Hirunika’s fall from grace
The Sri Lankan political landscape has been built on power inherited
through the generations and is steeped in a culture of political
aggrandisement, high-handedness and thuggery.
- Human Rights Commission commences inquiry
against MP Premachandra
- Magistrate Court asks TV stations for
video footage of media conference
- Suspects in remand till January 4
- MP Premachandra makes contradictory
- Court seeks telephone call log of
- Attorney General to decide next course of
- Vigilante violence and its political
Violence, intimidation and impunity have been hallmarks of a
regressive political culture with a few individuals and literally no
party is free from this taint. Many attribute these acts of law breaking
and violence to the late 1970s, when during President J.R. Jayewardene’s
rule, this was their format of governance. During the final years of his
Dharmishta society, political thuggery metamorphosed into insurgency and
bloody battles, one of the last vestiges of the Premadasa era.
The recent incident where United National Front MP Hirunika
Premachandra had allegedly aided and abetted the abducting of a
34-year-old worker from a drapery store in Dematagoda in an attempt to
settle a domestic dispute was heavily criticised by the public.
Overnight social media became a hive of activity with many regaling the
incident as a black mark on the white banner of Yahapalanaya.
Many found her behaviour intolerable, solely because of the political
sponsorship she received when she shifted allegiance to a government
that has been demonstrating political maturity and respect for
democratic principles. The act was indeed unbecoming.
This incident highlights the zenith of such acts perpetrated by
politicians. A politician’s dependency on a supporter, rests on how
mutually beneficial the relationship is. Hence when a supporter requests
for assistance from an MP, more often than not, the MP would proudly
exercise his or her authority even in the form of ‘vigilante violence’.
“She was brought up in an appalling political culture and condition.
She should either resign or admit the mistake,” said Prof. Rajiva
Wijesinha. “She contradicted herself with regard to her connection to
this incident.Where is the code of conduct?” he queried.
Prof. Rajiva Wijesinha has for a long time been vocal about a Code of
Conduct for MPs which was to be introduced in Parliament in an effort to
rein them in. “It is unfortunate that the present government is no
longer interested in the matter, although it was one of those pledges
made this time, last year.”
Time for electoral reform
He added that if the Code had been introduced, it would have made a
difference to a situation such as this. Prof. Wijesinha is no longer
vocal about the Code of Conduct for MPs but insists that it’s still not
too late. “The draft was prepared by MP Anura Kumara Dissanayake and
submitted. The Speaker even said he would have it printed and
distributed,” he said.
To-date the draft Code of Conduct for MPs has not seen the light of
Prof Wijesinghe also blames the current electoral system as being
conducive to political thuggery. “Politicians are often influenced by
the conditions of this system; it’s a dog-eat-dog system where many
resort to thuggery, intimidation and violence for self-preservation.”
He attributed the need for electoral reform affirming that it was one
of the late Ven. Sobitha Thera requests. It is ironic that only earlier
last year, Ven Sobitha Thera called on the Government to implement
electoral reform before the General Election.
At a press conference he held as convener of the National Movement
for Social Justice he said “If they are going to hold elections without
bringing electoral reform, they are paving the way for thieves, drug
lords, money launderers and fraudsters to enter Parliament.”
Present were, Ven. Athuraliye Rathana Thera, Dr Nirmal Ranjith
Devasiri, Prof. Jayadewa Uyangoda, Health Minister Dr. Rajitha Senaratna,
Dr. Upul Guinasekera among other representatives.
Six members of Hirunika’s security detail and two other supporters
were arrested last week in connection with the abduction and threatening
of Amila Priyankara Amarasinghe, who worked at a drapery store in
The gang had abducted him in a Landrover defender belonging to MP
Premachandra. Much of the scuffle was recorded on CCTV. Footage showed
the supporters forcibly escorting Amarasinghe outside the store and
taking him to the defender.
Police traced the vehicle, the number plates were clearly visible on
CCTVfootage. The Department of Motor Traffic records showed 3the vehicle
was registered under MP Premachandra’s name.
Amarasinghe lodged a complaint at the Dematagoda police station that
evening claiming that he was abducted by six men who had come in a
Landrover defender in the afternoon. Police spokesperson ASP Ruwan
Gunasekera said the victim was admitted to the Colombo National Hospital
where he was treated for non-life threatening injuries.
The Dematagoda Police launched investigations into the incident which
was later preceded by the Colombo Crimes Division.
