resident Maithripala Sirisena’s remark at a function held at the Sri Lanka Foundation Institute on October 12 that the CID, FCID and the Independent Commissions are politicised, has also been politicised within hours.
Many people seem to attempt to take political mileage of it. However, one has to acknowledge that the matter that the President had raised was very serious and hence the remark might have its own repercussions. This is in brief what the President said:
“The CID, FCID and the Bribery Commission cannot function according to a political agenda. The law should be the same for everyone. If these institutions were acting according to some political agenda, I would have to take action. There are objectives and a policy in establishing Independent Commissions. Those who are in these commissions should know their subject areas. Those who are not aware of national security, military administration and management are taking various wrong decisions without thinking.
“The top officials of the respective institutions have a right and a responsibility to inform me and the Defence Minister of these matters. Some people may say that it should not be so as these are Independent Commissions. Even though Commissioners were appointed by the Constitutional Council, it is I, the President, who appoint the Chairman and the Director General of these Commissions.”
If the Head of the State himself says that the Independent Commissions are not independent but politicised, one has to imagine the gravity of the situation in the much publicised anti-corruption drive of the Yahapalanaya Government.
The situation is serious because it is true that the entire body politic is riddled with corruption. In other words the President says that his Government’s anti-corruption drive itself was corrupt.
However, he or the Government would not be able to rectify the situation unless the President explains what he really meant. On what grounds does he say that the Independent Commissions are politicised?
He had specifically mentioned the Bribery Commission in his speech and singled out only two cases – the one involving the former Defence Secretary and three former Navy Commanders and the one on the abduction and murder of journalist Prageeth Ekneligoda.
Even then he did not point out where the authorities faulted, except for the failure on the part of the officials to inform the President about the details of one case and the delay of the other. However, these points do not specify any politicisation of legal matters or the President did not place it clearly before the country owing to the brevity of the part of his speech on the matter.
Nobody is of the view that the President had intended to discourage the anti-corruption drive by the Government as it was a major election pledge made by him as well.
It was he who initiated the 19th Amendment to the Constitution that reintroduced the Independent Commissions under his promise to abolish the Executive Presidency. But one has to acknowledge that the repercussions of the President’s statement seem to be serious.
Shock waves seem to have been sent already across the entire anti- corruption mechanism which are indicated by reports of moves by certain high ranking officials in the relevant sector to step down. The full impact is yet to be known.
On the other hand, people’s confidence on the anti-corruption mechanism is vital as it cannot function without the support of the people.
Hence, taking immediate measures to resurrect and strengthen the confidence of the relevant officials as well as the people of the country on these mechanisms by the highest echelon is vital.