Behaviour of Dinesh and Kiriella not unruly
Rs. 4.4 million is spent out of tax payer’s money for each day’s sittings in parliament. The three categories of members, namely, people’s representatives; party leaders preferences [nominated], and lastly, the people-rejected, who tiptoed through the back door being favourites of the Leader - they discuss, debate and formulate laws in Sri Lanka.
Confusion reigned in parliament and the sittings were suspended a couple of times when the Speaker ordered the removal of a senior member for ‘unruly’ behaviour in the Legislator. Speaker Karu Jayasuriya named Joint Opposition head Dinesh Gunawardena to leave the House as he disrupted the proceedings. However, the member resisted the order and stayed behind justifying the presence of Police in the chambers. Subsequent to the interruptions, the members voted a proposal to suspend Gunawardena from parliament for one week. Leader of the Opposition voted with the government.
Gunawardene’s lead; Police carried Robert G and Sunderalingam
The Thursday, March 9, was repeated by the UNP members under the Leader of the House Luxman Kiriella on Friday, March 20. However, this sort of behaviour though infrequent, occurs in State Assemblies all over the democratic world, and are nothing new to our unfortunate voter/tax-payer who was generally accustomed to such disruptive scenes even in the past. It is a remarkable co-incidence that Dinesh’s father, Philip was the first member in the post-independence Sri Lanka to be named and ordered out of chamber; it happened in 1948. Dinesh’s paternal uncle Robert Gunawardene MP for Kottawa, in fact, was carried out of the house by the Police on the instructions of Segeant-at-Arms in July 1960; and once again on August 20, 1961, brothers Philip and Robert were suspended for a week and a month respectively.
C. Sunderalingam, a vociferous independent MP from Vavuniya had to be carried off the Chamber by Parliamentary Police in 1952. Controversial Dr. W. Dahanayake, MP for Galle was suspended in the early 1950s. The entire LSSP group of 14 MPs who opposed the Official Language Bill in 1956 was sent off, as the UNP and SLFP joined hands to make it ‘Sinhala Only’. [The general consensus on the left was to have both Sinhalese and Tamil as official languages]. K. M. P. Rajaratne, the racist, was carried out of Parliament by the security staff in early 1960s. During the debate on Kalawana by election in 1980s, both MPs involved in the clash, Pilapitiya [UNP] and Sarath Muththettuwegama [CP] had to be removed from the House. The Deputy Minister of Internal Cultural and Vayamba Development and UNP MP Palitha Thewarapperuma and UPFA Parliamentarian Prasanna Ranaweera were suspended recently from parliament for a week.
A global phenomenon
When the Speaker declared [April 10, 1923] that he was suspending the session; a brawl broke out on the floor of the House, an MP was punched on the back of the head and struck back against an MP who was standing nearest; while they were separated, other MPs were drawn into the scuffle. There were no suspensions; the place was House of Commons England and the MPs involved were Robert Murray and Walter Guinness. Again on July 2, 1931, The Speaker directed John McGovern to resume his seat. McGovern refused and was ‘named’ and a motion to suspend him from the House was carried. McGovern refused to leave and the Serjeant-at-Arms was ordered to remove him. A mass brawl resulted when MPs James Maxton, John Beckett and John Kinley came to McGovern’s help. All four were suspended subsequently.
The outspoken former Central Bank Governor Dr. W.A. Wijewardena in a release said that a recent study by him had discovered that maintaining a Cabinet Minister cost the tax-payer Rs 8.5 mn a month. The 19th Amendment to the Constitution says 35 can manage the ministerial responsibilities in Sri Lanka - there are 53 of them though, helped by an added clause introduced to bribe more than the required number, in the event of a combined effort by the two big parties. [Parliament jokes?] We, the laymen cannot comprehend the profound logical hypothesis associated with: over to you learned Constitutional experts [now available in abundance] for an explanation on this marriage of convenience and its relationship to Good Governance. Those who passed the laws had been ‘unruly’- name them.
State of economy and declining parliamentary standards
Referring to a recent reference made by Premier Ranil Wickremesinghe as regards scheduled repayment of loans, Dr. Wijewardena said that the actual situation was far worse than it was made out to be by the UNP. As the PM hadn’t taken into consideration loans obtained by various state institutions over a period of time during the previous administration, it would be necessary to take a fresh look at the situation, the former Central Banker said.
