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Seven supreme ironies plus one about the Mulleriyawa murders

by Namini Wijedasa

This week, let us talk about ironies.

Irony I:

Standing outside Bharatha Lakshman Premachandra’s house last week, Minister Mahindananda Aluthgamage said the senior politician’s death was a result of the preferential system.

To blame coldblooded murder on a particular system of voting is ironic. The preferential system is not ideal. It breeds infighting. Campaigns become ugly. Politicians quarrel. Their supporters bicker. But not all politicians kill each other. If that were so, we would be burying a few after every poll. Besides, neither Duminda Silva nor Premachandra was contesting. They were merely backing candidates of their choice.

Media Minister Keheliya Rambukwella went a step further. He said the preferential voting system and past governments were responsible for increased violence in the country. That’s ironic. The only government in power today is the present one. We have no business with or expectations of past governments. If, every time there is a problem, we are told that past governments are to blame, we have no use for the present one.

Rambukwella’s government must eradicate illicit weapons; sack MPs or politicians who maintain links with the underworld; get MPs and politicians to respect and obey the rule of law; arrest and prosecute the real perpetrators of crime; stop protecting MPs and politicians who rely on thugs, weapons, violence, intimidation and murder; publicly condemn and denounce all criminal behaviour; and encourage goodwill among politicians. You don’t need a time-travel machine for that.

Irony II:

Sixteen weapons were recovered during investigations into Premachandra’s killing. All were issued to bodyguards of Premachandra and Duminda Silva by the Ministry of Defence. Two more T-56 weapons were seized later. They belonged to the “underworld.”

In Sri Lanka, death by shooting has become as common as the dereliction of duty by politicians. On Thursday, two children and two adults were shot dead inside their Udawalawe home by an “unidentified gang.” And that is only the most recent incident. Ordinary people die like this every month, killed with weapons that appear out of nowhere.

It is ironic that a government which defeated one of the most ruthless terrorist organizations in the world has alternatively tolerated, ignored, allowed, encouraged and perhaps profited from this situation. Hundreds of thousands of illicit small arms are in circulation. A government that finds this to be a problem would have done something about it.

A government that does not find this to be a problem would do nothing about it. And it will continue to do nothing, other than offer platitudes, despite the many options available to it. After Premachandra died, ministers spoke wonderingly about the spread of weapons like they had heard about it for the first time. Rather belatedly, they discussed it in cabinet. They acted suitably horrified, adequately concerned and properly subdued. They feigned helplessness. In the end, the government said it will start retrieving weapons and arresting those that hold them. What was it doing all this time?

Irony III:

Keheliya Rambukwella was questioned at a press conference last week whether Duminda Silva was a presidential advisor. The minister replied that he was not an advisor but a “monitoring MP” for the Ministry of Defence. On August 12, 2011, Chief Government Whip Dinesh Gunewardena categorically told parliament that nobody has been appointed as ‘monitoring MPs.’ Ironically, one of our elected representatives is lying. Is Gunewardena lying to parliament? Or is Rambukwella lying to the media?

The irony does not end there. Duminda Silva was grievously injured in an incident during which weapons issued by the same Ministry of Defence that he is apparently “monitoring” were angrily, irresponsibly, indiscriminately and revengefully fired. It remains unclear what precisely he was “monitoring” at the Ministry of Defence but nothing good has come out of it. The Defence Secretary says categorically that he was monitoring UDA housing projects, nothing to do with defence.

Ironically, Silva was under government protection. So was Premachandra. Not that it worked for either of them. The rulebook doesn’t say what to do when two government protégés turn their guns on each other.

Irony IV:

Bharatha Lakshman Premachandra was a Sri Lanka Freedom Party stalwart who supported his side through thick and thin. There were no questions about where his loyalties lay. He did not switch ranks, he worked faithfully to ensure that presidential candidates the party endorsed won elections and he was wholly and utterly dependable. And yet, there was no official SLFP statement condemning his murder.

