THE Sri Lankan ruling party is famous for turning a blind eye to issues it does not want to deal with, which is perhaps why it stumbles from blunder to blunder concerning Public Relations Minister Mervyn Silva.
For many seasons Silva had been batting away without any issues, but as the offences piled up, fellow politicians in his own party banded against him and handed over a file containing a myriad of his transgressions to the party leadership.
Undaunted, Silva retaliated by handing over his own file, showing that both parties were less than honest in their dealings, and insisted that justice was on his side. Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) General Secretary Maithreepala Sirisena was appointed to ‘investigate’ these files, even though it was clear that since this information was of a criminal nature they should have been handed over to the Police.
From tying public officials to trees to repeated and recorded instances of aggression against the media, Silva’s sins have been many and frequent. Yet, against all rational explanations, the powers that be continue to shield him even when his own party members have said enough is enough. What is the reason behind this?
Analysing all of the reasons would take far more space that has been provided to this column. Therefore, the whole issue can be put down to breakdown of law and order. It is perhaps a simplistic point, but one that explains the ridiculous amount of power that people like Silva hold. His opponents also point to the same reason, saying that intense politicisation of the police means that Silva can operate with impunity and anyone else will be served with death threats if they dare to oppose him.
This is a damning indictment of the breakdown of law and order in this country. Politicians are above the law and prefer to remain that way until the situation worsens to the point that they themselves are under threat. It is only then that they speak out against offenders and demand justice, but at this point the institutions of justice such as the police and law courts have all been undermined. If the rich and powerful are impotent, then what hope does the common man have?
Economic Development Minister Basil Rajapaksa threw a lifeline at Silva the other day by insisting that only President Mahinda Rajapaksa has the power to remove him despite all the protests from other party members and the public. This is the same format used for all the important decisions of the country and shows the difficulty in implementing justice.
Yet, one thing that all the players of this saga have to be aware of is that the people are watching and this will be one more situation that will add to their disgust of how the Government operates. It is also an indication that if the Government does not take steps to instil discipline in its own ranks, it has little hope for the rest of the country.
Since Silva is great at providing the people with entertainment, it is likely that they will simply sit back and watch the events unfold, but hopefully when the next election rolls around, they will take more proactive action to promote justice and law enforcement.