Why do so many average people and even some eminent professionals and business bigwigs want to become politicians? The answer is simple, because those ways they can lie, cheat, spout vulgarities, intimidate everyone and no one can do anything about it. Ask Parliamentary Speaker Karu Jayasuriya, who in similarity to his recent predecessors, is having a heck of a time controlling the increasingly crude, juvenile, disrespectful and overly combative behaviour of many of the 225 members of the legislature.
Speaker Jayasuriya is reported to have told a delegation of civil society representatives that he would introduce a Code of Conduct for Parliamentarians soon. It was revealed at almost the same time that Parliament proceedings would be telecast live for two hours over the national state television station Rupavahini for the first time beginning on October 8. We are also made to understand that the telecasts would be aired on an experimental basis and would continue uninterrupted if the initial exercise proves a success. The question that baffles the citizenry is the word ‘success.’ Would the word success being mooted depend on the behaviour of legislators? It is true that the proposal for live TV coverage of debates had been suggested as far back as more than a dozen years ago. But even then the proposal had been put on the backburner primarily because of the declining standards of conduct of legislators inside the august Chamber.
Such coarse conduct degrades parliamentary process, creates an inappropriate behavioural model for our youth and causes ridicule in the eyes of world nations. But foul language and testy tempers are hardly uncommon in our legislature where it’s almost a cliché to chide MPs for acting like hooligans and plead for decorum more suited to the seriousness of the national business at hand. How the heck can our kids learn to be respectful and courteous to one another when at the very top of the tree in the House by the Diyawanna, Legislators are behaving like a pack of rabid hyenas.
Surely, the party leaders and whips should be held largely accountable for the deteriorating norms of conduct in the legislature, which appear to have descended to the lowest depths of depravity. The general discourse by several MPs and indeed some ministers has been getting progressively lewder, ruder and cruder. Discretion has all but disappeared from general parliamentary language usage. Despite the obscene cacophony, which frequently passes for parliamentary debate, being carried out to its illogical conclusion, there has been only a small reaction on the side of propriety.
Obviously, there are those who believe that it will be positively hard for us to watch the proceedings with the children. There are others who concur that they are opposed to bringing garbage into their living rooms.
But I am all for supporting the live telecasts school of thought. Because if certain political elements do not step back from the boorish antics that are the acknowledged norm in today’s world of most elected administrators, they would be on the way to becoming an endangered species. They will be unmasking themselves for what they really are – a whole caboodle of barbarous loony-tunes, familiar with only the singular law of the jungle. And in continuing to do so they would be authenticating those suspicions about them that they are personalities so lacking in self-assurance and good breeding that they prefer public confrontation with choice profanity to civilized discussion.
And remember they are paid handsomely with colossal perks to boot for doing what? Is it for conducting themselves with characteristic juvenile japery and rowdy behaviour both in and outside the legislature? Or could it possibly be for swearing more with unbridled profanity and debating less? And then again could it be for engaging in fisticuffs in the hallowed Chamber and behaving no better than street corner thugs? They appear to be more conversant in being jawbreakers than lawmakers. Shame! It is a pity their mothers did not wash out their mouths with a sterile soap and water concoction. Still, it might be a capital idea for concerned civic groups to gift these foul-mouthed legislative sods with some antiseptic mouthwash.