Dissolution this week, wrote some news media. That was early last week. Two days later they wrote dissolution “tomorrow night”. The tomorrow night came and went. The next day we were told it would happen that night. Next morning we woke up with gleeful anticipation only to find the pundits had misfired. Many citizens who [...]


Dissolution coming, coming and came


Dissolution this week, wrote some news media. That was early last week. Two days later they wrote dissolution “tomorrow night”. The tomorrow night came and went. The next day we were told it would happen that night. Next morning we woke up with gleeful anticipation only to find the pundits had misfired. Many citizens who had hoped that the morning would bring news of dissolution that would send the present lot up like a whiff of smoke, were doubtless solely disappointed.

Having witnessed the raucous conduct of some of our parliamentarians, the odorous language that now and then punctuates proceedings, the one night stand (or was it lying down?) of a clutch of politicians protesting at one thing or another, it would seem a blessing if dissolution of the once sanctified assembly drove some lawmakers into obscurity or even oblivion.

A hungry media with some of its shackles removed in recent months, leapt like prowling tigers after prey, on every word that fell from the lips of politicians. Reporters waited with bated breath, as cliché experts say, to hear that parliament had decided to call it a day. Even a so-called slip of the tongue by the Hon. Speaker was seized upon like the ultimate clue to the inevitable end.

All these great expectations were last week. Many a person was at his own wishing — well, hoping that the end would come and with it so many miseries they have had to endure in recent years. They included the garrulous, power-soaked security details of these worthies who seemed to think the highways and byways belonged to them. Well, judging all the allegations of commissions doing the rounds, they probably do.

As the news of the impending dissolution spread, some pro-Mahinda SLFPers who in days gone by used to wield power like a frenzied psychopath wielding an axe, broke into guffaws. Ha, ha, they said. So scared is the UNP government to face the no-faith motions against the PM and the finance minister or even wait for the report of the parliamentary watchdog committee COPE on the grand Bond issue that they want to cut and run.

If it does happen and the no-confidence motions lapse, you can bet your last rupee — it is worthless anyway so you might get rid of it — that this will be derisive fodder on almost every opposition platform when the election campaign gets off the ground.

Of course, between this writing and its publication anything could happen. As some great mind — I cannot remember which — said life is one big uncertainty. As any average Sri Lankan would tell you no great mind is needed for that.

All this is well known to Sri Lankan people if, as observers of our political nadagama say, you have been governed by generally semi-educated politicians (not to mention those with a dubious education) who somehow seem to get national interest pretty much mixed up with self interest that is stretched far enough to include extended families twice over. It is so mixed up it would make a Malay pickle look oh so simple.

Just a few days ago, Ven Maduluwawe Sobitha Thera, chairman of the National Movement for a Just Society, urged party leaders not to nominate candidates for the upcoming general election if they have been charged with corruption, murder, child abuse and drug- related incidents.

That is indeed a worthy suggestion. But this ignores a major problem. If those who are accused of such crimes mentioned by the venerable Thera, are eliminated from the election process some political parties could surely find themselves seriously deficient of suitable candidates. I mean, how many aspiring and perspiring potential candidates are there whose lily-white national dress has no splattering of mud?

Moreover, there are many other offences that should be added to Ven Sobitha’s list of crimes that would debar aspirants to parliament from nomination. If one were to mention them the list should stretch all the way down the arm to the finger tips.
It seems, however, that Ven. Sobitha Thera has left a slight crack in his plea to party leaders through which many a hopeful candidate could creep to safety possibly aided and abetted by a benevolent party.

Ven. Sobitha says only those charged with the stated crimes be eliminated as candidates by political parties. If the parties ignore the Thera’s advice the voters would rectify this unpardonable error by eliminating the undesirable on the appointed day, he hopes.

The catch, you might notice, is in the word charged. One supposes that charged here means by the relevant authorities charged (if I might put it like that) with the task. But what happens if those believed to be offenders are not formally charged? Over the years we have seen this happen when the long arm of the law fell short of doing its duty, not to mention those legal eagles who inhabit the government department assigned the task of filing indictments in cases involving serious crimes.

Does it mean that as long as no charges are filed, such persons are free to be nominated? It may well happen that lawbreakers end up as lawmakers. To be fair by our political class, Sri Lanka is not the only country in which politicians have been caught with their hands in the national till or have committed far greater sins. Here in Britain, there have been several parliamentarians whose honesty has been seriously tested and tainted.

Even worse, there are some who might well be tarnished with having violated international law. Take, for instance, former British prime minister Tony Blair who is due to be in Colombo in mid-August who, many argue, violated international law by joining hands with the US in the illegal invasion of Iraq 12 years ago.

The report of the Sir John Chilcot inquiry into Britain’s role in the Iraq war has been inordinately delayed. But one thing is sure. Tony Blair is certainly not going to come out of this smelling like an attar of roses.

There is a body of opinion here and elsewhere that strongly believes Blair should be held accountable for crimes committed during the war, which has claimed at least one million lives including civilians, many of them women and children.

Thankfully, our politicians have not had to face such ignominy. But then who knows what November will bring when the UN-mandated report on Sri Lanka’s own vicious war is released by the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.

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