CABINET MINISTERS NOT ABOVE THE LAW
Dramatic turn of events were exposed in Ceylon Today (3 March) by two young men after giving chase to a black SUV jeep that attempted to escape and run, after hitting two motorcyclists in Welikada, Borella, last Sunday (28), under the headline Eyewitness Reveals Champika in Hit-and Run Drama.
The news story, which has already gone viral, gives two conflicting statements. The two young men, after giving chase to the black jeep that sped away after the accident, swear by their statements stating it was Minister Champika Ranawaka, who spoke to them when he was obstructed in trying to escape, and the other being the Police report which allegedly has changed the name of the driver at the time of the accident! The situation makes it worse by Welikada Police not allowing the petitioners (the young men) to read the report lodged after the accident, the Police officials requesting them to 'simply sign at the bottom of the report'!
The young men who chased after the jeep insist in their statement that they followed the jeep and blocked it so that the driver had no option but to stop the fleeing vehicle. At that moment they seem to confirm that the driver at the wheel came out stating, "I am the Minister Champika. I admit the fault. Let's go to the Borella Police".
People in this country have elected a new administration called Yahapalanaya (Just Government) to ensure that justice prevails by eradicating the 'evil that existed'! But this incident, no doubt, is a clear-cut indication to prove the Sinhala dictum, 'Cotte Maaru Kalata Oliwe Riduma nam gihin neha' (Changing the pillow has not resulted in curing the headache) !
The Thesaurus describes the word 'Privilege' as a special entitlement or immunity granted by the State or another authority to a restricted group. Etymologically, a privilege means a private law to a specific individual(s) or special powers held as a consequence of political power or wealth.
In Sri Lanka people have been democratically electing, over a period of years, powerful cliques as VIPs and VVIPs to uplift the whole nation to prosperity with commitment. One may turn a Nelsonian eye to the ineffectiveness or on the performance of those who were elected, but one cannot completely ignore the repugnance felt by society on the gross abuse of power by some rotten eggs in the VVIP mixed bag.
Undertaking the full responsibility to conduct and maintain a yahapalanaya would be an arduous task for President Maithripala Sirisena alone, which requires collective commitment. The representatives were appointed by him and the Prime Minister to this contemporary lot of VIPs perhaps thinking they are 'well burnt bricks in Sri Lankan political ovens,' to ensure that 'the Nation Building' was properly constructed according to the President's blueprint.
But the above-mentioned incident goes to show how unpleasant, dreadful and outrageous for a Senior Minister of the Yahapalanaya Cabinet to act in such a disdainful manner by not even stopping the vehicle after knocking down a motorist on a public road and to vanish from the scene. Certainly there are no words in the English language to describe such a tyrannical act, which is against the Sri Lankan Law in the first instance (to hit and run), which the whole country should condemn as an outrageous act.
Motorcyclists and Accidents
It is an accepted fact that motor cyclists are not angels on Sri Lankan roads, but a real nuisance at times when they creep in and out of traffic like cockroaches even taking chances on their own dear lives. But that does not make it a right for anyone (according to the Law of this country) to ' hit and run' allowing the victim to die on the road! This sort of behaviour cannot at any rate be expected from a Senior Member of President Sirisena's Cabinet.
One could expect irrational behaviour in Sri Lanka when an accident occurs; especially at times the victim dies on the spot. In such instances it has gone on record that onlookers and the public going berserk and attacking the driver, and setting fire to concerned vehicle as well, even if the driver is innocent, but in this instance being the minister a VVIP should have shown more respect and decent behaviour at the scene rather than absconding from the scene especially when confronted by two youths by simply stating – (quoted in print) "I am Minister Champika. I admit the fault. Let's go to Borella Police".
In a bygone era public had seen not only VIP and VVIPs abusing their privileges, but some blue eyed lucky boys in duty free luxury cars and SUV jeeps flying on the roads with an 'army' of hell's angels to protect them and displaying typical road rage, where other road users were virtually thrown into roadside drains; their 'god given' powerful hands covered with white gloves ruled the traffic!
However, Sri Lanka today is free from such harassment thanks to a steadfast President who even instructs his chauffer, on seeing pedestrians waiting to cross at Zebra crossings, to stop his vehicle and let the public cross the road safely. At least this senior Cabinet Minister should have taken a leaf out from his Commander's book in this instance rather than behaving in such a despicable and uncouth manner. If we are to believe that no one is above the law in this country, then this kind of behaviour is indeed a downright breach of regulations.
Attorney General's version
Former Attorney General, Mohan Peiris, was once quoted as saying: "Being a Parliamentary Minister does not make anyone above the law. They were only called to Parliament to exercise their right to vote during a voting, so that parliamentary affairs could be carried out efficiently. As elected officials, ministers should not abuse the privileges given to them."