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Cleansing the law

by Gayan Abeykoon
November 14, 2023 1:00 am 0 comment

According to a news report, the Officer In Charge (OIC) of the Nilaweli Police has been arrested having been found in the possession of 25 grams of the dangerous narcotic ICE. The OIC was taken into custody by the Police Anti-Narcotics Bureau (PNB) and produced before Courts.

To think that the Police only two months ago was shown on TV opening schoolbags of students near top Colombo schools to check whether they were carrying ICE in their bags. Now we have an OIC, no less, caught in the possession of the same deadly narcotic. Could anything be more astounding?

This is not the first occasion that our men in Khaki had been arrested for engaging in the drugs trade. Last year four sleuths of the PNB itself were taken into custody for the same offence.

The ordinary cops will now have little compunction in taking to the drug business with gusto, with an OIC showing them the way – not to mention a surge in bribery and corruption among the Khaki brigade.

Already, the Police Service tops the list of complaints received by the Bribery Commission (CIABOC) during the first six months of this year. It was only recently that Public Security Minister Tiran Alles spoke of examining the bank accounts of certain top brass in the Police Service following the revelation that they had been closely associated with some drug kingpins.

There have also been accusations that the Police are deliberately playing down charges against suspects taken before Courts for drug-related offences so that they may escape punishment, in return for financial considerations. Police officers are also known to take ‘something’ from illegal hooch distillers. Is it any wonder that the Kasippu business, which incidentally does not pay a red cent to the State in the form of taxes, is flourishing despite the continuous raids reportedly being conducted by Police?

Of course, there are honest and dedicated officers who are above board and cannot be bought over. But they seem to be in the minority. It could be that poor pay has driven the Police to resort to bribery. The risks involved in the job too may also be a justification for some cops to take bribes. Is it any wonder that the law and order situation has deteriorated to such an extent with the guardians of the law encouraging lawbreakers by resorting to bribery and even engaging in the illegal drug business, with top officers no less showing the way to their lesser minions.

All this no doubt has caused the Police to lose the respect and regard of the public. It has also failed to evoke fear and awe not only among wrongdoers but also among the ordinary public. The confrontational attitude displayed towards Police officers by parties in protests and demonstrations bears this out in ample measure. Such a scenario was unthinkable in the past where the Khaki uniform was a symbol of law and authority.

The politicization of the Police force also has gone on to sully its reputation in the eyes of the public. It is time therefore that the Police Service undergo a thorough overhaul. It should be rebranded and made to fit into the present-day demands, given the new dimensions of law and order. No politician should be allowed to interfere with Police business. The Police Service should be given a whole new facelift so that it would once again win the confidence of the public and restore it to its former glory days.

The quintessential journalist

The local newspaper world, no doubt, will be poorer by the passing away of veteran journalist and Editor Gamini Weerakoon who was well-known for his satirical writing style not to mention the wit and humour contained in his columns and articles that were much looked forward to by the English readership.

“Gamma”, as he was popularly known in media circles, wrote with feeling and always called a spade a spade never mind how mighty and powerful the target of his article or editorial was. He wrote widely on a variety of topics, but his political satire certainly provided for irresistible reading on Sundays.

Starting his long journalistic career at Lake House where he eventually became the News Editor of our sister paper The Sunday Observer, Weerakoon was eagerly recruited by business magnate Upali Wijewardene when the latter started The Island newspaper in the early eighties. Weerakoon was made Chief Editor of both the Daily Island and its weekend edition The Sunday Island. He held both positions for a number of years.

Gamma was the quintessential journalist – warts and all and took to writing like a duck to the water. In fact, the old Thomian gave up university studies to focus on full-time journalism. He will certainly be missed by all his surviving colleagues of the old school of journalism and his wide circle of readers. He also groomed many journalists who hold top positions in local journalism today. The void left in the local newspaper world by his passing will certainly be difficult to fill.

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