Dissolution no solution

No better reason against the dissolution of parliament can be cited than the dramatic fall in the stock market indices in the past few days. As reports of the possibility of parliament being dissolved spread, it made shareholders jittery and Monday recorded the second biggest fall after the UNF government took office. The All Share Price Index (ASPI) fell by 17.4 points while the Milanka Price Index (MPI) fell by 44 points. It needs no stock market pundit to predict that if this unstable political climate prevails, the stock market will hit rock bottom and the wheels of industry and commerce will come to a halt.

Our political leaders who are triggering off this crisis know well that the economy will not be able to withstand such a crisis because we have reached the critical point, the country having recorded zero growth last year and public debt exceeding the revenue of the government.

But yesterday’s front pages had the leaders of the government and the SLFP debating whether parliament could dissolve itself or not and whether only the president could do so.

As far as the public is concerned, the issue is not who could dissolve parliament, but that parliament should not be dissolved at this critical time.

What is called is for the government and the opposition to put their shoulders to the wheel to help the economy to recover and not use their combined weight to make the economy sink.

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremasinghe apparently is deeply frustrated because of the objections and obstructions placed against the implementation of his programme of work by President Kumaratunga. But President Kumaratunga will have her own reply to these allegations and deny them. But this kind of confrontation can only take the country deeper into the mire.

We have pointed out in recent editorials that dissolution is unlikely to be the remedy because unless the UNP can muster a two third majority at the polls, the country will be back at square one. And the constitution is very unlikely to permit any party getting that kind of clear majority.

There appears to be no way out of this crisis than for President Kumaratunga and Prime Minister Wickremasinghe to work out an arrangement to govern this country, at least for a limited time.

The pangs of hunger of a great many people are too painful for them to enjoy the political high jinks of the politicians.

Cut big schools to size

Recent exhibitions of thuggery by schoolboys of so-called big schools demand study of the existing schools systems, particularly those run by the state. We say the state schools system because private schools have so far not been involved in incidents unlike where the behaviour of boys of so-called reputed state schools have not been any different to that of bazaar thugs.

Authorities concerned — not only the educational authorities but all connected — should consider the impact of the mini cities that some of schools have become. Many Colombo schools have on roll students numbering well over 5,000 and in certain instances 7,000 to 8,000. Unlike in old times, which some of the old boys recall with nostalgia, teachers and certainly school principals simply cannot keep track of individual students either in the class-room and certainly not outside. Big sporting encounters between these big schools result in a kind of rivalry not in keeping with friendly sporting events, but that of blood battles where no quarter is asked and no quarter given. The schools themselves and old boys organisations help foster this bloody rivalry. Organised tournaments for prized trophies result in severe competition and rivalry where not only the schoolboys but teachers and old boys get into a frenzy and sparks do fly. Today, big schools generate a frenzied spirit for the school and the school flag that transcends even love for one’s country.

Old school clubs and sporting complexes are built at fantastic costs, often at state expense, money from which many village schools could have been built. At times tickets to an inter-school sporting encounter could cost as much as Rs 500/-, the reason given being that bank loans taken at high interest rates to build sporting complexes have to be paid!

It is obvious that for a variety of reasons schools cannot increase their numbers indefinitely and all the old boys cannot get their offspring into their old school. The severe traffic problems around these schools, the demand for these mini cities on public transport, the escalation of housing rents and the corrupt practices resorted by parents to get children into these schools make it obvious that the system should be changed.

It appears inevitable that the big schools will have to be made smaller and small schools built in neighbourhoods where children can walk to school.

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