A good suggestion | Daily News

A good suggestion

UNF National List MP Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka is popularly known to be a loose cannon among the Sri Lanka public. His gaffes have been legion, so much so it is moot if he is being taken seriously at all by the public. Some say it is this trait that even cost him his Presidential bid in 2010.The former Army Commander, during that election campaign, made a stunning revelation that surrendering LTTE leaders, bearing white flags, were shot by the military on the orders of former Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa. This, no doubt, earned for him the wrath of not only his military colleagues but also the vast majority of patriotic citizens, who, at the time, deified our security forces for annihilating the LTTE.

He also, at a media briefing, referred to an animal in describing one of his critics. This too certainly would have given an inkling to the voting public what they will be letting themselves in for should they elect Sarath Fonseka as President.

However, on Wednesday, in Parliament, the Field Marshal made a very sensible suggestion. He requested that, henceforth, all Heads of State of Sri Lanka be they Presidents or Prime Ministers, Service Chiefs, top bureaucrats and state officials holding responsible positions be subjected to a mental screening, periodically, in order to assess if they are mentally capable, any further, of carrying out their duties and responsibilities. He also wanted such a requirement be incorporated in the Constitution by way of an amendment. Field Marshal Fonseka noted that this was the norm in the USA. “The US President is bound to go through a mental fitness every year, while the others, including the Service Chiefs, who have the final say in launching nuclear weapons are also bound to do the same. I suggest that similar laws should be in place in Sri Lanka as well”, he stated.

Of course, no one will object to Fonseka’s proposal, especially considering how some of our leaders have been behaving down the years. Subjecting our past Heads of State to compulsory mental examinations should have been commenced from the very inception. Had this been done much of the present problems faced by the country could have been averted. Had saner counsel prevailed and some of our leaders acted with foresight the national problem that morphed into a full blown war later on could certainly have been prevented. Instead, a false patriotism and lust for power clouded the judgement of our leaders leading to all our current predicaments.

The suggestion of Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka for our leaders to be made to undergo periodical mental screening is also quite sound in a context that leaders who get power drunk over a period of time in office tend to lose their mental balance. This we have seen in many parts of the world, even in democracies, where those who get elected to office by popular vote suddenly lose their head, so to speak, and turn dictatorial, once entrenched in power. A compulsory mental test would certainly have exposed the flaw for remedial measures to be taken.

It would also not be a bad idea to subject all potential leaders of this country to a mental test in advance before the reins of power get into their hands. This way, trouble could be prevented before it could get started. In the past we had a leader who promised rice from the moon if she was made Prime Minister. The signs of the lunar effect was very apparent and had the practice of mental testing been in place at the time much of the problems such as scarcities, food shortages, queues etc. that marked that regime could have been averted. Then there was also a leader who fancied himself as a reincarnated Nepoleon and introduced a Presidential system of Government to cast himself like the emperor, a system that is still blighting this nation and the source of all the present problems.

Be that as it may, why only leaders and public officials one may ask? Why not extend the rule to all members of Parliament and potential ones, including the Speaker who is being castigated today by critics who allege he is not sane. We say this because there are ample reasons and more for our honourable people’s representatives to be subjected to periodic mental tests especially going by their recent conduct. After all they are our lawmakers, and it will be healthy for all citizens of this country to have their craniums scanned. In any event the results would not show much grey matter in most of them. We say this because it is now known that as much as two thirds of our 225 MPs have not passed their GCE (O/L) exams, and, what is more, a good number of them had not even sat the exam. Did we not see on TV one of our honourable MPs trying to hang himself from a ceiling fan because his attempt to get some children in his constituency admitted to a school was prevented. Of course they all need their heads examined. Ditto for the voters who send them to Parliament.

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