By Malinda Seneviratne -
Malaka Silva, son of Mervin Silva, Minister of Public Relations and Public Affairs is a thug. He is rumored to be involved in drug trafficking but rumor is not fact. If indeed he is, there is either a lack of information to warrant investigation or there’s pressure from above to keep things quiet or the investigation is being carried out in hush-hush ways. It is rumored that the Army officer who was assaulted by Malaka and his thugs and who is known to be attached to the Army’s Intelligence Unit, was actually on duty investigating drug trafficking and drug traffickers. Those who will connect the dots will do so, but that’s all conjecture.
What is fact and indeed caught on camera is that Malaka Silva and his gangsters assaulted this officer, causing grievous hurt and necessitating hospitalization. Police Media Spokesperson, SSP Ajith Rohana has acknowledged that the assault was captured on camera and said that the culprits will be apprehended. The Army has launched its own investigation. Two Police teams have been deployed to hunt the man down.
Meanwhile, even as the nation in one voice calls for the arrest of this thug and wonders about the logic of a soldier putting his life on line to free the nation from the menace of terrorism having to suffer the fate of being banged up a common thug, Malaka Silva calmly visits the Kelaniya Raja Maha Vihare, as a VVIP, bypassing the long queues, to pay homage to the Sacred Kapilavastu Relics and this in a place where over 2,000 policemen were stationed to maintain law and order. He is photographed, duly and the photographs are published. Malaka is essentially lifting a metaphorical sarong at the country’s law, law enforcement officers, the judiciary and the general citizenry.
That’s serious stuff. Here’s the flip side, and the hilarity that should not provoke laughter but does, perhaps because (for good or bad) we are a nation that can see the funny side of things even in the midst of grim sobriety.
Mervin Silva, the assailants father with a considerable scot-fee history of intimidation and assault himself, claims that his son would never hit a man in uniform. According to him, Malaka hit someone who he believed was an ordinary person, whose crime was that although he had a cigarette he was ready to give cigarette-needing Malaka, didn’t have a lighter to go with it. So Malaka can assault anyone he bums a cigarette from if he didn’t have a lighter as well, provided he didn’t happen to be in military uniform. Stretch that argument and we have Malaka with a license to assault anyone other than military personnel (who too would be spared only if in uniform). We should not take Mervin too seriously, for the man thinks the law allows anyone to tie anyone else to a tree. We should take issue from those who do nothing about it.
Keheliya Rambukwella now holds the dubious record for besting Mervin at this kind of humor. At the weekly media briefing on Cabinet decisions, responding to a query, he is reported to have said that the Police didn’t arrest Malaka in Kelaniya because ‘he was on sacred ground’. Now, had Prabhakaran been spotted worshipping at theMadhuChurchand the Army had surrounded the place, would he have been accorded the same privilege? Let’s assume so. At some point Prabhakaran would have had to leave or starve. Let’s assume he chose the former option. Would not the Army have captured him there and then, or shot him dead if he attempted to fight his way out?
Malaka Silva walked away. He would have exited ‘sacred ground’ at some point. The Police could not have been so blind as to leave a to-safety avenue for the thug. He could have been apprehended at the gate. He was not. The police are not stupid. The people are not stupid. Keheliya seems to believe that both are stupid.
Malaka Silva is not an extraordinary citizen. If I did what Malaka did, I would be behind bars now. I would have been arrested within the hour of assaulting a senior Army officer. Malaka is free, still. That doesn’t say a lot about law enforcement in the country. It says a lot about Malaka’s and Mervin’s political backers. It leaves a question: ‘Who is the President of this country, Mahinda Rajapaksa or Mervin Silva?’
*literally ‘plantain-flower’ but used colloquially to mean ‘balderdash’.