A true saviour of democracy | Daily News


A true saviour of democracy

The sentiments expressed by the Anunayaka Thera of the Asgiriya Chapter Most Ven. Anamaduwe Dhammadassi Thera on the role played by Speaker Karu Jayasuriya in protecting democracy in the country, no doubt, would be endorsed by the vast majority of citizens. Speaker Jayasuriya in any event has won the affection of the Maha Sangha, for his sober demeanour coupled with his very strong Sinhala Buddhist credentials. He has also won the admiration and respect of politicians representing the minority communities and leaders of clergy of other faiths. Above all he has won esteem of all those who cherish democracy for the selfless manner in which he strove to protect the system.

Speaking at the ceremony to felicitate the Speaker, after he was honoured with the title “Sasana Keerthi Shri Deshabimani” by the Malwatte Chapter, at the Malwatte Viharaya, Kandy, on Tuesday, the Ven. Dhammadassi Thera said Speaker Jayasuriya succeeded in establishing democracy and the rule of law amidst the tumultuous situation in Parliament overcoming difficulties. This, indeed, could be termed an understatement to those who witnessed the scenes in the August Assembly for days, on television.

Anyway, the Thera's sentiments could not have been lightly made. The country, certainly, was at a crossroads and in peril of losing its much cherished ideals of democracy, due to the acts of power hungry politicians. There was also the real danger of the country jettisoning constitutional governance and plunging into a dictatorship.

The role of Speaker Jayasuriya should be viewed in this light. It is no exaggeration to say that it was the third attempt to overthrow a democratically elected Government after the abortive 1962 coup and the 1971 uprising of the JVP which sought to replace democracy with a bloody fascist rule. The only difference here was that this time around the threat to democracy emanated from within Parliament -the fountainhead of democracy and those responsible, men and women professing to uphold democracy.

In that respect, the signal role played by the Speaker to protect the system was no small feat indeed. More so since on the earlier occasions the State had the backing of the Armed Forces and Police to quell the threat to democracy. But, on this occasion the threat emanated from powerful sections within the State itself, which had the Police and the Armed Forces at their command.

Hence, it was at tremendous risk that Speaker Karu Jayasuriya did what he did at a time the odds were heavily stacked against him. Perhaps, the soldier in him asserted itself. For, no lesser mortal could have summoned the courage and conviction to do what he did at that watershed moment in the country's post-Independence history.

To begin with, he showed no signs of being intimidated even at the time the physical threat on him was very real. Neither did he flinch from the intimidatory remarks coming from the top echelons of the State and lesser mortals. He was insulted, vilified and castigated in the vilest language. For the first time, anywhere in the democratic world, a Speaker entered the Chamber under police protection.

Speaker Jayasuriya's steely resolve and the fierce passion he demonstrated in the protection of democracy and upholding the Constitution will occupy a special niche in annals of post-independence Sri Lanka and his name would, no doubt, be spoken in the same breath as the political giants who were in the vanguard of the independence struggle. He certainly deserves all the encomiums and the accolades showered on him by the Maha Sangha and all right thinking people of this country. His feat, no doubt, has received due recognition internationally, in the democratic world, and the day he would be honoured on the global stage would not be long in coming.

Meanwhile, it is time that the voting public took stock of the events that unfolded in Parliament during the crisis period and, at least this time around be more circumspect in choosing their elected representatives. The unbecoming scenes, inside the hallowed Chamber during the political crisis, today, more than at any other time, calls for an urgent need to clean up the Augean stables and the return to gentlemanly politics.

Or are we sounding too optimistic? Who among the professionals, intellectuals or men of standing in society in our midst will want to take the plunge into the cesspit that politics has come to, in this country? Political party leaders should shoulder the entire blame for entertaining lawbreakers and undesirables in their electoral lists. But it is doubtful if this culture will change in the foreseeable future, given the indulgence with which they are being treated by the leaders.

Besides, such characters are needed for their money and muscle power at election time. Brains, therefore, will run a poor second to brawn in this connection. The situation is compounded by the fact that waiting in the wings to enter Parliament are the progeny and siblings of some of the worst offenders involved in the incidents in the House. They, no doubt, are bound to take after their papas and mamas.

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Our respects goes to him

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