Groundviews

President Sirisena’s broken promises: Start with ensuring justice to Wasim Thajudeen

Photo courtesy Bloomberg

Wasim Thajudeen’s death and lackluster investigations took center stage during the run up to the August 2015 general elections. His body was exhumed, and after further examination was reburied a few days ago. I was a witness to the exhumation at the Dehiwela Mohiyadeen Jummah masjid. The media and civil society who were very vocal about Wasim’s death inquiry have now joined the political vultures and are forgetting Wasim. Was this part of the election agenda of a vested few. Muslim families usually are reluctant to agree to an autopsy, and exhuming a buried person is a whole lot worse. Islam lays down strict directives on the treatment of a dead person. Extreme care needs to be exercised even when the dead body is washed prior to burial. Yet the entire Muslim community was supportive of the exhumation of Wasim Thajudeen because they wanted to see justice.

Rumors and social media implicate many (wheeler-dealers) who were attempting, prior to the general elections to get Wasim’s family to issue statements implying that they did not suspect foul play. Whether this was for political advantage at the elections or an attempt of a cover-up is difficult to judge. Further, various stories have been leaked to imply that Thajudeen was drunk and his drunken state caused the motor accident. This is the worst form of intimidation that one could cause the family, as Islam forbids the consumption of alcohol and the family would not want any discussion leading to this stigma. Whether, Thajudeen consumed alcohol or not is between him and his creator. Allah Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala is the greatest forgiver and the family should not worry about the embarrassment that is attached to this accusation.

Whatever the cause of Wasim’s death, his family, friends and the general public in Sri Lanka need to know what happened to this lovable rugger-rite of repute. Even though I did not know Wasim Thajudeen personally, I was a great fan of him in the field of rugby at St. Thomas’s Collage and Havelocks sports club. People who know him well enough swear by his kindness and sincerity.

President Sirisena, in his speech at the United Nations sessions assured that every Sri Lankan citizen’s rights would be protected. I call upon President Sirisena, Prime Minister Ranil Wickramasinghe and the Inspector General of Police to ensure that the rights of Wasim’s, mother and siblings are protected. The perpetrators of the murder of Wasim Thajudeen, if proven will have to be brought to justice, whether they are former political VIPs, the police, service personnel or any other. Sri Lankan’s should not go to sleep until justice is delivered to this once adored rugger-rite.

Nepotism

One of President Sirisena’s strongest campaign slogans during his presidential bid was the Rajapaksa nepotism. He wowed that he would keep his family out of politics. Yet, today, we see his “Chattu” doing a Namal in Polannaruwa and Daham behaving like the crown prince at the United Nations. These excesses probably come when the fruits of power make leaders immune to social conscience. These are fundamentals that need to be checked under YAHAPALANAYA.

Environmental Disasters

The multi national Coco Cola Company is the prime suspect in the “coke spill” into the Kelani River, now claimed to contain cancer-causing waste. The drinking water for the residents of Colombo comes from the Kelani River. The first move the nation expected from our environmentalist President was an immediate order for a credible inquiry. No one, not even the wealthy multi-national corporates, should be allowed to kill our citizens by poisoning our drinking waters. Regretfully, our president as minister of Environment revoked even the temporary suspension of the Coco Cola bottler’s environmental license. Our president seems to have joined the local print and electronic media that refrained from naming or reporting this dastardly act, fearing the wrath of the multi-national’s advertising budget. Are we waiting for a Bhopal style disaster to happen before the government considers appropriate action?

Undesirables in Parliament

The president has also betrayed the nation by bringing in to parliament, some of the most notorious suspected criminals of the former regime through the national list of the UPFA even though the people, using their franchise chose to reject them. In the guise of a national government, he has provided ministerial portfolios to these suspected criminals, merely to save his SLFP fragmenting. He is accused of allowing an exit opportunity for big time rogues who plundered the country through massive fraud and scandals. It was the UPFA government (the current president was a prominent member of the cabinet) that claimed to have taken in to custody KP in an Israeli style capture of the notorious arms procurer and head of fund raising of the LTTE. Rumors abound that a self-proclaimed terrorism expert negotiated the deal for Sri Lankan political VIPs to share the LTTE loot in exchange for KP’s safety and security. How can our Attorney General, now say that KP cannot be charged for criminal liability. How come the notorious war criminal whose bomb purchases killed hundreds in the Dehiwela train, Central Bank and other numerous civilian massacres of the LTTE has suddenly become a darling angel. Was it not KP’s arms purchase that was responsible for the death of thousands of our gallant servicemen?

Diplomatic Success

Mr. President, you have received a right royal welcome from members of your Sri Lanka Freedom Party on your return from the United Nations with cutouts and posters plastered all over the city highlighting your diplomatic achievements in New York. Will we witness the repeat of the eye sore cutouts that your predecessor, Mahinda Rajapaksa plastered all over the city during his hey days.

The new found SLFP friends of President Sirisena have started singing hosannas as they did of King Mahinda, and will certainly make our president believe that it was the Sri Lanka Freedom Party that could strengthen his presidency. The President seems to enjoy the attention bestowed on him from the diplomatic coup that Sri Lanka achieved with the international community after the January Presidential elections. I am yet to hear our President crediting Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera and Prime Minister Ranil Wickramasinghe for the diplomatic maneuvering that crowned the President’s visit to the United Nations. All that would be left now would be for the Wimal Weerawansa’s and Dinesh Gunawardene’s to join the fray and our President could consider a second and third term as executive President. There is so much truth in the old adage that “POWER CORRUPTS”.