16 May, 2022

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Where Is The IGP? Has The Minister Of Public Security Put The Screw On Him?

By Shyamon Jayasinghe

Shyamon Jayasinghe

Public Face

Not long ago, the people of Sri Lanka looked up to the Inspector General of Police (IGP) to present public explanations pertaining to police action related to alleged or threatened breaches of the law. In these times, the minister in charge of public security, Rear Admiral Sarath Weerasekera, acts in reverse. For even with respect to nuts and bolt issues in law and order administration minister Weerasekera speaks up. Minister wants to be the public face of the Sri Lanka Police Force disregarding the head of that force-the IGP.

If it is a question raised in parliament then the minister must speak up; but on day-to-day eruptions it is best if he be silent and allow the officials in the police force to give the public the status quo. Why? Because if he intervenes where he should not the minister would be doing the work of the IGP and the police forces. No official in the echelons of the public service would like to find his legitimate duties and responsibilities usurped. That is demoralising and, therefore, bad and insensitive management. If minister Weerasekera had a basic idea of what professionalism meant in administration he should realize this.

Role of the IGP

The position of IGP had been from inception an exalted office. The incumbent had, typically, been an officer who had climbed through from the middle to the senior echelons of the service to reach the top. We had the exception of DBIPS Siriwardena, one of Sri Lanka’s best-regarded Civil Servants. But that was probably the only exception and there were justifiable reasons for that.

The IGP is one of the toppest positions in the Sri Lankan Public Service. Having come through the rigid discipline of the ranks, the IGP had had what is known as organizational memory that was a great resource for him in the performance of his duties. This consideration should be enough for the minister to respect the office of the IGP. The IGP is not a minister’s hireling or private secretary. He is the symbol of the large police service we have. Rankers look up to him and out of natural respect obey his command. This linkage must be maintained if we are to run our police service efficiently. Traditionally policemen and women developed loyalties around the IGP who to the latter was their master and their symbol of service -pride.

Minister’s Role

On the other hand, the minister has a different responsibility. This is not related to the day-to-day operations but to policy -level changes. The 19th Amendment even safeguarded the security of office of the IGP by having the latter selected by an Independent Commission appointed under the Constitutional Council. So, the Minister cannot make the IGP run for his life. That is how it should be. In developed countries that is the practice.

Goon Attack on Ragama Medical Faculty Students

The reason for my decision to write this paper was a news report a few days ago in The Island, relating to an assault on Ragama medical faculty students by an outsider gang. I quote that report here:

Public Security Minister Rear Admiral Sarath Weerasekera yesterday (02) confirmed that following an attack on medical students within the Ragama Medical Faculty premises on the previous night, a vehicle belonging to a government institution and its driver had been apprehended by those targeted and handed over to the police.

University sources told The Island that goons stormed the premises following instructions issued by the fourth year students to the third year students. Sources alleged that goons moved at the behest of one of the third year students who opposed interventions made by the seniors.

Spokesperson for the Parents Union of Medical Students, Wasantha Alwis said that undergraduates captured D.K. Samaratunga, a member of State Minister Arundika Fernandos personal staff, who carried an identification card issued by the Ministry of Lands and Parliamentary Reforms. Unquote.

Charges are flying about that the minister and his son had also been associated in the episode. A plush Benz car belonging to the Ministry of Lands and Parliamentary affairs had been seen in the vicinity.

Why Not The IGP? Why The Minister?

My question is why did the IGP not make an official statement and why did the minister grab that job from the IGP? The minister didn’t even cite an IGP’s report to base his statement. The head of the force was cast aside- in the shade. The politician took over.

If the IGP is ignored and bypassed like this, it gives the signal that the police force is an appendage of the political establishment. It is not a public service meant to conduct themselves with the dignity that independence brings. In short, the dignity and status of the force is belittled.

The minister seems to be laying a direct-rule pathway here. This pathway is contagious as the rest of the rank and file will ignore the police hierarchy established under the office of the IGP and resort to political settlement of grievances and internal disputes. This will bring into play the whole rot of MPs, Pradeshiya Sabha members and minor political catchers. And of course the Saffrons.

