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By Manel Abhayaratna

It appears from the various news reports and electronic media news clips that all is not well in our paradise island. The violence in Aluthgama and Beruwela whether they be referred to as communal, religious or pseudo communal, has raised a hornet’s nests.

But the most strange situation that has arisen is that the official spokesmen appearing regarding these incidents are either from the Police or from the armed forces.
Politicians have press conferences or refer to this situation at the numerous foundation laying or inaugurations they participate in but appear to fight shy of making any official statement.

In those long ago years, when I was in the Information Department, never did law enforcing authorities appear on the media scenario to make clear what had lead to any chaos that happened, or who was responsible, be apologetic or pass the buck to some other political party.

Perhaps this was due to the fact that, the then governments were prudent perhaps or anxious to maintain a strict boundary between the law-enforcement authority institutions and the public, for it meant that the law enforcing authorities were strictly neutral and not under any political patronage.

The present set –up of law enforcing officers appearing at the drop of a hat to explain or deny responsibility of various incidents leaves room for the public to wonder whether they being the spokesmen for the government and the institutions they represent can ever be strictly neutral.

The government should have a political or Cabinet spokesmen whose face is seen as often as we see today of law enforcing officers, explaining not only of situations but of changing legal regulations, excusing, describing or implicating.

After all, one of the most basic tenets of a democratic governance is to maintain its strict distinctions between the law enforcing bodies and political environment, so that people are assured of the uniqueness of its fairness and respect for the rights of the citizen.

But it appears that Parliamentarians on government benches prefer to maintain a silence and leave it all to the President who was responsible for the end of the thirty years of terrorism, to reassure the people that the past chaos was just a minor hiccup. That such occurrences will never be condoned by the government which is a democratic civilian government with no undertones of suppression of the rights of all people be they Sinhala Buddhists, Tamils, Muslims or minority religions.
Another factor that appears to have drawn a shroud over the normally vociferous public outcry on various issues is the fact that almost all Policemen including even some traffic police carry well displayed revolvers.

Since they have not shown any notable training regarding use of these hand guns, people fear that they have not learnt that to disarm or arrest any fleeing suspect they should shoot below the knee or hand if he is carrying a weapon.

Often chances are that they shoot not to merely to secure the arrest of suspected person but to disarm that person for eternity! And perhaps in the process injure an innocent bystander!

Sadly the very actions of the President to eliminate the fear psychosis that prevailed during the thirty year ethnic war, seems to be now once again re-emerging since neither the parliamentarians or ground level governance is attempting to sought out and resolve grass root level problems, instead other institutions are given the responsibility of controlling crowd demonstrations!

Many urgent issues, not just that of the escalating cost of living, have not yet been redressed : the problem of clear drinking water at Weliweriya, the fishermen’s and farmers issues, the pensioners problems and innumerable other situations, including lack of water and electricity supplies promised by politicians , broken roads and damaged culverts, etc, are many instances caused by the lack of concern by bureaucrats and politicians at both the higher levels and lower levels of administration.
In fact it seems rather amusing that while the Minister of Higher Education pontificates of the vast improvement in Educational services, one hears and sees on electronic media teachers and students demonstrating against the transfer of a principal or protesting about the insanitary conditions of the environment round the school. Surely parents don’t expect teachers or other adults in the educational institutes to encourage young kids of the age of nine or ten and growing teenagers to carry posters and banners and have confrontational demonstrations. It is no wonder that indiscipline and insecurity is becoming a way of life, dulling the hard won peace in this paradise island.

[Source:  Daily Mirror]

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