New IGP Breaches Opposition Leader’s Security And Privileges
Opposition Leader Ranil Wickremasinghe has been prevented from free access to Parliament and attending to day-to-day matters by the newly appointed Inspector General of Police N. K. Illangakoon disregarding Parliamentary privileges and the long standing practices agreed and approved by all political parties and successive governments.
Although it has been the common practice to use specially t
rained police officers to drive VIP vehicles, Illangakoon has informed the Opposition Leader’s Chief Security Officer that if police officers are to drive vehicles other than that belonging to the Police Department, permission has to be obtained from him. With this new restriction, the Opposition Leader finds it difficult to get suitable drivers who are trained to handle vehicles used for VIP movements, while providing protection and due care.
Speaker, Deputy Speaker, Deputy Chairman of Committees, Leader of the House of Parliament, Government Whip in Parliament and the Leader of the Opposition in Parliament are officers of Parliament who are entitled to such facilities in order to effectively engage in their respective responsibilities, stated the Opposition Leader raising the matter recently at the Parliament. Facilities for these key positions are provided through Parliament with the consent of the Government. Former President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga, retired Inspectors General of Police, all have trained drivers in addition to H.E. the President and the Prime Minister, according to Opposition Leader.
“This is a rather absurd position because I know former IGPs and DIGs use police officers to drive their vehicles in addition to many other officers they have. I am in a peculiar position. Except for one driver provided by Parliament all the other drivers I have are from the Police Department. I have no other persons to drive the vehicles as necessary. I may have to resort to three-wheelers if the Government and the Speaker is not willing to provide me with necessary drivers. As it stands now the facilities given to the Leader of the Opposition can be changed by consulting him. You cannot have official deciding from time to time as and when the IGPs and Directors change,” pointed out Wickremasinghe.
In his statement, the Opposition Leader also said that the new order results in a situation where during a journey if the regular driver falls ill or a similar situation arises, a police officer will not be able to drive the vehicle, thus leaving him stranded. “Prior to this however by letter dated 7 May, 2004 addressed to my Chief Security Officer by the Director/MSD permission had been granted for several named polices officers to drive vehicles assigned to me. Now this has been changed with no intimation to me whatsoever. In this connection by letter dated 10th August, 2011 my Secretary who is an official in Parliament had addressed the Inspector General of Police regarding this Order, to which he has not had the courtesy of a reply to date,” he added.
In response to the issue pertaining to the violation of Parliamentary Privileges of Opposition Leader, the Deputy Speaker Chandima Weerakkody expressed his deep concerns about the actions taken by Illangakoon and agreed that necessary protection should be extended to Ranil Wickremasinghe by the Government and Parliament.