Politics Sans Morals Police gets it right
Posted on January 27th, 2018

By Dr. Tilak S. Fernando

People in this country appointed Maithripala Sirisena as the President in January 2015, with the backing of several political parties and civic groups, to abolish the executive presidency, hold Parliamentary elections and to execute various political reforms and to appoint commissions to oversee the Judiciary, Police, Elections Department, Auditor General’s Department and the Attorney-General’s Department; and primarily to strengthen the Commission on Bribery and Corruption with an undertaking that as President, he would clean up the present defiled political system, and create a clean country; take all necessary steps to punish all dishonest and corrupt politicians irrespective of their status or the political party they belong to, and to ensure that the law of the country applies equally to every citizen.

The late Venerable Maduluwawe Sobitha Thero masterminded the plan and steered an effective campaign to defeat the then President Mahinda Rajapaksa, despite his pre-planned designs and manoeuvres, in case of a defeat! The general consensus of the public was that only a divine intervention could have led towards the defeat of Mahinda Rajapaksa in January 2015.

Manoeuvring

In certain political quarters it was the belief that Basil Rajapaksa was the firebrand in the Rajapaksa regime who dug the political ‘grave’ for Mahinda Rajapaksa, while helping him (Mahinda) to earn the reputation of being corrupt and dictatorial. After the devastating act of the SLFP, Basil was also alleged to have been persuading Mahinda Rajapaksa to go for an early election, two years ahead of the schedule, influenced by a team of self-centred astrologists. It appeared more ironical when he abandoned Sri Lanka, within 24 hours of Mahinda Rajapaksa’s defeat, and headed towards the USA.

Maithripala Sirisena had no option, but to enter into a marriage with the UNP in forming the Unity Government. In doing so, he had to fulfill an election pledge by appointing Ranil Wickremesinghe as the Prime Minister. Under an agreement signed with the UNP, prior to the general election, another commitment was to allocate several key cabinet portfolios to the UNP. Once elected to the Executive Office, President Sirisena voluntarily reduced his term from 6 to 5 years and relinquishing certain executive powers with the hope of working for the nation through a Dharmista (just) administration.

Such actions made supremacies of the Prime Minister to flourish, which was clearly indicated by the appointment of Arjuna Mahendran, as the Governor of the Central Bank, by Ranil Wickremesinghe totally ignoring Presidential advice. The Central Bank Bond scandal, in the infant stages of the Yahapalanaya, became notorious and is seen as the historical major fiscal scam, where the Government lost billions of public money and earned a scandalous label as the Sri Lankan ‘Bondgate‘. Ranil Wickremesinghe’s attempts from Parliament, from March 2015 to whitewash the indignity managed only to blow it, out of proportion, thanks primarily to the intervention of the Sri Lankan media. Consequently, such exposure aided the President to take the reins to his own hands and to appoint a special Committee to investigate into bribery and corruption in relation to the Bonds scam.

Disturbed hornets nest

Finally, on the release of the Commission Report has made some of the UNP Parliamentarians, in the Unity Government behave in a manner similar to that of a disturbed hornet’s nest. Consequently, they have been crying foul and criticizing President Sirisena in a most outrageous and uncouth manner, which has transformed a composed and calm President to fly off the handle and, to come out with forceful rhetoric often repeating his promise to the nation that he would certainly expose the guilty and punish them severely.

President has two more years to put his own house in order. Mahinda Rajapaksa has not changed either, after his presidential defeat three years ago, which is evident from his allegiance to the ‘Flower Bud’ party during the forthcoming local elections. Therefore, he is seen as a retired Police constable attempting once again to become the Inspector General of Police!

Repeating the folly

General public criticized and condemned the Rajapaksa regime for bribery and corruption, as well as keeping too many square pegs in round holes. During his governance politicians were often seen taking political might unto their own hands, where even senior Police officers were made to look like puppets. The worse being, their children too started to interfere with the law and order, as if they were public owners of this country!

President Sirisena is being criticized for not taking such lessons as an example in appointing rejected politicians to his Cabinet, and the latest appointment of a new State Minister as Law and Order, who commenced his ministerial journey and was caught on the wrong foot.

This new State Minister was exposed, within three days of his appointment, for storming into a village Police station and castigating a Police officer for apprehending one of his supporters for breaking the traffic law. Is it what one would expect from a Minister in charge of Law and Order, to act in such an appalling manner?

Of course, in Sri Lanka, no politician would admit to his or her fault. This new Minister too has denied the charge of invading the Police station, but later admitted that he did walk into the Police station, but denied using harsh, using abusive language or that he demanded to withdraw charges against his supporter. Despite being shocked by the actions of the State Minister of Law and Order, in not helping the Police to enforce the law, Police stood their ground and insisted that the offender pay the traffic fine, which was done effectively.

The officer in charge of this particular Police station need to be congratulated for setting an example to others, not succumbing to political pressure, but applying the law equally to everyone. This exactly is what President Sirisena wants to achieve, for the meaning of the word Yahapalanaya, to become self-explanatory to the world at large.

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