Lawmakers as lawbreakers? | Daily News


 

Lawmakers as lawbreakers?

The television scenes of a candidate in the upcoming General Election leading a parade of motorcyclists in the Puttalam town, the other day, no doubt would have been viewed with shock and consternation by the public.

Those in the motorcycle cavalcade led by the politico, in what was clearly a show of strength, paid scant regard to the restrictions in force and rode their machines in a close knit formation sans the regulation face masks (and many were also without helmets), with the policemen present on duty on the route reduced to mere onlookers. According to reports there were two other motorcycle parades in different areas, with the participants displaying the same disdain.

This is a clear case of contempt of the law and what is more, health guidelines in place and should be viewed with the seriousness it deserves by the authorities, who do not fail to hammer into the minds of the public the dire necessity of adhering to the restrictions in force.

The Acting IGP has quite rightly called for a report on the incident from the North Central Province DIG and hopefully action will be taken against the wrongdoers, irrespective of their status or political party affiliations. As an initial step all the participants in the three motorcycle parades should be dispatched to quarantine and their motorcycles confiscated for acting in breach of the Coronavirus regulations.

This political hooliganism on the highways comes at a time when sports activity necessitating body contact have been banned in all schools and where some commercial establishments and workplaces are still in a state of semi- lockdown due to the risk posed by the deadly virus.

Examples should be made of all those who acted in breach of the regulations, if for no other reason than to act as a deterrent to the public that going against the Coronavirus restrictions would not be tolerated even in the case of the high and mighty and the politically influential.

With the Manapey battle already fierce due to the restrictions in movement and other limitations, candidates would certainly go out of their way to woo the voters to come on top of their rivals - both intra-party as well as inter-party and gimmicks such as the one witnessed in Puttalam are bound to be replicated elsewhere too with the campaign drawing to a close. Hence, steps should be taken by the Elections Commission with the help of the police to thwart all such attempts.

Besides, processions in whatever forms are taboo under election laws and how this was breached in the open should provide food for thought to the Commission and concerned authorities.

Such incidents only go to provide an insight as to the kind of people’s representatives who are going to enter Parliament following this election and hold no hope for those wishing for educated and cultured individuals to gain entry to the August Assembly this time around. If such individuals can act openly in breach of the law even without any real power what will they do after entering Parliament?

The Chairman of the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna Prof. G. L. Peiris at a recent press conference appealed to the voters to send ‘good’ persons to Parliament. The odds are heavily loaded against the likelihood of this happening, because of the 225 Members of the last Parliament as many as 198 have received nominations for the next election.

In yesterday’s editorial we made reference to a first time candidate lamenting his inability to conduct an effective propaganda campaign due to lack of finances since he could not match the financial resources of those in the fray who have had long stints in Parliament. How many others of his ilk are going to be left behind in this manner and reduced to also rans? Besides, most Sri Lankan voters have this tendency to support the established politicians or ‘their man’ (Apey Miniha) however much merit is accrued to the new faces due to their education and professional standing. Going by this reasoning only a handful of the new faces will enter the new Parliament.

This election is going to cost the tax payer a whopping Rs.10 billion – the highest spent on a national election in this country, which means around Rs.50 million will be incurred in electing a single MP. This of course is in addition to his/her salary, the long list of allowances including an Attendance Allowance for coming to Parliament, luxury meals, foreign travel, staff salaries, duty free vehicle permits to be disposed at one’s pleasure, plush housing in elite addresses and a host other perks and privileges. Will and could this massive cost be justified? As the EC Chairman stated recently, democracy is a costly exercise and voters must get their money’s worth by sending worthy individuals to the House by the Diyawanna Oya.


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