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Religious leaders: Sri Lankan parliament needs discipline

Buddhist and Christian clergy discussed how politicians could better set an example
Religious leaders: Sri Lankan parliament needs discipline

Speaker of the Sri Lankan parliament, Karu Jayasuriya addressing the Congress of Religions at the Maha Bodhi Society in Colombo on May 9. The congress said discipline must be established in parliament to set a good example to the country. (Photo by Kingsley Karunaratne)

Published: May 12, 2017 08:22 AM GMT
Updated: May 12, 2017 10:46 AM GMT

Buddhist monks, bishops and priests have sought a nationwide effort to re-establish discipline in Sri Lanka starting with the parliament.

Chief Buddhist monk Venerable Bellanwila Wimalarathana Nayaka Thero, said that all religions should work together to promote discipline.

"We need discipline in parliament as the first step. The words used by some parliamentarians in their day-to-day activities are deplorable," said Venerable Wimalarathana Thero at the Congress of Religions at Maha Bodhi Society, the oldest Buddhist Missionary society in the world, in Colombo on May 9.

"As lawmakers they have a supreme duty to behave themselves inside and outside parliament and set a good example to their fellow countrymen," the monk said at the session attended by Karu Jayasuriya, speaker of the Sri Lankan parliament.

Venerable Wimalarathana Thero said he had heard the speaker warning a few parliamentarians to behave themselves when school children watched proceedings from the gallery.

"We have to meet the party leaders to show our concern. This kind of unruly behavior should come to an end," the monk said.

Venerable Thiniyawala Palitha Thero said unsuitable candidates have been nominated as ambassadors. He wanted to know if the constitutional council had exercised any scrutiny in giving out these appointments.

"Discipline in parliament should be given top priority. It needs immediate remedial action as bad behavior propagates easily," said Venerable Palitha Thero.

Jayasuriya, the parliamentary speaker, has taken disciplinary action against some parliamentarians for their unruly behavior. Some apologized to parliament and some were removed from the chamber with assistance of parliamentary police.

The speaker is the third citizen in the national protocol list and is the final disciplinary authority in parliament.

Referring to the country's election commission, Bishop Cletus Chandrasiri of Ratnapura said that if there are no suitable candidates proposed by the political parties, the people have no real choice.

"So we must force the political parties to select uncorrupt, educated, genuine candidates," said Bishop Chandrasiri.

Oblate Father Leopold Rathnasekera said that people are being misled by some media organizations.

"When you go to town very often you can see protest marches. Is there no solution for this?" the priest said.

Retired Archbishop  Oswald Gomis of Colombo also attended.

Jayasuriya said he was working on strategies to eliminate the problem.

"A code of conduct for parliamentarians has been worked out and it has been circulated among parliamentarians for their comments," he said.

"Once I receive their comments, I will discuss it with the authorities again and table it for approval so no parliamentarians can misbehave," he added.

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