SL’s Past presidents and Criminals

A welcome gavel blow

Island Editorial

Mervyn Silva may not have thought he would, one day, have to pay for the sins he committed as a powerful minister of the Rajapaksa government. A law unto himself, he ran a separate state of sorts in Kelaniya and carried out attacks in other areas as well. But, thankfully, a judicial gavel blow sent him reeling on Wednesday. The Supreme Court ordered him to pay a petitioner Rs. 400,000 as compensation for demolishing a boundary wall and two toilets on the pretext of widening a road.

Under the last UPFA government, the then President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s legal immunity was transferred to the members of a cabal to all intents and purposes; Mervyn was one of them. He remained above the law by licking the sandals of his masters. He was once charged with a cheque fraud, but the Rajapaksa government manipulated the Attorney General’s Department in such a way that he got away by paying only the state cost! This is a country where people are thrown behind bars even for letting out ostentatious yawns in courts!

Cartoon added by TW from internet Image result for politicians and thugs cartoons

Pulling down walls and toilets was not the only offence Mervyn committed. Let the Sirisena-Wickremesinghe government be urged to probe all other allegations against him without handling him with kid gloves in return for his contribution to the vilification campaign against his estranged political masters.

All governments since 1977 have had the likes of Mervyn. One of the thugs the JRJ government used against its opponents was Kalu Lucky, who even stoned the houses of Supreme Court judges with impunity; there was also a much-dreaded strongman known as Gonawala Sunil, who was a convicted rapist, pardoned by the late President J. R. Jayewardene. The late President Ranasinghe Premadasa had as one of his pets a notorious killer and rapist called Soththi Upali; even senior police officers used to salute that criminal in public. Underworld kingpin, Indare, was close to the D. B. Wijetunga administration. A serial killer cum extortionist, Beddegana Sanjweea, was in President Chandrika Kumaratunga’s security division; he was subsequently recruited as a police officer for the services rendered. Wambotta, a contract killer, was one of the thugs who faithfully served the Rajapaksa government.

Thankfully, all the aforesaid criminals are now pushing up the daisies. Others like Mervyn and Eraj, who tried to shoot a group of UNP MPs in Hambantota in 2014 have switched their allegiance to the ‘yahapalana’ government. President Maithripala Sirisena has appointed Eraj an SLFP organiser! A local government member who boasts of having raped hundreds of women and was protected by the Rajapaksa government—the late Ven. Sobitha Thera once condemned him in public—was one of the organisers of the SLFP’s May Day rally in Galle this year!

But for international pressure on the Rajapaksa government former Tangalle Pradeshiya Sabha Chairman Sampath Vidanapathirana, another pet of the Rajapaksasas, and his confederates responsible for killing a British national and gang-raping the victim’s fiancée would have gone scot free in spite of corpus delicti just like the pro-government criminals before him. It is easy to deal with criminals according to the law when their political masters lose power. Death penalty recently awarded to 18 thugs for killing the Noori Estate superintendent is also a case in point. Allegations against the leaders of the last government would never have been investigated if not for their defeat. The same goes for the rogues shielded by the present dispensation. They will enjoy legal immunity so long as their political masters remain in power.

This country used to be a better place when governments were denied steamroller majorities and the opportunity to secure two or more terms consecutively. The rot set in under the United Front government (1970-77), which abused its two-thirds majority to extend the life of parliament by two years arbitrarily. The situation took a turn for the worse under the JRJ regime which secured a five-sixths majority. The second term of each and every executive president has also been a disaster. Those who abuse power, help themselves to public funds, and shield racketeers and other criminals must be denied a second term.

As for Mervyn’s recent pratfall at Hulftsdorp, while raising one’s hat to the judiciary for its ruling, one fervently hopes that its gavel will land equally hard on the ruling politicians and their backers as well.