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
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
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
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.