06 JANUARY 2008: As a political hit man to President Mahinda Rajapakse, Dr. Mervyn Silva would be entitled to a double PhD. He has the perfect qualifications. An impressive entourage of gangsters, drug dealers and double murder suspects, no sense of shame and a vocabulary that would make a sailor blush. He is also a political prostitute lurking endlessly in the bordellos of power and snapping at the crumbs thrown down at him.
In Mahinda Rajapakse, a village bumpkin from Medamulane who would not hesitate to call up an editor and insult his mother as part of his daily routine, Mervyn Silva has met his match. By a happy coincidence for the Rajapakse family they are on the same side.
Patronage must end
But if this country is not to turn into a country of blackguards and scoundrels, political patronage of the likes of Kudu Lal and Kudu Nuwan, of Mervyn and Malaka, of the late Wambotta, and an endless stream of underworld gangsters, must come to an abrupt halt.
Dignified ordered averted as chaos reigns
There is an uncomfortable poetic justice in the events of December 27 as hundreds of angry employees of the Rupavahini Corporation turned on Mervyn and his security thugs. Decorum would have perhaps been better served had these hapless employees watched as Mervyn with the full blessings of the Rajapakse regime roughed up their news director. Dignified order would have been better played out if the news director and the scores of witnesses to the unwarranted attack had filed a complaint at the police station instead.
But in a nation that has sacrificed the rule of law at the altar of political greed even the most genteel and dignified among us may reluctantly agree that the employees had no other choice as they turned their wrath on the man who had so insulted them. The employees were emboldened to action also by several articles published in The Sunday Leader newspaper which had resulted in Mervyn Silva’s wayward son serving jail time following a series of investigative pieces by me.
Futility of complaining
Be that as it may the futility of a police complaint becomes painfully obvious as the government enacts yet another farce of an investigation. The Central Committee of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party last week had decided to appoint a committee comprising Ministers Nimal Siripala de Silva, John Seneviratne and Governor Alavi Moulana to inquire into the incident while Media Minister and Cabinet Spokesman Anura Priyadarshana Yapa has appointed a one man commission to probe the case.
Nonetheless soon the government print media twisted the focus towards the conduct of the employees of the Rupavahini Corporation and calls were made to hold an inquiry. To save face the government even attempted to pin the blame on opposition elements. However by another happy coincidence the annual AGM of the SLRC UNP trade union was being held that very day and all its members had been on leave to participate at the event.
However Mervyn Silva who together with his thugs fiercely abused state employees remains the non cabinet minister for labour relations, and if there is an irony in that it is not the government that has seen it.
Doctors run away
While the SLFP General Secretary Maithripala Sirisena publicly condemned Mervyn Silva�s thuggish behaviour and promised an inquiry, President Rajapakse was tip toe-ing into the hospital room wherein Mervyn Silva lay his battered head.
Earlier, doctors at the National Hospital like the rest of Sri Lanka who had been watching the live, unedited performance courtesy the state Rupavahini, baulked at attending to the man. A gaggle of doctors mysteriously took half day’s leave as Mervyn arrived to take up lodgings at the premises his ganglions vibrating while his security guards were perhaps thinking of migrating.
President Rajapakse gently sat at the unwilling patient’s bedside and comforted him vowing to bring the culprits at Rupavahini to book. Later Rajapakse’s security was to arrive in hospital and whisk him away to safer pastures.
And Rajapakse was not his only visitor. Sajin Vass Gunawardena took time off his busy schedule running a budget airline to take up a note book and pencil and hurry to Mervyn’s side where he had been given a presidential order to take down the names and descriptions of those who attacked Mervyn’s sacred person.
Night time visitor
But President Percival Rajapakse did not curtail his support for Mervyn to a silent nightly visit. After all it is reported the President was fully aware of the background to the incident and Mervyn typically called Temple Trees from the Rupavahini chairman’s room. The doctor of sorts was also heard to claim he visited Rupavahini with the blessings of the President.
At the cabinet meeting last week while discussing the important issue of annulment of the CFA, to the President, foremost in his mind was the Mervyn issue. He was to quickly approach the topic and spoke in favour of his Silva. No doubt Rajapakse in many ways identified and sympathised with him, both hailing from Medamulane as it were.
President Percy trivialised Mervyn Silva’s actions as a ‘small mistake’ and was more keen to focus on the conduct of the state employees. He angrily inquired as to how the unedited version of the entire proceedings had been telecast by stopping all regular programmes and insisted a state institution must do the bidding of the government in power and should not have shown a minister being humiliated.
Even as Minister John Seneviratne softly pointed out that Mervyn did not act like a minister that day, Rajapakse was nonplussed, perhaps genuinely, who knows.
Culture of impunity
How, the President asked, did they take the law into their own hands? The answer is simple. Though not evidently to Percy. A culture of impunity has pervaded this island. If a government does not live by the rule of law it will surely die by the unruly mob.
Mervyn meanwhile has caused a furore among doctors with some contemplating tough legal action against bodies and institutions who confer doctorates on all and sundry without due process and acceptable criteria. Mervyn was gifted his doctorate by the current head of Medicina Alternativa Dr. Geethanjan Mendis. It was also Mendis who issued a controversial medical certificate to Mervyn’s son Malaka to get him out of remand hospital and on to a National Hospital bed.
There is a disgust that consumes one on hearing Mervyn liken his treatment at the hands of state media staff to the suffering of Jesus Christ at the crucifixion. It is a disgust that remains when one comes to the realisation that Mervyn is merely a symptom of a larger malady that ails this nation
Twenty Four hours after Boxing Day last year, Mervyn Silva was to get a rude shock as Rupavahini employees took matters into their own hands. Perhaps in his memory the day after Boxing Day should be renamed Boxing Mervyn Day.
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