Prisoners, docs and pundits
Posted on September 19th, 2017

Editorial Courtesy The Island

Some UNP MPs have taken exception to the admission of former President’s Secretary Lalith Weeratunga to the Welikada prison hospital after being sentenced to three years RI. They claim he has received preferential treatment. A senior prison doctor has been transferred by way of punishment for allegedly favouring him. One is intrigued by their brouhaha and line of reasoning.

The UNP MPs’ conclusion that Weeratunga should not be in prison hospital is based on the premises that politicians and other influential persons, remanded or sentenced to jail, get themselves admitted to prison hospital so that they don’t have to languish in cells; Weeratunga has also been admitted to prison hospital and he is an influential person and, therefore, his admission to hospital is wrong. But, their contention does not stand to reason. Here is a case of hasty generalisation, a fallacy which negates the logical validity of their argument. If their contention is true then one can claim that any person wearing a full-face helmet should be suspected of a bank robbery because all bank robbers wear full-face helmets.

We hold no brief for anyone who has got into trouble by doing wily politicians’ bidding. Weeratunga, with an impeccable track record as a civil servant, knows FRs by heart and he should not have carried out the controversial executive order to allocate public funds for distributing sil redi in the run-up to a crucial election. But, the fact remains that he has not been in the best of health for the last several years. He has also undergone surgeries on a couple of occasions. The rude shock he received upon being sentenced to three years RI may have aggravated his condition. If the government had had any reason to believe that his condition was not so serious as to warrant hospitalisation and/or the prison doctors had been partial to him, it could have got him examined by some other physicians instead of getting the likes of Ranjan Ramanayake to protest, calling for the transfer of the acting chief medical officer of the Welikada prison hospital.

No minister should be allowed to have doctors transferred to please some of his parliamentary colleagues or according to his whims and fancies. Disciplinary action should be taken against doctors or other state employees, for that matter, only if they are found guilty of wrongdoing following impartial inquiries. No suspect should be considered guilty without a fair hearing in which his or her right to respond to allegations against him or her is guaranteed—audi alteram partem. Regrettably, the yahapalana politicians are acting as cops, prosecutors, judges, jurors and jailers! They even summon the Attorney General and tear into him for not preferring charges against their political rivals.

Now that two senior civil servants have been sent to jail over the controversial sil redi distribution, Health Minister Rajitha Senaratne, Ramanayake et al must campaign for bringing the racketeers who caused massive losses amounting to billions of rupees to the state and the workers’ superannuation fund through bond scams. They are intelligent enough to know that billions are bigger than millions, aren’t they? If they think they can divert people’s attention away from the biggest ever financial crime in the country by clamouring about Weeratunga in prison hospital, they are mistaken. In politics, Ramanayake tries to be the hero he plays in some third-rate, low-budget flicks, where he destroys the evil with a quick flick of the wrist. He is also a self-appointed campaigner against corruption and runs around like a headless chicken, cursing public servants and insulting judges. But, strangely, he baulks at calling for action against bond racketeers!

Let it be stressed that the bad practice of politicians et al in good health being admitted to prison hospitals or the National Hospital after being remanded or sentenced must be brought to an end. A permanent mechanism needs to be put in place to find out malingerers in prisons. Political pundits full of themselves should not be allowed to take it upon themselves to do so.

3 Responses to “Prisoners, docs and pundits”

  1. Charles Says:

    There is certainly some thing wrong with the Justice System in Sri Lanka after yahapalanaya. The judgment in the Sil redi case should be reviewed by the Supreme Court. A subordinate has to carry out the orders of the superior that is how the Administration functions. If not there will be a complete break down of the Administrative System. A subordinate can point out to the superior if there is some thing with which he disagrees, but cannot point blank refuse to carry ou the order.

    The court should decide on the act considering the circumstances leading to the act. Distribution of sil redi is not illegal even if it is interpreted as an election gimmick. If we go to some villagers we see how some poor persons lack the means to by a good white cloth to wear to temples. Even white sarongs are too expensive for some to buy. Some of them do not observe sil because they cannot wear a properl dress for the purpose.

  2. aloy Says:

    What made the writer say this:
    “Weeratunga, with an impeccable track record as a civil servant,…..”

    One ex-chief judge publicly apologized for not convicting MR for the tsunami fund case and according to reports LW was his secy at that time helping the Humbanthota people. Throughout MR’s terms he was doing more politics than a genuine civil servants job addressing political meetings etc.( MR has his own style and if not for him the war wouldn’t have been won). I think the journalists should not try to white wash someone who was convicted by a high court just because he is a friend and known to some as a nice man. This should apply to other main media channels which try to change the public opinion as they wish.

  3. Senerath Says:

    This should apply to other main media channels which try to change the public opinion as they wish.– Aloy

    Media are criminals too, actually main criminals.

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