Dignity of Parliament
Posted on August 9th, 2019

Editorial Courtesy The Island

UPFA MP Nimal Lanza, of all people, on Thursday, complained to Speaker Karu Jayasuriya that MP Dr. Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe had called Parliament the most corrupt institution in the country. The Speaker’s position was that Wijeyadasa should leave Parliament if the latter had so low an opinion of it.

Dr. Rajapakshe, being a senior lawyer, may not have said so without evidence to support his claim. If only the Speaker had asked Wijeyadasa to substantiate that allegation. No less a person than President Maithripala Sirisena has said that it costs about Rs. 500 mn to engineer a single crossover in Parliament. One wonders whether that was the amount paid to those who defected to the 52-day government, forcibly formed by Sirisena and Mahinda Rajapaksa. There have been many crossovers in Parliament during the last three decades or so and, going by the President’s claim, billions of rupees must have changed hands. Will anyone ask the President not to attend Parliament over that statement?

Dr. Rajapakshe has drawn heavy flak from some of his parliamentary colleagues for criticising Parliament for having received free computers from a foreign government. It is popularly said in this country that one should not reject even a headache given free of charge. But there are situations where gift horses have to be looked not only in the mouth but also in the belly if trouble is to be averted. One may recall that the installation of free Chinese computers in Parliament coincided with a debate on the leasing of the Hambantota Port to China! It is said that there is no such thing as a free lunch.

Can’t Parliament afford new computers? Is the country so broke? If so, how come, according to the JVP, two cars, costing Rs. 300 million each, were once ordered for the Prime Minister? President Sirisena has reportedly shot down a Cabinet paper seeking approval for importing a highly expensive car for the Opposition Leader. He also scuttled a recent government move to grant a 200,000-rupee pay hike to MPs. The Agriculture Ministry paid a huge rent for a building for several years without occupying it. The Presidential Commission of Inquiry, probing corruption in the present administration, was informed, the other day, that the Education Ministry had sought to pay about Rs. 2 billion in excess of the budgeted amount for table computers to be distributed among the GCE A/L students and their teachers in some schools. If the government cares to curtail the criminal waste of state resources, it may be able to give a free tab computer to each and every Sri Lankan.

The national legislature should not be like a pavement near the Colombo Town Hall, where panhandlers seek alms. It should be able to manage its finances frugally without undertaking projects it cannot afford. We often hear MPs complain to the Speaker about what they call affronts to the dignity of Parliament. Accepting pin (free) computers, etc., from other countries is not the way to preserve the dignity of the House. Wijeyadasa says he has got the pin computer removed from his table; he deserves praise and not barbs for doing so.

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe was quoted by this newspaper, last Saturday, as having said that the people were disgusted with all 225 MPs. His detractors say he does not feel the pulse of the people. He has proved them wrong for once! The PM is lucky that he is too big to be taken to task in Parliament over his statement, which, in our book, is commendable and has struck a responsive chord with the public.

Those who are critical of corruption in the institutions they belong to must not be asked to leave or smoked out lest those places should lose the few good people they are left with and end up being havens for the corrupt. Heads of those institutions had not better tell their critics to conform or depart.

One Response to “Dignity of Parliament”

  1. Ananda-USA Says:

    Sri Lanka is ON TRACK to be GREAT AGAIN!

    Pohottuwa Convention accepts Mahinda Rajapaksa as Party Leader and Gothabhaya Rajapaksa as Candidate for President!

    JAYAWEWA! JAYAWEWA! JAYEN JAYAWEWA!

    Ratna Deepa, Janma Bhumi
    Lanka Deepa Vijaya Bhumi
    Mey Apey Udaaru Wu
    Maathru Bhumiyayi!
    Maathru Bhumiyayi!

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