The public watches in helpless amazement as Dr Mervin Silva MP dominates the national stage with various unique achievements. Although he got less than 3000 votes in the last Parliamentary elections that he contested, he was appointed a National List MP. The public is not aware of any noteworthy service that he has rendered the Nation to merit this recognition and is left wondering what is the magic wand that he waves to get whatever he wants.
His next claim to national fame arose when a religious MP belonging to the JHU had his genitals squeezed so hard within the precincts of Parliament that the injured priest required hospitalisation. Newspaper reports of the attack leaned towards crediting Silva with the painful manipulation. The priest, for his part, wisely decided that Parliament was not for him.
Once, when his son was about to arrive in Courts in connection with an assault on a rival of sorts, Silva was there threatening dire consequences for any photographer who dared to take pictures of the heir to the family name and fortune. The possession of a hand gun, which he said he would not hesitate to use if anyone crossed his path, was also mentioned, and not for the first time.
Later on, we had the unprecedented situation where, according to media reports, some unfounded, extremely offensive and scurrilous allegations made by Silva on a public platform about another MPs mother had not been reported in all its detail by RUPAVAHINI, to the satisfaction of Silva. The assault on the News Director by a thug who was taken along by Silva and the courageous action of many RUPAVAHINI employees who rose up against the intruders will one day be written in letters of gold in the history of Sri Lankas media. However, the Police, for reasons that are not difficult to guess, did not proceed very far with their investigations. Instead, several employees of RUPAVAHINI were insulted, physically attacked, harassed and terrorised into keeping their mouths shut about the vicious part played by those who invaded the premises.
In another episode, whereas those lawfully empowered to make the relevant regulations had stipulated a few days without meat or alcohol during the 2008 Vesak, Silva, on account of his self-advertised great devotion to the teachings of the Lord Buddha, and by virtue of his claimed descent from Dutugemunu himself, decreed that, in his Kelaniya area, the proscription on meat and alcohol should extend over a longer period. It is rumoured that the illicit market in alcohol did extremely well during this time.
Recently, Mr Lalkantha MP went so far as to argue that Silva is an innocent, who is being made the fall guy for the person or persons who are putting him up to do the nasty things that he is allegedly known to do. Yet, Lalkantha himself, even more recently, has charged that Silva manages to evade all punitive action because he knows too many secrets about those who hold the reins of power and is not afraid to make use of these to his advantage. The truth may, for all we know, lie somewhere in-between.
Ministers Maitripala Sirisena, Anura Priyadharshana Yapa and Keheliya Rambukwella have, for public consumption, spouted some condemnatory remarks about Silva. For their part, Yapa and Rambukwella have given no indication that they plan to take any initiative of their own to bring Silva to heel. As a cover for his inaction, Sirisena has said that the members of the Disciplinary Committee of the SLFP are too busy with electioneering to devote any time to the Silva matter, hoping, no doubt, that the publics attention can soon be diverted to some other subject, such as the Indo-Sri Lanka one-day cricket series. In any event, he has virtually washed his hands off the problem by transferring the Committees disciplinary powers to God.
The Speaker has apparently chastised Silva verbally for his most recent descent into crude, unparliamentary behaviour and language (expunged immediately from Hansard). Sadly, the public do not expect anything more from the Speaker, if his past record is any guide.
Several uncontradicted newspaper reports have stated that President Rajapakse had strongly reprimanded Silva for his latest escapade with the SIRASA TV camera crew. Why would he have done that unless he was satisfied that Silva has acted in a reprehensible fashion? But this report of a reprimand has to be taken with a giant helping of salt when we see ourselves assailed by a later newspaper photograph of Silva entertaining a highly amused President Rajapakse, Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva, Minister W.D.J.Seneviratne and someone else at a Very Important Wedding a few days ago.
The SIRASA TV camera crew fracas is being given reasonable and sustained coverage by the media but as it is sub iudice at the moment, we consider it to be largely out of bounds for any additional comment by us.
What do all these incidents mean to a public other than to cause extreme disgust? They prove the truth of the old adage that, if good men remain silent, the crooks will make hay for themselves. The Citizens Movement for Good Governance (CIMOGG) and many concerned commentators are all agreed that the principal reason for this descent into lawlessness is the absence of the Independent Commissions envisaged in the 17th Amendment, which shows no signs of being implemented despite some periodic pious vapourings from Minister D.E.W.Gunasekera and a few others. It is the duty of all Parliamentarians, civil society organisations and even ordinary citizens to press the President to honour the Constitution that he has sworn to uphold and not continue to violate it by preventing the 17th Amendment from being implemented. If this Amendment, which is now an integral part of the Constitution, were to be activated, the Police, in particular, would gain courage to do the right thing in all situations, knowing that they would be protected to a very substantial extent from political pressures and reprisals.
Immediately after the present 17th Amendment is implemented, if it ever is, it will need to be improved on the lines already recommended by many experts and civil society organisations. The most important change should be to make the Inspector-General of Police free of presidential patronage, interference and unlawful directions so that the Police Department could revert to regaining the respect of the public which it enjoyed during the early years of this countrys independence.