Brats, rats and nothing but the tooth
Good heavens. Had the al-Qaeda penetrated Colombo? Had Osama bin Laden been finally found, holed up in one of the many luxury apartments that seem to proliferate in the capital faster than rabbits in the back garden?

Living in London that is becoming increasingly obsessed with terrorism and authorities who seem to see a terrorist behind every purdah or seventh veil, I thought that Sri Lanka's obsequious obeisance to the Bush administration had eventually brought some Islamic suicide bombers to Colombo.

Sending suicide bombers to Sri Lanka is like carrying rambuttans to Malwana or buriyani to Pilawoos but that's another story. It is no joke. I mean what would you think if you read this: "On the direction of the IGP, Colombo Crimes Division Director Senior SP Sarath Lugoda will lead the investigations team assisted by the Terrorists Investigation Division."

There it was in the state-run Daily News (never mind which arm or leg of the state is running it but it was certainly running with the story) and in black and white too, as the saying goes.

Obviously it could not be the LTTE. After all the Tigers are no longer terrorists in Sri Lanka as far as the law is concerned. How could they be when they are roaming all over Colombo and inside foreign embassies too. In other words, in government-controlled territory and who cares about MoUs now that everybody and their second cousins are producing these wretched things and signing them with such flourish one would think they were transferring their personal wealth to charity.

So who could these terrorists be but Osama's buddy-wuddies or some left-overs from Saddam's Republican Guards determined to get even after Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe's United Nations speech that clearly supported Washington for invading Iraq- due to some grammatical misconstruction, that is. I mean if the boys from Royal College and other such places could not spot the error in English grammar how on earth is some lowly Iraqi soldier from distant Tikrit be expected to do so.

And what were their intended targets? It could not be President's House because Chandrika Kumaratunga had surely been gloating over Ranil Wickremesinghe's embarrassment over his speech, especially after the Colombo Muslims began making some dangerous noises.

It could not have been Minister Moragoda for they would have gone for him in Washington, which he visits as often as a schoolboy going home for the weekend from boarding school.

It could not be our ambassador in Washington Devinda Subasinghe who, apparently not enamoured of the state of the ambassador's official residence prefers to rough it out in a lowly place rented by him.

Not even our man to the United Nations, Charlie Mahendran, who didn't prove to be particularly au fait with his grammar and has already returned to the glass house after a sojourn in Colombo.

In fact one was hard put to think of any worthwhile target in Colombo that would attract bin Laden's bombers unless it was the clutch of casinos and the cavorting and caterwauling denizens of Colombo discos. But these are more likely Taliban targets.

The news item was all the more confusing because it was headlined: "Top team to probe attack by ministers' sons." Good heavens, I thought, had one of our master scientists been engaged in genetic experiments. It is bad enough to have politicians who terrorise the people and rough up anybody who crosses their path.

Up in them there hills where the Thondamans have their thottam Minister Thondaman did an imitation one-day of Mohamad Ali against the jaws of hotel staff, watched in silence by the guardians of law and order, otherwise known as the police.

Some said-obviously not eye witnesses- that the jaw of the hotel's front office manager came and struck Thondaman's fist. Now if you believe that you'll believe anything.

Another minister chased out the secretary of his ministry and appointed his own man, which he had no right or power to do. But then nobody seemed to care least of all the government.

Now it seems that by some unknown genetic process, the sons and daughters of politicians, mainly ministers, are acquiring the behavioural patterns of their political elders, leaving the public in danger of losing their teeth or other parts of their anatomy and public property in danger of being vandalising by roaming political progeny mainly of ministerial descent.

Such happenings are, of course, nothing new. Before the Dissanayakes and Wijesekera's and Jayawardena's took to the streets to paint the town red, sometimes with blood, some times with paint, the Ratwatte's had been grabbing the headlines, as the people of Colombo and elsewhere remember only too well.

What was puzzling is this. If the Daily News report was correct, why did the IGP order the Terrorist Investigation Division to take a hand in probing the incident "where the sons of two senior cabinet ministers are said to have run riot outside a city night club causing a breach of the peace."

Did the police have information that the rest of us did not and that is why the terrorist investigators were ordered into the act? True enough these ministerial brats who hid for days like rats when the police were looking for them, terrorised many people that night.

This is not the first time they have been parties to such disgraceful and disgusting episodes behaving as though they are above and beyond the law.

But if they have broken the law, as they appear to have done and caused grievous hurt to individuals and damaged public property, the full weight of the law must be employed against them.

Instead one finds the damage to public property has been estimated at below Rs 25,000. How very convenient for these offensive, public nuisances who could then be released on bail to roam the streets again.

Today, ministers and their families have become the Number One smell in the civic nostril. The behaviour of a few who act like common thugs and hooligans have brought disgrace to their colleagues who still manage to maintain a sense of political and civic decorum.

By such reprehensible behaviour they are becoming an embarrassment to Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and a government that is losing public sympathy and support.

More so when these young thugs get away with their wanton acts, generally with a gentle slap on their wrists by indulgent parents and authorities who prefer to look the other way.

Even political pressure was brought to bear on the victims of the latest outrage and their relatives to withdraw their complaints, as though this was only a minor misdemeanour. Surely it was nothing but a tooth or two!

The government must seriously ask itself what the public perception of all this would be. If those who hold public office and their kith and kin cannot act responsibly and in a manner befitting their office, they should get out in the name of the public or whatever deity they believe in.

One question still remains. Why the terrorist police? Is it because we have now imbibed the Bush philosophy and suspect every Muslim of being a terrorist. In this case Muslims were involved. But they were the victims of a senseless attack. No apology could absolve these young thugs of such brutish behaviour. They should be not permitted to pollute civilised society.

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