A startling revelation | Daily News

A startling revelation

Time and again there have been loud calls led by the Maha Sangha for decent, educated persons to be sent to Parliament by the voting public. This follows the appalling conduct of the members of the present day Parliament which reached an all time low during the 51 day illegal Government in October 2018. There was hope that a beginning will be made at least at the upcoming elections to the Local Government bodies, which, after all, acts as a nursery for those aspiring to enter Parliament. 

Alas, all such hopes have been rendered unfounded. According to Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardena, it is being revealed that among the candidates fielded by the Opposition for the LG elections are individuals who were responsible for the May 09 mayhem, where the homes of several Government Parliamentarians were set on fire and an MP killed. The PM told Parliament on Tuesday that names contained in the reports submitted by the CID of those involved corresponded with that of some of the candidates from the Opposition put forward to contest the upcoming LG polls. This indeed is an unhealthy situation that does not augur well for the healthy functioning of the LG bodies should criminal elements find their way into these bodies.

One recalls certain Government MPs in Parliament specifically identifying prominent Opposition activists and sitting Local Government Councillors as being responsible for the arson attacks on their homes - both from the Samagi Jana Balavegaya (SJB) and JVP. It will be interesting to know if Sajith Premadasa and Anura Kumara Dissanayake (AKD) had included such individuals among the lists of their candidates to contest the forthcoming LG elections. With the protest movement too billed to contest in Colombo it will be worthwhile pursuing their list of candidates as well. It will be a good thing if the CID makes public the list of names they have identified as suspects in the May 09 mayhem so that the public will make their own choice.

What pray will be the role of the Elections Commission (EC) in this regard? Some time ago the EC came out with a series of progressive steps with a view to cleansing the electoral system and ensure a level playing field. Among these was a move to disqualify an elected Member of Parliament who had been found to have got himself/herself elected by foul means, on its own volition, instead of waiting for a rival to contest such election by means of an election petition. What will be the position now if the Opposition decides to field candidates for the upcoming LG elections who are among the list of suspects in the records of the Police, who had engaged in acts of arson? Will not this give rise for a plethora of disqualifications - ie if the EC decides to walk the talk? Or will this rule apply only with regard to a Parliamentary Election? 

From all indications, we are back to square one. The clamour by many for electing only decent and educated professionals to Parliament, for all intents and purposes, is a non-starter. The upcoming LG polls have given us all a sample of what to expect at a Parliamentary Election. It is no use appealing to leaders of the mainstream political parties to include in their nomination lists only professionals, the educated and those with social standing. In the thinking of these political leaders such minions are not going to get votes for their parties. It is only the toughies, crooks and swindlers and those capable of throwing money around who could win the day for them. Similarly, it is also those who are capable of bellowing rhetoric inciting nationalist and religious sentiments and those capable of appealing to the basest instincts of a backward public who are likely to receive the ready response of the larger voting public. This has become the lot of the Sri Lankan voter who had been all along electing the most unfit and unsuitable individuals to preside over their destiny. The recent protests, the demand for a system change and loud calls for driving away all 225 Members of Parliament and even the bleak economic picture are not going to change things all that much.   

Also, waiting in the wings are the kith and kin and progeny of the present lot of Ministers and MPs to take over once the papas and mamas hang up their boots. Where then can you accommodate the professionals, the educated, the decent, upright and honest men and women of good breeding and social standing? It certainly is a crowded house. In any event it is moot even if given the opportunity the decent folk, the educated would want to rub shoulders in Parliament with the rest of the lot. The National List which was meant to accommodate such folk is also being abused to the hilt to bring in the riff-raff and those rejected by the voters. 

It is time the leaders of all political parties, at least, now learn from their mistakes and start reflecting on how the country has reached this present sorry pass. They should think seriously of putting the country first before any other consideration, including by having the best talents in the country brought into Parliament. Enough damage has already been done by giving pride of place to mediocrity. It is time to say enough is enough.  

Add new comment