By Shyamon Jayasinghe –
Isn’t this drama over the Avant Garde issue a contrived one? Constructed by both the former Minister of Law and Order and the refusing -to go -Minister of Justice, Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe? Superficially, it looks like horseplay. Looking at it with a discerning mind it appears most surely as a pantomime by these two Cabinet worthies.
I must say at the very outset that I make no personal judgment about this issue involving Gotabaya Rajapaksa. That decision has to be made only after a judicial enquiry. Tilak Marapana or Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe -neither of them-are judicial bodies and they haven’t before them the results of any conducted judicial enquiry. Hence, they have absolutely no right to speak for or against the Avant Garde allegations at this stage. They cite the AG’s opinion all right; but the opinion of an AG is yet another opinion. AG is not a judicial body. In the circumstances, both these persons should have kept their mouths shut. Instead the Honourable Wijeyadasa openly concurs with the AG’s opinion.
There is a political consideration, too, that these gentlemen have nonchalantly disregarded. Avant Garde is a hot political issue that if handled inappropriately can lead to undermining the whole credibility of the Yahapalana government of which the two gentlemen are key members. Why did the latter have to go out of their way and defend the Avant Garde operations in Parliament without even consulting the cabinet or the Prime Minister-leave alone the President with regard to the political wisdom of doing so? To make a public statement like this should have required a policy decision that involved the Prime Minister and cabinet for the simple reason of its dire political consequences. Any issue that has wide political propensities involves a policy decision.
In short, both Messrs Marapane and Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe have made a judgment when they had no right to do. And they have made a Parliamentary announcement of their personal judgment that was politically damaging to the government. Any ordinary Pradeshiya Sabha member would have seen that the utterances of these Ministers were politically unwise. The wise thing to have done was to await a judicial enquiry and leave it at that. It is up to the justice system to acquit Gotabaya of any wrong-doing. Such an acquittal will only have enhanced the prestige of a yahapalana government by demonstrating to the people that it is truly yahapalana. In this case, we have two Ministers acquitting those charged with Avant Garde fraud. Unbelievable!
Marapane did resign but Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe has decided to engage in battle. Wijeyadasa, further says that he will not arrest Gotabaya. I dare say it may be a right decision not to arrest Gotabaya in the circumstances when the AG states there is no case. Probably a yahapalana court will not do that and would wait to hear the case. But why is Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe attempting to play hero here?
That is the question a discerning person should connect up with? According to a Ceylon Today news story the Minister of Justice, further, takes a leap forward to extol the virtues of the former Minister of Defence. This should be troubling for the Yahapalana government. Minister Rajapakshe, according to the Ceylon Today story, has said, “We should accept that he (Gotabya) helped to eradicate terrorism from the country.” What is the relevance of an alleged Gotabaya national contribution to the question of arresting him for possible wrong-doing? Surely, Honourable Wijeyadasa understands logic! Why did he bring this in by stealth?
Now didn’t that let the cat out of the bag? One wonders if this is a rehearsed drama to shift the balance of power toward a possible Gotabaya Rajapakshe-led new Rajapaksa Regime? It is anybody’s guess. Sri Lankan politics in the last decade in particular have been marked by serial conspiracies. Dagger in hand with velvet gloves. The unthinkable becomes reality.
Mahinda Rajapaksa once said that his camp is like a barber shop with the swinging doors letting without discretion any man in and any man out.