By Rasika Jayakody –
No sane person for a moment would think that Prime Minister D.M. Jayarathne is a drug dealer. The octogenarian has been in politics for more than six decades and has rendered great service to the Sri Lanka Freedom Party and to various governments it formed under different names over the past few decades. He was jailed, tortured and victimized during the 17 year long UNP rule and he tolerated everything for his own party. His was a long walk to the Prime Minister’s position and when he was offered the office, it was a joyous moment for every SLFPer, regardless of their intra-party affiliations.
Today, this Prime Minister, the seniormost member of the ruling party, finds himself in hot waters as a result of a letter, sent out from his office on the 23rd of August. The letter has been issued by Keerthi Sri Weerasinghe, one of his Coordinating Secretaries at the request of a Local Government politician in Gampola who is also a close supporter of the Prime Minister and his son.
The letter which seeks a waiver of Demurrage for a shipment has been issued on behalf the Prime Minister on an official letterhead belonging to his office. Although the Coordinating Secretary who has issued the letter claims that the Prime Minister had no knowledge of the matter, the content of the letter and the official letterhead wed him, inextricably, to this controversy. Therefore, the Prime Minister is not in a position to wash his hands off, distancing himself from the issuance of the letter and saying he laughs off media reports on the heroine scandal – which is one of the biggest drug scams reported in the recent past.
No one – including the Coordinating Secretary or the Local Government politician – has been arrested over the matter and they got away with police by giving a mere statement. It is still not entirely clear whether the Police have started a full-scale investigation into the drug scandal, as requested by Omalpe Sobhitha Thera of the Jathika Hela Urumaya , who also represents the same political camp. This unusual situation is testimony to the fact that the investigation into the controversy has come under political pressure and it is not so difficult fathom where the pressure is actually coming from.
What is crystal clear is that the Prime Minister doesn’t know who and who is around him and does not possess the perceptual power to identify the true colours of the people who work for him. He has appointed secretaries and aides without a thorough examination and has placed a very loose administrative system in his office where any official can issue any sort of letter on behalf of the Prime Minister for any stranger who walks in. There is no way of monitoring the operations and no proper line of reporting which his secretaries and assistants should adhere to.
The Prime Minister’s age, failing health and his seniority in the party do not provide formidable answers to any of these questions. What this elucidates is the fact that the Prime Minister is no longer in a position to discharge the duties his position warrants. It needs no elaboration that this reflects badly on the government as well as the citizenry of the country who have elevated him to the Prime Minister’s office.
The country, at this juncture, expects a few things from this senior citizen and respectable politician.
That is, to accept his failure in discharging duties and step down from the position, as a gentleman ; to admit the fault of his Coordinating Secretary and facilitate the police inquiry into the scandal and to tender an apology to the public over his unintentional involvement in the Heroine controversy.
Once that is done, no one would ridicule him; no one would call for his arrest; no one would want to prosecute and convict him.
And this is not a difficult choice for a person who is in the twilight of his life.
So Mr. Prime Minister it is your time to take the honourable and graceful exit route you thoroughly deserve.
Obata Jaya! ( May Victory Be Yours )