Mervyn Silva: A Law Unto Himself
The media on Thursday were given access to enter the premises of a polling center in Kelaniya to cover Minister Mervyn Silva casting his vote at the local government election despite strict instructions issued by the Elections Department not to do so.
The Government Information Department in a release a day before the polls had said; “The Commissioner of Elections has banned taking photographs and video clips inside and around the polling booths. In a Circular issued to all Returning Officers, District Secretaries, and Deputy, Senior and Assistant Election Commissioners, the Commissioner Dayananda Dissanayake had stipulated this rule and steps to be taken in the event of violation. This Circular had been copied to all secretaries of recognised political parties, and media institutions.
Accordingly taking photographs or video clips of polling in the polling booths were strictly prohibited and all those in charge of security arrangements were instructed to implement this rule.
The Circular also stated that steps will be taken against officials and security personnel, regardless of their positions, who allow for violation of this rule.
However, the Circular stated that taking photographs and video clips would be allowed only when the President, the Prime Minister, the Speaker of Parliament, the Opposition Leader and secretaries of political parties contesting in the election cast their votes and that these photographs and video clips should be televised or published only after 4 p.m. on March 17.”
Despite these orders police officers including the OIC of Kelaniya who were with Minister Silva did not prevent the media from entering the polling center to take pictures of him casting his vote.
Merv And His Threats
Minister Silva, speaking to the media after casting his vote, claimed that the JVP and the UNP had attempted to create instability in Kadawatha by supporting a protest by residents in the area who were agitated by the death of three people in an accident.
Silva claimed that some UNP members including General Secretary Tissa Attanayake was also present at the protest. Silva warned that if he had managed to arrive at the scene at the time the UNP members were present they would have had to face his wrath.