22 May, 2022


S/DIG Latheef Saga; Litmus Test For The Independent Commissions

By Granville Perera

The grapevine says “Daham, the son of President Maithripala Sirisena is learning fast the tricks of the trade his fathers predecessors mastered. He has quickly learnt that protecting the corrupt and underworld is probably the best business in town”, but the truth probably is somewhat different.

Prof. Siri Hettige

Prof. Siri Hettige

The Independent Police Commission headed by Prof. Siri Hettige (Chairman) and comprising members Mrs. Savithree Wijesekara, Mr. Y.L,M. Zawahir, Mr. Anton Jeyanadan, Mr. Tilak Collure and Mr. Frande Silva appointed Senior Deputy Inspector General of Police (S/DIG) M R Latheef as the Commandant of the Special Task Force (STF) on 4th August 2016. Up to date, he has not been released from his former responsibilities by the IGP to assume duties as the commandant of the STF. The delay leads to suspicion that there are political conspiracies to reject the decision made by the Police Commission. Does the constitution provide for the President or any other to over rule a decision by any one of the independent commissions? Legal opinion is that the President, the cabinet or the Prime Minister has no such powers once the National Police Commission (NPC) or any other independent commission makes an appointment.

Did we hear Mahinda Rajapaksa saying “Kawda meaka Thambiyakuta Dunne?” (Who gave this to a Thambiya?). Oh sorry, I forgot that Mahinda Rajapaksa left his palace on the 9th of January 2015, just over 20 months ago. So, from where did this voice descend? Was it the ghost of the Rajapaksas or did it come from the new tenant?

The widespread belief is that Latheef will clean up the corrupt Special Task Force that has protected the corrupt, underworld, provides favours to political thugs, provided unofficially, vehicles to the current politicians etc. It is also alleged that the former head of STF is worried that Latheef will open up the rotten can of worms that would expose the widespread corruption within STF. He was a top crime buster who was also responsible for busting up the illegal trade and transport of Ganja in the Moneragala district. Earlier, an attempt was made to tarnish his image and throw him out of his job as the top cop of Moneragala for busting up the illegal sand mining, ganja trade and treasure hunting undertaken by well connected political smugglers. He was a real thorn for the politically connected crooks. The former IGP and the police department stood by him.

This time, some heavyweights sitting in the presidential secretariat are accused of using Daham Sirisena and are trying to chew something they may not be able to swallow, because the man they are attempting to munch is a globally acclaimed bold policeman, a proud product of Royal College (my alma mater), a thorough gentleman and an officer par excellence,. Latheef or Latta as commonly known amongst royalists and friends is not a pushover. He provided security for VIPs at the peak of the ethnic war with top professionalism against the threats of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam. He is also considered one of the best defense strategists in the country. He came in to international limelight when he presented his strategy to protect athletes and very important persons (VIPs) who could be targets of international terrorists at the Olympic games. Since then, there has been an attempt to get him in to one of the top United Nations positions that could assist in global security.

Latheef is a veteran special task force officer who hunted criminals and the underworld who had absolute political patronage. He brought them to justice and ensured that law and order prevailed wherever he served. His reluctance to dance to the tunes of the politicians has made his police life miserable, but he is a real street fighter who took on the high and mighty and will continue to do so with out fear or fervor.

With the controversial flux in the appointment of Senior DIG Latheef as the commandant of the Special Task Force, the police commission is scheduled to meet on the 18th of August 2016. Will the Police commission reconfirm the STF Commandant’s appointment and stand its ground or bow down to political pressure of the Presidential Secretariat. Will it discipline the Inspector General of Police for not respecting and implement its decision. More importantly, will this be another broken promise of the Yahapalanaya made during the presidential elections. The average man might tighten his belts, but will not tolerate the same song sung by the Mahinda Rajapaksa clan. It is also rumored that Minister in charge of the Police, Sagala Ratnayake is working overtime to get Latheef an appointment with the United Nations, so that he can please the President.

There has also been widespread condemnation by the Muslim community as well. They see this as a purely racial issue and the government is succumbing to the pressures of Buddhist extremists. There could be a huge protest after Friday prayers on the 19th if the Police commission doesn’t act. It is reliably understood that S/DIG persuaded the Muslims not to take any action with regard to his appointment last Friday; The Muslims may not comply this Friday. The Muslims see the non appointment as an attempt to deprive the community of any senior public service positions. A Muslim public servant told me, despite having 21 Muslim members in parliament, there is only one Muslim Secretary to a ministry; there are no Governors, Divisional Secretaries or any other senior public servant. Non-appointment of Police Commandant Latheef would be seen as succumbing to the growing racism of extremist Buddhists who continue to be led by saffron clad men assumed to be Buddhist priests. During this month alone, Buddhist extremist had attacked two places of religious worship. Two days ago, A peace vigil organized by a mixed ethnic civil society was violently disrupted by vigilante monks and thugs right in front of senior police officers. Women were abused and the posters they were carrying were snatched and torn. The same group raided a Jovah’s witness church yesterday (16/8/16) and intimidated two innocent teenage girls and the resident priest. They abused their religious practice.

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Latest comments

  • 20

    S/DIG Lateef is an apolitical officer and gentleman that discharges duties professionally. No one sees him as belonging to this or that religion due to his conduct being so professional! He does not go around wearing white and orange cowboy ropes around his wrist nor does he go around being an extremist Muslim! He is a true anti-terrorist and a commando.

    In fact even the army does not have officers any more that can even come close to S/DIG Lateef in officer qualities. Look at any photograph of senior army officers and peruse their faces!!

