Tragically, the smuggling or trading in heroin and other narcotics has become a key issue in the campaign for the crucial general election on August 17.
The National Dangerous Drugs Control Board (NDDCB) Chairman Dr. Nilanga Samarasinghe has emerged as a heroic figure in the battle against heroin which destroys not only the lives of thousands of addicts but even their families.
Dr. Samarasinghe, speaking on TV talk shows, said he had prepared a list of about 135 racketeers including former parliamentarians and other politicians against whom there was substantial evidence of involvement in the smuggling or trading in heroin and other addictive narcotics. He said he was awaiting a call from President Maithripala Sirisena to hand over this list to him. The NDDCB Chairman said he had received death threats and the President’s office said on Sunday Mr. Sirisena had ordered the Police Special Task Force to provide extra security to the Chairman.
Justice Minister Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe said that on the direction of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe he had met the NDDCB Chairman to ensure that no one on the mafia list got nomination from the United National Front for Good Governance (UNFGG). But UNFGG and Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) leaders said their main rival the United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) had not ensured that those on the NDDCB mafia list did not get nominations, though during the past five years there had been widespread allegations that former UPFA Ministers, MPs and other politicians had connections with the heroin mafia.
President Sirisena, speaking at a summit of Asian leaders to mark the golden jubilee of independence for the Maldive Islands, said he had made a personal commitment to eliminate the heroin mafia by 2020. He appealed to Asian leaders to co-operate in a combined war on the heroin mafia in the continent to pave the way for Asia’s Century which many analysts have predicted for the most populated continent in the world.
We hope President Sirisena would also give the NDDCB Chairman approval to publish the mafia list so that the sovereign people will know who is doing what and will not vote for kudu mudalalies, traders and politicians who are involved with them, obtaining funds or providing patronage for them.
More than ever before – and perhaps because the previous Parliament was widely seen as the worst since independence - the people are thinking deeply and closely analyzing the character, integrity and motives of candidates. This is an important step in the right direction, because in previous elections a large number of people are known to have voted on traditional party political lines, irresponsibly voting without thinking.
Most analysts believe that this time the people will vote for those who will sincerely, selflessly or sacrificially work for the common good of the country and implement the promises they make. The political culture must change now and those who cannot serve the people but want to do business and sometimes even criminal business in Parliament must be told to go to hell.