They‘re back! Sri Lanka’s famous Parliamentary pugilists are returned by the voters
ECONOMYNEXT – Many of us who watched Members of Parliament brawling like street thugs inside the well of the House of Parliament in November 2018, didn’t want any of them to be returned.
Well, a bit of that wish has come through, as 83 of the 225, almost one-third, were not returned but some of the stars of that drama are back, and we have voted them in.
Among the leading Parliamentary pugilists back in the House are Chilli powder throwing Prasanna Ranaweera and Bible-chucking Johnston Fernando.
The other star fighter, Butter-knife Palitha Thevarapperuma, is not in play this time because his constituents did not vote for him.
Wimal Weerawansha, who hefted a copy of the Constitution of Sri Lanka at an opponent in the melee and Fernando are Cabinet Ministers.
Dilum Amunugama who cut himself destroying government property, the Speaker’s Microphone, is a Minister of State.
Even the women parliamentarians joined in the protests, although they did not resort to violence.
The fighting, if you recall, was perpetrated when motions of No-Confidence against the then appointed Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa were moved on three different occasions.
Speaker Karu Jayasuriya successfully held all three votes which Rajapaksa lost and President Maithripala Sirisena refused to accept.
The disruptions of the votes were delaying tactics for horse-trading to take place behind the scenes to entice UNP MPs to cross-over to support Rajapaksa.
On the second occasion the vote was taken, now SLPP State Minister Arundika Fernando illegally occupied the Speaker’s chair and Jayasuriya had to sit in a makeshift chair and be protected by a posse of Policemen.
The police were also attacked and several of them were injured.
Those violent MPs on both sides of the house should have been prosecuted for breaking the law in the revered chamber where the laws of this land are made.
No-one was punished, instead, we have rewarded them by giving them our preferential votes and electing most of them as legislators.
Those law-breakers are joined by more in this Parliament.
One is two-term MP and former Deputy Minister Premalal Jayasekara who is currently under a death sentence for a murder committed during the 2015 election campaign.
This is the first time in our history that a man on death row will take oaths as an MP.
The former Pradeshiya Sabha Chairman also known as “Choka Malli” has been permitted to be released to attend Parliament as he has filed an appeal against his sentence.
Jayasekara came second in the Ratnapura district with 142,037 preferential votes according to the Elections Commission.
He was sentenced to death by the Ratnapura High Court days before the elections for the murder of United National Party supporter Shantha Dodangoda during the 2015 Presidential Campaign.
Another first is Sivanesathurai Chandrakanthan who is in remand custody on a murder charge.
Chandrakanthan, who is better known by his LTTE nom de guerre “Pillayan” will be the first former militant leader to be elected to Sri Lanka’s Parliament.
He is tipped to be given a State Ministry.
This is heartening news that men who fought to form a separate state are now entering the Parliament of Sri Lanka through the democratic process.
The first LTTE leader to get a Parliamentary seat was Vinayagamurthi Muraleetharan or “Karuna Amman” who was an appointed member from the Sri Lanka Freedom Party.
Pillayan is in remand for allegedly murdering another MP, Joseph Pararajasingham, a three-term Tamil National Alliance MP, on Christmas Eve 2005 as he attended mass at St Mary’s Church in Batticaloa.
Pillayan is a popular figure in the East as he was Chief Minister of the Province.
Both will join the ranks of the government which won an unprecedented two-thirds majority in a proportional poll in the election.
Disappointment over our legislators has been mounting over the past few decades as criminal elements crept into politics.
There was a yearning for clean government which brought the change in 2015 with the election of the United National Front for Good Governance.
However, the administration that promised to punish the excesses and wrongdoings of the Rajapaksas and avoid corrupt practice failed to do that in any way.
The United National Party was duly punished for that by the voters and all those tainted by the Bonds Scam were booted out.
However, there was a widely held belief that all or most of the 225 would be voted out because they had connections to criminal elements in society.
But that has not happened and we the voters are responsible for that. (Colombo, August 20, 2020)
Reported by Arjuna Ranawana