A few ministers sniffled on TV, expressing muted regret at the passing of a dear friend and colleague. But most were too cowardly to take a stand. What the devil are they afraid of losing? If they are murdered, it would be the same for them. If the SLFP does not speak up for Bharatha, the SLFP will not speak up for anybody else. That grand old party is today a party of wimps. That’s ironic.

Irony V:

The murder of Premachandra and the wounding of Silva took place at a popular junction in broad daylight and in view of many people. Yet not one person can tell what happened! That’s ironic. A large number of persons were embroiled in the incident proper. But Premachandra’s supporters still say Silva’s men shot first while Silva’s supporters say Premachandra’s men shot first. And on it goes.

From our limited knowledge of the incident, we know one thing: There were witnesses. The perpetrator of the crime did not sneak into Premachandra’s house at midnight and shoot him dead while he and the rest of his household slept. Neither did this happen to Silva. This was the firing of guns in a public place.

The sooner the police solves this crime the better for what abysmal little is left of law and order in this country. Several suspects have been detained, two of them in India. Did they all fire their guns, then?

Or were they arrested in an attempt to show that something is being done? And even with all these people in police custody, do we still not know what transpired?

Under ordinary circumstances, the police would have beaten the truth out of the detainees. This time, though, too many are watching. Or perhaps there is vested interest in suppressing the truth? Now that would not be ironic.

Irony VI:

Meanwhile, the Elections Department has instructed all newly elected members of local government bodies to submit their assets declarations to the commissioner of elections before October 15. That’s a fine thing.

How many members of parliament have submitted their assets declarations to the commissioner of elections in keeping with the same law?

Has the president declared his assets? And will we now see Milinda Moragoda – the cleanest, most disciplined, straightforward and honest mayoral candidate this side of the universe taking a lead?

Will he declare his assets first? Come on, put your money where your mouth is (or your tongue where your Freedom of Information Bill is) and answer the question.

Irony VII:

All kinds of thugs and goons are walking about the country with weapons in hand. They have no legitimate business to conduct with these guns. This hardware is used to threaten and intimidate the public during elections, as was clearly observed in the North during recent local government polls. It is used in the conduct of armed robberies, abductions, extortion, kidnapping and murder, among other crimes.

Sri Lanka is today awash with illicit and licensed firearms and it is dangerous. But the priority of the Defence Ministry is the beautification of Colombo and the provision of unsolicited security to universities around the country. That’s ironic.

Irony VIII:

And the most supreme irony of all is that we will forget all this before the sun goes down tomorrow. courtesy: LakbimaNews

22 Comments

  1. Dr.Rajasingham Narendran says:

    Namini Wijedasa has very succintly listed the ironies that confront all Sri Lankans. Violence has been embedded in our body politic by both a culture that accepted it and a system that legitimized it. Violence also begot more violence. It was a vicious, ever escalting and cascading cycle.

    The SWRD sneer that the FP politicians who streamed back to parliament after being assaulted by harbour thugs were ‘Wounded Soldiers’, was the begining of violence being encouraged and condoned by politicians. A paralysed SWRD who did not know how to control the 1958 riots, represented the beginnings of political leaders and politicians who did not know right from wrong. The Police Force that was supposed to protect civil society and control violence was inherently violent and used violence as a first recourse and not as a weapon of last resort. They became a valuable asset to the violent and corrupt politicians.

    JVP violence began the process of entrenching violence as a tool of governance. Sirimavo gave legitimacy to this trend. The Tamil militancy and the LTTE phenomenon re-inforced this trend and JRJ made it a fine art. JRJ used violence to even cow down the judiciary. His response to any crisis was violence. He set out to teach the Tamils a lesson through the 1977 and 1983 riots and the nation begot more violence as a result. The executive powers JRJ granted to parliamentarians and other political operatives, gave violence tha mantle of political power. It has come to point that violence has become indispensible to poltics and governance. This culture has also filtered down to the people and is becoming the first resort in any dispute. Violence has become so endemic in our country, there is a need to use violence to curb it! Violence has become a sort of vaccine to treat violence! It is comic, but true.

