By Sarath De Alwis –
“The crime situation in the country has reached an all-time high. The Police Service, burdened as is with numerous demands coupled with lack of adequate resources is greatly handicapped in meeting this problem effectively. Hence it is that the public would have to look for other alternative sources if it is to be ensured of the protection of its lives and property.” [Extract from the home page of Avant-garde Security Services (Pvt) Ltd]
Two Ministers who are lawyers claimed infallibility. They expounded the law and determined on the law.
That is in sharp contrast to another eminent lawyer who adorned our parliament- Lakshman Kadirgamar. “I do not for one second say that I am infallible. No lawyer in his senses ever says that, because one thing that we lawyers know and the judges know is how fallible we are. That is why there is litigation. That is why there is a hierarchy of courts where legal issues go from one court to another till they are settled by the highest court”
‘Mouthpiece’ is the term used by racketeers and mobsters to refer to their legal counsel. The debate in parliament on the Avantgarde floating arsenal demonstrated the perceptual accuracy of the mobster definition of lawyer – as a ‘Mouth Piece.’
Major Nissanka Senadhipathi [retired] embattled entrepreneur has chosen his counsel wisely. He truly belongs to the Avant-garde in this transformational phase of good governance. With his astute choice of legal eagles, he has brilliantly succeeded in demonstrating that ethics in politics is an oxymoron.
The Brand name Avant-garde is a stroke of genius. Certainly Major Senadhipathi belongs to the Avant-garde in the security business in general and in maritime security in particular where the balance sheet is on a billion dollar orbital path.
It was Lenin who Russofied the French term ‘Avant-garde’ as avangard in his 1902 treatise ‘What is to be done?’ where he held that the party was ahead of the rest of the working class. Though a minority it was leading the revolutionary forces of its time.
That is precisely what Avant-garde maritime security has done in Sri Lanka with the active connivance of the Defence Ministry in 2012. It is not about the fire arms ordinance. It is about the country’s defense obligations being outsourced to a private company. This is not racketeering. This is buccaneering.
By a circular dated 18th September 2012, the Additional Secretary (Police & Civil Security) of the Ministry of Defense and Urban Development has advised all private maritime security companies that it would deploy a floating armoury facility off Galle – Sri Lanka. That seems to constitute the fig leaf that guards the maidenhead of Mademoiselle ‘Avant-garde’!
This writer discovered the purported document while attempting to discover any additional information available from sources such as the International Maritime Organization and the United Nations agencies monitoring maritime piracy. Why this document was not tabled by one of the mouth pieces of Avant-garde is a mystery.
Listening to the Minister of Law and Order, this writer was nearly convinced that Major Nissanka Senadhipathi was a modern day Francis Drake keeping vigil over the Indian Ocean sea lanes. He was incensed with the raid of a ship that was peacefully anchored in the Galle harbor. The police had raided the floating arsenal purely to score points with the new government. He likened it to the police raid on the Millennium city safe house.
He seems to have forgotten that it too occurred under his watch as Minister of Defence. Lawyers don’t write memoirs that often. Public servants do. In his reminiscences ‘My Belly is White’ his secretary Austin Fernando devotes an entire chapter to what he call ‘Millennium City exposure.’
This writer has no intention of treading in places avoided even by better informed security savvy angels. Mr. Austin Fernando though quite explicit that the Millennium city raid could have been better handled does not accuse the police of excessive zeal or ulterior design.
“As a policeman, for Kulasiri Udugampola to suspect on the lines of the complaint made by Charitha Ratwatte and Daya Pelpola to the Army Commander before the elections that there were thermobaric weapons to kill Ranil Wikremesighe could be considered justifiable. This threat was orchestrated by Ranil Wickremesinghe himself.” [Page 56 – My Belly is white].
The Minister of Justice Mr. Wijayadasa Rajapkhse and the Minster of Law and Order Mr. Tilak Marapona are entitled to hold their legal opinions. They should canvass them before a court of law.
What the two minsters both Presidents Counsel and certainly eminent in their own closet mirrors did was pure judicial hocus pocus. It is obvious that Major Nissanka Senadhipathi was engaged in an enterprise that had a turnover of millions of dollars with the approval and active encouragement of the Ministry of Defense. The official delegation of the Government of Sri Lanka attending the 4th UAE Counter Piracy Conference held from 29th to 30th October 2014 told that “Sri Lanka had a unique model placed in the form of a public/private partnership model to fight piracy in the Indian Ocean”
The Sri Lankan delegation consisted of Admiral D.W.A.S. Dissanayake, Advisor to the President on Maritime Affairs, Mr. AbdulRaheem, Consul General of Sri Lanka in Dubai, Mr. Sumith Dassanayake, Director, Middle East Division of the Ministry of External Affairs and Air Vice Marshal P.B. Premachandra, General Manager, Maritime Division, Rakna Arakshaka LankaLtd.
The problem we confront is that the private public partnership was unique and private to a degree that only Major Senadhipathi can tell us the details. As Minster Marapana himself admitted to the house some of those details were so private that he dared not divulge them. Now was that judicial saber rattling or a mild reminder to shut up or risk exposure? We the people would love to know.
Dr.Colvin R de Silva who minced no words either as Lawyer or Politician famously said ‘My own belief is that ultimately justice depends on the readiness of the people to fight for justice.”