When cops play games

Island Editorial

Many an eyebrow has been raised by Chairman of the presidential commission of inquiry probing bond scams, Justice K. T. Chithrasiri’s statement on Monday that his request for more police personnel had gone unheeded. He revealed that IGP Pujith Jayasundara had not even acknowledged receipt of his letter. This is a very sad state of affairs.

Even if an ordinary ruling party MP attends a culvert opening ceremony police personnel in sufficient numbers are deployed to protect him and other self-important persons. Not even a religious or cultural event such as a perahera is complete without a heavy police presence. It is intriguing why police have chosen to ignore a request from the head of a presidential probe. They wouldn’t have done so unless they had been confident that someone would leap to their defence if they got into trouble over noncompliance. One can’t but wonder whether this is part of a conspiracy by those opposed to the bond scam probe to throw a monkey wrench in the works.

One may argue that there is no need for any more probes into the bond scams and the culprits have to be arrested, remanded and arraigned on criminal charges without further delay. The Employees’ Provident Fund (EPF) alone has suffered a staggering loss of Rs. 10 billion due to the bond scams, according to a report submitted by a probe committee appointed by the Monetary Board of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka. The government is lucky that Rathu Sahodarayas and other trade unionists are colluding with the UNP. Otherwise, workers would have taken to the streets by now, demanding that the loss suffered by their superannuation fund be recovered and those who abused their savings be arrested.

Opposition politicians who are alleged to have abused public property are made to languish in remand prisons while investigations are being conducted. But, nobody has been arrested over the biggest ever financial fraud in this country. How would the CID and the Financial Crimes Investigation Division (FCID) have reacted if any Opposition MP or his lackeys had been involved in the bond scams? All the suspects would have been arrested, produced in courts and bussed all the way to remand prisons; their bail applications would have been rejected.

One should not be so naïve as to expect those responsible for the bond scams and their political masters to be brought to justice. The UNP will go to any extent to open an escape route for the cornered racketeers. For, they are likely to spill the beans if they are left in the lurch. All chances of the UNP winning elections in the foreseeable future will be ruined in such an eventuality. However, the on-going presidential probe is welcome in that vital information about the bond scams is now available to the public, who can make informed decisions when they exercise their franchise at future elections.

The onus is on President Maithripala Sirisena to ensure that the commission he appointed to probe the bond scams have all necessary facilities to carry out its task. Let it be provided with any number of police personnel it requires on a priority basis. An explanation is called for as to why the IGP has not acknowledged receipt of Justice Chithrasiri’s official letter. Noncompliance on the part of police, at issue, is tantamount to an affront to the President.