Both the governing and the opposing parties only think of their personal gains; politics and getting their perks. An assessment carried out jointly by the UN and the government, around one million drought-affected people are in immediate need of food and shelter. The numbers are likely to increase in the next few months. The Supreme Court was petitioned a couple of days before that members of Parliament representing all political parties among whom were members of the ‘yahapalana’ administration, the Tamil National Alliance (TNA), as well as the Joint Opposition loyal to Mahinda Rajapaksa. They have caused losses amounting to over Rs. 7,000 million by selling duty free vehicle permits without proper legal sanction. It’s a loss to the state. Who raised their hands - name the ‘unruly’!
One of the first undemocratic ‘unruly’ acts of the parliament in 1948 was to abolish citizenship rights of plantation workers of Indian origin. Only the Trotskyites and Communists of the Lanka Sama Samaja Party and Communist Party opposed this anti-democratic measure. Its MPs were not described as ‘gentlemen’ by the press of the day.
In 1979, Sirimavo Bandaranaike was unceremoniously expelled after passing several pieces of cowardly ad hominem legislation to deprive her of civil rights, which Gamini Dissanayake and TULF opposed. “…the whole purpose of this exercise is to deprive a political opponent of her civic rights”, -Sivasithamparam - (hansard Vol II ;16.10.80)-- As she was leaving the House, the government members made derogatory remarks and cat-calls, [her party boycotted the session and demonstrated outside], while two gentlemen of the TULF, Amirthalingam and Sivasithamparam escorted her out of Parliament. The ‘unruly’ stayed back.
UPFA’s unruly ‘night-out’
Sri Lanka’s parliament on Monday adjourned following a tense situation that irrupted in the chamber with opposition parliamentarians staging a protest against a move to summon Mahinda Rajapaksa. The Former President was asked to appear before the Bribery Commission on April 24, 2015. Nearly 50 opposition Parliamentarians including some present Ministers and former Ministers sat on the floor of the well of the House and started the demonstration. The ‘unruly’ MPs continued the protest camped in the well of parliament overnight. Next morning the janitors found empty scotch bottles left behind by the ‘unruly’ protesters [Parliament Bar was closed in 1956]. They were not named or suspended!
‘UNP members howl here today like a pack of jackals’ - CBK
UNP members …howl here like a pack of jackals... Mr. Speaker, this Constitution is designed to end the ethnic war which totally destroyed the lives of the people of this country...Though anybody may hoot or howl like jackals, we shall go through with this. .. it is a big question to me, Mr. Speaker, as to how they can form a responsible Government in this country” -CBK [presenting new Constitution Bill in Parliament on -Aug 7, 2000] which contained specific clauses to abolish the Executive Presidency entirely, and for power devolution. The unruly ‘pack of jackals’ who burnt the copies of draft on the tables of House were not named.
The ‘unruly’ who voted for the 18th Amendment on Aug 18, 2010, giving MR a third term and making a mockery of Democracy in Sri Lanka, included a future Head of State too. During UF government in the 1970s, there were severe scarcities. Dr. W. Dahanayake, who became a caretaker PM from Sep 29, 1959 to March 20, 1960, in a move to protest shortage of textiles tried to enter the House in loin cloth but was prevented. Was it unruly?
A member of Parliament to Benjamin Disraeli: ‘Sir, you will either die on the gallows or of some unspeakable disease. ‘That depends, Sir,’ said Disraeli, ‘whether I embrace your policies or your mistress.
The country is in the throes of the worst droughts in a decade and close to a million people are in dire need of relief. Quite apart from trucking drinking water, no provisions have been made to compensate farmers who were incapable of cultivating their fields the last season. Large numbers urgently require food assistance. It was in such a scenario, that Parliament a few days ago passed a supplementary estimate of 143 million, to allow the payment of Rs.100,000 a month per MP on both sides to equip their electorate offices! Queried on this aspect at a press conference last week, JO leaders shamelessly admitted that they haven’t taken a stance on such expenditure. Earlier Rs. 490 million to buy luxury vehicles for ministers, State ministers and others, including the leader of the opposition, was passed by the ‘unruly’ while the nation discussed the suspension of Dinesh and walk-out by Kiriella. All but one of the vehicles to be purchased would each cost the taxpayer over Rs. 40 million! The economic picture is gloomy with irredeemable debt, hostile markets, diminished funds; rupee value declining and increased unrest.
Suspend them en masse, for they are UNRULY!