Vital pillars of democracy crumbling - Editorial     Follow

In one of the most shocking disclosures of the conduct and character of a senior police officer, the CID told courts on Thursday that DIG Vaas Gunawardena who has been remanded on charges of abducting and killing a businessman, had allegedly threatened the CID officers that he was a murderer and would deal with the detectives when he was released.

The CID in a report to the Colombo Magistrate said, DIG Gunawardena when he was questioned at the CID office had angrily got up from his seat and the told the detectives led by ASP Shani Abeysekera - “Shani I am a killer. When I get out you will know what I will do to you.” The detectives said they saw it as a grave threat to them and their families.

This case against DIG Gunawardena comes four years after he, his wife and son were accused of abducting and assaulting a student of the Sri Lanka Institute of Information Technology after a dispute between the student Nupuna Ramanayake and the DIG’a son.

What the DIG did after 2009 or before that has not been disclosed but it shows a breakdown in the police service and the resultant lawlessness mainly due to the politicisation of the police.

In a widely-watched TV talk show on Thursday on the theme of the proposed code of ethics for journalists and the need for codes of ethics for others, especially politicians, JVP frontliner Sunil Handunneththi probably was closest to the target on why there was a breakdown of values, ethics and the rule of law.

He said the pillars and key institutions of democracy were crumbling one by one. They included the once wide, vibrant and independent parliament, the independent judiciary and the free media. The MP said his party believed the main reasons for this were the selfishness, self-centredness, the greed and the self righteous hypocracy promoted by the system of the globalised capitalist market economy.

In Sri Lanka this system, where the rich are becoming richer and the poor poorer, was imposed along with what was widely seen as a bane or a curse - the executive presidential system.

If it was terrible then, it is horrible now, with the imposition of the 18th Amendment where absolute power given to one person or family appears to be corrupting absolutely.

Therefore, without tackling the symptoms or creating a big crisis over the 13th Amendment  which has been in operation for more than 25 years, Government leaders along with the opposition parties and civic action groups need to reflect on effective steps to give a human face to the market economy, and scrap the Executive Presidential System as outlined in the draft constitution proposed by the UNP.

While these structural readjustments take place, it is vital and necessary for political, religious and other leaders to be aware of the need to set an example or lead by the example, and walk the talk.

They can continue preaching morning, noon and night, but if they do not practise what they preach they will be seen as sanctimonious humbugs and people will not listen to them or follow them.

For instance there is a growing campaign to ban cattle slaughter and the killing of all animals. Morality or mercy cannot be fully imposed by law and a living example is more powerful. Therefore implementing vegetarianism at the five-star restaurant of the parliamentary complex will be a good way to begin a code of ethics for politicians.

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