Even for petty internal transfers all officers will run behind the minister or his catchers. In the past, the IGP had a firm disciplinary hold and had a willing obedience coming from below. The Weerasekera pathway would, as it is already happening, bring the police service into total subservience of politicians. An MP who dislikes an OIC will got to Weerasekera directly or through a local powerful politico. The service crumbles! MPs would tremble before attempting to interfere in transfers like this.

Secondly, in the pursuit of public breaches of law and order and acts  of criminal conduct the official hierarchy will be ignored and the corrupt force of political play will prevail. This trend will be socially undermining and dangerous.

In the specific case of our reference here can you and I have faith that the particular breach of law at the Ragama Medical faculty would be handled at the minster’s level impartially? Surely, no. Another minister is involved in the incident and that is Arundika Fernando who has been associated in the past in episodes of breach of order. Wasn’t this man associated with the rowdy hooliganism near the Speaker’s chair three years ago? I am aware he wasn’t the chili powder man.

Arundika’s Resignation?

Minister Arundika is supposed to have tendered his resignation. If this act is not something like minister Ali Sabry’s, the resignation will be upheld. Even if it is done, I notice that in a video Arundika pleads that once the investigations are completed he be allowed to return to the portfolio. This means, although no longer a current minister, Arundika is virtually minister-in-waiting. The political clout that can influence the investigations remains undiluted.

As an aside, I like to mention that the minister in the video states he wants the portfolio back “for the sake of the country.” Arundika is joking!

In the circumstances, therefore, can anyone expect that the inquiry would be pursued with impartiality to bring the culprits to book? I would bet my residential property in Australia for that.

Conclusion: The Base of Our Justice

A government’s commitment to good governance and the welfare of the country rests to a large extent on how it manages law and order and justice for the citizen. In Sri Lanka the base of justice starts not with the judiciary but with the police investigations and the filing and referral of cases by the Attorney General. Both the latter institutions being under political control, justice would be a daydream in the island. A minister running the police undermines this situation further. The command line of this service begins with the IGP. On the other hand minister Weerasekera has taken over the command line.

*The writer can be reached at shyamonjayasinghe@gmail.com

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Latest comments

  • 17
    1

    Dear Shyamon
    In the safety of down under good to see your lines in CT

    SJ the country is in a mess but the so called elites in Colombo 7 etc
    For them it is still a paradise .Black money and black market is rampant
    I happened to sent a message to such individual; a professional yesterday. That person’s response shocked me. The reply was ” we will OK, it will be better place soon. “YOU are hearing fake news”
    These people could not care a dam. All self centred and selfish to the core. They couldn’t go any lower even if they try

    The naked truth is that no body cares for their bretherns any more. I am alright Jack mentality. You scratch my back I will yours. Moral values have no place in our society. Its sad. But thats the sad truth
    We have lost our plot. How about the youths . What kind of example these goons are setting
    May be bit more later
    RN

    • 9
      0

      Very obviously – IGP /chief justic/ and all judges of this country are all busy with cleaning the overflow of toilets at Medamulana

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KAuVKHvMGps

      Our eyes could not believe, that MARA behaves like a DUMMY as was the case in Mugabe s state… and so called celebrations of the independence was just a pimp s gathering…….. dont think even little ones found it unique….. gone were the days our people could do so….. now it is high time, to slap on their own cheeks by themselves.
      :

  • 11
    1

    Rajapaksa special LOW AND ODOR. When IGP himself is not independent why on earth are we celebrating IN dependence day ???

  • 19
    1

    The simple explanation for IGP not being out in the public is because the present Minister in charge of Police is a Racist Photo-op seeking Thug. He is like a chest-beating gorilla and want to show he is everything. However, since he became the Minister in charge of Police, there have been more Police involved illegal killings of those accused and in Police custody. Further, he has made numerous racist statements in public and in Parliament. What has he done, under him accidents on the roads due to high speed has increased, thugs are all over including in the Parliament, no major drug lord has been caught other than peddlers, he has got caught lying about the Borella bomb case, and above all no one trusts him? So why is he still the minister in charge of the Police, was he part of the easter bomb attack planning?

