A state devoid of thuggery
Daily Mirror Editorial
Jan 9, 2011

Despite the democratic principles dictated and safeguarded by the Constitution, Sri Lankan political culture seems to be one that is empowered by gun-power more than the power of people.

As ominous as it may sound, politicians do breed their private underworlds and metamorphose themselves into thugs in the process. This trend however, that passed through many eras, should be discontinued immediately; for it has caused enough damage to the country already.

Though often, brutal crimes committed by the underworld come to light, the hidden paws that direct them towards such ruthless acts always remain in the dark. Be it a case of extortion, killing, disappearance or even an incident of drug peddling, the truth is that, if the investigation comes closer to the mastermind, the suspect dies mysteriously, and the case files are gutted in a sudden fire. This is the predictable conclusion, quite common to all the stories that have strings attached to those who sit on higher echelons, whose demonic sides people know very little of.

The closest people could get to taste the ruthlessness of these private armies was the Mulleriyawa shooting on the fateful election day, that resulted in the death of presidential adviser Bharatha Lakshman Premachandra. The sudden drop in the sale of drugs subsequent to the shooting, as reported by the Police, went to show the magnitude of undue authority the underworld enjoys in the country. This would have been an isolated incident had not the Boxing Day news bulletins got flooded with the death of the British National who was shot dead in Tangalle and his girlfriend, brutally raped by the perpetrators: The suspect yet again is a politician in the ruling party.

Perhaps, one does not realize the fact that these private underworlds directly contribute to the country's crime rate. Also, quite unfortunately, arms have become the official way of silencing the dissent. For instance, despite the identity of the instructors, the white vans have been coming for those who oppose and stand against the incongruities of the powers that be; for up to this day, nobody who sings praises to the government and its so called benevolent actions had been abducted.

This reflects badly on the government that often boasts of the victorious conclusion of the war against terrorism; for its heedlessness is something that can hardly be expected from an institution that ought to exhibit its political maturity and respect for democratic principles. Every politician, be it one from the ruling party or that of the opposition should realize that attaining public favour at gunpoint is not the democratic way of governing.

In a scenario like this, it is commendable that a voice is rising within the government, against its politicians who exercise and nurture thugs to attain public approval. However, to see this mission ending in a jubilant note, every politician who opposes thuggery should join the struggle without leaving any space for the gun power to win over the sovereignty of people. In this endeavour, people also should come out of their eggshell comforts and make their voice heard, for as voters, it is their fault that they are oblivious to the darker side of these quasipublic representatives.

Democracy does not endure torture; be it politically sponsored or otherwise. If one exercises thuggery in the name of democracy, he is a traitor to the country as well as to the fundamentals above which the state is founded.

Source: Daily Mirror - Sri Lanka