    A nation that was aghast at Mrs. Sathasivam murder and the Mrs.Kularatne murder, was benumbed by the violence and death taking place around them with increasing intensity and frequency. Deaths do not shock society any more. Violence is considered an essential tool in politics and governance now. Politics and governance have been criminalized as a result. No one party and people are immune from this.

    We are a nation in need of recovering our consience and moral compass. We the people have to demand better standards from our politicians, law-keepers, judiciary and the lawyers, and have to adopt such standards in our individual lives.The insidious manner in which violence has crept into our society and thought processes and taken a grip is frightening. This is the next war that has to be fought with vigour and decisively won.

    Dr.Rajasingham Narendran

  2. Leela says:

    Dr.Rajasingham Narendran, You’ve said it. I couldn’t agree with you more.
    Leela

  3. Aus Lankan says:

    The electorate is appalled. But will this turn into a demand for higher standards of governance? I only hope so.

    Meanwhile, whilst in Colombo, if I see an entourage of minister bodyguards, I smile but turn around and walk quickly in the other direction.

    Prado’s belonging to Ministers, even in the Sri Lankan traffic are afforded the space given to ambulances.

  4. Patta Pal says:

    In adding my comments to the Ironies:

    1

  5. aratai says:

    .
    Irony IX:

    Rajapakse’s immunity (similar to diplomatic immunity)

    🙂

  6. Patta Pal says:

    In making my comments on the ironies:

    1 The preferential voting system has enhanced the competition from candidates within a party to gain the greatest number of preferences and with that it has encouraged candidates or their supporters to try and deny the preferences (by preventing votes being cast or by stealing preferences). Only when law and order breaks down then the law is broken to ensure that their goals are achieved. The most important thing here is the respect for Law and Order which is dead, as the examples of breaking the law come from the top, I mean at the Head.

    2 If the weapons used were illegal, and also at the same time issued by the Ministry of Defense, then it further rubber stamps the fact that all the white vans and extrajudicial killings are also sanctioned by the Ministry of Defense. We must therefore prosecute the Ministry and by implication the Minister, (The President) for this breakdown in law and order.

    3 The question of the credentials of the protagonists, is irrelevant as their titles change with the wind, as everyone in Sri Lanka wants a title, but no one knows what it entails nor is their a written and authorized set of guidelines for their nebulous title holders to follow. It is just an excuse to increase their level of importance when they roam around throwing their muscle.

    4 There is no one in Sri Lanka who dare take up the cudgel of the SLFP, as it is a party that does not exist for all intents and purposes. Does anyone remember the hand! I do not think even the General Secretary, Sirisena knows what their duties or obligations are, so here again they are titles that lack substance or merit.

    5 The crime being committed in broad daylight in front of enough people able to corroborate, but none willing is evidence that the witnesses are threatened, and forced to lie, and the truth suppressed. It is therefore better for the citizen to shut his trap and pretend he has not seen anything. There is nothing called a sense of community for the common good prevailing in the island.

    As for police brutality, in extracting truthful or false confessions, that is a subject best left for a different discussion. Don’t forget the Kollonnawa OIC was completely in the pocket of Duminda, and so no one could make a complaint against Duminda. He would personally go to the complainant and force the removal of the complaint under fear of death. Call that justice!

    6 Declaration of assets. I would like to see a list of those who in fact have declared their assets. I do not want to know the details, just the list, so I know who has at least complied with the requirement, whether it is accurate or not is a separate issue, but at least we can set apart the rogues from the cat burglars.

    7 Who said the defense ministry is doing anything to protect the defense of the people of the country? It is living in lala land after the end of the war as it only looks at terrorism related crimes of the LTTE ilk, and all other crimes including the use of weapons as much of it is sponsored by the Defense Ministry, in not confiscating the weapons, are not part of their responsibility. It is the Ministry of Attack of the innocent citizens. Ironically today an announcement was made as follows: “the Ministry of Defense had been redesignated the Ministry of Defense and Urban Development” the word development should read attack in my view as the development is at the expense of the attack of the innocents from their current abodes with no suitable alternatives provided.

