4 December, 2020

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General Impression Created By Others Was Either That The CJ Was A Monster Or A Saint

By Rajiva Wijesinha –

Prof Rajiva Wijesinha

Edited Extracts with regard to current political issues from the Leader’s Address by Prof Rajiva Wijesinha, delivered at the Annual Congress of the Liberal Party, December 16th 2012

The Liberal Party stands today in a very interesting position. To a great extent because of the enthusiasm of our Youth Wing, we have had very interesting workshops at two venues, in Hambantota and Kurunagala. At the former in particular we had remarkable input from youngsters, who are keenly interested in politics but miss the absence of a coherent philosophy in the political movements they have had experience of through elections.

Given the sophistication of these youngsters, who have a more adult view of politics than the rent seeking many people think is the main business of electoral politics, I think the commitment to principle of the Liberal Party will have increasing resonance in the coming months. In particular the position we have taken up with regard to the proposed impeachment of the Chief Justice will be recognized in time as the only balanced approach to an issue that seems to be tearing our society apart.

I refer not only to my own refusal to sign the impeachment resolution, but also to the thoughtful statements our Secretary General has issued on behalf of the party. Today in the newspapers there is reference to the impeachment of the Chief Justice that took place in the Philippines earlier this year, but it was our statement that, a couple of weeks ago, noted the differences between that incident and what is happening in Sri Lanka today. Though clearly there were political issues involved, that impeachment was through a process that was universally seen as fair.

Unfortunately, the general impression created by other commentators was either that the Chief Justice was a monster who was wrong on a multitude of counts, or else that she was a saint who was persecuted for no reason at all by a malign government. Both these positions are absurd.

Again, when the Parliamentary Select Committee delivered its report, it indicated that several of the charges made against the Chief Justice did not need to be investigated. In our second statement we had made it clear that we thought only a few of the charges were serious. Unfortunately, the general impression created by other commentators was either that the Chief Justice was a monster who was wrong on a multitude of counts, or else that she was a saint who was persecuted for no reason at all by a malign government. Both these positions are absurd.

But this oppositional politics, in which prejudice is privileged and balanced argument of no account, is what has characterized Sri Lankan politics for the last quarter of a century. In fact the reactions to our response bear this out. On the one hand, it is claimed that I have at last discovered how bad this government is, and therefore I should part company with it and resign at once from Parliament. On the other it is alleged that I am only critical of government on this count because I am upset that I have not been made a Minister, and that I will soon cease to be critical in order to curry favour.

But this type of malign interpretation, that refuses to look at facts, has dogged the Liberal Party from the start. In the eighties Chanaka Amaratunga was reviled for betraying the UNP which it was held had facilitated his education. It was only later that there was widespread appreciation of the seminal critiques he made of the appalling constitution President Jayewardene introduced, when previously the excesses of that authoritarian government had come only from a socialist perspective.  Later that same elite Colombo dispensation, that had reveled in Jayawardene’s perversities, attacked Chanaka for supporting President Premadasa. And of course that outlook finds President Rajapaksa even more reprehensible than President Premadasa, given that he is at an even greater remove from Colombo and its interests.

The Liberal Party continues to believe that this is the best possible government for Sri Lanka at this stage, and we will continue to support it. This does not mean that we share the views of those elements in the government that uphold a more narrow view of Sri Lanka than we have. This is a problem Liberals all over the world face for, in presenting a balanced perspective, they need usually to work in coalition with others. Thus, recently, the Dutch Liberals were in coalition with conservatives who were more sympathetic than they should have been to a racist party that propped up the government. I know our friends in the Dutch Liberal Party were not happy about this, and about measures that seemed in line with the politics of that extreme party, but they had to endure, and do what they could to prevent unacceptable measures.

When the coalition proved impossible to maintain, there was another election, and now they are in government with more moderate forces. But I don’t think any of us thought that they had betrayed their principles when they had to work with extremist forces. The point is, they would accept compromises that did not go against their principles, even though this meant they could not implement measures they thought ideal. However, what they would not do was go against essential principles, and that is precisely our position in the current context.

I should add that I see no reason to assume that on the principle issues we need fear extremism. And we will not forget the achievements of this government which have made possible a return to democracy all over the country. Though the Liberal Party has always believed that problems were caused by majoritarian measures, and we need to do more to ensure that the minorities in Sri Lanka feel they are equal citizens of the country, we have also been categorical in our opposition to terrorism. The fact that this government was able to put a stop to terrorism after so many decades is something we should always keep in mind. Of course we now need also to win the peace, and for that there is much more to do. But the very fact that discourse and debate are not in the shadow of violence gives us much to be thankful for.

With regard to the proposed impeachment of the Chief Justice, it is profoundly ironical that the only member on the government side who has been pointing out problems with the Judiciary is now the only one being criticized for not signing the impeachment resolution. But I suppose this is understandable in a political dispensation that waits for problems to come to a head before any attempt is made to solve them. And that in turn will lead to concentration on what are in fact symptoms of problems rather than root causes.

I have been arguing that there should be no interference with the independence of the judiciary as regards the decisions it makes, and I fear that the manner in which the impeachment process has been conducted will give the impression that it is that independence that is under attack. But what should be changed is the notion that the Judiciary is independent as regards the processes it follows. On the contrary, it must follow the law of the land and, where there is scope for interpretation, it must formulate rules so that there is consistency on which citizens brought before the Judiciary can rely. And surely we should realize that, if there is too much ambiguity in the law, it leaves the field open for a range of interpretations, which is why the legislature must amend confusing laws in accordance with the basic principles laid down in the Constitution.

