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 Post subject: Commandos free Sri Lanka minister from TV station
 Post Posted: Sat Jan 12, 2008 2:23 pm 
Commandos free Sri Lanka minister


BBC News / Thursday, 27 December 2007

Sri Lankan commandos have rescued a government minister from a television station where he was being held hostage after he apparently tried to storm it. Journalists locked up Labour Minister Mervyn Silva after one of his aides allegedly assaulted a news director. Furious journalists refused to let the minister leave until he had apologised.

Mr Silva was splattered with red paint. He also needed treatment for a minor head wound apparently caused by a fall as he was escorted from the building.

Mr Silva had gone to the state-run Rupavahini television to complain that it had not covered a speech he gave on Wednesday marking the re-opening of a bridge destroyed by the 2004 tsunami.

"A henchman of the minister forcefully pulled the news director and all employees are protesting demanding an apology," Rupavahini's director-general said.

The news director's shirt was ripped open, reports said.

In a statement interrupting regular scheduling the TV said the minister was being held in an office by the staff - and pictures showed Mr Silva in a small room flanked by police.

Dozens of staff could be seen protesting in the corridors, refusing to let him leave pending an apology.

Commandos and police with tear-gas were deployed around the television station as the stand-off continued.

"If my action is considered as a wrong act, I would like to apologise to the employees," the minister said, in front of a battery of cameras.

Journalists jeered as the security forces led him out of the building.

The Sri Lankan media minister, Lakshma Yapa, criticised Mr Silva's storming of the station, calling it "unfortunate".

CID grills Rupavahini officials -- Mervyn untouched



by Jayantha Sri Nissanka / LBN - 30DEC2007

The government has launched a witch-hunt against senior officials of Rupavahini who rebelled against the Labour Minister Mervyn Silva’s antics within the premises of the Rupavahini Corporation, exposing his political thuggery via a live telecast.

The CID has questioned top Rupavahini officials over the live telecast of last Thursday’s mayhem in the premises of the national television channel.

Rupavahini officials have been questioned as to why other media networks were allowed into the premises to report events which unfolded after the notorious SLFP strongman in Kelaniya, Mervyn Silva allegedly assaulted the News Director of Rupavahini, T.M.G.Chandrasekara over not reporting a speech Silva delivered at the opening of Mahanama Bridge in Matara.

Although the antics by Mervyn Silva accompanied by his underworld thugs were shown live to the nation, police are yet to take action against the notorious politico who is synonymous with thuggery.

Colombo Chief Magistrate, Macky Mohammed on Friday expressed strong displeasure over the failure of the police to act against the culprits in this regard. Instead of pressing charges against Mervyn Silva, the CID on Friday grilled senior officers of Rupavahini throughout the day, over who authorised the live telecast of the incident.

LAKBIMAnEWS learns that the government was planning to interdict many employees who took part in the ‘gherao’ protest against Silva.
The Ministry of Media and Information has found fault with senior officers and had called for an inquiry, Rupavahini senior officers told LAKBIMAnEWS. The Ministry has blamed top officials for the live telecast and warned that they would pay dearly for bringing the Government to disrepute by telecasting the mayhem uninterruptedly until Minister Mervyn Silva was evacuated by a contingent of Army Commandos.

A senior government Minister was furious over allowing Sirasa Rupavahini to telecast the incident live from the Rupavahini premises —- and allowing other Media to cover the incident.


Entire kudu underworld was with Mervyn at Rupavahini

Jayantha Sri Nissanka
LBN / 30DEC2007

Many thugs clad in Ministerial Security Division uniforms accompanied Mervyn Silva to Rupavahini last Thursday. Some of them were Lal, Bomba Saman and Kudu Anura of Maligawatte, Grandpass Tissa and Sanjiva. Bastiange Don Nuwan Udaya Gunathilaka alias Kudu Nuwan, who is a suspect in a triple murder was also there.

President Mahinda Rajapaksa has directed DIG Colombo to conduct an impartial inquiry into Mervyn Silvas’s terror drama at the Rupavahini Corporation according to Media Minister Mahinda Yapa Abeywardane.

