Just when you thought that all our political offspring are now civilised, they have hit the headlines again.
It was only a few weeks ago that cricketer and political brat Ramith Rambukwella, son of former Minister Keheliya Rambukwella was charged with drunken driving.
Rambukwella has a colourful history, once even attempting to open the door of an aircraft while under the influence of alcohol and on another occasion using his influence to intimidate the Principal of his school but his misdemeanours appear to pale into insignificance compared to what happened last week.
A politician’s son is alleged to have vandalised a night club in the city with the assistance of his security detail in the wee hours of the morning after being denied entry to the premises previously.
There appears to be confusion as to who the alleged offender is, with claims, counter claims and speculation taking over making it difficult to separate fact from fiction.
This malady of political offspring taking the law into their own hands and behaving as if they were a law unto themselves is nothing new in recent times. They seem to develop a sense of impunity and immunity from prosecution, based on the power their parents enjoy.
Because of this, the offspring of various politicians such as Mervyn Silva, former President Mahinda Rajapaksa, Rambukwella, S. B. Dissanayake, Rajitha Senaratne and even President Maithripala Sirisena have attracted the attention of the public at various times.
This is in contrast to previous tradition where the children of politicians still took to politics but were well behaved and were role models to the youth in their day.
We haven’t heard of Dudley Senanayake walking on the streets intoxicated, have we? Nor have we seen Chandrika Kumaratunga or Anura Bandaranaike travelling around in their parents’ vehicles terrorising people. Neither did Sajith Premadasa run amok trying to force his way into night clubs!
At some point, that political culture where the children of politicians had to lead exemplary lives changed in the diametrically opposite direction: they became little monsters drunk with power, indulging in indiscretion as and when they pleased and then relying on their parents’ ability to ‘hush things up’ to evade justice.
The blame for this must rest fairly and squarely not with the children of politicians but first and foremost with their parents who spared the rod and spoilt the child. So, they oblige readily in trying to cover their misdemeanours instead of disciplining their children.
Let us make it clear to everyone that the latest ‘scandal’ is not an ‘isolated incident’. It is instead a symptom of a greater malady: the cancer of impunity that has spread its tentacles throughout the country’s political system, taking not only politicians but also their children in its grip.
Those who campaigned for a change of government in early 2015 made much of this fact. They promised to usher in a new era where all would be equal before the law and politicians- and their children- would be dealt with by law enforcement authorities without fear or favour.
The latest incident is a test case to see whether such changes have, in fact, taken place. We do not wish to add to the already wild speculation as to who the alleged offender was.
The general public expect firm direction from President Maithripala Sirisena upon his return to the country and we hope a clearer picture of what actually transpired will emerge. What we do not want is the usual ‘ah, boys will be boys’ explanation.
Voters elect politicians to serve them, not to have their children roam the streets spreading terror and mayhem with scant respect for the law of the land. In more civilised countries too such incidents sometimes occur but when they do, there is usually only one outcome: the offender is punished and the parent politician is compelled to resign.
Ah, but then, this is Sri Lanka, a land like no other!