By Shyamon Jayasinghe, writing from Melbourne

Her Excellency Mrs. Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunge, the President of Sri Lanka has just completed ten years in her position. She does treat this as a matter for self-congratulation. That can be understood. However, the important thing is for her to assess how much she has achieved for the country. History will treat her solely on such an assessment and not for her sense of self-glory.

We are afraid that little can be said in her favour so that her presidential exercise will, as it goes, turn out to be a mere exercise in power. I do not know whether any of the Lankaweb readers can educate us on this matter. What has CBK the president done for the economy? For peace? For putting her house in order and managing the country properly? Mr. Kodituwakku who wrote for Lankaweb recently had a lot to say from customs experience. We would like to be advised whether any of those allegations of personal corruption have been wrong.

One thing positive about a powerful presidential system as that prevailing in Sri Lanka is that considerable example can be sent down and diffused all over from the centre of power. Likewise, the negative example will equally be followed by those all over the administration. The top can set everything right or it can set everything wrong for the country. It can be said about President Premadasa, despite his many faults, that he did achieve an effective spread effect as far as keeping the administration tight, efficient, and responsive throughout the bureaucracy. The negatives of his personal example he successfully hid from the public during his tenure. This showed that he was personally committed to the idea of running a good administration and that was great.

The incidents having adverse spread value are, unfortunately, so many in the case of the present incumbent-CBK. Almost every day something new is surfacing. For our purpose it seems pointless and depressing to enumerate all these events. Our deep concern is that CBK is not concerned over the rot taking place around her and is in fact contributing to it with an adverse spread effect. She is not bothered even to hide it under the carpet. For the benefit of your readers we shall reproduce below an extract of a searching report from Frederica Jansz appearing in last Sunday’s Leader. Why we like this report is that it appears not slander but factual. If one reads the report in its entirety one will note that verifiable details are given-with dates, names of persons, venues etc. I am sure that Lankaweb editor will be broadminded enough to let this be published. The report is justiciable and can be challenged for accuracy at any level. Premadasa would have gone the whole hog to tackle such a report and show that it was not correct, if it was not correct. However, CBK’s concern for even making a good appearance seems absent altogether. This is our worry. The report is about a meeting CBK had arranged with OICC of the police department on the 6th of March this year. Here is the extract:

The clock had struck 8.30 p.m. by the time Kumaratunga breezed in to chair the meeting. A stickler for form when necessary, Kumaratunga asked each of the officers around the table to introduce themselves, which they dutifully did. Hardly waiting for them to finish however, the President launched into a tirade. "There is intolerable violence (bheeshanaya) in your areas," she told them. "I cannot stand (pennanna ba) these four OICs. There was mayhem in these areas in 2001 also. (PA candidate) C. B. Ratnayake's house was set on fire."

At this point OIC Ragala quietly piped in, "Your Excellency, that is not correct. No houses were burnt or set on fire in 2001. Some stones were indeed thrown, and 17 people have been charged with that offence. These include the (UNF) chairman of the Pradeshiya Sabha."

"Nonsense," retorted the President, "No cases have been filed."

"Actually they have," came back the OIC firmly but respectfully. "In fact, the case number is 19246 in the Walapane Magistrate's Court. The next hearing is set for June 11."

At this stage the IGP and DIG Wickremaratne both chirpped in that the cases had indeed been filed and the prosecution was in progress. Not deterred by having been shown to be a liar in front of minor officials, Kumaratunga went on: "People can't go on the roads in Ragala. S. B.'s(Dissanayake) father is a lunatic (pissek). His brother is madder. S. B. has robbed the people. In 2001, his wife came and fell at my feet and asked for forgiveness for what her husband was doing. C. B. Ratnayake had to hide and do politics

Again, the lowly OIC Ragala came back firmly, looking the President in the eye. "No Madam, I cannot accept that. There was no such terror in my area."

Stepping in to support his junior colleague, ASP Jayalath stated that there had been only one incident in Ragala during the past few days. At this point, former Secretary to the President Balapatabendi proved his mettle by entering the debate. "Quite right," he said. "People should attack the police for their behaviour."

Lankaweb readers would be intelligent enough to judge the ramifications of this report. We would like the Presidential Secretariat to react if the matters stated are incorrect. It is of fundamental importance to our country to be assured of the personal commitment of our president with regard to her responsibility for matters of state. The report does not bear that out. On the contrary, it is frightening. It has been said that the image of a king tumbles before his throne. Is this happening? One never knows.



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