President chuckles while his MPs lash out

Mervyn Silva-type behaviour is actively encouraged, nurtured and welcomed. MPs like Duminda Silva, who is finally a suspect in the killing of Bharatha Lakshman Premachandra, are waited upon by the state. Policemen are expected to be servile, corrupt, violent and ineffectual. The judiciary and public sector are expected to be pro-government. Heck, the private sector is expected to be pro-government! There is less and less separation of power between the judiciary and executive. And there is certainly no balance of power. All government MPs are spineless, self-serving puppets. Is this a democracy or a joke?

l by Namini Wijedasa

(November 27, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) Sri Lanka is a noble nation with a rich heritage. We were always grand but we became positively marvellous after defeating the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, one of the meanest terrorist organizations in the world.
Indeed, in our current disposition–with the Tigers gone and a strong, stable government in charge–we are splendid. Not unnaturally, many ministers and ruling party politicians regularly allude to this magnificence in their speeches. It makes them feel self-important, poor sods. They have little else to do under this regime.
Thus, we have a quintessentially compassionate and caring society with rich values; we are alternately the wonder and the miracle of Asia; we boast a rich culture based on Buddhism; and our history is abundant on top of being 2,500-years-old. And not only are we a proud, sovereign nation but we have lofty traditions, too.
10-3One of those traditions is fast becoming that of pounding the living daylights out of each other. But despite being customary and as familiar as arrack, hoodlumism just does not get the publicity it truly merits. This is unfair.
When somebody–particularly a member of parliament–does something vile, uncouth and crass, he deserves the acknowledgement that he obviously craves. He should be factored into every political speech delivered at home and abroad. Somewhere in between ‘noble nation’ and ‘rich culture,’ we must also start paying homage to ‘insufferable smuttiness.’
Chief moron
Mervyn Silva is contemporary Sri Lanka’s chief moron. There is no better punk in government than he. The man exists to create a spectacle. If he feels like boxing somebody’s ears, he will. If he feels like spewing invective, he will. If he feels like tying a public official to a tree, he will. If he wants to plod around the country behaving like a prize bull merely because he feels like it, he will.
Meanwhile, the leaders of his party–and his government–sit back and snigger delightedly. Occasionally, they stroke his fur. There is nobody like a little Mervyn to divert attention from substantive issues. 
Today, no longer does Mervyn hold a monopoly on boorishness. Other MPs are following suit. Indeed, they have been for some time but consider what happened in parliament on Monday. The UNP held up placards inside the chamber to protest the budget proposals that President Mahinda Rajapaksa was reading out. This was neither right nor proper. The UNP ought not to have done it. The UNP are idiots. They should have protested outside. Still, they were not violent.
The reaction of government MPs to the UNP protest is rather more priceless. Several of them–including Rohitha Abeygunawardena, Mahindananda Aluthgamage, Lalith Dissanayake and the inevitable Mervyn Silva–crossed the floor for a physical encounter with the opposition.
Reports say UNP MPs Harin Fernando and Ranjith Maddumabandara started arguing with government MPs Lohan Ratwatte, Roshan Ranasinghe, Uditha Lokubandara and Kanaka Herath. The government MPs assaulted the opposition MPs. They were hammering each other inside parliament. Being more numerous, ruling party clods prevailed over opposition clods.
It is reported that a book flung from the government benches hit Karu Jayasuriya who remains the epitome of gentleman politics. He later issued a statement saying that an honest and sincere government does not fling books or assault opposition members when they demonstrate peacefully. A water bottle, also from thrown from the ruling side, landed near President Rajapaksa. Sittings were in session. Speaker Chamal Rajapaksa should have heaved the whole caboodle out. He did not.
Benignly indulgent
And how did party leaders respond to this asinine behaviour? Ranil Wickremesinghe mewled ineffectually about the assault and led a walkout. What more could he have done? President Rajapaksa, in the meantime, was benignly indulgent. He even provoked the opposition by egging them on with pointed remarks. “I dissolve parliament and hold elections next year,” he jeered, grinning broadly. “Go on, we too want a strong opposition.” He eventually ordered his MPs to sit down but not, it would seem, before enjoying himself immensely.
The president said in his speech that the country was placed onto a very destructive path from 1977, overshadowed by neo liberal economic policies and terrorism. “The whole nation became a victim of terrorism,” he observed. “Democratic values got eroded. A revengeful culture came into being. Many wrongful activities such as international money laundering, drug trafficking, smuggling and arms dealing were carried out on the pretext of terrorism.”
Evidently nothing has changed since then. Sure, terrorism was eradicated. But the erosion of democratic values, the culture of revenge, money laundering, drug trafficking, smuggling and arms dealing are your regular, everyday activities in Sri Lanka. Increasingly, we solve problems by insulting and defaming each other, beating each other up or killing each other. When police don’t act, we pile onto the streets or carry out vigilante justice. Abductions are on the increase again. We have no respect for our MPs–though we vote for them–and we have no respect for each other.
In all this and more, the politicians, starting from the president, take the lead. When you stand by chuckling as your MPs cross the floor of parliament and assault the opposition, you are condoning the violation of a range of informal and formal rules and regulations. When the head of state sets such as example, others follow.
Mervyn Silva-type behaviour is actively encouraged, nurtured and welcomed. MPs like Duminda Silva, who is finally a suspect in the killing of Bharatha Lakshman Premachandra, are waited upon by the state. Policemen are expected to be servile, corrupt, violent and ineffectual. The judiciary and public sector are expected to be pro-government. Heck, the private sector is expected to be pro-government! There is less and less separation of power between the judiciary and executive. And there is certainly no balance of power. All government MPs are spineless, self-serving puppets. Is this a democracy or a joke?
Anyway, I must stop writing now because someone down our lane is throwing garbage into our drain and clogging it up. I need to hunt him down and sock him in the eye. If parliamentarians can do it while our president stands watching, why the devil can’t I?
( The Writer is a journalist with the LakbimaNews where this piece appeared )

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Author: Sri Lanka Guardian

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