Speaker Karu Jayasuriya’s shocking revelation to the Parliament that he received a death threat demanding that he give recognition to the Joint Opposition as an independent group in Parliament is perhaps a first of its kind in the history of our parliament.
The call could have been originated not necessarily by an MP representing the Joint Opposition. It could well have been made by anyone sympathizing with the cause of the Joint Opposition or merely by an outsider intending to put the blame on them.
What is significant here is that the death threat was made on the third citizen of the country who heads the supreme legislative body which possesses ultimate power over all other political bodies in the country. If there is a tendency to use such threats on a person of that magnitude over some issue in parliament, it surely needs to be taken seriously by all those who believe in democracy.
Whoever thinks that functions of the Parliament can be directed in a particular way under threat represents a terror culture detrimental to democracy unlikely to stop with that. If not investigated and brought to light, this type of threats can spread to the judiciary, independent commissions set up under the Constitution and higher echelons of the government service disrupting their smooth functioning.
In a democracy, officers exercising authority under all organs of government – the executive, the legislature and the judiciary, should be able to act without fear and, if not, democracy itself will be under threat.
With the support of the latest technology, all efforts should be made to apprehend the culprits behind this threatening telephone call and due punishments should be meted out to them without delay. It is not only a death threat on Karu Jayasuriya as a person, but a death threat on Parliament and democracy itself.