Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Parliament – Is it serving its purpose in our Democracy?

We as a nation accept too much blindly. When anyone expresses an opinion on a subject that people accept as ‘just the way it is’ we are complicit in its failure. Parliament is just another institution that has fallen into disrepute by the public at large. In a recent example the National List MP for the TNA Mr Sumanthiran, stated in his speech on Friday, the 8th of June, that parliament has become increasingly irrelevant to the lives of people and even to affect much needed change in society.

The 225 MPs who represent all parties, both elected and through the National List, are duty to bound to protect and run the nation in a manner expected of them by the citizens who elect them to represent their interests. Lately a proposed bill is being hotly debated, to prevent clergy from seeking elected office. Some say it is a violation of a fundamental human right. There is a written constitution whose safeguards and guarantees are not even in place, and there is nobody holding the executive responsible for putting them in place. The judiciary being currently politically manipulated is impotent in its enforcement.

When one reads the daily reports from Parliament, one has to wonder whether the interests of citizens get a fair airing. Parliament usually sits every other week for a whole week beginning in the afternoons. More importantly there is a whole day reserved for votes of condolences relating to MPs who have died. I personally do not accept that important parliamentary time be reserved for this, and should be relegated to an evening session once a month where people are allowed to express their opinions on the deceased. It is normal for people to speak well of the dead, whilst they are castigated as anything but during their lives. One recent case in point was the votes of condolences for Anuruddha Ratwatte, who made himself a General during his stint as Deputy Defense Minister, and a whole lot more after that incident!

It is time to get back to basics and reorder the procedures in Parliament. The Secretary General of Parliament, together with the Speaker must institute needed procedural changes, in consultation with the parties to ensure the smooth and efficient running of the institution, so that maximum productivity is achieved by the servants of the people, who for a moment seem to have forgotten their service to the nation, and appear to believe that the nation owes them a living and not the other way round!

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