By Lukman Harees –
“Politics is a pendulum which swings between anarchy and tyranny are fuelled by perpetually rejuvenated illusions“– Albert Einstein
During the previous regime, we had the likes of political thugs such as Mervyn Silva who punished a state official by tying him to a tree; politicians who talked filth in public media such as SB and Johnston Fernando and we had a Local body chairman in Hambantota who sought to attack opposition politicos with a pistol in hand and another one punishing a teacher in school. It was a common sight during those days for civil servants and law enforcement officers to be treated by the politicos like slaves and bring subjected to ridicule and utmost humiliation by those so called servants of the people, most of them did not even possess basic educational qualifications. The Political Rowdyism and hooliganism have been the order of the day then.
It was therefore not surprising that the people voted that regime out and voted another set in, who strategically cashed in on the emotional feelings of our people and assumed a pseudo reformist image claiming to bring in good governance. But sadly, this same rowdyism continues if not to the same degree and political rowdies have become a public nuisance and even an embarrassment. No end appears in sight for political haughtiness and arrogance.
The process of political degeneration, in many aspects has been worsening in public life during the last few decades. It has been an utter shame that this Yahapalanaya clique too has been continuing to encourage and use Political Rowdyism and allow the offenders to go scot-free. Many political characters of dubious credibility in the earlier regime, although were apparently charged by the courts for various offences, and sent to ‘prison’ were kept in comfort in the hospital and released on medical grounds. Parliamentary proceedings have become a comedy where everything but the vital affairs of the country are discussed and decided upon. The members continue to utter filth and profanities, disobey the orders of the Chair inside the parliament while outside they flex their muscles, and misbehave in public and act in an arrogant manner not befitting their status.
It was in this context that the country learnt about the disgusting news of this haughty Chief Minister of Eastern PC Nazeer Ahamed verbally abusing a Navy officer in public, after accusing him of failing to understand protocol. This ugly incident occurred at an event held last week during the opening ceremony of a science lab and computer unit at the Sampur Maha Vidyalayam, in the presence of the Governor Austin Fernando and the US Ambassador as well. A child too was seen accidentally being hit by the hand of the Chief Minister. The reason given by him was that he was angry over the failure by the organisers of the event to initially invite him on stage to present gifts to the children.
Video footage showed how this so called high-ranking politician from the SLMC behaved in the most despicable, arrogant manner acting like a bully in the stage, by using uncivilized vocabulary in the presence of foreign guests thus giving this incident an international publicity as well. It also provided a bad example for the scores of school children in the audience. These political rowdies should not be allowed to further pollute the already polluted political atmosphere by acting like bullies in public using their political powers given to them through public mandate. In this instance, he insulted and abused a senior naval officer and a senior civil servant, which he has no right to do at all, whatever the reasons, thereby bringing the office of the Chief Minster itself into disrepute. Will this Chief Minister have the strength of character to apologize publicly for his disgraceful action? People wonder what action SLMC will take against their CM Ahamed for his disgusting behaviour or will they just maintain that this type of behaviour is not new and many others have indulged in such conduct as well ? Will the President as the Head of State and the Commander in Chief take action against this rowdyism without attempting to sweep this incident under the carpet for reasons of political expediency? If the government do not clearly declare their stand on this unhealthy trend, then extremists will once again give this Hafeez Ahamed saga a racist slant as they always do to fish in troubled waters.
The people of Sri Lanka no longer can or should tolerate these types of abuses and display of political arrogance and rowdyism any longer and should insist that their government put an immediate stop to these types of abuses and safeguard the dignity of the state officers, civil servants and law enforcement authorities, which was blatantly violated, particularly during the previous regime. Politicians should be told that they should be operating within the laws of the land, which are not instruments to oppress the people and state officers. Political leaders whether at parliamentary, provincial council or local government level should set an example and safeguard the dignity of the civil servants and law enforcement officers and not undermine.
The government should develop a mechanism soon to put an end to this menace through education, to convince them to follow rules of conduct voluntarily ,failing which legal process should follow without fear or favour. Any further delays in doing so, will spell disaster for our political system already in the state of collapse with levels of credibility at the lowest ebb ever.