    • 7
      1

      Buddhist not to forget the same gorilla was behind church explosive drama. Told press he found the person without wasting time in reviewing CCTV footage.

  • 9
    1

    This article hits the nail right on the head on the issue of politicization of the functions of the police. In this country the donkeys are always trying to do the work of the guard dogs while failing to perform the work specifically assigned to them.

    • 8
      0

      CM,
      “In this country the donkeys are always trying to do the work of the guard dogs”. Yes, well said.
      But this is no ordinary donkey. It’s a donkey promoted to Rear Admiral. But not to worry. This sort of donkey is so arrogant that he gets careless. Eventually he will raise such a stink that even the Chief Donkey will have to let him go.

  • 8
    1

    Like his boss, this minister is clueless about his duties and responsibilities. These two and the appointment of retired security force men to head some establishments, completely ruined the great respect the security forces (Rana Viruwo) had.

  • 6
    0

    Dear SJ the answer is yes. But who puts the screw on the Minister of Public security the answer is his boss the president. There is a reason why incompetent former military officers are appointed secretaries to ministries and other key positions. The boss barks they produce some times the most laughable drama. Sarath Weerasekara is what is called a useful idiot. The Rajapakshe tentacles are extensive from their own business mogul network who are ever willing to do their bidding and corrupt to the core to the old farts military network to the network of underworld criminal thugs and drug dealers to even the most uneducated bone headed thugs they bring to parliament the list is limitless. An ever willing and ready for sabotage military intelligence wing capable of mass murder is another asset in their position. No opposition can go against this formidable force and win. They know this. It is why they have not one dot of sympathy to the citizens of Sri Lanka. Right now rather than importing assentials they are busy using the meager dollars they have to reward them selves to wash their black money by prioritizing the settling of bonds they them selves either held from the beginning or bought for a song from others when the countries credit rating got down graded.

  • 0
    2

    The writer portrays that the Minister is trying to overshadow a public servant, in matters concerning public statements. Shyamon, being a retired public servant in Ceylon and possibly in Sri Lanka, knows very well that strictly speaking a public servant cannot make public statements, excepting through a communique issued through the Director General of Government Information. The writer should be knowing that during the “Yahapalana” regime, its first Defence Secretary had to go, because of issuing a public statement and subsequently Government issued a communique reminding all public servants of the requirement of issuing statements through the above official and not on their own. Of course, the statement issued by the then Defence Secretary caused a “pain of mind” to a prominent minister who stepped down on account of the Bond Scam being possibly the sacrificial lamb. To put a long story short, if Government vehicles were used for a purpose other than official (excepting vehicles assigned but applies to all vehicles if the act is illegal) at the insistence of a Minister then the VIP must be on remand until conclusion of trial for offences against public property, as per rule of law (non-existent in Sri Lanka).

    • 2
      0

      Shyamon Jayasinghe has hit the spot very well with much insight based on his own experience as an able administrator. It is clear the minister is bypassing the head of the police force. He is trying a direct rule of the police force. A working IGP would have been a check and balance to a minister who is a politician. The rest of the rank and file will break the line of command and access the minister. An independent police service is gone! The minister knows well that the Navy or army cannot be pushed around like this. This minister intervened even to get panties for Hansamali

  • 0
    0

    I am really sad of your elevation of DBIPS (better known for the acronym meaning Dirtiest….) He did the dirty on Elmore Perera, Dy Surveyor General to suck up to the Minister.
    https://www.southasianrights.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/Elmore-Perera-v.-Major-Montague-Jayawickrema-Minister-of-Public-Administration-and-Plantation-Industries-and-Others-1985SLR1V285.htm
    Elmore went to Court and some parts of the judgement below : (DBIPS is 2nd respondent).
    …In my view, in the present case the 2nd, 3rd and 4th respondents have acted not in terms of the applicable Code, but under a mistaken belief that they were free to act on some arbitrary procedure. Here we have a case not of the mere fallibility of officers engaged in the ordinary business of ……..and the disregard wittingly or unwittingly of …. existing Code of Procedure providing protection to public officers. These actions on the part of the respondents are not the erroneous actions of some minor public officials operating at the peripheral level of the administration, but are intentional acts, though misguided, operating, if not at a policy-making level, at least at a level where their acts have the nature and characteristics of policy decisions.
    The petitioner pleads that the failure of the Minister to get elected as Vice-Patron (SLTA) followed by the failure of the Minister’s faction in that Court case “wounded his pride”.

