16th July 2000
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Sports Plus| Mirror Magazine
|There is a price attached not only
to living persons but also to the dying persons. The main factor that determines
that price has been politics. The number of those killed within a period
of somewhat more than a decade due to ethnic and class struggles, which
may be considered part of the crisis of democracy that Sri Lanka is facing,
is more than a hundred thousand. The number of those who have lost their
means of livelihood and places of residence is more than a million. There
is in the country a special fund and a special mode for paying damages
in respect of those who die and those who sustain damage as a result of
terrorist attacks. During the UNP regime the amount paid in respect of
an ordinary citizen who died as a result of terrorist attacks was Rs. 50,000.
The amount paid in respect of a politician, from a MP to a Cabinet Minister
was Rs. 600,000. The amount paid in respect of a Provincial Council member
or a Provincial Council election candidate was Rs. 150,000. In respect
of any officer or soldier it was Rs. 75,000.
At the time of the second insurrection of the JVP, only in respect of those killed by the JVP could compensation be claimed.
In respect of those killed in attacks by the official and unofficial arm of the government there was no right to compensation. The policy followed in the North, too, is similar. Those attacked by the LTTE are paid compensation, but not those attacked by the government forces.
Although the members of those killed due to the crisis that had existed in the South and the crisis that existed in the South was very large, only those who could get political approval have been entitled to compensation. Of those who had been killed, too, it has been politicians who have been considered more important and in respect of whom maximum compensation has been paid.
A president, a presidential candidate, a number of cabinet ministers and a number of persons who may be considered leaders of political parties have died up to now due to these crises. The number of presidents who have survived miraculously after receiving injuries have been two. President J.R. Jayewardene survived with very minor injuries after receiving such minor injuries at a bomb explosion in Parliament. President Kumaratunga survived a destructive bomb attack, losing only one eye.
It is not clear whether any compensation was paid and if so, how much was paid in respect of Mr. Ranasinghe Premadasa who was assassinated while holding the post of president, or in respect of Mr. Gamini Dissanayake who was in the fray as a presidential candidate or in respect of Mr. Vijaya-Kumaranatunga who was assassinated at a time he was due to become a presidential candidate. The amount of compensation paid in respect of Mr. Ranjan Wijeratne, who was assassinated in a bomb attack, while holding the post of defence minister, was Rs. 600,000. The amount paid in respect of Mr. Amirthalingam, leader of the TULF, too was Rs. 600,000. This shows that the price of a politician at that time was Rs. 600,000. The price paid for an ordinary citizen was Rs. 50,000. The amount paid in respect of the Navy Commander Admiral Clancy Fernando was Rs. 75,000. While an officer of the armed forces had a value of one and a half times that of an ordinary citizen, the value of a politician was twelve times that of an ordinary citizen and eight times that of an officer of the armed forces.
Even before the bombing incident at the Town Hall grounds during the presidential election campaign various people had died through such bomb attacks during the PA regime. However, they were killed not at places of any political significance but at public places like junctions and bus halts which have no political importance. For that reason, their lives did not carry any political value.
However, those who were killed at the bombing incident on the Town Hall grounds were political supporters of the PA. Therefore they had to be treated with greater kindness. Accordingly the compensation payable to them climbed up with immediate effect. Again those who died at the bomb blast in the War Heroes' (Ranaviru) Day, too, had to be considered supporters of the PA. For that very reason, there was greater kindness and the amount of compensation was increased again. Now the amount payable to a person who is not a government servant is Rs. 200,000. To a government servant the amount is Rs. 350,000. The amount paid in respect of Mr. C.V. Gooneratne who was assassinated was Rs. Five million. That may be considered the present rate of payment for a politician. Thus the value of a politician is 25 times that of an ordinary citizen who is not also a government servant.
The value of a politician in comparison with a government servant is 14 times. The manner in which the gap between the price of an ordinary citizen and that of a politician is widening is a good indicator of the provisions of Sri Lankan democracy.
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