Ah MPs, they grow up so fast. From sprightly young grama niladhari officials to starchy white-frocked Members of Parliament, it's wonderful to watch them (and their waistlines) grow. Now that you've sent off your younguns to school (read Parliament), you'd probably want to know how they're performing and have a look at their scorecard. Why? Because a single Parliamentary session can cost up to Rs. 4.6 million per day, and if your MP isn't even present for most of them, that's your tax money being flung out of the tinted window of a shiny permit sports car.
So why do some MPs get a bad rap in Lankan casual conversation as a go-to topic of derision? A number of reasons really – the constant faux pas, the extravagant expenditure/embezzlement, the criminal records, their questionable children clogging up our roads with their sports cars and clogging up our clubs with their egos and fists.
But there are plenty of politicos who take their job seriously – turn up to Parliament, push bills through, advocate for positive change. Trying to separate the good from the bad, the enthusiastic from the underperforming? We've started using manthri.lk.
What Is Manthri.lk?
It's a relatively new and trilingual online platform that collates, sorts, and publishes data from Parliament's hansards (which are impossible to go thru unless you're tri-lingual, or tri-curious). You can view Parliamentary updates, simple infographics on MP's performance on how many times they've addressed or participated in proceedings, been disruptive, or been present. You can also gauge how many times they spoke on topics relevant to their ministry.
Possibly our favourite (and possibly the most popular) feature that Manthri's put out is the MaithriMeter, a meter that identifies and breaks down President Sirisena's progress on his 100 days promise. Fast forward around a year and a half later, and he's just about 63.39% through. Give or take 0.01% or so.
How Do You Use It?
It's almost suspiciously easy to use, given that we've come to expect incredibly tedious and unintelligible output from Parliamentary procedures, or worse still the sensationalist media coverage of fistfights and lecherous sexism. This is clean, easily digestible, unbiased data. Get on to the site, search by either MP name, party, or topic, or simply go to the tabs on top and get exploring. They're happy to let you use their resources as long as you cite and/or link back.
Why Should You Use It?
Because your vote matters. Many people before you have fought valiantly for the basic human right of franchise, and you have absolutely no moral high ground to complain about the GoSL if you haven't used your vote to change or better it.
In order to make sure you're making the right decision, you ought to do your homework. Most people spend wayy more time doing their research on what phone to buy or where to take their lover our for dinner than on whom to vote into Parliament. If you want to learn how to vote in General Elections, peruse our guide.
Furthermore, if you're a journalist, a researcher, or in any way connected to political discourse, this is a pretty nifty and simple resource for stats, data, and quantitative analysis on Sri Lanka's MPs and the parliamentary system.
This is also a good way to start questioning terrible Parliamentary practices, for example the ridiculously low representation of women (it's currently at 13 members or a paltry 5.7%), or the acceptance of MPs with (alleged) criminal records.
This is a great new initiative to help you actually understand and gauge the performance your local Minister of Parliament. What their agenda is, how hard they work, and what they advocate for in your name and on your tax rupee. It's easily accessible and it's superbly resourceful and reliable. The best part of quantitative analysis is that it's entirely data-based and makes no value judgements, which means it's absolutely unbiased and useful for you regardless of your political inclinations or loyalties.