By Sujata Gamage –
Yesterday, the chief justice was impeached through a process that was a sham. I say it is a sham not because I am a legal expert. I say it is a sham because the process looked petty and vengeful to any ordinary person who is not on the pay of the government. An event the day before, where I was verbally abused and physically threatened by government goons for wanting to attend an opposition rally for the purpose, personified to me the pettiness and vengeance of the accusers in no small measure.
There are two options open to the opposition – constitutional crisis or temporary set back.
Going to back to a balmy evening in Peradeniya open air theatre when Henry Jayasena opened the world of Bertolt Brecht to us through Grusha in the Caucasian Chalk Circle or our own ‘Hunu Wataye Kathave’, I would say, let us go for a temporary set back and let the child live. The child is the rule of law. Grusha is those who care about the rule of law. We all know who the ugly duchess is.
To men in the audience on that night in seventies in Peradeniya, Asadak was the hero I am sure. As manly and lovable Asadak was, Grusha personified by Manel Jayasena stole the hearts of the women in the audience. When it came time to put the love of the child to the test, Grusha could not bring her herself to get into a contest where the child would have been harmed, proving that she was truly the mother at heart.
I know people who know better have called for a boycott of the new order which is to be established, but, where will that lead us? Will the UNP, the only viable opposition, give the leadership or will Mr. Ranil Wickramasinghe end the show with a private tea party at the Temple trees?
For a moment if I imagined myself to be Shiranee Bandaranayake, what I will do? I will sit up all night, drafting a message from the heart. It will say that the process was not fair, but institutions are more important than individuals. I will implore all who were with me to conserve their strength to continue the pressure on the government to behave. Most of my statement will be dedicated to the incoming chief justice. The message has to be in parables.
A colleague of mine recently told me about this folklore of ‘Gal Pererthayas’. These are pathetic life forms that are forced to spend their afterlife under the surface suffering each time the living walked above. They were monks, officials and others who were entrusted with the public welfare but they did not do their duty. They used their powers to benefit themselves. This is a parable that comes to my mind when I think of the ministers, aging and otherwise, who lie to themselves and continue to raise their hands blindly for fear of losing their perks and position and the heads of public institutions who abscond in their duties and use their positions to look after kith and kin. In my version of Buddhism after-life too is in the mind – mano pubbanga ma dhamma, mano setta manomaya. Those who do ill shall remember and suffer, in this life.
My message to the new chief justice would be “the executive has the power to appoint you but once appointed you have the power to do the right thing. Every time you arms are twisted remember the legal profession and the public in this country will lose their patience at some point and you will be out with rest. Even if that day is far away, remember the destiny of public officials who do not do their duty.