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Thursday, February 22, 2024

A law unto themselves

It has once again been proved that Sri Lanka is a lawless country; where political rivalry between members of the same party has gone beyond the ethics of political culture and resulted in the death of a leader. This is a very pathetic and sad situation. when people in a country begin to act with scant regard for the law, it is inevitable that the country turns out to be a grave yard.

Today the legal institutions whose responsibility is to implement the law have been totally politicized. The law has been trapped under a political cloud; where the President who is the chief of the armed forces has the responsibility of the country’s security and his brother is the Defence Secretary. Is it any surprise then that the secretary of Defence will control the police and other forces in favour of his brothers rule?

On the face of it we see that the national security has been politicized. This type of situation has never before arisen in the history of Sri Lanka or in any other democratic country. While the thirty-year civil war was on, it had been very beneficial to have the defence minister and defence secretary from one family. The steps taken by President Mahinda Rajapaksa and his brother Gotabaya Rajapaksa to end the war, are highly appreciated—at no time can any person underestimate or deny this fact.

However the end of the war has resulted in the people ridiculing the government, uprisings, strikes, allegations and accusations by the opposition. The present government who was responsible for the ending the war has to face these problems keeping in mind that ours is a democratic society.

In the past there had been many examples where ministers had taken the law into their hands. The people were able to see on television how Mervyn Silva tied a government official to a tree. Also sealing of warehouses, taxes being collected from shops, the stopping of animal sacrifice in kovils were also shown. Although certain acts committed by this minister could be classified as good acts— when individuals take the law into their own hands to carryout good work, the law can just as easily be used to commit undesirable acts as well and the limits of this lawlessness are unknown.

When MP Duminda Silva and his supporters came armed with poles to attack a United National Party demonstration, the police media spokesperson stated that the MP and his supporters being armed with poles was not an offence but will become an offence only if they attacked the demonstrators. Therefore it could be clearly inferred that the police were indirectly supporting Duminda Silva to attack the UNP protestors.
No action was taken when Galle provincial councilor Muthuhettigama cut the iron bars at the Galle bus stand where by damaging public property. Additionally there are numerous instances where ruling party politicians and their henchmen have taken power in their hands and grossly abused the law openly.

Today this situation has reached a climax. It is clear that the ruling party used all its powers to win the Colombo Municipal Council. An enormous amount of work was implemented by the defence secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa. I do personally appreciate the work he has done to beautify the Colombo city, but oppose him dabbling in politics as the defence secretary which violates section 32 of the institution act. The Urban Development Authority which came under the purview of the Defence Ministry had a responsibility to deny and approve that they did not intend to demolish tenement houses in the Colombo district. Action should be taken by the Defence Minister and not the secretary. The Defence Secretary addressed political rallies in the Kolonnawa area with Duminda Silva. I questioned in parliament about these monitoring MPs. Especially Duminda Silva and Sajin Vaas Gunewardene and many newly appointed MPs who were to be appointed as monitoring MPs by the present government. Dinesh Gunewardene who answered my query stated that the government has not appointed such MPs, but we see MPs attached to various ministries stating their designations as monitoring MP’s in their various official communications.

Prasanna Solangarachchi who contested for the Kottkawatte Mulleriyawa Pradeshiya Saba which comes under the Kolonnawa electorate polled the highest number of preferential votes in spite of Duminda Silva working against him. He was able to achieve this largely due to the support extended to him by Bharatha Lakshman Premachandra, Renuka Perera and Ashoka Lankathilake. While the battle to appoint the President of the Pradeshiya Saba members was going on, a group had attacked Solongarachchi’s political office and shot the President’s picture which I produced in Parliament. If there was police protection to guard VIP’s they would have listened to their leaders and not have attacked political offices belonging to members of the same party. The security officer’s main responsibility is to guard their VIP and not to take orders to attack opponents and resort to thuggery. The attack on Solangarachchi’s office and the shooting of the Presidents picture was done not by the police but by another party and if action is not taken a huge calamity will take place was stated by me in Parliament. MP Azwer who was occupying the speaker’s chair misunderstood my point and ordered me out of the house. This resulted in me being unable to explain my point clearly.

It is common for opposing MP’s to exchange blows in Parliament, but it is unheard of for security personnel assigned to a VIP to shoot another using up to 40 bullets. The normal procedure in such a situation will be for the security personnel to try and move the VIP to a safer area, failing which they will shoot in the air in order to disperse the mob and as a last resort will use their weapons, but at all times following the law.
The shooting of another VIP using some 40 bullets was done not by a police official but by persons who are willing to act on orders of their leader even if it meant losing their lives. Therefore it is puzzling how a monitoring MP of the defence ministry is employing such people for his security. It is clear from these assassinations that among the security personnel assigned to guard VIPS there are people who are also armed with illegal weapons assigned for VIP security.

What is needed right now after a 30year-old war is not for politicians to kill each other but for MP’S from both the government and opposition to unite and work together to uplift the country. The opposition’s responsibility and duty is to highlight government corruption, injustices, and the crimes committed against the Country. The government’s role is to patiently listen to these allegations and if proven true to investigate and take appropriate action and if they are proven false to take appropriate political and legal action. Politics means to conduct a battle until you achieve power. The governing party will try to protect and consolidate its power while the opposition will try to topple the government. The capturing of power in this manner should be done in a democratic manner and not in an illegal way. When persons resort to thuggery, politicians who take up arms and the law into their hands, they will not only threaten and kill members of the ruling party but members of the opposition as well. Therefore as a mark of respect to Bhararha Lakshman Premachandra a broad democratic society should be created where people obey the law and not take the law into their own hands.
Source: Daily Mirror – Sri Lanka


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