Wednesday, 19 May 2004  
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Mihintalava - The Birthplace of Sri Lankan Buddhist Civilization

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High point in Parliament

It was one of the most exemplary moments in Lankan parliamentary history yesterday when Parliament, by consensus, elected its Deputy Speaker and Deputy Chairman of Committees.

This was in marked but refreshing contrast to the stormy, unruly scenes a few weeks ago which accompanied the election of Speaker.

While congratulating Gethanjana Gunawardena and M. Satchithanandan on being elected Deputy Speaker and Deputy Chairman of Committees, respectively, we also extend our congratulations to Parliament in its entirety on rising to the hollowed ideal of conducting its business yesterday in a spirit of compromise and accommodation.

Our wish is that this spirit will continue to prevail and flourish within the august assembly which embodies the sovereignty of the people in its legislative aspect.

Squabbling and bickering for the plums of office, rather than serving the people and carrying out the latters mandate, is not what is expected of the people's representatives. For instance, the unruly contest for the post of Speaker bespoke a polarity in our polity which would have badly defeated the purpose for which the legislature exists.

What is expected of the latter by the people is just and effective governance and not prolonged, bitter contestation over positions and powers.

We hope these truths will be borne in mind by our representatives in the days ahead.

While the UPFA has won an overwhelming mandate from the people to govern, as the April 2 verdict shows, it is only right that it receives the cooperation of the opposition to govern and be allowed to fulfil its mandate.

Any attempts to prevent the Government from carrying out its duties could be interpreted as a thwarting and suppression of the popular will. The end result could be a stifling of the democratic process.

By saying this we do not intend to imply that the opposition in Parliament should be passive and inert. Polemical and constructive debate is the stuff of politics and it would be in the country's interest to have an opposition which reaches these standards but wasteful tussles between the Government and the opposition on issues which do not have a bearing on the problems facing the country could amount to a betrayal of the trust the people repose in the legislature.

Just, effective governance is the foremost imperative and the opposition in particular should prepare a climate which is conducive to this state of affairs.

We consider it right to remind the opposition that what is expected of it is constructive criticism of flaws in governance and legislation and not wasteful politicking.

May these ideals be met.

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