Avoided charging

But Police investigators have purposely avoided charging Minister Mervyn Silva but have done everything possible to cover up. If Mervyn Silva was an ordinary man, surely the Police will not hesitate to charge him for aiding and abetting mayhem with the support of thugs at a state owned media institution,attacking its News Director , T.M.G. Chandrasekera . This was clearly evident when Colombo Chief Magistrate, Macky Mohamed on Friday blasted the police for their partial investigation and refused to sign the report. The Magistrate said “If I approve the report filed by the police, people will stone us.”. He warned the Police to be impartial and probe the case without taking the side of the Minister”.
He asked the police to investigate the incident properly and report back on January 11. The Magistrate ordered the arrest of all the thugs who sparked a riot at Rupavahini last Thursday - no matter what their positions were. He also queried as to the forces behind obvious Police partiality. The Magistrate also said this incident cannot be considered a minor complaint though the Cinnamon Gardens Police have recorded it in the Minor Complaints Register.

He questioned as to why the Police did not take action against persons mentioned in the Police B report. The Magistrate also raised a questioned as to who accompanied Bastiange Don Nuwan Udaya Gunathilaka alias Kudu Nuwan, who is a suspect in a triple murder to the Rupavahini premises.

In addition, many other thugs clad in Ministerial Security Division uniforms accompanied Silva. Some of them were Lal, Bomba Saman and Kudu Anura of Maligawatte, Grandpass Tissa and Sanjiva.
Considering all these actions of the Police, it is clearly evident that the Police will do everything possible to protect the shameless thug, Minister Silva. It is not that the Police deliberately want to defend Silva but is it that the Police have been under pressure to do so?

Run on a rampage

This is not the first time Silva has run on a rampage. Yet, he always has got away scot free due to the political influence he wields. In one instance, President Chandrika Bandaranike Kumaratunga once asked Silva to step down from the Deputy Labour Ministry post after he ran amok together with his son at Clancys Club.

If President Rajapaksa wanted to take action against Silva, there were many instances he could have done so in the past. But people cannot expect good governance from President Rajapaksa as he has failed to take any action against persons named in the COPE report or the Public Accounts Committee report.

Though Maithripala Sirisena condemned the action of Silva at the Rupavahini while the incident was going on, people have heard similar pledges from Sirisena earlier too. Sirisena might have issued his statement as the Secretary General of the SLFP purely to protect the image of the SLFP. When Silva abused journalists in filth once upon a time, Sirisena promised the public that the SLFP Central Committee will take serious action against Silva, but it never happened. However, people are eagerly waiting to see whether Sirisena will keep his word at least at this time, as the public has lost confidence in President Rajapaksa due to his indifferent and callous behaviour over the thug Minister —- and so many other corrupt and brutal elements in his Government.

Following are descriptions of some of the thugs who accompanied Minister Mervyn Silva to gate crash Rupavahini acting as his bodyguards.

(1) Lal Peiris: An independent member of the Colombo Municipal Council and famous figure in drug dealing, according to the Police Narcotics Bureau.

(2) Meethotamulle Nuwan: A suspect in a series of murders including a triple murder. Wellampitiya Police nabbed him recently while investigating the murder of “pas chooty” by shooting him at Wellampitiya and he was released on bail only two weeks ago. Wellampitiya Police had to surmount serious obstacles including influence from the higher echelons not to arrest him. He is the paramour of a sister of an opposition leader in a local government body in the Colombo District and he is connected to heroin dealers.

(3) Grandpass Tissa: He is one of the underworld kingpins in Grandpass. Police have identified him as the main strategist in the killing of former underworld gangster, Dhammika Amarasinghe in courts. He was arrested by the Colombo Crime Division and is on bail.

(4) Bomba Saman of Maligawatte: He was caught with bombs by the Police several times and is said to be a veteran manufacturer of bombs. He was also on bail.

 Post subject: Ten governance lessons from Mervyn Silva episode
 Post Posted: Sat Jan 12, 2008 2:27 pm 
Ten governance lessons from Mervyn Silva episode

By J.C. Weliamuna
The Nation / 30Dec2007

Mervyn Silva, some call him Dr. Mervyn or ‘Modern Dutugemunu’, (hereinafter Mervyn) is a character reflecting in today’s political culture. Politicians, sociologists, anthropologists and many others will try to understand how he operated with impunity for so long. What is attempted here is to identify some governance issues revolving around Mervyn’s political episode leading to a calamity at Rupavahini.

1. Being unhappy with insufficient prominence given in the previous day’s State television news, Mervyn has walked into the Rupavahini premises and assaulted the news editor! This is how today’s politicians understand State media. Mervyn is only one of them. All State media institutions, print or electronic, are engaged in “campaigns” for their political masters. State electronic media has, no doubt, produced good programmes but, they have continuously used news and contemporary programmes for propaganda activities, without any sense of public broadcasting. Boards of Directors are all appointed on political grounds (not on merit) and naturally, the appointing authorities do expect support in return in the form of “full prominence” at State expense.