The MP commenting on the incident told our sister publication, Ceylon
Daily News, that “It happened due to a personal dispute between a person
said to have been assaulted by one of my supporters.
The youth had abducted my supporter’s wife and kept her forcibly. My
supporter met me with his two children and explained what took place. I
sent all three to the shop where the man works.”
She went on to say that her “supporter had asked the man to come out
of the store which he refused. The others who went with him brought the
man to my party office…”
She categorically stated that no one had assaulted him and he was
only advised. “I requested him to release the woman and he agreed.
Everything was solved.”
Premachandra in a scrambled attempt to clear her name the following
day held a rushed media briefing. Hot on the heels of the latest
development that was indiscriminately retold in the press, Premachandra
who spoke to the media went on record saying she was merely trying to
settle a personal dispute.
The six security personnel including two additional supporters who
were produced before the Colombo Additional Magistrate Priyantha
Liyanage were ordered to be produced before an identification parade on
When the suspects were produced before Court, the Colombo Crimes
Division ASP Chandratilleka and OIC Nevil de Silva informed Court that
police had received a complaint from Amila Priyankara, claiming that he
was abducted and assaulted by a group on Monday (21).
Chronology of abduction
Monday, 21 December – A 26- year- old man identified as U. Priyankara
is abducted at a drapery store in Dematagoda by an unidentified gang
travelling in a Land Rover, considered supporters of UNF MP, Hirunika
Tuesday, 22 December – MP Hirunika Premachandra holds a press
conference in Colombo and declares absence of involvement in the
incident. Friday, 25 December – MP Premachandra is questioned by the
Colombo Crime Division (CCD) following a complaint lodged by U.
Priyankara over an allegation of abduction and assault by the MP’s
personal staff. Monday, 28 December – The Police arrests six of
Oremachandra’s staff members including her bodyguards in this connection
and are interrogated by the CCD. Wednesday, 30 December - The Colombo
Crime Division arrests two other supporters of the MP in connection with
the abduction and threatening of a person from Dematagoda.
All suspects remanded till January 4.
Police failed to take action – Defence Counsel
The Colombo Crimes Division told Court that the defender used in the
abduction belonged to MP Hirunika Premachandra. The counsel who appeared
on behalf of the suspects denied speculation that MP Hirunika
Premachandra was involved in the incident.
Counsel told Courts that the MP’s supporters had solicited the
assistance of the MP, since the police failed to carry out an
investigation over the incident.
He added that the MP was unaware of the incident and gave reasons as
to why the suspects should appear before an identification parade.
Defence counsel argued that there was no need for an identification
parade since the photographs of the suspects were telecast on a private
Police spokesman Gunasekara said the Attorney General’s advice would
be sought on the course of action to be taken with regard to MP
Premachandra’s involvement in the incident.
Police have obtained a court order directing the mobile phone service
provider to hand over records of the suspect’s phone calls, to ascertain
if there were calls made to Premachandra during the abduction.
Unions cry foul
The Convener of the Citizens Organization Alliance Saman Ratnapriya
charged that the Attorney General’s Department should be given the
freedom to make an independent decision albeit political interferences.
During the past few days, the public have decried as to why the MP
was not held responsible for the incident. Police spokesman Gunasekera
said the MP cannot be arrested merely on her statements because evidence
was required beforte an MP could be arrested.
Disciplinary action from the party
Meanwhile Minister Kabir Hashim during a press conference reiterated
that police have been given a freehand to conduct investigations. He was
asked if the UNP would take disciplinary action against the MP, to which
he said that the matter was under consideration but were awaiting police
AG’s asks for press briefing footage
In a sudden turn of events the Colombo Magistrate Court issued an
order directing TV stations to produce video footage of the press
conference hosted by the MP. A Motion was filed in courts where the CCD
said the Attorney General’s Department had requested for the recordings
since it wants to study the abduction to ascertain the MP’s involvement.
CCD yet to contact Speaker regarding MP
Deputy Speaker Thilanga Sumathipala when asked whether the Speaker
was requested to arrest MP Premachandra, he went on record that he was
not informed so far.
According to parliamentary protocol, specifically Section 1 of
Parliamentary (Powers and Privileges) Act No. 21 of 1953 the Speaker
should be informed of any impending arrest of an MP. He refused to make
a comment on the ongoing incident because it was under the purview of
Repeated attempts to contact MP Premachandra for an interview or
comment, proved futile. Requests to approach her lawyer for a
clarification on the matter was not entertained either.