Contempt of Privilege strikes Diyawanna


At a time when Contempt of Court has hit the biggest headlines, it looks as if we will soon have a privilege petition for Contempt of the House.

This is not a petition in any court of law about repeated Contempt of Parliament with No Quorum adjournments. We have just had three in a row. While it is the duty of the Government to maintain a quorum for regular business, those in the Joint Opposition, who claim to be The Opposition, don’t even ensure a quorum for a debate initiated by one of its members on Media Rights. Is it because they cannot grab the office of Leader of the Opposition?

Otherwise, is it a demonstration of the need for bigger salaries?

The move by party leaders at the Diyawanna Mahagedera to get their salaries increased, following that of judges, has just now come a cropper. The President and Prime Minister are united – despite inner coalition rivalries – condemning the call for higher salaries to MPs, which includes Ministers – Cabinet, State or Deputy.

These two were never bothered about all the costly privileges the MPs got, such as luxury cars, privileged masseurs, and electorate office allowances, dished out as regular privilege treats.

Those experienced in the Sri Lankan parliamentary process think the No Quorum strategy is one strongly linked to the demand for higher salaries. These quorum strategists believe the absence of quorums at important sessions of the Diyawanna House will push government leaders to change their minds, and come with a new, scientific, and ‘gamperali’ proposal on the need for higher salaries to the peoples’ representatives.

But, what if the people say these ‘non-sitters’ at Diyawanna are not their representatives?

Come on. One must be a realist. When did these privileged catchers at Diyawanna think they were representatives of the people? They are the catchers of all privileges. They cannot give up the privilege of higher salaries, for the non-work they perform there. This is the Privileged Class of politics, standing well above the people who voted them to the House. They won’t be put down by what people think of higher salaries for the privileged crooks of Diyawanna politics.

This means the no quorum will continue to adjourn the House early, possibly moving to a change of Standing Orders, to require even lesser than 20 members for a quorum. Of course, this has nothing to do with the special privileged allowance paid to MPs who attend sessions at Diyawanna. They can walk in, bow to the Chair, earn the daily allowance, and then go missing when the quorum bell is rung.

You mean these members are using the quorum bell, to bring a Privilege Petition on Contempt of Parliament against those standing in the way of increased salaries.

Don’t ever keep such thinking beyond them. The new salary scheme involves arrears from January this year, and increase of their privileged pensions. Many will be entitled to pensions in less than two years – with the next dissolution of the House. There will soon be a motion by a Joint Privilege Group – of Government and Opposition MPs – calling for a salary hike to meet the rising cost of privileged living.

There is another Contempt of Parliament issue brewing, over chairs.

You mean the MPs do not have enough chairs to warm their backs before standing up to talk what cannot be reported in Hansard. The expunge language!

They do have good chairs. But, the Western Provincial Council has planned to import special luxury chairs costing Rs. 650,000 each, to follow the standards of parliament.

Many members at Diyawanna want such comfy chairs of privilege to be installed in their own chamber, with all other councils having chairs with lesser comfort. There is a move to bring a motion of Contempt of Parliament, if any lesser elected council, breaches the privilege of Diyawanna Catchers to have the best comfort in sitting.

These members of crooked privilege are planning to present a Motion of Contempt of Parliament against the Western Provincial Council, for even thinking of having chairs - better, more comfortable, and more costly, than at Diyawanna, at the new Battaramulla chamber of the WPC.

Looks like we are moving to a new Era of Privilege. The privilege of bigger salaries and pensions, and that of the best seats in the country. With the Diyawanna House having the power to pass any laws, other than to make a man, a woman or the other way, the charges of Contempt of Parliament, will soon exceed the already noticeable petitions of Contempt of Court!


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