There were no Members of Parliament from the Medamulana Raja Pavula when the New York Times report of China funding the last Mahinda Rajapaksa presidential poll was debated in Parliament this week.
The quorum bell had a weird and crooked ring when it failed to gather enough members to continue the debate on an issue the Joint Opposition was largely avoiding. What was worse was that the Government, elected on a pledge to fight and eliminate the corruption of the Rajapaksa Regime, could not find enough members – just 20 – to form a quorum for this debate.
Mahinda Rajapaksa was in Singapore. Had he gone there to meet Arjuna Mahendran, who as Governor of the Central Bank stopped the initial inquiry into this Chinese company payment to the national presidential poll? There is plenty of the stuff of corruption that MR and Arjuna Mahendran could share, the related corruptions running into mountains of millions. Those absent included former Speaker and brother Chamal, and son Namal Rajapaksa.
In recent weeks we have read of MPs – Ministers of the SLFP and UNP – get millions in cheques from the crooked perpetual Treasuries – supposedly for their election campaigns. The debate on these was pushed back with the news of the Chinese millions that flowed into the Rajapaksa presidential poll campaign. It is a debate on such an advanced scale of corruption – Rs. 7.2 million – in the final stage of the Rajapaksa campaign, which could not have a quorum.
As the China – Rajapaksa poll corruption was adjourned for want of a quorum; we hear how the Rajapaksa era corruption has hit the UK House of Commons. A Rajapaksa corruption blow has struck Prime Minister Theresa May, struggling to keep her majority in the Commons, suspending one of her rapidly declining support members.
Sri Lanka has shown it can spend millions to buy foreign members of parliament. We are certainly in the international league of the politically crooked.
Involved here is MP Ian Paisley Jr of the Theresa May supporting, Democratic Unionist Party. He really enjoyed Rajapaksa luxury in Sri Lanka; with two holidays here with his wife and children, living in luxury hotels, luxury car travel and helicopter rides. All of which cost more than Rs 45 million. All this only to get a letter from him to then PM David Cameron supportive of the Mahinda Rajapaksa’s human rights record.
The Ian Paisley Jr case has taught us a lot on how parliament can and should fight corruption. The Commons found him guilty of breaking Westminster Rules – having luxury trips worth over 100,000 pounds sterling, and not reporting such benefits to the Commons. He is now suspended from the Commons for 30 days, and faces the threat of being recalled by his constituents, which would make him lose his seat, and trigger a by-election. His actions amounted to ‘paid advocacy’ that ‘brought the House of Commons to disrepute’.
There is no report of a quorum bell ringing in the Commons, or the lack of a quorum when Paisley’s matter was taken up. They are taking action on a member who has brought the House to disrepute by paid advocacy, to please the Mahinda Rajapaksa team of the corrupt. Corruption that has reached the Commons Touch.
Whatever action may be taken about the China funding of the Rajapaksa presidential poll, and the millions gone through Chinese ‘Corporate Social Responsibility’ to the Pushpa Rajapaksa Foundation, the Commons has told us what we need to do in dealing with our own Members of Parliament, who have no bother about bringing parliament into disrepute.
With all those reports of cheques from Perpetual Treasuries, with many more recipients not yet declared, what action will be taken about ‘paid advocacy’ and their moves to bring the Parliament of Sri Lanka to disrepute? When will we decide to have a register in parliament, where the members will have to declare the monies they receive from supporters, businesspersons or houses, or even foreign bodies, far beyond their parliamentary allowances and other privileges?
There is much big talk about changing and improving our election methods and patterns. However, what action would we take to ensure the removal of members who have brought parliament to disrepute, and have by-elections to replace them?
Until JRJ brought the crooked Proportional Representation system, we did have by-elections, and removed corrupt members from the House. When can we get back to those necessities, and clean up our entire electoral and political system?
Are we to listen to a quorum bell telling us MPs on both sides of the House are not interested in clean government and politics?