Maverick UNP MP and Deputy Minister Palitha Thevarapperuma was much in the news in the past few weeks. Firstly, it was for taking part in a fracas in the parliament for which he was banned from parliament for one week and secondly, for forcibly admitting a child to Kalutara Vidyalaya. Child’s parents perhaps were his political supporters and we do not challenge his right to intervene if any injustice had been done to the child, but the method employed was not certainly the best way to help someone.
The child whose application had been rejected due to some technical issue was immediately admitted to the school against the wish of the principal allegedly under force and duress of the politician. The episode was telecast to the entire country over some television channels while the principal had officially recorded that the school admission was made under duress. All this prompted the Education Minister Akila Viraj Kariyawasam to promise an inquiry over the matter.
Incidents of this nature were plenty under the previous administration when there were allegations of politicians taking the law into their hands. And this sort of behaviour by politicians at the time largely contributed to the downfall of that administration. Such acts were branded as not being in line with Good Governance, an essential feature in democracy and thus we brought in a government dedicated to Good Governance or a Yahapalanaya.
The incidents like this forcible school admission are a definite blemish on Yahapalana government. There are good people as well as bad people everywhere and Yahapalana government cannot be an exception. What is necessary is that offenders should be punished so that others with similar mentality would be deterred from acting in similar manner.
It is well known that there is a great demand for admission to popular schools and if this incident is taken lightly, in future there will be many more similar incidents where parents will visit principals accompanied by local politicians. This will lead to a culture where government servants will have to perform their duties under force and duress rather than on their own free will.
The incident also brings home the dire need for general discipline in our political culture and the relevancy of party discipline as well as a code of ethics for parliamentarians. History repeats itself and the reality of politics is that even yahapalanaya has room for Mervyn Silvas and the likes.