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POSTED AT 04:10 PM 09-05-2016

Parliament brawls and the Jaffna school kids

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The country looked on aghast as news came out of a free-for-all fist fight last week in Parliament, sending a member to hospital. The fact that representatives of the people who enter parliament on popular vote, would behave in such a manner did not go down well at all. Everyone agreed that the whole incident was uncivil and against social norms.

Parliament seemed to have realised this blunder, even before the people woke up to this fact. The Speaker moved swiftly to appoint a two-member committee to look into the brawl. The committee comprised of Deputy Speaker Thilanga Sumathipala and Deputy Chairman of Committees Selvam Adaikkalanathan.

The committee acted swiftly to look at the footage of the incident and to make written recommendations to the Speaker. Based on that, two members of parliament who were clearly in the thick of things - Kalutara District MP Deputy Minister of Cultural Affairs Palitha Thewarapperuma and Gampaha District MP Prasanna Ranaweera - were given a week’s suspension from Parliament.

Reports from Parliament highlighted the fact that while the brawl was going in the Parliament, the public gallery had members of public and school children. It was also patently obvious that the Speaker was deeply embarrassed by these shenanigans going on before the eyes of impressionable little kids, with his repeated chanting of ‘Lajjai! Lajjai!!’ (Shameful! Shameful!!) to the brawling crowd.

In this public gallery, there was a group of students from Jaffna, who had travelled all the way to the Parliament House in Colombo, for one reason. Having decided to hold a ‘Model Parliament’ session in their school, they had come to the ‘real Parliament’ to pick up pointers on parliamentary behaviour.

As it transpires, the students were in Parliament on the special invitation of Jaffna District Parliamentarian M. A. Sumanthiran, to whom they had gone with the initial request to be allowed to visit the Parliament. It was his misfortune that they came to Parliament on the very day that it's august members decided to have an all out brawl. No doubt the Children were looking on in amazement at the ‘role models’ after whom they were going to model themselves after in their little model Parliament.

One thing's for certain, Mr. Sumanthiran was hoping and praying that the Children will not take the despicable spectacle they saw as model behavior.