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People expect Parliamentarians to act responsibly like Statesmen, Stateswomen:- Speaker

Speaker Yapa Abeywardena

Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena has observed that the people of this country are facing grave difficulties and they expect both the Government and the Opposition members to act responsibly, like statesmen and stateswomen.

He made this observation addressing the beginning of the new session for the House. Speaker Abeywardena said:

“Except a few MPs, most come unprepared for debates and instead of addressing the issues up for discussions, choose to engage in behaviour that often escalates to shameful unparliamentary conduct. Today very few Members prepare for their speeches in advance, refer to the library or speak facts.

According to the information furnished by the library, only 330 books have been borrowed by members during the year 2021, and 122 of those have been under the title fiction. 94 of the borrowed books have been on political science and 27 on Sociology. Only 11 books on economics, five books on science, four books on law, three books on technology, one book on education, and one book on Sinhala literature have been borrowed by members. For a Legislature of 225 members, this is embarrassing.

This lack of preparation and knowledge on subject matters have led to insults, lies, false allegations, unparliamentary language being part of speeches, and most speeches and statements being made to gain political mileage rather than on guiding the state. This finally escalates to shameful unparliamentary conduct.

I recall that when I first spoke in Parliament, it was after weeks of preparation, reading in the library and watching and listening to speakers such as Late Gamini Dissanayake, Ranasinghe Premadasa, Lalith Athulathmudali, etc. As new members, we wanted to give the best impression of ourselves at the house because it would have been a great shame to do otherwise.

As Speaker, my responsibility is to conduct the house productively and to ensure the rights of all MPs and the Standing Orders and other procedures are designed to facilitate that, taking for granted, that its members will conduct themselves honourably.

All members must understand that upholding the dignity of this institution is the most sacred duty of all. If people lose faith in this House, that means they lose faith in democracy. The repercussions of that will be grave for all political parties and citizens of this country.

I urge all MPs to understand that and have national interest and the interest of all they represent at heart in all matters, putting a side petty political drama inside the House.

People of this country are facing grave difficulties and they expect both the Government and the Opposition members to act responsibly, like statesmen and stateswomen. I earnestly request all of you to help me rebuild the image of this institution and discuss with me on how we can achieve that. I expect both Chief whips specially to act more responsibly and guide their respective sides.”

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