When Justitia kneels
Posted on January 23rd, 2018

Editorial Courtesy  The Island

The SLFP, under the stewardship of its founder leader S. W. R. D. Bandaranaike, mobilised what came to be known as the Pancha Maha Balawegaya or ‘Five Great Forces’ (Buddhist monks, physicians, teachers, farmers and industrial workers) in a bid to achieve its goals. But, over the years, the SLFP has accommodated within its ranks various evil forces; some of these anti-social elements have even secured key positions in the party.

The news of Uva Chief Minister (CM) Chamara Sampath Dassanayake harassing a female principal the other day came as no surprise. The victim has told the media that the CM made her kneel in front of several others at his official residence because she had turned down a request from him for admitting a child to her Tamil medium school.

The Uva CM’s opponents have made an issue of his educational qualifications, but, we believe, he is a good learner. It may be recalled that in 2013, under the Rajapaksa government, the then North Western Provincial Council member, Ananda Sarath Kumara, forced himself into a school, where he verbally abused a female teacher before making her kneel in front of other teachers and students for having chided his daughter over a disciplinary matter. Teachers’ unions and the media took up the cudgels for the victim and the mighty Rajapaksa government buckled under pressure; it had to take legal action against its man. The hero, hauled up before courts, was given a suspended sentence. We thought the yahapalana government wouldn’t’ touch him with a barge pole. How mistaken we were! Following the 2015 regime change, he was appointed the Anamaduwa SLFP organiser! The SLFP sent the wrong message to others of his ilk. What one gathers from the incident at issue in Uva is that the SLFP politicians have graduated from harassing ordinary teachers to making principals kneel down. At this rate, they may target education directors next.

In 1999, in the run-up to the North-Western Provincial Council elections, some influential SLFP members of the Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga government stripped a group of female UNP activists naked and paraded them on roads. They got away with that crime as they were above the law. This, the SLFP did, having condemned the J. R. Jayewardene regime, of which the current Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe was a minister, for granting a presidential pardon to a notorious criminal convicted of raping a teenage girl. Gonawala Sunil was his name. Thankfully he is pushing up daisies.

The Joint Opposition (JO) worthies have, true to form, sought to take moral high ground. They have condemned the Uva CM, and rightly so. But, what did they do when Mervyn Silva, as a powerful minister of the Rajapaksa Cabinet, publicly ridiculed a state official and tied him to a tree in Kelaniya? They did not utter a whimper because Silva was a pet of the Rajapaksas. He was a law unto himself.

An SLFP Pradeshiya Sabha Chairman notorious for raping many women and throwing parties to celebrate those crimes has gone scot free. He enjoyed free rein under the Mahinda Rajapaksa government. The late Ven. Maduluwawe Sobitha Thera made mention of this savage in the garb of a politician, at a public rally in Colombo, and demanded to know why no action had been taken against him, even after the 2015 regime change. This monster was one of the organisers of the SLFP’s May Day rally in Galle in 2016. So much for yahapalanaya!

The SLFP leadership has, unable to defend the Uva CM owing to mounting pressure, removed him as the provincial minister of education purportedly to facilitate an impartial investigation into the incident. It is reported that President Maithripala Sirisena has ordered the IGP to conduct a thorough probe. Is it that the police chief wouldn’t have done so if not for the presidential order? Yesterday, CM Dassanayake surrendered to the police through a lawyer; he was produced before the Badulla Magistrate, who granted him bail.

This shouldn’t be the end of the story. It behoves President Sirisena to sack the Uva CM immediately if an impartial investigation is to be conducted. So long as Dassanayake remains in that high post, he can influence and intimidate investigating officers and witnesses.

Several women’s outfits are raking President Sirisena over the coals for having overruled Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera, who tried to do away with some archaic laws which prevent women from buying liquor and working in places where liquor is sold or manufactured. Shouldn’t they take to the streets demanding the resignation of the Uva CM?

The biggest problem this country is faced with is that political leaders who come to power, promising to restore the rule of law and revive democracy, make Justitia kneel at Hulftsdorp with impunity. No wonder their lackeys go about meting out the same treatment to ordinary women.

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