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Saturday, 24 April 2010

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Government Gazette

A happy beginning

Well begun is half done, says an old adage. The inaugural meeting of the 14th Parliament Tuesday ended on a happy note. There was complete unanimity on the choice of the Speaker. This was in stark contrast to what happened following the General Election 2004. It was one of bitter contest and acrimony. The Speaker was then elected with a majority of one.

To the credit of the Speaker thus elected then it should be said that he maintained the dignity and decorum of the House and always acted as a unifying force even after tense debates or verbal duels.

The same spirit of unity prevailed in the election of the Deputy Speaker and the Deputy Chairman of Committees.

This augurs well for both the Government and the Opposition. The people had given a clear mandate. They have not left any room for ambiguity. Their allegiance is clear. It is to the UPFA overwhelmingly.

However, the latter has been denied the magical two-thirds majority though they are within an inch’s reach. This has given the Opposition a choice. They could provide the Government the balance votes to reach the two-thirds.

It is gratifying to note that the Opposition has got the people’s message. The voters compelled the Opposition to cooperate with the Government. Experience of last Parliament shows that it was a wise decision rather than letting individual MPs to decide.

It is time for both parties to develop this cooperation on all fundamental issues affecting the people and the country. In the same spirit they could unite and put forward a new electoral law reform at the earliest. The two major parties in Parliament have both suffered from the intra-party rivalry generated by the preferential system, the drawbacks of which are now legion.

There is also no need for them to fight over developmental issues as both acknowledge the need for rapid economic take off. This is not to exclude rational debate and constructive criticism. They are as valid as ever before. What should be excluded are acrimonious name calling and mud slinging.

The rehabilitation and resettlement of the remaining IDPs and the development of the livelihoods of the people in the war zone is another area in which the entire Parliament could unite. Such unity would be a moral incentive for reconciliation of estranged communities. It could also lay the basis for working out a consensual package of proposals to solve the National Question.

In fact, the Government has repeatedly asked for cooperation from the Opposition on this matter.

For various reasons, such unity was lacking in the past. However, in today’s changed circumstances there is an opportunity to forge such unity. What is necessary is to think anew and work anew without carrying over age-old dogmas that all sides adhered to.

The ITAK with its 13 members could play a vital role in this matter. No longer fettered by invisible chains woven by the LTTE they could represent the actual aspirations of their people and cooperate with the Government in finding a workable solution.

The very first day of Parliament had been propitious for the Government on account of other developments too. The NUW led by V Digambaram MP has decided to leave the UNF and support the Government. There was also talk of the DPF splitting from the UNF.

The rapidly evolving developments would certainly give the Parliamentarians a clear message to deliver without dilly-dallying.


Test of endurance

Voters are funny people. They have sent home several politicos who aspired to enter Parliament. Ungrateful citizens, the vanquished heroes would say, for every one of them cannot understand why the hoi-polloi could not understand the colossal service they have done the blokes.

Those that have been thrown out of the Cabinet are also in similar state of distress. Pity the poor souls!

Now they must learn the art of simply staying afloat, for trying to swim with a heavy load of sorrow (or guilt?) could drown them sooner or later. As every good swimmer in distress knows the best hope is to stay afloat till some Good Samaritan comes to the rescue. So gentlemen, stop wailing, stay afloat, and keep up hope. Amen!
 

Social democrat, appointed Speaker

Chamal Rajapaksa was born on October 30, 1942. It was poet Panditharatna Amarasena of Beligalle who named the baby, Chamal. He entered ‘Little Flower’ Convent in Tangalle at the age of three and stayed there until he was taken to the convent at Matara. From a very young age he was trained to attend to his personal needs in an orderly manner, without depending on others.

Full Story

The Morning Inspection - Malinda

On post-election ululations

Whenever I came across a word I didn’t know the meaning of, my father would say ‘check in the dictionary’. My Vice Principal, E.C. Gunasekara was like that. He would pick a word that a student has just used and ask him to give a definition. He would then pick a word from the definition offered and ask for its meaning. At some point the student would trip and he would then tell him to check the definition in the Concise Oxford Dictionary, a key element of the torture instruments at his disposal.

Full Story

On My Watch - Luclen Rajakarunanayake

New challenges before 14th Parliament

The main focus of the 14th Parliament which met for the first time on April 22, will be to take up the task of constitutional change which is vital for the progress of politics and good governance in the country, especially in charting a course for national reconciliation and inclusive development; face up to the issues of Human Rights and the reforms necessary in the area of Fundamental Rights to make democracy more meaningful to the people, seek new paths of progress for the media, while protecting the right of free expression as required to serve the needs of a democratic society, and also move towards making Sri Lanka a more humane society

Full Story

 

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