DOES SRI LANKA NEED AN OPPOSITION IN THE PARLIAMENT?
Posted on February 24th, 2021

BY EDWARD THEOPHILUS

Does Sri Lanka need an opposition in the parliament when the affairs of the state are activated and discharged? It may be a critical question because when evaluating the role was played and is played by the opposition, the general impression of people seems that the government, as well as the opposition, should equally responsible for the state affairs. When investigating the political role played in the past people have many questions to be asked without the difference in political parties that they have been in opposition since independence. Politics is a dynamic matter that quickly attracts the attention of the public and a small pace of total population that may be less than 5% concern with politics. Many people think politics is wasting time rather than supporting the constructive development of the country. If anyone asks, do opposition politics play a good role for the country, it may be a vague question for anyone to answer as many people have arduousness evaluating the role played or is being played by the opposition. 

Sri Lanka’s politics and administration had been based on totalitarian style since the beginning of Sinhala state and the way of political administration had been managed until the concept of democracy was introduced by the Donormore reform process in 1932. The so-called democracy could be considered as a system that is biased towards political administrators. Under British rule not only in Sri Lanka but also in many colonial states applied dictatorial judgments and, in the UK, too applied dictatorial policies and the best example was criminally punished people deported to Australia to colonize the country without proper consent of the domestic citizen.

No clear evidence available about whether the Donormore commission created,  political institution, the State Council did allow an opposition in the format of current opposition or as in the way of the Parliamentary system for representation in the council. However, outside the State Council, opposition political movements either openly or disguisedly played the opposing role and they had educated the public on the concerned issues. The official opposition came to operate after the Soulbury reforms in 1947, and since then the role played by the opposition was not been satisfied by the public. In some instances, the role of the opposition reflected it was a useless institution in the parliamentary system.  The current role of the opposition is showing that the opposition is playing a role in return for the payments received by them in the parliamentary administration, otherwise, there will be a growing opposition of the public toward them. The best example is the role played by Mr. Sajith Premadasa, who has no idea what should he play as the leader of the opposition.

In the 1956 and i977 elections, fewer members were elected to the opposition, and the role of the opposition was subject to cheapen, which was the opinion of academics, and in 1977, Mr. Jayewardene had an idea to create more strong opposition by transferring several government members to the opposition.

Sir Ivor Jennings stated in his book Cabinet Government, the leader of the opposition would be the alternative prime minister of Queen, and the Herald Laski also expressed an opinion on the role of opposition. When critically examine the role played by the opposition, the duty of certain members was appreciated by people. Many accepted that Dr.N.M Perera, Dr.S. A Wickramasinghe, Dr. Colvin R.de Silva, Mr. Prins Gunesekera, Mr. J.R. Jayewardene, Mr. R. Premadasa, and many Tamil opposition members played an excellent role contributing to the concept of parliamentary democracy. However, the role of the current opposition seems to be weak, and they do less research on the government policies and have less association with people to scrutinize the role played by them. News media that broadly expanded in the country either praise or negatively criticize the role of the opposition.

What is the role of the opposition? This has been a popular question among students of political science.  If we go beyond the views of Sir Ivor Jennings, we can develop new ideas and obtain good returns for the parliament expenses for the opposition in Sri Lanka. What I have seen as the major weakness of the opposition is that neither leader of the opposition nor members of the opposition has not expressed an opinion on the current critical issues such as the human rights report of the UN and the report of the Easter Commission, why they are so reluctant to express firm views on these concern matters?  This seems that the opposition is playing a double game rather than attempting to make justice for the country. 

In other democratic states, opposition comes forward to express constructive views, and why the opposition in Sri Lanka is reluctant to express constructive views on government policies? The situation shows that the opposition is playing the role of international agencies than confirming the wish of the public. If it investigates the role played by the opposition showed that they are doing nothing. Soon after independence, the opposition played a constructive role and it was attracted by people. The election results in 1977 reflected the confirmation of the role of Mr.J.R. Jayawardane as the opposition leader from 1970 to 1977.

The current situation raises a common question to all whether the opposition should play a role like the Western democracies or develop the opposition as in the way of Japan that plays a very constructive role for the interest of the country. When the opposition plays a crafty role to show they are doing a good job, and the best system appropriates Sri Lanka is combining the opposition with the government, and when genuinely need opposing to the government policy actions, they should be allowed to oppose.  The opposition and the government need to work as one person for the interest of the country.

During the war with LTTE, the opposition UNP could have to support the war effort of the government and share the victory with the government.  If it happened UNP would have not defeated in a regrettable way in 2020 and Mr. Ranil Wickremasinghe could have stayed as a hero in the country. This is the way opposition is working in Western democratic countries.  Why Mr. Sajith Premadasa and his colleagues don’t like to associate with the government and play a constructive role? There is no specific reason, but the opposition plays a role in support of the Western aided NGOs, which are playing a role against China and Russia. Sometimes, they may work in support of India.  The commission report regarding the Easter Sunday attack in 2019 has hinted out that who did bomb blasts and rumors are spread to coverup the matter.  Why the opposition cannot question these matters in the parliament? Do they work like supporters of a foreign intelligence agency?

One Response to “DOES SRI LANKA NEED AN OPPOSITION IN THE PARLIAMENT?”

  1. Nimal Says:

    our politicians, the parliament, judiciary, the police and other government departments are below the accepted standards and this downward trend is since the colonials left the island. During the colonial times our people were true Buddhists, even the other denominations followed the majority.
    To put things right our tv channels should televise the UK’s parliamentary sessions, at least the PM’s daily session, lasting about a hour.Also show the UK’s domestic news where it shows the daily life in UK,with respect to law and order,etc.These fine qualities make UK a preferred place to settle. I doubt our politicians and others would like it, but could access it on the internet.
    Humble African nations seeing the orderly lives of the colonial type settlers in the Southern part of Africa had invited them to settle in their countries where thousands of acres of land is being given to develop their agriculture sector. Some of the produce is exported to EU countries, many natives are employed in the process.

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