Well what do you know! Our mettlesome minister in charge of the country’s law and order Sagala Ratnayaka made a foray into the Cinnamon Gardens Police Station last week and discovered multiple horrors we are told in news reports. To enumerate them all in some detail would take more editorial space than the editor would [...]


These days of low and odour


Well what do you know! Our mettlesome minister in charge of the country’s law and order Sagala Ratnayaka made a foray into the Cinnamon Gardens Police Station last week and discovered multiple horrors we are told in news reports. To enumerate them all in some detail would take more editorial space than the editor would be prepared to spare given that more noteworthy happenings are being recorded almost daily and deserve closer public attention.

Minister of Law and order Sagala Ratnayaka made a foray into the Cinnamon Gardens Police Station last week and discovered multiple horrors.

In these times of free speech (I didn’t ask Malinga or Lakshan Dias for their opinions of course) does it really matter that cynics tend to call this portfolio the Ministry of Low and Disorder? I mean here is a minister who gets up quite early in the morning (for a politician that is) to go barging into this Colombo 7 police station to see whether the policemen and women are up and about doing their bit to satisfy the fitness schedule recommended by Sports Minister Dayasiri Jayasekera. He orders all guys and dolls determined to represent the national team in anything from ata bola to money laundering to graft passing as swiftly as the baton-changing in some track events, to be as fit as a second fiddle.

Minister Jayasekera I understand did not wake up early just to go see what the cops were doing. He was actually doing a brisk walk round the track at Independence Square in his jogging kit and all when he was suddenly struck with a bright idea, though thankfully not with the same dire consequences of lightning striking a coconut tree.

Others say the astute minister had planned it all along with the cunning of a posse of policemen waiting to book errant drivers crossing the white line while dozens of motorcyclists including policemen rode on the pavements driving harried pedestrians on to the streets. Having failed to contact senior policemen of the area on their mobile phones – police batteries appear to have run down – Minister Ratnayaka tracked down the top cop who was exercising both brawn and brain at the police grounds.

Whether the IGP said “yes sir, no sir, three bags full sir” or words to that effect as he was once caught on video camera reportedly telling some big wig a couple or more months ago of which nothing further has been heard, the police chief came running – well not exactly – to meet the minister.
While he came post-haste our postal service is in no haste to deliver the mail what with its employees going on strike like those dunderheads of the GMOA whose only service to humanity is calculated in rupees or, where possible, in other currencies.

While the media debates whether the minister’s unexpected arrival was pre-planned or a sudden dawning sparked off by one of Galagoda Atte Gnanasara Thera’s forceful incursions into Buddhist thought and other far less philosophical terrain, what is most interesting is what the minister discovered in his ascent to the top of the 10-storey building in search of the truth.

The further he climbed the Himalayan heights of this premier police station the more he appears to have come across mounds of uncleared garbage around stairwells, showers that showered no water and washrooms as parched as the dry zone. It drove residents in search of water to cleanse body and soul. This demanded immediate repair – not the soul which some might claim is beyond redemption after other activities came to light.

So while other high and mighty persons in the yahapalanaya Government were proposing one solution or the other to end the garbage menace and lesser beings in ministries and in provincial administrations were running round threatening the public trying to dispose of their garbage with a revival of the Spanish inquisition here were the forces of law and order adding to the odour that is fast engulfing the capital.

Hark back to the first months of the National Unity Government some two years ago when ministers of different political hues were promising to end the garbage pile-up before the next plastic bags ended up in Meethotamulla. The same ministers and more continue to make the same pledges earning the sobriquet “most promising politicians”.

They have turned out to be the most promising in this day and age and the promises made since August 2015 make the rubbish that continuously emanates from Diyawanna Oya easily dwarf the sky-high accumulation at Meethotamulla. Just recently Provincial Councils Minister Faiszer Musthapha struck by a brain wave suggested that residents dump their household waste in garden pits to make compost. Bright idea! That is if you have the space and do not mind living alongside malodorous waste as noxious as the hate speeches of pretentious preachers of tolerance, ahimsa and national honour.

The next thing you know a horde of officials from multiple institutions will descend on you for creating breeding grounds for dengue mosquitoes, for collecting garbage and disposing of it without saying where to dispose of it, and half a dozen policemen determined to charge you for one thing or the another.

What of those thousands of residents who now live in high-rise and high-priced apartment blocks, some labelled luxury flats? I suppose they can send their garbage down the chute whereas the country’s poor and ill-affordable citizenry must find a place to dump their rubbish. They must do so clandestinely if they are not to be caught by the cops and fined or hauled before some magistrate for transporting rubbish. Yes the same policemen that have accumulated all that rubbish in their own backyard named Cinnamon Gardens.

However much uncleared garbage and the inability of our political maestros to find a solution to it over the years without passing the buck (some bucks stay stuck) from one authority to the other has turned into a national shame and disaster, the jewel in the crown of the Sagala saga lies elsewhere.
If news reports are correct the Cinnamon Gardens police station premises has been turned into a parking lot for three-wheelers. Seeing many of them parked there Minister Ratnayaka may have been prompted to congratulate the khaki-clad (not for long if IGP Jayasundara has his way) for arresting errant drivers and hauling them to the police station.

The truth however lies not in the dutifulness but the deceitfulness of the long arm of the law. To go by the news report, these three-wheelers are not owned by wayward drivers but by policemen attached to the Colombo 7 police station and have sought to kill two birds with one tuk-tuk, as it were.
So when passing the Cinnamon Gardens station if your eyes settle on row upon row of tuk-tuks as they are popularly called you should not stop to applaud the khakied-kind for doing their duty. Rather they should be cheered for their entrepreneurship and their ability to do one job while probably reporting for duty in another job which calls for skillful time management, if that is what it is.

Whether the three-wheelers are actually owned by those policemen or perform the tasks for the real owners for a fee is a matter that should be officially investigated. That is a forlorn hope given the kind of hoodwinking that goes on in the country.

Apparently the minister wanted to see the OIC of the station. There has not been one for nine months, it is said. The acting-OIC was not to be found. Perhaps he was on a hire, who really knows. It sure seems a lucrative business what with so many schools including the minister’s alma mater round the corner.

Some months ago I saw on two different days two policemen in uniform driving tuk- tuks near the Kirulapone bridge. One of them dropped two persons from the rear seat quite close to the police station there. I wondered what that was all about. After the Sagala saga I know better.

Just to revert to what seems like a Minister Dayasiri Jayasekera ‘fetish’ about a healthy body I wondered why he limited his sound idea to sportspersons only. What of tuk-tuk driving policemen who might be putting on weight that could prevent them from chasing away that pestilence called doctors of the GMOA? Indeed what about our irreplaceable politicians? Surely we cannot afford to lose any of them through obesity or any other health hazard such as striking doctors.

An ancient Roman satirist Juvenal once said “mens sana in corpora sano” meaning a healthy mind in a healthy body. Minister Jayasekera is only concerned with a healthy body for sportsmen. He has not said a wise word about his own kind. Is that because MPs are entitled to free head, foot and body massages at public expense?

A foot massage is indeed important for MPs some of whom don’t have a leg to stand on, judging by arguments they come up in parliament, the media and elsewhere. That is why a head massage for some MPs might be considered essential for it would help keep the grey cells functioning.
As for the body massage which all come summa, perhaps Minister Jayasekera might suggest that all new MPs entering parliament be measured round the waist and weighed and the process repeated every six months.

That might indicate to Minister Jayasekera who really needs physical exercise. As for head massages improving thinking processes I’m afraid it will have to be left for parliament to think that through. Good heavens.

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