28 January 2014

Mervin’s ‘love’



The media loves Mervin Silva (Doctor).  The controversial minister (‘maverick’ to some) can always be counted on for a juicy quote even when he’s not doing his best to conjure up a juicy story for the media.  Silva is back.  He has been re-appointed as the ruling party’s Organizer of the Kelaniya electorate and few will doubt that he won’t be up to the kinds of antics that made him the media’s darling for quite the wrong reasons, of course.   
People might recall that he was removed from that post following association with a suspect in the murder of Hasitha Madawala.   Although the ruling party has on numerous occasions pledged to inquire into the minister’s conduct, there’s no evidence that any investigation was ever carried out.   
He has never been disciplined.

Forget the United People’s Freedom Party and its internal disciplinary issues; this individual has flouted the law in the full face of the media and in the presence of law enforcement authorities on many occasions.  He was never arrested.  That is an affront to the Rule of Law and moreover a scar on the democratic values that the Government is required and pledges to uphold.  All this is known.   

The party doesn’t seem to be ruffled by the history.  As for the people, they backed him well at the last election although he had a pretty sordid history even then.  What kind of self-inflicted scar that people’s decision was is something that voters need to reflect on.  History shows that they probably would not.  Troublesome, to say the least.

Upon his return he has said, perhaps by way of explaining party leniency, that the President loves him.  It was reported in one newspaper in even stranger terms: ‘The President is in love with me!’  Perhaps it is beneath the President’s dignity to clarify, deny or in any other way comment on the uttering of a maverick politician, but the question of indulgence remains.

Love for Mervin or even a look-away indulgence of the man is an indictment on party, party leader and a voting public.  What it means that there’s a general adoration of all things that can be detrimental to democracy and rule of law. 

President Rajapaksa has not declared love for Mervin Silva.  He hasn’t said he loves the maverick politician in return.  He is not the kind of leader who believes that punishment always works, after all during his tenure over 11,000 members of a terrorist organization were reintegrated into society after giving them marketable skills to boot, a kind of measure that would horrify for example those tasked to ensure the national security of the United States of America.  He has not declared abhorrence and that can be understood – it is not his style. 

Punishment and abhorrence aside, there’s absolutely no logic in reinstating this individual as party organizer which clearly means that the party which the President heads believes he has the credentials to represent the UPFA in Kelaniya.  If that’s not a sign of bad, bad, bad party thinking, what is? 

The media didn’t get its monthly dose of Mervin-quotes and some may lament that.  Society in general and the cause of democracy in particular were spared Mervin’s ‘love’, though.  Perhaps it was just too good to last.  

Malinda Seneviratne is the Editor-in-Chief of 'The Nation' and can be reached at msenevira@gmail.com
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