The despicable act of Uva Province Chief Minister Chamara Sampath Dassanayake in forcing a female school principal to kneel before him, as punishment for the latter's refusal to admit a child to a school, on the recommendation of the CM, has rightfully raised a public outcry, compelling the President to order the IGP to conduct a full investigation into the matter. The incident, once again, brings into the limelight the type of politician we have in our midst, who are called upon to preside over the destiny of the masses. The principal had initially denied the charge, apparently under pressure, but subsequently came out with the whole sordid tale in an emotion filled scene, as witnessed on television.
The Chief Minister, meanwhile, has resigned from the Education portfolio that has been attached to the string of other ministries held by him, until the conclusion of the investigation. It would have been the right thing for him to step down from the post of Chief Minister, itself, and, hopefully the President will insist that he does so, pending the outcome of the investigation, so that an impartial probe could be held. Holding the powerful post of CM while the inquiry is being conducted would naturally hamper a free and fair probe, with the police investigators naturally reluctant to go that extra mile to get to the bottom of the whole affair.
The CM's conduct, no doubt, is a reflection of the larger picture of national politics where individuals drunk with power not hesitating to stoop to any level to give vent to their bloated egos. Not many moons ago a similar incident took place under the former regime, when a Provincial Councillor from Wayamba got a lady schoolteacher to kneel before him for chastising the daughter of the PC. On that occasion the PC resigned from the Provincial Council but was replaced by his brother to fill the vacancy, showing the callous nature of the rulers of the day. What is more, it is reported that the selfsame PC has been presently appointed as an electoral organiser of the SLFP, in yet another instance of kid glove treatment given to politicians with muscle power, typical of the present day political scene.
It is also a reflection, that, in today's politics, if one wants to go places strong arm tactics would certainly pay. No wonder decent individuals today shun politics like the plague, not keen to be in the same company of individuals like the Uva Chief Minister.
Be that as it may, the treatment of a school principal, no less, in this callous manner by the CM goes to show the depths to which politicians have degenerated in the present day and age. In the past, it would have been unthinkable to have come across such an instance where a school principal would have been made to endure such an experience. Nothing less than a public apology from the Chief Minister to the principal concerned would suffice, in this instance. It would be interesting to see if the same individual will receive nominations to contest the next PC election too that is around the corner, if not being rewarded with a ticket to parliament on the National List.
However, judging by the good fortune of the former Wayamba Provincial Councillor who has been currently rewarded with an electoral organiser post, this is a distinct possibility. According to election monitor PAFFREL, today, some 20 percent of those nominated to contest the upcoming LG elections are drawn from the underworld, yet again proving to the hilt that crime pays in today's politics. All parties are guilty on this score. Like they say, in the past it was the politicians who employed the thugs to do the dirty work rewarding them lavishly. Now these baddies themselves have entered the scene querying why not do it ourselves. The scenes we have frequently come to witness in parliament bears testimony to this. Those who should be behind bars are today calling the shots, in the country's supreme legislature, maintained by the public purse.
This government came to power promising to usher in Yahapalanaya, or good governance. The conduct of the Uva CM certainly does not do any credit to the government's Yahapalanaya credentials. It is time that the rulers start cleaning up the Augean stables and rid politics of the unsavoury elements. Popularity alone should not be the sole criterion in picking up candidates to contest elections. If the trend continues all the elected bodies in the country will be full of thugs, misfits and undesirables. Today it is no exaggeration to say that our Provincial Councils and other LG bodies are packed with such elements. With the numbers increasing several fold under the new electoral system, things can only get worse. It is harrowing to contemplate that our Provincial Councils and Local bodies are the finishing school for these elements to enter parliament.
Let this investigation into the conduct of the Chief Minister not be another sham. All school principals and teachers, island-wide, should keep up the pressure to ensure that justice is done by their hapless colleague.
Daily News, January 24, 2018