2. An active media could not only expose these errant politicians but also control them by creating pressure on those who matter. Unfortunately, our polarised media, particularly, State media, did not sufficiently express solidarity previously, when Mervyn physically attacked journalists and private media institutions. The final (Rupavahini) episode has shown that even a polarised media can be united against a common threat, even belatedly. Hats off to the media for giving live pictures of the incident, while showing unconditional solidarity. Now, people expect the media not to give up halfway or allow compromises, short of successful prosecution of Mervyn and his gang, and expulsion from parliament once and for all. It is also important to be prepared to face persecution of Rupavahini staff at the instigation of political arm of the government.

3. Who appointed him to Parliament and then to cabinet? Mervyn has received less than 3000 preferential votes at the last general election. His wife, a National list MP, stepped down to make room for Mervyn to become an MP, after he failed to get elected. Ultimately, a person rejected by the voters was appointed a National list MP by the previous President. This raises a serious issue of the electoral system and how the system is abused by politicians. If the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) stands for democratic values, it is absolutely necessary for them to investigate the appointment of Mervyn as an MP, and take disciplinarily action for his misdemeanor. He could continue with his notorious activities with impunity, because he was appointed a minister and later, party organiser, by the present President. It is the President who is ultimately responsible for keeping him in the cabinet. Mere removal of Mervyn from cabinet at this stage, may only be a political strategy to keep him in politics, but what is required is to take this as a case study with a view to establishing rule of law even against ministers.

4. Who gave him a “Doctorate”? Obviously, those who have conferred him a bogus doctorate must be investigated to find out their expectations in awarding him such an “honour”. Awarding him an honour is certainly another contributory factor for him to continue with his thuggery.

5. No doubt, police had to protect even the suspected political thugs against attacks by unruly crowds. Police protection is at present needed more for the people than for the politicians. The policemen escorting politicians are also entitled to prevent the protected politician from engaging in unlawful activities and if necessary, to arrest them! Silence of the law enforcement officers is a matter of concern. This is probably the result of politicisation of police.

6. While being jubilant over a victory, it is pretty dangerous for the civilian population to think that the public will have more and more opportunities to physically confront politicians.

What is most likely is that opportunist politicians will use this trend to attack political opponents and critics using the unarmed civilians as a strategy. Thus the public should be careful not fall into traps of political parties, while engaging in collective action.

7. What types of bodyguards are used by today’s politicians? There is no screening of bodyguards and it is no secret that army deserters and criminals seek refuge under politicians, without any accountability. They are allegedly used by politicians when they need extra legal support to attack institutions, individuals and opponents. Who pays these thugs and under what accounts? Thus, there is a grave need to identify the aspect of financial irregularity and security threats created as a result of such recruitments.

8. Rupavahini footage shows that Mervyn was using “CC numbered” unregistered vehicles, which is an offence under section 2 of the Motor Traffic Act read with its regulations. He is always accompanied in these vehicles by thugs and protected by policemen; but why no prosecutions? Should not police take actions on this not following the normal law of the country?

9. Gun packing politician had to surrender to unarmed staff of the Rupavahini Corporation! The staff has shown that only spontaneous struggles can be successful in the face of armed political thugs. This also proves that no political ideology or political party leadership is needed to face threats of this nature, whatever the struggle may be. However, the staff needs more protection now than before, because there can be retaliations in the form of interesting investigations, at the instigations of the political masters. In that context, the staff has to be prepared to challenge the politically motivated groups of policemen and other investigations, which will be conducted probably by a set of stooges, handpicked by someone interested in the whole thing.

10. The President and the SLFP have now made statements to the effect that they will take tough action against Mervyn.

The final lesson to learn is not to take politicians’ public announcements seriously, until action is taken. It was also reported that the President had found fault with Rupavahini for giving undue publicity to Mervyn Silva’s issue! Among the possibilities are Mervyn being excluded (or being dropped half way), in a possible prosecution, unless there is a vigilant monitoring of the entire judicial process. Whether ‘B’ reports filed by police will contain true statement of facts is another issue because, it is alleged that he managed to substitute ‘B’ reports in his son’s case. This is a question of rule of law!

The above issues emphasise the need to have a fuller and comprehensive analysis of the situation rather than taking Mervyn’s Rupavahini episode in isolation.

The writer is an Attorney-at-Law

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