A couple of days free of Parliamentary high jinks


We are glad; sad also. We watch TV news with a sense of relief that verbal fights bordering on fisticuffs as enacted in Parliament are not added on to the dismal news given us on the various TV channels. The Speaker, bless his upright ruling, adjourned Parliament for a couple of days. Maybe he hoped tempers would simmer down in the interim, but if he also hoped that decency would take root in the obstreperous MPs, he will be surely disappointed. Never will some of the present lot know how to conduct themselves in the August House by the Diyawanne. They drag the fish market with them to the House where decorum and civility should rule.


Finger wagging

We were duly shocked by MP Wimal Weerawansa wagging his defiant finger at the Speaker and stretching his fisted arm out at him in a threatening manner. This MP is so suave, so well groomed, but let him open his mouth and Mariyakade as we used to say, is resurrected. He preens himself not only superficially with face creams and hair pomade, but dresses nattily. However, his innate nature erupts when he is thwarted. Who would shake a threatening finger as he did at the Speaker, doubly reprehensible as the Speaker symbolizes the power of decision in Parliament and Karu Jayasuriya, as Speaker, is the epitome of fair play and dignity. You can wag an accusing finger at Ranil W; he’ll take it with a humorous quip. If Wimal W points a finger at the present President, he will get a withering look and later at some function he will be publicly chastised. Wimal W dare not wag a finger at the person whose hand fed him thambili when he was on a fast unto death to save this nation from the ruling of the UN, with lemon puff under his pillow. If he points a finger at Mahinda R he will have not only his finger but his head bitten off by the Big Man himself or a dutiful son or faithful minion. All these pointings can be tolerated by us the general public who think straight. But he cannot and should not, and must be debarred from wagging threatening fingers at Karu J who as the Speaker is just in his duties. In fact his former Party, the UNP, has accused him, but mildly, that he allocates more time to the Opposition than to it as the Government of the country.


Nasty behavior seems contagious

We were even more shocked by the most un-Parliamentary behavior of Dinesh Gunawardena – he of impeccable lineage and excellent school background, an MP for several decades imitating recent recruits to Parliament and behaving disgracefully.


Spare the Speaker

What concerned us, ordinary citizens watching news on TV, was that all this most unnecessary rumpus would cause stress and consequent sickness in the Speaker. He is such a gentle man that he would hardly be able to stomach the sort of mayhem that often occurs in Parliament during sittings. He was being fair and tackling a most contentious request brought forward by the Leader of the … what party ..NFF, Wimal Weerawansa. He was granted the requested independence for his Party but he wanted more and thus the shaking of his fist and vituperation against the Speaker.


Parallels to times Roman

To me the rumpus in Parliament echoed what Shakespeare wrote in his great play Julius Caesar. Karu Jayasuriya is honourable Brutus, wanting democracy to be maintained as Brutus desired for Rome. He however, schemes not and is not misguided as Brutus was. Karu J sees the ambitious Ceasars, and the villainous Cascas and Cassiuses, plotting the downfall of the nation.

The Ides of March just passed us this last week. So we cry out like the soothsayer, this time not to Julius Caesar but to Brutus to beware. And thus a caution to Karu Jayasuriya. There are snakes in the pit of the Chamber and they are poisonous. Caesar as he walked across to the Senate on the fateful day, seeing the soothsayer who had warned him earlier said: The Ides of March has come. But not gone - says the soothsayer. Soon after, he is set upon by his fellow Senators who drive their daggers into him. Our Speaker should be wary. He may have adjourned Parliament, but as the saying goes, you cannot change the spots of a leopard. The rabble will rouse again. Can you change the nature and thus the behavior of those like Wimal Weerawansa and Udaya Gamanpila? A definite no is the answer.

I imagine that when the Speaker looks around the seats where members of Parliament are seated or more likely reclining or even nodding in sleep, he may be mentally ticking them off as reliable; abiding by Parliamentary protocol; prone to cause disturbance; obstreperously karachchal, vicious and to be warned against. Caesar pronounces to Mark Antony:


"Let me have men about as that are fat

Sleek headed men, and such as sleep o‘nghts.

Yond Cassius has a lean and hungry look;

He thinks too much; such men are dangerous,

He reads much, he is a great observer…

Seldom he smiles, and smiles in such a sort

As if he mock’d himself and scorn’d his spirit…


Karu Jayasuriya can be satisfied that he has men about him that are fat, most too fat for their own good and ours. And of course there is one that perfectly fits the bill of being thin with a lean and hungry look who thinks too much, reads too much and let us add, is given to too much circumlocution. He is equally fluent in English and Sinhala and can twist and talk, talk and twist and of course readily jump sides. He certainly is dangerous. Too much sleekness also connotes danger. A person can have a head of silver hair but cannot be trusted as the one who has sleek black hair on head and upper lip. The conclusion is that our Speaker is in a most unenviable position, wrought with Parliamentarians wielding verbal daggers just like the Senators of the Roman Empire. The local daggers may not kill directly, but the Speaker is no longer young and good men get affected by the scheming rudeness and antics of the bad.

The most incomprehensible aspect of that day of loud shouting, finger wagging, fist pointing and vituperation before Wimal W was asked to sit down and Dinesh G asked to be taken away was that a completely bonhomie birthday party was held. Oh my goodness what camaraderie! To return the compliment of the life giving draught of thambili, Wimal W gave Mahinda Rajapaksa a bite off the piece of his birthday cake he held in his hand. This after his wife Sashi and daughter nibbled it. I shuddered witnessing this most decadent habit and so unhygienic of many taking bites of a single piece of cake. We did it as school girls. Take a bite, we’d say, and offer whatever we had in hand to eat. But grown men and women, most our legislators and ex Ministers of State taking nibbles off a piece of cake. Ugh! disgusting in its reality and its connotation. Even singing the birthday song, a Western borrowing, seemed so out of place within that group of kapati suited sanctimonious legislators.

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