The total population of 20 million people of Sri Lanka is supposed to elect 9215 members- 225 MPs for the Parliament, the supreme body of governance, 455 Councilors for Provincial Councils and 8535 members for local government bodies to represent them in these bodies to deliver the demands of the citizens which they themselves cannot achieve single handed as individuals.
The elected members are expected to be mindful of the present and the future conditions of the country, adopt a far sighted vision and work for the benefit of the citizens whom they represent. There is one member for every 2170 people. A very high average indeed! A very high cost amounting to millions of rupees is incurred monthly in terms of salaries, allowances, vehicles, fuel, telephones, office staff and security etc in maintaining them.
Yet, it is doubtful whether the majority of the people’s representatives do fulfill their responsibility. It does not seem that most of them conduct themselves in a manner conducive to safeguarding the respect of the people whom they represent .Besides, it is a serious drawback that we do not have a system to assess, recognize and encourage those representatives that perform their responsibilities well and truly. The public, the media and the civil society are usually inclined to criticize the conduct of people’s representatives. if however, while being critical of their misdeeds they choose to adopt a stance for distinguishing and recognizing the good representatives, it might certainly help change the negative scenario that prevails at the moment .
The Parliamentarians and the members of the local bodies may be busy; yet they ought not to forget their main role. It is a matter of regret if the parliamentary meetings which are held only 7 or 8 days per month were to be postponed due to a lack of quorum of 20 members. The quorum of 20 in a Parliament of 225 members is a minute fraction of only 8%.The postponement of the Parliament due to a lack of quorum was reported several times in this year. It was an criminal waste of public money. It is reported that the cost for parliamentary meetings would amount approximately to Rupees 4.5 million per day. We insist that it is the responsibility of the Leader of the House and the Leaders of all political parties to take measures to prevent this situation. The March 12 movement firmly requests from all Members of Parliament to fulfill their duty to people of this country whom they represent with high sense of responsibility and accountability.
The careless manner in which the people’s representatives tend to spend public money for their comfort became evident in the recent attempt of the Western Provincial Council to buy super luxury chairs at an exorbitant price of Rupees 6 1/2 lakhs per chair for the Council. The poor families are granted only Rupees 5 lakhs by the government housing schemes to build a house for them to live in their life time. In this backdrop, how could anyone with proper sense of justice justify the spending of Rupees 6 1/2 lakhs for a chair for a council which meets only a few hours on two days a month? This is good proof of the unscrupulous manner in which the public money is managed (wasted) by them. We would like to remind them to tap their conscience repeatedly and question themselves about the extent of occupation of these chairs when the meetings are held and how people friendly the decisions they take in these meetings.
Even in the local government sphere, there is no discernible improvement. It is time to reflect on the improvement of the public life proportionate to the increase in the number of councilors. It is also important to find out how many of them are in prisons now due to engaging in anti social activities and misuse of power.
You have up to now fulfilled the role of a voter. Now, it is time for you to assume the role of an enlightened and active citizen. It is time you find out whether the representatives you have selected have fulfilled their responsibility and delivered goods. If they haven’t, then it is inevitable that the future of our children and the country will be lost in darkness.
Rohana Hettiarachchi- PAFFREL
Chamindha Rajakaruna, Nishantha Prithiraj - Sarvodaya
Dr. P.A. Kiriwandeniya, Samadani Kiriwandeniya ,Naveendra Liyanaarchchie - SANASA Movement
Manori Kalugampitiya - RightsNow
Asoka Obeseykara, Shashee De Mel - Transparency International
Athauda Seneviratne - Organization of Professional Associations
Hemanthi Gunasekara- Sri Lanka Federation of Government Authorities
Daya Herath - mothers and daughters of Lanka
Samnan hamangoda -PALTRA
Manjula Gajanayaka- CMEV
Wimal Fernando - MDDR
Jagath Liyanaarchchie, Thissa Wijethunga, Ariyapala Gamage - NNAF