    8 On the last point, it is up to the people of Sri Lanka to show their displeasure without being docile. The world has changed due to the actions of brave people around the world, and we Sri Lankan are the biggest whimps, that permit the Government to ride roughshod over our rights. It is time to rise up and first by massive peaceful protests show the forces of the evil that their days are numbered. It is easier said than done in a country where people are still struggling to fill their bellies with some food, being their first priority.

  7. A. Sellathurai says:

    Dr, R.N.,
    You rightly traced the Heads responsible for perpetuating violence and naming them. You started from SWRD, Mrs.B, and JR and stopped naming thereafter. Your hesitation to name the others is understandable. Your facts are ok. Fish always rods from the head.
    A.Sellathurai

  8. rajesrajah says:

    We have started killing and burying befor the elections and after of people who are not candidates standing for elections as well as candidates.
    Such is our history of gun culture not curtailed,of MP’s carrying fire arms with and without license.Suspects immediately protected sent off to other countries.As recently published that the president’s brother Gota immediately sent off 2 suspects in this case to India and 1 to singapore.2 from india brought back.
    High police fficial giving a statement that Gota told Duminda after listening to the tape of Premachandra’s speech that P should be taught a lesson and giving Kudu Duminda permission to ‘kill’.
    Corrupted and vicious Rajapakse brothers.
    No amount of writing by us is going to make a difference beacuse the higher judiciary in SL is also under the R brothers.
    corruptin,lies and dishonesty from the President down to others.

  9. Dr.Rajasingham Narendran says:

    A.Sellathurai,

    Thanks. I did not mention those who followed SWRD, Sirimavo and JR, because they continued the trend and have done nothing to make the situation better or worse.

    Dr.Rajasingham Narendran

  10. Kaz says:

    Here’s an irony that will occur in the future.

    We all know the Sinhala community overwhelmingly supported the Rajapaksa regime in elections, despite the slaughter of 40 thousand innocent Tamil civilians, and remained silent when the regime assasinated four elected Tamil opposition MPs prior to that.

    It won’t be long before the Sinhala community will have no choice but to support the Tamil community’s call for war crimes investigations as that is the only way you can get rid of the regime. They will never be able to do it via elections. How ironic would that be??

  11. Quaero says:

    What took you both so long … … . Perhaps the deaths of the past did not stir your emotions, or, prick your conscience.

  12. anonymous says:

    I guess the moment of truth has arrived for the journalists in their journey !!!!

    How come we do not see you point out the gaping hole in the Rajapaksh Regime of deceiving and continue to deceive people of this country.

    few Items:

    1. Continuation of bogus war victory ownership of Rajapkasha clan!!!( the ultimate white LIE)
    he deserves some praise for giving the leadership, but it was ruthless leadership and strategy
    of Gen. Fonseks won us the war( Deep Penetration units, SF units etc)
    The lack of courage in the rank and file to fight against his incarceration shows how
    worthless our Army is when they don’t have a strong leader!!! So who won the war for us ?

    2. The serious break down of Law and order is obvious with Duminda Silva goons opening fire
    on Bharatha Luxman and the current hog wash of taking into custody of some jokers
    while the main culprit is deceiving the public on a hospital bed thanks to the ( now defunct)
    Sri Jyayawadhnapura hospital Authorities.!!!
    I am sure that Namal baby will protect Duminda and Bharath (who) Namal may ask.
    After all look at the Parliament with Paba, sharing the assembly with G. L. Peiris.What a contrast of MPs for electorates.Now compare thi with a parliament fullof folks of the calibre,I.M. R. A. Eriagolla, T. B> Illangarathne, Stanley Thilakarathne, Felix Dial Bandaranayake, Colvin R. De Zilva, Dr. N.M. Perera.
    ‘Oh Tempora Oh Mores’, ‘Mahind is going to bring us an Economic Miracle with these cohort of ‘Podians!!!!!’

