“Parliament is not a place for those who take the country for a joke; it is the center of policy and democracy,” says UNP MP Saidulla Marikkar. The MP, who was in Canada for a Commonwealth Canadian Parliamentary Seminar, recently spoke to lankareporter.com.
The 14th CPA Canadian Parliamentary Seminar was an opportunity to share good practice with members on key issues—such as the importance of the CPA Codes of Conduct as a tool to help address the trust deficit in Parliaments, the importance of gender equality in parliament, and the essential role that an effective Committee can play.
More Women Must Participate in Politics
“We need to consider what we discuss in parliament and how we behave,” Marikkar said. “There needs to be a code of ethics that is strictly enforced.”
“More women need to participate in policymaking for [the] betterment of the country,” Marikkar also said.
“Fifty-two percent of our population is female. Most of the people graduating from universities are women, and most of our graduate appointments are also women. They should have a greater role in the country’s administration.”
The rookie MP was elected in 2015 general election and had no intention of becoming a politician after a successful career in the private sector. He decided to join politics after the previous regime displayed an authoritarian style of rule.
“Even today, there is small number of people who want to create ethnic disharmony in Sri Lanka,” he said. “After the new government was elected in 2015, ethnic relations have improved a greatly.”
Don’t Fan Ethnic Tensions
“Our government brought back Freedom of Press, the Right to Information Act, [and] Freedom of Speech,” Marikkar added.
We are not a fully developed country; therefore, people with bad intentions who wish to sabotage the economy and spread racism can use the loopholes in our democratic environment to thrive.
It is funny how some of these people prevented freedom speech in the past now use it to their advantage.
When asked about the future of his government and whether the two main parties in Sri Lanka—the UNP and SLFP—have delivered to the people, Marikkar said, “People don’t want to go back to the dark era.”
Some of our promises have been delivered, and we will deliver more in the next two years.
“Most middle-class Sri Lankans who now enjoy democracy don’t want to return to an authoritarian ruler like what we had in the past,” he said.
Young MPs Given More Power
Unlike the past, new MPs can contribute under the Sectoral Oversight Committees in parliament.
Before young MPs could only consult on policy, they had no power.
In sum, 16 ‘Sectoral Oversight Committees’ exist, which are empowered to examine all bills, resolutions, treaties, reports, and other matters relating to subjects within their jurisdictions.