By Hilmy Ahamed –
Chief Minister Nazeer Ahamed’s outburst is not acceptable by any standards. As the senior most political office holder in the province, he has a much bigger responsibility to ensure that law, order and justice prevails. If he was insulted, the stage was not the forum to address it. He was a bad example to the children around him. Yet, haven’t we seen similar behavior or worse in parliament when innocent children who come to witness some rare species are entertained from the well of our august assembly?
Latest media reports indicate that the Navy has ordered the Chief Minister out of its camps. Can the commander of the Navy make such an order at the Chief Minister of a province? Who has the authority to make such orders? Has the President, who is in Japan, pressed his command button? What has the Prime Minister done about it, in the absence of the President? What are Hakeem and his party (already in the midst of an internal struggle) going to do? Will the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) rejoice at the prospect of taking over the Chief Ministers office in the Eastern province too?
Nazeer Ahamed’s violent behavior is not an exception in today’s political culture. We have the leader of the National Freedom Front, Wimal Weerawansa, (who is now demanding the head of the CM) abusing a senior Police officer in front of the United Nations office complex on Baudhaloka Mawatha, literally on the orders of the then Secretary of Defense, or our man with a clean head from Galle Hon. Nishantha Muthuhettigama, storming in to a police station, holds the policemen hostage and takes away one his own from the police cell. Sounds more like the recreation of a scene from a South Indian Tamil movie, isn’t it? The list of offenders (Political thugs) is countless and the impunity that has been offered to these third rate politicians is the cause for the breakdown of values in our society. No concrete action has been taken against these perpetrators and hence, the trend continues. Nazeer Ahamed could well become the guinea pig, and if it means reforming our politicians, so be it. This may have deeper repercussions as Nazeer Ahamed is a Muslim and represents the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress. Will Hakeem and Co. walk out of Yahapalanaya if marching orders are delivered to Nazeer Ahamed?
The political culture that has been bred since the introduction of the 13th amendment to the constitution by the then head of state President J R Jayewardene is probably the root cause for all these violence that has been unleashed with impunity by our elected representatives? The provincial council’s brought in a large number of street fighters to administer the provinces. This was mainly because the elected MPs in the districts didn’t want to breed a set of new politicians at the provincial level who would be a threat to them in future parliamentary elections. So, they chose either their siblings or those who are closest to them – the goon squad, who would remain loyal to their masters until death. The eventual fading away of that older generation of politicians saw the natural entry of these provincial politicians to parliament. Today, we have a large number of them in our august assembly. When we see the parliament today, it is worse than Mariya Kade, or the worst favelas of Rio de Janeiro. Violence has become part of the political culture. Politicians do not have the right to act with impunity, whether it is inside the sanctity of our parliament or outside. Laws should be applied equally to all.
There is an urgent need to bring in legislation to ensure that our elected representatives behave in more civilized ways. The President and Prime Minister, who have up to now maintained decency and decorum in their political history should bring in these changes through the proposed constitutional reform process that would arrest the unscrupulous behavior of our elected representatives.
The Nazeer Ahamed episode in Sampur is even more regrettable because it involved a highly respected former civil servant and a senior member of the armed forces. It is even worse because it happened before an audience of our future leaders – the student population.
It is regrettable that this issue is being politicked and there are serious attempts to drive a wedge between the government and armed forces by the power hungry and joint opposition. The joint opposition has been firing from all sides on the arrest of security forces personal that are suspected of abducting and murdering our media colleague, Ekneligoda. Now, they have got their stinger missiles targeted at the Yahapalana government ally, the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress. Communal dices has been cast to create conflict and go back to the days of Ven. Gnanasara’s hate campaign which the former regime sponsored offering them impunity.
Nazeer Ahamed is a politician and does not represent the Muslims as Chief Minister. He is the Chief Minister for the Eastern Province and the government of Sri Lanka has made his appointment. There is absolutely no need for anyone to brand this as a communal issue. Whatever action needs to be taken to discipline the Chief Minister should take its due course.
Sri Lanka needs a new political culture. The civil service needs to get back its pride and bowing down to political dictates must cease. The naval officer was mature and patient enough not to draw his weapon and blow the head off the Chief Minister, but continuing this culture of political thuggery may drive a self respecting security forces officer to draw his weapon and sacrifice his life to save his dignity. (Inna lillahi wa inna ilaihi raji’un) “Surely we belong to Allah and to Him shall we return”