    3. How many people of this country die on the roads by accidents in a single day?
    Do you do anything to address this as a news paper?.
    If you charge 25,000 Rs for speeding or any serious breaking of Traffic Laws I am sure the
    driver will think twice ( thus reducing accidents and un-necessary deaths)!!!!
    That won’t happen as the politicians do not want to be un-popular and antagonize the electorate.!!!

    It’s funny the seat belt law, you may die caught in cross fire between ministers though, while driving with the seat belt on!!! 😉

    Now don’t get me started on Education. Health. even urban roads( e.g how many bridges have to be replaced in the greater Colombo area?

    1. Nawala Welipara bridge
    ( I drive my kids every day on this road to
    school and the traffic is hell any time of the day)
    2. several bridges on Low level Awissawella road

    3. Numerous bridges on Piliyandala Kottawa, Piliyandala Horana

    Let us see how many people will ride on the Highway( which is built and completed but waiting for the kings Birthday to be re-opened)!!!!!
    The money we borrow is wanted on highway when other roads are real hell, we build ports and then try to remove BED ROCK on continental shell.
    When we default on loans there won’t be any saviors like in Greece bailing out by Germany,
    rather China and India will come and under write our Oil and Gass if we found commercially viable amount for which we can’t do anything.( beggars can’t be choosers)

    Are we in banana republic or what????
    So the journalists of the day are they doing their Job right( I mean safeguarding the rights of the Nation!!! )

    Food for thought ha!!!

    anonymous

  13. M.Sivananthan says:

    This incident shows how Rajapakse clan tries to sideline or destroy OLD SLFP pillers. Rajapakse clan respect more opportunists and criminal elements to hold their power.

    This trend will destroy Rajapakses and their politics soon!

  14. Henry says:

    Anonymous,
    Rs.25,000 fine is a good idea. But who will be made to pay? One can give the police 10,000/ and get away! So Rule of Law has to come first

  15. sam says:

    We must be thankful finally Leela is accepting that there is no law and order in the country. But she still does not feel for the death of Tamil civilians!! Whether it happened in the streets of Colombo in broad daylight or whether it happened in thousands and thousands, away from the eyes of the world in the Vanni, Jaffna, Batticaloa and Trincomalee for the last several years!!! But she feels for the “vermins” of the society killed in turf fight!!How strange people can be!!!

  16. Ranjan, Toronto says:

    The strangeness is also due to the fact that when something like this happens in the South, it is usually blamed on lack of law and order and political interference while when something happens in Jaffna, a section of the Tamils and the International Watch Dogs will at once attribute that to a grand scheme by Sinhala Buddhists to wipe out Tamils and to do genocide.

  17. Kautilya says:

    Dr Raj Narendran probably forgot to add the Catholic coup d’etat – Q. Vs Liyanage of the 1960s. What would have happened to Ceylon if that materialized ? Just imagine the resulting carnage!
    Today, very few know of violence of the past- 1956 ,1952, 1948 election times. Famous Scholar monk Dr Walpola Rahula and some other monks were dragged from the car and attacked in broad day light at Thorana Junction- Wanawasala Rd intersection because they favoured the LSSP candidate. Do you know that there was no case. Why? Ask the relatives of Keerthiratne family in Rambukkana the violence they had to face in the 1930s when a relative of their’s contested a Goigama man famous for thuggery.That was the time one Keerthiratne had to use a helicopter to distribute his manifesto etc as the enemy camp was so strong.
    Re the judiciary, was not it well-known how one of our famous Tamil Q.Cs appeared for the Tamil Judgement- Debtor and proved that the latter was dead, when that lovable man -at least upto 25 yrs -led an open life later and was even conferred a doctorate by a University. Inquire from members and workers of the Orient Club how many Judges and CJs discussed cases that were sub judice while they were presiding at sessions and on some days who and who were carried to their vehicles as they were DRUNK! Ask the officials of the Chartered Bank and other banks of the past how many cases were frustrated and dismissed since summons could not be delivered legally to some people of note in the country.
    Those days the rule of law was in the hands of some influential families. Cases for Defamation had to be authorized by the A.G. and if a defamation case was coming up against a person of the circle, it was easy to stop it !It was a rule of law of Sinhala, Tamil, Muslim or Burgher circle of families that governed the land. Go to Botale in Mirigama and ask why there is a place called YONA MARUWA WALA ?