I have no idea how the present drama will work itself out. But I hope that, without relying on what seem ad hominem solutions, dealing with individuals rather than issues, we move instead to looking at the issues that must be resolved, to make our judicial system more reliable and more efficient. Impeaching the Chief Justice will not solve the real problems this country faces. That requires reflection and analysis on the basis of principle, as the Liberal Party has advocated since its inception.

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Latest comments

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    Rajiva says, “The Liberal Party continues to believe that this is the best possible government for Sri Lanka at this stage, and we will continue to support it.”
    So doctor, you and your party believes that a family dictatorship is the best form of government for this country?

    Rajiva also says, “I have no idea how the present drama will work itself out.”
    Well doctor, history shows us that in the end, depots and their families either flee the country or they are brutally killed and sometimes the same fate awaits the henchmen, sycophants and yes men of the dictatorship.

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      Right on, PresiDunce Bean! You’ve told it like it is. What I cannot understand is why CT continues to carry the bilge that this son of a sycophant of renown continues to download on the rest of us who now depend on CT as the literate voice of dissent in Sri Lanka. Come on CT, dump this ……………!

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        I am against banning Rajiv from CT. Imagine this place without him. Who will provide us with the entertainment? And of course I would miss the interesting responses of others!

      • 0
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        I am against dumping Rajiv from CT. Who will provide the entertainment? And I sure will miss the interesting responses of others!

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      The Legislature then the Executive is mire important than an unelected set of Clowns known as the Judiciary.BASL President is a disgrace to all the legal fratanity in SrLanka. He is a UNP MP out to embarrass the Government through the BASL.He is a traitor. He should be thankful to the President who rid this country from terrorism which made it possible for him to hold street demonstrations and dash coconuts in places of religious worship. The Chief Justice is also a shameless woman trying to hold on to her position after being found guilty of misconduct . All those who support these traitors are themselves traitors. If not for Mahinda these traitors will be pulling rickshaws with the Sun God Prabkaran seated in the rickshaws. What were these pundits doing when the Tigers were holding courts and trying civilians and executing them in their Kangaroo Courts? The JVP also did the same in 1971? Where were these big mouthed freedom fighters then? Mahinda should sack the entire Supreme and Appeals Court Judges and appoint fresh members to the judiciary. The Government in power should not allow some crooks to run the justice system in the country. Get over it Sri Lanka elected Mahinda to govern the country not that worthless woman called Chief Justice. Mahinda needs to be careful of back stabbers. Both Fonseka and CJ were appointed by him who in return tried to pay back by biting his ankle. Both will ultimately be left on the road gathering dust while our dear King Mahinda will rule for many more years. The nation owes him gratitude for saving SriLanka.

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    Rajaiva the kind of hypocrisy at its again… a man without a sole and a boot licker of the Satakaya.

    The best govt in Sri Lanka according to your Liberal thinking is :

    a. run by a Junta with a family that controls 72% of the national budget as well as Defence/Finance/economy/highways/urban dev/parliamentary.

    b. a govt that kills high secuity prisoners on after calling names in the countries main prison complex.

    c. a govt that send white van goods to abduct its own citizens and who will come against the regime and make them dissapear.

    d. a govt that make duty free waivers to import Lambrogini though the taxes of 3-Wheelers are increased.

    the list goes on and on and see how your Liberal thinking is matching those.

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      why did you not add it kills it sown citizens by bombing the houses , schools, churches and hospitals. is because,It does not matter to you because they were Tamils

  • 0
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    How can RW go against the family rule? He also belongs to that family. His father is a close relation of Rajapakses.

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      Rajiva’s father was a “close relation” of every one of the powerful families in this country and continues to exploit those relationships as he has always.
      The difference is that there are many who could have made the same claim in order to advance their own fortunes and DID NOT. This is a family where sycophancy runs in the blood!

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    One has to symapathise with RW as he is an appointed MP on the govt list. If he opts out of the govt he will lose half his clout or more and the voice of liberalism will not be heard. I think it is better for him to remain within the govt and add some sanity to this assortment of mad hatters.

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    RW you are one of a kind – the only liberal in the world who serves a fascist master

    • 0
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      “RW you are one of a kind – the only liberal in the world who serves a fascist master”

      At present he is learning lessons in fascism under the world’s best known fascist master to find ways for broadening his form of liberalism.

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    The UPFA came to power to do away with the power that released
    rapists and murderers sentenced by the judiciary.Is that what
    is happening now?They are intoxicated with power and wants
    more of it to get more intoxicated and let loose all evils.
    This power hungry lot must be neutralised at any rate and if
    this opportunity is missed,not another one likely.This lady
    must be given all supports.The days of Dilans,Mervyns,Wansas
    and the likes must be numbered.The UNP doesn’t show real
    interest because it’s part of the corrupt system and it also
    wants to live the same way.

  • 0
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    I think If Rajiva Wijesinghe is genuine in supporting this govt which has proven to be corrupt and leading to Sri Lanka to destruction then that is not the right decision. That kind of decision is acceptable if Rajiva Wijesinghe thinks that he is a member/leader of another three-wheeler party and he is a relative of a former powerful politician, so that you are trying to make an impression on your own in the Sri Lankan Sri Lankan political circus.

    IF you think think genuinely to raise the standards of living in Sri Lanka, you should support some thing completely new that preserves the sri Lankan culture.

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    RW is trying to create a opposition party within the government itself like Weerawansa and Hela group to gain the cheap propaganda but none of them keen to address the key issues which affect for the common people of this country. Dirt tricks .

  • 0
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    Your Gen Sec calls a spade a spade,you call a spade a fork !…and thats because your Gen Sec is real and the perks of office have gotcha!

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