Editorial

Kudu Mudalalis, Jara Pappas and politicos

Kudu Lal, a notorious drug baron, who was appointed a Justice of the Peace on the recommendations of Deputy Minister Mervyn Silva, has been stripped of the appointment. The government, no doubt, found it extremely embarrassing to ignore the protests against that appointment as it became ammunition in the hands of its critics following a media expose of Kudu Lal's background.

Kudu Lal however is not the only social undesirable to have been made a JP. There are many unsavoury elements among JPs. Any criminal could become a JP, if he has the right political connections, due to the politicization of the appointment process.

Before a person is appointed a JP, the Grama Niladhari (GS) and the police in the area concerned are required to clear his or her name. Some GSs are so corrupt that all what it takes for someone to get a certificate is a bottle of arrack or a five hundred rupee note or in some cases both. How easy it is to get clearance from the police goes without saying. Suffice it to say that a few years ago the then IGP T. E. Anandaraja attended a party a notorious drug dealer threw at a five star hotel to celebrate his daughter's birthday! Mr. Anandaraja had almost secured another extension in service, but The Island expose caused the government to change its mind. In a country where kudu mudalalis are hobnobbing with the police top brass, is it surprising that they get police clearance with ease?

Mervyn Silva is being hauled over the coals for Kudu Lal's appointment. Quite rightly so! But is he the only one who is responsible for the appointment in question. Who, to begin with, appointed Mervyn, the political reject from the National List? It was President Chandrika Kumaratunga! A part of the blame for Kudu Lal's appointment must therefore be placed at her doorstep as well! The abuse of the National List to appoint Mervyn as an MP is as reprehensible as making Kudu Lal a JP. The former is perhaps more damaging to society than the latter. Ironically, the main plank of Ms. Kumaratunga's platform before she became president was to rid the country of dooshanaya and beeshanaya!

The GS and the police officer/s who misled the Justice Minister must be held answerable for the appointment at issue and dealt with according to the law!

On being confronted by the press, Mervyn has asked if the UNP could issue Kudu Lal with a license to carry a firearm, why he couldn't make him a JP. Asinine as his logic may be, the UNP shouldn't remain mum on this charge. It owes an explanation to the public.

(Mervyn Silva might also argue that since someone conferred a doctorate on him–now he calls himself Dr. Mervyn!–it was in order for him to get Kudu Lal appointed a JP!)

Behind every successful underworld figure in this country, there is a politician. But for political patronage, the rise of criminals like, Sotthi Upali, Kaduwela Wasantha, Beddegana Sanjeeva, Gonawala Sunil, Wambotta et al in the underworld wouldn't have been possible. Once, President J. R. Jayewardene himself intervened to get a notorious thug of Galle, who had roughed up a respected specialist doctor inside the Galle Hospital, off the hook. He pressured the doctor not to proceed with the case. The good doctor in retirement visited The Island editorial a few months ago over a reference to the incident in one of our articles, to relate to us what had really happened.

Politics in this country, on the other hand, has become the last resort of the scum of the earth–as well as academics and artistes! If one goes by the allegations that politicians are hurling at one another, then we have in the garb of people's representatives an assortment of bootleggers, cattle thieves, extortionists, chain snatchers and pickpockets in addition to killers. So, compared to the danger these social undesirables pose to society by being at the levers of power and trying to control the destiny of the nation, Kudu Lal's appointment, arguably, fades into insignificance.

It looks as if the politicians considered JP appointments their boodale (private property)–to borrow a favourite term of President Kumaratunga-as manifest in their penchant for generously lavishing them on their henchmen. Thanks to the abuse of the process of appointing JPs, if one kicks any wayside bush, as the saying goes, dozens of JPs will jump out of it. At the present rate, the day may not be far off when every Sri Lankan will be a JP.

This practice has to be stopped immediately and all unsavoury elements among JPs stripped of their appointments, if JPs are to command respect in society. Some JPs are abusing their position to such an extent–charging fees for attesting documents etc.–that cynics are calling them Jara Pappas. They are a disgrace to their decent counterparts.

The Justice Minister shouldn't stop at cancelling Kudu Lal's appointment. He must go the whole hog to prevent political interference with JP appointments and weed out the errant JPs.

 

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