No-faith motion against all MPs
Posted on June 10th, 2016

Editorial Courtesy The Island

The government is cock-a-hoop about defeating Thursday’s no-faith motion against Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake. It mustered 145 votes against the motion while the proponents thereof had to settle for only 51. Twenty eight MPs were absent including former President Mahinda Rajapaksa.

The government’s jubilation is understandable. It has succeeded in not only foiling a determined bid to unsettle it but also putting up a united front against the Joint Opposition in spite of debilitating differences within its ranks. However, if it thinks people will believe that its parliamentary majority has invalidated the allegations contained in the motion at issue it is mistaken.

The previous government used its two-thirds majority to pass and defeat motions and resolutions and steamroller bills in Parliament according to its whims and fancies. It impeached Chief Justice Dr. Shirani Bandaranayake with the help of its majority. But, later the impeachment was reversed by President Maithripala Sirisena, who himself had voted for it as a member of the Rajapaksa government! The same is true of the now defunct 18th Amendment which even passed muster with the Supreme Court headed by Dr. Bandaranayake and was ratified with a two-thirds majority!

Most of all, the JRJ government adopted the present Constitution with a five-sixths majority in 1978. But, it has not been acceptable to the people and even those who voted for it like the UNP big guns in the incumbent administration.

It is not being argued that Minister Karunanayake is guilty as charged, so to speak. Nor can he be considered innocent. The case against him, as it were, is still pending in the people’s court. He will have to face a different judge and a different jury. The popular verdict will be given at the next parliamentary election.

The incumbent administration ought to learn from the experience of its predecessor. People did not take into consideration the fact that parliamentary majorities had been mustered in support of the previous administration’s actions in giving their verdicts at the last parliamentary and presidential elections.

What the JVP’s support for the no-faith motion signifies is that the government is losing the backing of some of its unofficial allies. This certainly is not a healthy trend.

Interestingly, while the motion of no-faith vote against the Finance Minister was being debated in Parliament on Thursday, people passed a no-confidence motion against both the government and the Opposition! Irate Kosgama residents who had lost their properties due to Sunday’s camp blasts took to the streets cursing all MPs—all 225 of them—without exception for having done precious little to ameliorate their suffering.

When the Kosgama disaster happened all politicians should have declared a moratorium on their political battles and joined forces to help the victims. Instead, they were busy with other issues. The government thought it fit to submit a supplementary estimate seeking funds for buying a fleet of luxury vehicles for its ministers, some of whom are defeated candidates catapulted to Parliament via the National List. The Joint Opposition remained maniacally focused on the no-faith motion aimed at settling political scores. It is only natural that they have incurred the wrath of the public.

The government is reported to have decided against purchasing new vehicles for ministers until the situation improves in Kosgama. It wouldn’t have changed its mind but for the heavy flak it received from the media and the concerned public for its callous disregard for the woes of the disaster-stricken people. That, however, is not enough.

Now that the government has demonstrated that it is in a position to spare Rs. 1,175 million for vehicles and the money is available, let parliamentary approval be obtained to utilise those funds for rebuilding the houses and shops destroyed by the armoury blast. Will the Joint Opposition which weeps buckets for the public take the initiative?

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