Comrade Vasu and his street fighter gab! - EDITORIAL

Speaker Chamal Rajapaksa sometime back was toying with the idea of allowing the broadcast of Parliament sessions live on TV. As a result a couple of pay-TV service providers are currently broadcasting the Parliamentary sessions live. But the majority of the Sri Lankans still haven’t been able to digest the idea of paying to watch TV. Given what happened in the House on Thursday, we believe the Speaker should request at least the state-owned TV channels, which don’t charge for watching, to broadcast the live parliamentary sessions. It will provide people with an idea of whom they have elected to represent them at Parliament.

The use of derogatory language in Sri Lanka’s Parliament is nothing new and is nothing new for most other such assemblies of people’s representatives in many other countries as well.  Many parliamentarians have shown their real pedigree behind their pure white national garbs and custom-made western suits by uttering words, which shouldn’t have been uttered in a place like Parliament.

But this Thursday, Parliamentarian Vasudewa Nanayakkara took it to a different level as he used a word completely unbecoming of a Parliamentarian and of his rank as a respected senior politician to address Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe. One could argue that MP Nanyakkara too to a certain extent was provoked to make such an utterance as well. During the heated exchange of words between Nanayakkara and Wickremesinghe, the Speaker was seen reminding them of the school children who may have been watching the Parliamentary sessions.

As the juicy words were expunged from the Parliament hansard many TV channels both state and privately-owned telecast the video clip of the incident during their news bulletins by muting the unparliamentarily uttering of Nanayakkara. Parliamentarian Nanayakkara appears to have forgotten his decorum and the respectability when using unparliamentary words despite him being the minister in charge of all matters pertaining to national languages of the previous government!

However, being the maverick dyed-in-the wool firebrand leftist politician that he is, this was not the first occasion when Nanayakkara ruffled a few feathers in parliament. In the late eighties and early nineties MP Nanayakkara was a bit of a rioter, having even lifted the Parliament Mace on an occasion when the House sessions ran into a storm. Despite age MP Nanayakkara seems to still have the same vigor of his younger days.

Also recently the Parliament’s decorum was brought into question when a group of parliamentarians decided to spend a night there. Newspapers were full of stories and photos, showing how they spent the night. Probably the Speaker on that day should have taken a stern decision not to allow this group of parliamentarians to spend the night in Parliament despite their demands. They should have carried out their protests during Parliamentary sessions and not in the night when there is no one in the premises.  

All in all discipline in the legislature is of paramount importance if one expects to discipline the society, since water always trickles down from the top and not the other way.

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