come as a surprise. Sirisena had even thanked the MPs for adopting a peaceful approach to setting about duties within the parliament. We don’t wish to see another epesode of commotion, swearing in filth and religious books being hurled at each other within the chamber. Reforming these lawmakers is possible, given that the majorty of these policians fear the Gods, even if they don’t fear the law! What we need is for the lawmakers to get on with their businesses and provide lively debates which result in producing positive outocmes. 

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