    Re the misuse of Govt Property, please ask the members of the Sara’ family how the land was reclaimed and The Oval was constructed for the Tamil Union.

    Since 1956 up to now, people are more vocal, bolder, have more money and do not care for Walauwwas, Hamus , Swamys and Hamuduruwanes. Violence was always there.Population was less and the mighty could spread what they wanted. Dr Narendran, up to now people do not know what real 50-50 of GGPonnambalam , M.P. was. He wanted 50% for all minorities , never did he say 50% for Tamils only. However, see how people interpret it ! Such ironies existed all the time , but only a few knew about them for the above reasons.
    Thanks. This is a tool to compare the periods. Scale is more now- like from a 6 million population of 80 yrs ago to 21 million population to date. The type of atrocities were the same but we see with more violence now, owing to the reasons mentioned.

  18. Dr.Rajasingham Narendran says:

    Kautilya,

    Thanks. You have brought in aspects of our social order/disorder spanning the sixty odd years since independence. The old previlged class that exploited the people also used political connections and power to do so. This was a subtle ‘Board Room’game. The new class of exploiters are day-light bandits in comparison and come from the underprevileged classes of old. They have installed violence- a primitive human attribute- as a new pillar of our democracy. They are the new elite. The faces have changed and the methods have changed, but the old game goes on with greater vigour. It is also much more visible.

    Dr.Rajasingham Narendran

  19. TropicalStorm says:

    Generalized aspirations are owned by none.

    Instead put your ideals into action, even if its in a minute contribution; hold someone accountable, by identifying a real world issue, investigate, gather evidence, file a case and seek justice. If one takes leadership, many will follow, since our moral compass is in the right place, but is rusty due to long inactivity.

    As long as ‘I’ don’t do anything but talk, ‘We’ will not do anything either. For ‘we’ are a collection of individual ‘I’s who all hold similar intent; let someone else do the dirty work.

  20. Native Vedda says:

    M.Sivananthan says:

    “This trend will destroy Rajapakses and their politics soon”

    No the trend will not destroy Rajabakses as long as the Sinhalese reained stupid. I am absolutely certain that they will remain stupid for another 5,000 years.

  21. Anonymous says:

    Politics and the history apart is the present regime serious about ‘Mathata Thitha’ or is it mere lip service ?#$@%$#$@???!!! With drug barons elected to councils according to newspapers show their sincerity to the cause for they have been nominated by none other than the Rajapakses themselves.

    The most supreme irony is that everybody calling themselves Buddhist Leaders are hell bent on keeping precepts to celebrate the 2600th Buddha Jayanthi on radio and on TV whilst destroying the children and everybody else in this country by pushing drugs and accumulating wealth to lead their ugly life styles. That is development indeed and setting a fine example to others.

    You can fool everybody sometime but not everybody all the time. There sure will be back lashes from mother nature which we have never seen before.
    SLMaatha

  22. sam says:

    Don’t you know the difference between “turf fighting”, murdering political opponents and the
    Following GENOCIDE/WARCRIMES:

    Aerial bombing, shelling from the sea, chemical warfare, asking people to come to the safe zone and bombing the safe zone, keeping people behind barbed wire, with adequate food and water. Bombing hospitals, schools, temples with people inside, torturing and killing, mass graves. (These are just the tip of the iceberg)

    Even during the JVP uprising in the south they never did aerial bombardment, multi barrel barage, naval shelling etc. Why because the insurgents are NOT TAMILS. These were silently approved by the SINHALESE because the victims are TAMILS. Even now the sinhalese are in denial!!!

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