    contd……

    • 0
      0

      Contd….
      ……..”Nowhere has the 2nd respondent come to any finding of general inefficiency. Manifestly he did not have the confidential report of the petitioner,- required by the Circular to be sent to him, before he took a decision, nor does the 2nd respondent say that even an oral communication of–the petitioner’s inefficiency was ever made to him at any time by either the 3rd or the 4th respondents who are the officers who would have known best. The letter P1 gives as the reason for holding that the petitioner is guilty of inefficiency……. We are therefore left with the simple situation that the petitioner has been retired for inefficiency without proof of any inefficiency. To retire a public officer on the ground of inefficiency when in fact such inefficiency has not been proved is to add insult to injury”….

      • 6
        0

        PS:
        If you need to get examples of top Civil Servants you can choose from the likes of K Alvapillai, Barr Kum Mahadeva, Chandy Chanmugam, VP Vittachi, A T Mahinda Silva, IOKG Fernando, C Sittampalam, Olcott Gunasekera, James Lanerolle, Niel Bandaranayake, etc. to name a few.
        Whoever is top-notch.

  • 6
    0

    “…Where Is The IGP? ….”

    I couldn’t stop laughing…. Does it matter at all in this silly lanka?? Why bother? IGP or whoever is not there to run the Police. It is the Rajapaksa gang that run the Police or any armed forces, or anything else.

    So does it matter where is IGP? Whether in his own seat warming it or in the kitchen making dinner for his family?? Nah…doesn’t make any difference!!

  • 1
    0

    All in the name of democracy we literally controlled by war lords and yellow robes brigades.”Sir” is in strong position with 1/3 rd in hand along with super executive power.and they have their own jet too.anything got worst whisked away to US and drop the king and the Princess on the way in Dubai to join with drugs lords
    Law and order or any decision making is in the hands of ….
    Most of us blame the6.9 but actually manipulated by media.
    How Afghanians raped in the hands of talibans ,we are in the same scenario,
    How garlic gas etc whistle blows Dushans travel ban is prime,who decides and gives warning to the rest the consequences.if not PTA.
    IP celebration would have more joyful if that would have kite festival.
    India is celebrating with the reasons.and becomes biggest 5.they accomadate all corners unite as Indians and people are more patriotic.in our case people wanted to leave the country
    These elites done more damage than VP.
    Killed the education system now we have to go to labour market no white collar jobs.in the 70s African countries hire teachers from here if I am correct,
    Now unregulated international schools are mushrooming in the village level.
    Lot of young talented students we have but there is no window of opportunity,2 cut off marks you have what’s the choice?open up more
    pvt uni

  • 3
    0

    Recently in being interviewed by a popular daily newspaper, the Minister of Finance, Basil Rajapakse said: “During the war against LTTE, the Government used “Black Money” to buy “ARMS” from North Korea and Iran”. This information was available to US State Department and written to then Sri Lanka to clarify the situation. The then Minister of Foreign Affairs, Keheliya Rambukwella in 2009 denied it. In addition, UN Security Council by Resolution 1718 restricted buying arms from those two countries. Now this “Revelation” by the US Citizen Basil Rajapakse, the Minister of Finance has received very serious consideration by the International Organizations.

    Now, where is the Public Security, State Security, Police headed by IGP, and all other Investigative Authorities? Where is the Opposition? Where are the NGOs? Shouldn’t the USA State Department initiate an immediate investigation against her own “Citizen” – Basil Rajapakse?

    What I want to say here is: Law is not COMMON but SELECTIVE. Therefore is there any use in asking the question “Where is the IGP”?

  • 0
    0

    where is the IGP? he is doing meditation in a private room with do not disturb sign.Poojith the former IGP too doing meditation in prison.

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