Intimidating officials the yahapalana way
Posted on August 14th, 2017

Editorial Courtesy The Island

Police have recently withdrawn their ill-conceived ban on full-face helmets, which, they said, had stood criminals, especially bank robbers in good stead. But, those who robbed the Central Bank had not worn any helmets, we argued in these columns; instead they wore expensive bespoke three-piece suits and walked away with bags full of stolen treasury bonds worth billions of rupees, so to speak. Now, the government says those racketeers are as innocent as newborns and the media and the Attorney General’s Department personnel attached to the presidential commission of inquiry probing the bond scams are harassing and insulting them!

Some government pundits have made an issue of the manner in which the AG’s Department personnel questioned Ravi Karunanayake before the bond probe commission about two week ago while he was the Foreign Minister. Journalists covering the commission proceedings will vouch for the fact that the legal brains of the AG’s Department have treated all witnesses in a similar manner.

The Attorney General (AG) is the state prosecutor and his department is answerable to the public and not self-important politicians. The government is different from the state. So, the AG’s Department is not there to serve the interests of governments in power, especially when they happen to be in conflict with those of the public; it must work for the state.

If the government thinks it can cover up its rackets and regain public sympathy by blaming the media and the AG’s Department officers it is mistaken. The yahapalana grandees never so much as uttered a whimper of protest when the UNP members of the COPE (Committee on Public Enterprises) probing bond scams, rode rough shod over the Central Bank officials who testified against the then Central Bank Governor Arjuna Mahendran. They went to the extent of abusing an upright female officer in a bid to scare her into submission. No less a person than COPE Chairman Sunil Handunnetti threatened to resign from his post, unable to bear undue pressure and harassment at the hands of the UNP members. None of the UNP heavyweights faulted their MPs for such boorish behaviour.

A female Colombo High Court judge was abused in raw filth by a group of pro-UNP lawyers, who went so far as to smash up court furniture, when the White Flag case judgment was given in Nov. 2011. She also received threats from the pettifoggers on the rampage. The UNP leaders didn’t condemn the black-coated rowdies who brought their profession into disrepute. Sadly, even the Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL), which claims to defend the dignity of the judiciary chose to ignore the incident. Besides, on several occasions during the last several years, Speakers have asked schoolchildren to leave the public gallery of Parliament during fisticuffs in the chamber where abuse is freely traded. We have seen on television some ministers of the yahapalana regime insulting senior state officials in public with impunity. These politicians also have private armies at their disposal and their pet criminals clash during election campaigns. But, the government leaders ululate when a minister is asked tough questions before the bond probe commission!

If the government expects kid glove treatment to its ministers facing damning allegations anent the bond scams, let it provide the presidential probe commission with cradles, diapers and soothers besides nannies to pacify the yahapalana crybabies!

The yahapalana regime is like a lorry with ‘budu saranai, devi pihitai’ written thereon, illegally transporting cattle for slaughter. Its leaders are obviously trying to intimidate the AG’s Department officials by inveighing against the latter in public. It is doubtful whether their soft terror tactics will help demoralise the intrepid AG’s Department officials who have done the country proud and, with the help of their Central Bank counterparts, demonstrated, much to the relief of the public, there is still some hope left as regards the nation’s crusade against corruption.

Let the Opposition, professional organisations, the media and civil society outfits come forward in their numbers and circle the wagons at Hulftsdorp for the sake of the educated, intelligent, and patriotic public officials who have taken on a bunch of corrupt, arrogant politicians.

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