THE DOUBLE STANDARDS
The parliamentary traditions and practices have suddenly come under threat and questions need to be posed to the UNP as to whether it is embarking on a very detrimental path subjecting not only all norms of good governance but jeopardizing the stability of the country as well.
The Presidential election concluded on 8 January 2015. A new President was elected on 9 January 2015. Simultaneously a PM was appointed while the sitting Prime Minister had not been sacked or had resigned. Thereafter, strings of other errors and malpractices that question the UNP’s respect for democracy and good governance have come to light and these do not add well to the public opinion gathering momentum worried about the state of affairs in the country.
The 19th amendment was hurriedly brought and coincidentally matched regime change in countries where the same 100 day program and changes to the Constitution has been made. Sri Lanka’s case seemed an exact replica fashioned by the propaganda hype CHANGE.
What is now questioned is the Constitutional Council a very important provision which originally was left to the President to decide and which now rests under a group.
While we must add that the 19a that the President-installed PM pushed for is certainly not the document that eventually became passed in Parliament and we must thank the Opposition that kept on its toes demanding changes to stall a very dictatorial provisions violating the Constitution taking place. We can safely say that 19a is not what the President-installed PM wanted or planned for but has to now make do with. Ranil has been caught in his own trap!
Nevertheless, while the Chair of the Constitutional Council is to be the Speaker there is a provision, mandatory to in 19a, chapter Vii A, article 41A (4) that in nominating the 5 persons referred to in sub-paragraph (e) of paragraph (1), the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition SHALL consult the leaders of political parties and independent groups represented in Parliament.
Its been 2 weeks since the 19a has been passed and with scores of lawyers inside Parliament including the President-installed PM and the Opposition Leader it is baffling that NO ONE NOTICED that SHALL clause entails for the party leaders to be consulted. Does the Government know exactly what was passed as 19a? Why have the party leaders been bypassed. This is a major violation of the standing orders and an insult to parliamentary ethics and traditions. Ignorance cannot be accepted as an excuse!
Moreover when the Speaker is the Chair of the Constitutional Council why was he absent?
We really must now wonder whether there are elements inside Parliament attempting to create a lawless state out of Sri Lanka and seriously wonder on what grounds such motives are being laid out.
It is for Sri Lankas Parliament to realize that in silently watching the country fail and fall into a crisis situation is not going to do any of them any good politically. The public will all look upon them as having betrayed the stability of the nation.
The current behaviour of the Government in the manner it is functioning seriously questions how far it is willing to go to cling to power at any cost and breaking all parliamentary decorum in the process.
Obviously even the Justice Minister with all his qualifications seems clueless and did not even know the age change of a contesting Presidential candidate much to the laughter of the House! Another area that has been violated is that the 19a bill was handled by the Justice Minister whereas Parliamentary requirement is for the Leader of the House to handle it. That was how the 1978 Constitutional Amendment was handled by Premadasa as Leader of the House. Why did the President-installed Prime Minister give the 19a to the Justice Minister to handle when there was a Leader of the House to handle it? These standard practices are now being violated by the new Government and does not look good on maintaining disciplined parliamentary practice and traditions.
What is important to realize is that while the MPs will change with a change of government the 3 independent members will remain for the entirety of the 3 years.
The public are watching these developments and malpractices. The UNP must now stop the reckless path it is taking and honour parliamentary traditions and practices and good governance which is not one-sided and meant only for the Opposition.