UPFA Kalutara District MP Rohitha Abeygunawardena, yesterday, said that people expected the IGP to behave better than MPs.
Abeygunawardena, flanked by Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) Chairman Prof. G.L.Peiris and former JVP MP Siripala Amarasinghe, said so in response to The Island query at media briefing at the Nelum Mawatha Office of former President Mahinda Rajapaksa.
The Island raised the issue after Abeygunawardena alleged that IGP Pujith Jayasundera wasn’t suitable to continue in office following a spate of incidents involving him and recent derogatory statements directed at the Maha Sangha at a recent event in a government school. Abeygunawardena said that the Sirisena-Wickremesinghe administration couldn’t retain Jayasundera as the IGP in the wake of recent misconduct. The MP asserted that the IGP might have been under the influence of liquor as shown by private television stations recently. The MP insisted that the conduct of elected and appointed lawmakers and that of officials could not be compared.
Asked by The Island whether he as a lawmaker could compare the conduct of the IGP and members of parliament in the chamber where they behaved in most unruly manner, exchanged blows and in one instance harassed an MP Buddhist monk in a horrendous way when his party (UPFA) was in power, Abeygunawardena said that people’s representatives and law enforcement officers couldn’t be compared under any circumstances. According to Abeygunawardena, people’s representatives could be sent home by the electorate whereas the IGP should be dealt differently.
The Joint Opposition MP said that the uncivilized conduct on the part of the IGP could influence the entire police department. The Island sought an explanation from the MP whether he expected lawmakers to receive privileged status and be above law especially against the backdrop of his accusation made at the same media briefing that two members of the Sirisena-Wickremesinghe government sought a staggering USD 30 mn bribe from a foreign party.
Abeygunawardena insisted that law breaking lawmakers could be dealt only at elections. The IGP could not be expected to get away with such boorish behavior.
At the onset of his briefing, Abeygunawardena flayed the government for not promptly taking action against DIG Nalaka de Silva, in charge of the Terrorist Investigation Division (TID) now under probe for allegedly conspiring to assassinate President Maithripala Sirisena and former Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa. The revelation made by a civil society activist regarding the DIG’s project couldn’t be taken lightly and the government needed to take tangible measures in respect of the accusation.
Abeygunawardena asked what would have happened if such an allegation was directed against some other person.
The MP ridiculed the CID for requesting the IGP whose conduct, too, couldn’t be accepted under any circumstances, to transfer DIG Nalaka de Silva out of the TID. Later police headquarters announced the DIG under investigation was moved out to Information Technology unit.
Abeygunawardena claimed that the truth would never come out as long as the Sirisena-Wickremesinghe government remained in power.
Prof. Peiris said that the government was paying the price for utilizing specialized units meant to curb terrorism to harass rivals.
Prof. Peiris pointed out how the government jeopardized national security by doing away with the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) to appease a section of the international community and their local agents. The so-called anti-terrorism law proposed in place of the PTA was meant to protect the interests of those taken into custody on terrorism charges. The government sought to ensure the well-being of suspects by the inclusion of a line to place the responsibility of the safety and security of suspects on Magistrate.
The former External Affairs Minister also frowned on President Maithripala Sirisena’s recent declaration that he would propose suggestions in respect of Oct 2015 Geneva Resolution. The former Law Professor said that President Sirisena’s move was certainly not practical therefore nothing could be expected out of it. It would be the responsibility of relevant officials to advice the President, the former Minister said.