Let saner counsel prevail | Daily News

Let saner counsel prevail

The general public no doubt would have heaved a huge sigh of relief at the news that the warring political parties had decided to allow for trouble free sittings of Parliament sessions. Political party leaders, with the exception of the JVP, on Sunday met President Maithripala Sirisena to decide on a way out of the current standoff and after some persuasion by the President had decided not to rock the boat when Parliament was to meet again yesterday, according to media reports. It is hoped that things would gradually quieten down allowing for Parliament business to proceed smoothly and without incident.

The recent incidents, as we have repeatedly been reminding in these spaces, had not only brought the Parliament into ridicule but also led to a near anarchic situation, with the country seemingly rudderless. It will certainly take a long time for Parliament, which is the fountainhead of democracy, to regain its honourable status and gain public acceptance. Not only that, the violent scenes in Parliament, which are given live coverage on television, no doubt has had a telling impact on the young with the danger that they too would think nothing of emulating their more illustrious elders in the August House of Parliament, who after all are our lawmakers. (A vernacular newspaper yesterday carried a cartoon where a group of schoolboys were doing just that). At the time of writing, Parliament sessions were yet to resume and hopefully all would go well.

President Sirisena had also prevailed on the UNP delegation to re-submit the No Confidence Motion and have it passed in the proper manner giving his assurance that he would abide by the outcome. In this connection he said although voice vote that was taken on Thursday was legitimate, on such a vital issue as a change of Government the more transparent course would be to have the vote via the electronic system or by name. Speaker Karu Jayasuriya can be of help in this respect. He should be accommodating and give a patient hearing to the voices of the Government side if he is to give the lie to accusations by the Government members of acting partially.

Of course, the President is fully justified in calling for a change in the mode of the vote which after all if for the very important business of retaining or ousting of the Government. The UNP, instead of clinging onto to the rule book, should demonstrate a degree of flexibility and accommodate the President's request. In fact both warring factions should be flexible and this is not an impossibility. Both Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa and former PM Ranil Wickremesinghe are veterans and in fact the most senior politicians in Parliament today. They are well capable in leading from the front, and, if need be, reining in their more rebellious charges. The President can play the role of a neutral referee in this whole drama and be a guiding hand. He has already shown that he is keen to end the crisis by permitting the vote in an altered manner and accept the outcome. Likewise the others too should think of coming down from their high horses and getting done with the whole affair.

We say this because there is an urgent need for resolving the crisis and getting the country back on the rails. A budget has to be presented and financial allocations made for the ministries to function. Teachers, the police, military and government servants have to be paid their salaries for the ensuing month. Already work in Government departments are virtually paralyzed with no responsible officer wanting to stick his/ her neck out. Besides, the public at large are gripped by a sense of uncertainty as each passing day throws up a new development in the crisis. They are also, no doubt, seized with a sense of disgust of the breed called politicians and there is the very real prospect that polling booths at future elections being deserted. PAFFREL chief Rohana Hettiarachchi has already sounded a warning of this likelihood which if eventuate would sound a deathblow to democracy. Even Election Commissions Chairman Mahinda Deshapriya recently claimed that registration of young voters had dwindled drastically and almost pleaded with them to get themselves included into the election register. The situation is bound to have got worse now.

Hence, the importance of not letting the crisis to drag on any further. In this regard the intervention of religious leaders to resolve the current imbroglio is to be welcomed. According to media reports religious leaders, including the Ven. Ittapane Dhammalankara Thera and Archbishop of Colombo His Eminence Malkcolm Cardinal Ranjith have met President Sirisena and offered their patronage to end the ongoing political gridlock. His Eminence together with the Ven Ittapane Dhammalankara Thera met the President on Friday and told him to meet all parties and try to resolve the crisis and even offered to play a role in the matter. Perhaps, the calm and benign influence of religious leaders could prove to be the best antidote for healing the scars left by the bruising battles in Parliament.


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