by Karu Jayasuriya MP
We came across media reports stating that the attention of the President and the general public has been drawn to the breakdown of law and order, wave of murders and related incidents which occurred during the past few days.
There was a huge outcry in the country regarding the murder of a six year old girl, after raping her and throwing her body into a canal.
It was reported that she was raped by a young relative who is addicted to drugs. It is a well known fact that today drug trafficking is done by the individuals who have political patronage.
Although there are efficient and honest police officers, there are obstacles to carry out the law due to certain officers who obtained appointments with the political patronage and others who get promotions with the blessings of the politicians. Efficient and honest officers have been kept out.
We demanded all along to depoliticize the state service and the police. During the last Presidential Election some officers in charge of police stations were instrumental in displaying huge bill boards closer to the police stations. Some officers in charge and police officers behaved as they were the Chairmen of branch organizations of political parties. Not only were they openly involved in political work, they harassed the members of the other political parties under the pretext of false accusations. Politicization is the main cause of the deterioration in the police today.
Newspaper reports appeared yesterday and day before to confirm the above statement.
Millionaires who raped the young girl in Tangalle get royal treatment.
Group of Politicians create havoc, demanding money from trucks transporting soil.
Another suspect of Katuwana double murder case taken into custody with weapons.
57 Mobile phones, including satellite phones were found in Vavuniya prison.
Investigations on two Predeshiya Sabhamembers of the government for demanding money from lorries transporting sand
Six year old girl raped and murdered by throwing into the Kirulapone canal.
Principals of junior grades have been appointed with political favoritism from the Education Offices.
A suspect who was given two years imprisonment was caught after 12 years. He was in hiding with the might of a politician.
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Who is accountable for all these?
It is apparent from all these reports that not only the police but the whole state machine is subjected to the political power.
Today there are many instances where preference has been given to political loyalty, relationships and friendships over and above the ability and seniority and qualifications, when appointing and promoting state officials.
When thugs with hundreds of warrants against them walk about freely, no action is being taken against them due to political interference. Officials become helpless in a politicized society.
It was reported that about 630 persons with warrants have been taken into custody during the past few days. It is not a secret that there are powerful individuals with court orders against them, yet to be taken into custody.
Recently there was a huge hue and cry regarding two websites. Media personnel of these institutions, including the female employee who prepares tea, were taken into custody.
We never approve media which is derogative. Media should do away with character assassinations and false accusations. We too were subjected to insults by the media, though we never sought revenge from them.
We must accept that there is right for dissent in a democratic country. Recently an astrologer was taken to the 4th floor for making a prediction which was not favourable to the government.
Government can set an example in this regard. If we draw our attention to the “Rata Yana Athe” programme broadcasted by the Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation in the morning and “Nimasuma” telecast by the ITN, we have to question the propriety of certain words used. We might state that it is not a good example for a state media to behave in such a manner, making false and abusive accusations and derogative character assassinations.
If the government has a genuine and honest need to censor defamatory matter in the media they can start with these institutions which are under the administration of the government.
But the government is worried about the speck in the others eye rather than considering the plank in its own eye.
We always appear on behalf of the right for dissent in a democratic country. It is not a move against the state.
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It was reported that there was an attempt to intimidate Dr. Nirmal Ranjith Devasiri, President of the University Teachers Association and inquiries have been made regarding his daughter’s travel to the school. There were reports regarding threats to some journalists. We give a wrong message to the world by these incidents.
Reporters without Borders (RSB) in Paris which is considered as a benchmark for media freedom has placed Sri Lanka in 163 position out of 178 countries for the year 2011.
Freedom House in United States of America has placed us in 161st position.
We have to reiterate to those who are in power that Sri Lanka is considered as a country lacking democratic principles and press freedom.
The government is being subjected to discredit by preventing right of information which is being accepted by 90 democratic countries.
We do not see any reason to prevent the right to information, unless there are things to hide. More than anything else, LLRC has explained very clearly the necessity of this act. A promise has been given in Parliament in 2010 to introduce this act sooner. Defeat of the private members bill brought by the United National Party is detrimental to the government.
We express these views in good faith. It is the duty of the opposition in democratic countries to show the right path to the government. LLRC, which consisted of intellectuals as members who won the recognition of the society, too has recommended the correct path to be followed by the government.
Therefore, we request the authorities not to consider the members of the LLRC as saboteurs, when we speak on the same subject.
Depoliticization and transparency were established by the 17th amendment, which was passed by Parliament unanimously. This was made obsolete by the introduction of the 18th amendment. It is very harmful to bring in legislature, judiciary and executive powers under one person.
Under such circumstances, one party rule comes into being. Unfortunately such rule ends up in a dictatorship.
If the 17th amendment is implemented, there won’t be these accusations. We consider the elections which are being held under the 18th amendment, as an eye wash.
(Media Discussion on 4th July 2012 (English Version) by Hon. Karu Jayasuriya M.P.)