Grooming young MPs
Rajapaksa has met newly elected MPs from the Government to
obtain their inputs on national issues particularly with regard
to the development goals that have been set for the country. The
President also instructed the Treasury Secretary to incorporate
some of the suggestions of these new MPs in the national budget.
The young always bring with them radical views and fresh ideas
which could be of immense value particularly in this new era of
technological advancement. Unlike in the past youth today are
more probing and sophisticated and in this context the young MPs
could come up with suggestions the Government could ill afford
to ignore. At the meeting with the President these MPs had also
called on him to introduce measure to stem the brain drain. This
is an indication of how they view the picture as a whole.
Therefore bringing new MPs into the picture indeed is a good
trend that would lead to these MPs playing a more active role in
governance rather than be mere appendages to the ruling party.
We have seen in the past most young MPs idling as back benches
in Parliament with no role to play and not making any worthwhile
contribution to Parliament debates. They merely picked up their
attendance allowances and enjoyed the perks and privileges of
MPs. They were hardly accountable and did not engage in national
tasks. Now that the President has got new MPs to be part and
parcel of the administration it is hoped things would move much
faster in the development sphere.
Already young MPs have been put in charge of overseeing
development activities in the North. Such exposure is bound to
give them a hands on experience in such matters that would stand
them in good stead in the future when they graduate into
Ministerial office. This is also a good opportunity to gauge the
output of young MPs upon which results they could aspire for
promotion to Ministerial rank. It is better to have freshers
move up the ranks rather than thrust them into the deep end at
the very outset. This will give them the necessary experience
and maturity before they eventually make the grade.
Today at a time when the Government has embarked on gigantic
development projects to take the country into a new era of
progress and prosperity there is no room for shirkers among the
ranks of MPs.
Therefore the move to co-opt these new Members of Parliament
into the mainstream of activity is a sound one. On the other
hand young MPs could also introduce their own innovative ideas
and proposals where necessary to facilitate the development
process. We say this because we have among our young MPs
professionals in diverse fields whose ideas could be valuable.
Young MPs too could be a good conduit for the Government to
gauge the pulse of public, for they are closer to the grassroots
than the senior Ministers who tend to be aloof due to their
Ministerial responsibilities. These MPs could also be of great
help in supervising development work in the electorates. With
the Government set to prescribe a proportion for youth
representation in Parliament there is bound to be more and more
young MPs replacing the old guard. This is a good augury for the
future paving the way for youth to be major stakeholders in the
According to a
front page news item in an English Daily the Government was
considering the possibility of introducing a licence for
operating school vans. Education Minister Bandula Gunawardena
was quoted as saying that his Ministry had discussions with the
Motor Traffic Department but a final decision was pending.
We do not know if this school van licensing will see the
light of day, but there certainly is a need to apply curbs on a
majority of these school vans which are plying recklessly
endangering life and limb of the schoolchildren.
Some of these vans are packed like sardines and in some
instance children are made to sit on others laps to make space
for more loading and extra income. Worse, some parents too don't
mind this discomfiture so long as their children are driven to
school and brought back safely in a vehicle rather than risk bus
travel that is fraught with danger. Nevertheless these school
vans are seen racing away at breakneck speed in order to pick up
children to be on time at school posing even a graver risk than
The condition of some of these school vans too are
deplorable. Some of them are rickety old jalopies chugging way
issuing thick black smoke which also find its way into the
interior of the van through open floorboards making these
vehicles virtual gas chambers for children. School van drivers
have also become a law unto themselves emulating their private
bus colleagues. Recently it was reported how these van drivers
had virtual lain seige of a main thoroughfare opposite a leading
girls school in Colombo obstructing the parking of other
vehicles. It is time something is done to rein in school van
operators by introducing disciplinary measures.