    Yes, this is a litmus test that will tell if Mithree is who he claims to be. If this great officer is not appointed Commandant and kept in cold storage as they did for years in appointments like head of foreign relations for the police!!…am afraid President Sirisena will loose much support!

    • 7

      A true Muslim will always be an anti-terrorist. God Almighty mentions in the Quraan that whoever kills or cause corruption on the earth, such evil person should be done with. It is crystal clear that Islam is the Only religion on the face of the earth that propagate this ideology, unfortunately the world media have tarnished the image of Islam in the wrong sense. Truth will prevail and falsehood will perish. By the way Islam is the fastest growing religion in the USA,Europe, Japan and all over the world despite negative portrayal of Islam.

  • 15

    Respect for the NPC will diminish if the recommendation is not adhered to. The strength of the Yahapalanaya Government will be weaker if it bows down to pressure from corrupt sources. Appointment the one who deserves the post. The image of the entire Government will be tarnished if the recommendation is anot carried out reason/s best known to them. Be caution, the international community is observing our action. This is received international condemnation of the Government. Deny it, you dare… God Save Sri Lanka and its honest and descent people.

  • 17

    Mr. Lateef is one of a handful of senior police officers that can communicate effectively in English. He is prominently the only police officer that Mr.Clean! With the PM ruining his reputation as Mr.Clean S/DIG Lateef ia poised to remain clean. After all this officer never went behind anyone or squeezed balls to rectify a list of anomalies he faced. Muslim or not, we need officers like this that will help restore the image of the police and establishment while ensuring we do not infringe upon the rights of war veterans like S/DIG Lateef who fought the war with might and honor without causing embarrassment to the government or humiliation to the people in the areas.

    Further, the STF of then and now are two entirely different entities in that the men then were smart and formidable while men of the STF today are like the 5′ tall bus conductor types the army recruited without choice to increase numbers then. Even bus conductors today are taller and smarter!

    It is men like this officer that make a difference and instill on the cadre qualities they are made of. S/DIG comes from a princely lineage of honorable Malay Muslims and no one has to date pointed a finger on him for corruption. Every IGP in the past has wished they were Lateef!

  • 19

    Lateef to be appointed

    Sanity has prevailed.
    Long live Yahapalanaya Well done Sirisena/Ranilla youll have the country at heart

  • 10

    Aiyo Sirisena. Hang Podi Sira by this balls

  • 0

    way out of the weird maze of european culture.

    Latiff would let the muslim forces that ruled colombo underworld rejuvenate.
    It must happen as before a muslim is one if not for the money.

    Gotabaya coming soon.

    • 5

      Here we discuss matters of serious importance to the nation and its progress, while you exhibit your impotence!

  • 6

    This government is keeping to the word of “good Governance” first the Supreme Court rejected the lead up to the VAT Bill and now appointed Latheef as head of the STF keeping with the recommendation of the Police Commission.
    Well done keep it up

  • 3

    todays Daily Mirror reports that IGP has ‘ratified’ this appointment The news item is patently misleading – Appointment of all gazed officers is the responsibility of the Police Commission – IGP merely has to ensure official delivery of the appointment letters and no such ‘ratification’ is required from him.

  • 1

    Muslims are yet to feel that they are treated
    as citizens of this country

    We are living in an era where a Muslim is not appointed even to a post of Provincial or Zonal Education Director.

    Until the Eastern Provincial Election victory by the SLMC, all the Provincial Chief Ministers were ministers of Education in that province.
    But with the appointment of a Muslim as the Eastern Provincial Chief Minister this was changed and a different minister not belonging to a minority community was appointed as the Minister in charge of the subject of Education.
    So it is not a surprise move to deny a DIG who was a member of the first batch of the STF officers since its creation in 1984, the post of Commandant of the STF just because he is a Muslim,
    Further, the majority of the people in the Ampara and the Trinco districts are Muslims and Tamils respectively. Because of that every government since the creation of these districts are very particular to see that a minority is not appointed as the District Secretary of these districts. Soon after the end of the war Basil Rajapaksa was very busy in bringing in Sinhalese GA s to Mannar and Vavuniya. The situation still continues because the majority people are living with minority complexities
    Not only that Thinakaran is the Tamil daily paper printed by ANCL and over 95 % of that paper is bought and read by the Muslims of Sri Lanka. But, efforts on the part of the PM to appoint a Muslim editor was thwarted by influential people.
    Even under the yahapalanaya we are yet to experience the
    equality as the citizen of this country

  • 1

    SDIG Latheef,


    Some weeks ago STF arrested illegal sand miners in KKS (NP). For some reason the miners had managed to operate during a long time without any action from the local authorities or police.

    Please do the necessary to stop the remaining illegal sand miners and other environmental crimes in the NP.

    Thank you.

  • 1

    S/DIG M.R.Latheef was an outstanding Rugby player, and reading all the accolades that have been bestowed on him, would enlighten any reader that he comes with an unblemished and exemplary career in the Police Department, and deserves to serve in any capacity that he is entrusted with.

    Snubbing the National Police Commission and failing to appoint him as the Commandant of the Police Special Task Force, would leave a bad taste on the “Yahapalanaya” tongue, which as every one knows was propelled to power on the votes of the minorities.

    The bottom line to this ugly episode if not effected as per the NPC’s order would read that the “The President vetoes, S/DIG M.R Latheef’s appointment”, whether he has the power to do so or not is another matter and would definitely be an indelible black mark on the “Yahapalanaya Government”.

    This is not what secular thinking Sri Lankans voted for on the 8th January 2015, and the Government of MY3 & Ranil should be aware that the World is watching.

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