By Nishthar Idroos –
Unleashing extra-judicial acts by representatives of the people is nothing new to Sri Lanka. It has flourished for decades courtesy of our “law-abiding” legislators. Whoever gave the tagline “country like no other” to Sri Lanka must be endlessly sugar fed, congratulated and rewarded for his or her deep understanding of the Sri Lankan nation, its polity and culture.
More I see this signature more hilarity it induces in me. This in no way is an attempt to discount Sri Lanka’s true and natural beauty. As a breadth taking salubrious destination blessed with impeccable weather, the island nation is a must visit to anyone with the means. Its people warm and hospitable as always. Its politicians a confirmed rarity on account of many reasons namely beliefs, personality, conditioning, priorities, educational qualifications, discipline or the lack of it. Most have acquired anecdotal fame.
About Sri Lankas politicians you’re warned of the danger or pleasure of courting with insanity. I was recently telling someone there’re characters in the current Sri Lankan parliament and before characters if only carefully comprehended, contemplated and creatively expressed million dollar masterpieces would abound and I am not kidding.
After nauseating performances by multitudes of the species, news surfaces of a comely lass heralding from suburban Colombo, a lawyer, elected to parliament just under a year, getting into that infamous, inevitable and irresistible act most of the species fall prey to. The much publicized banner of Yahapalanaya or good governance received another nasty blow.
A man apparently had been forcibly taken away by “Judge Hirunika’s” staff members. Our purported protagonist had made a valiant effort to dispense instantaneous justice. The black Land Rover Defender belonging to the Member of Parliament had been used for the abduction. It seems black Defenders are now replacing white vans to continue the sordid legacy of abductions.
The Member of Parliament had postulated great audacity defending her staff members’. “Judge Hirunika” had repeatedly said she only wanted to prevent a family from breaking up. The victim, Amila Priyanga Amarasinghe on the other hand had said that he was personally threatened by the parliamentarian.
The profession of a lawyer is a noble one and it’s self-governing. Lawyers are expected to conduct themselves in ways which are highly ethical and above reproach. The Code of Conduct defines the principles and high standards which are applied to every lawyer in Sri Lanka, for that matter in any country. “Judge Hirunika’s” conduct is reprehensible hence constitutes a gross betrayal.
Members of Parliament have an even stronger code of conduct as they are representatives of the people hence directly responsible for their social and economic wellbeing.
The flak the incident generated had a negative effect on the supposed white banner of Yahapalanaya. Tabloids and the online media was a hive of activity. Farcical caricatures got produced online on high-octane fuel, one replaced another. True to its character the online genre got predictably viral and unraveled the squalid episode. The event reduced it to a derisive travesty.
For a moment I was thrown to the American arbitration-based reality court show presided over by retired Manhattan family court Judge Judith Sheindlin. “Judge Judy” which premiered in the 1990’s earned great ratings. The show reportedly revitalized the court show genre in the US. Well Judith Sheindlin was a true judge and Hirunika wasn’t.
Since when did mediation of parliamentarians were sought to diffuse domestic discord? It seems it’s a challenge to obliterate the egregious legacy of BBS and the culture of impunity remarkably unveiled by “eminent” personalities like the right honorable Mervin De Silva PhD. They won’t fade away easily.
Only a couple years ago we saw the militant saffron brigade telling shop owners what and whom to sell. Not forgetting the theatrics of the pint sized “Chandiya” who famously tied government servants to trees and spewed superlative vitriol to the sadistic pleasure of onlookers. These incidents still palpably vivid to most Sri Lankans is still very much integral to Sri Lankan politics. Let’s also welcome “Judge Hirunika Premachandra” to the exclusive club.
During those days of melodrama the law enforcing apparatus of the country was virtually emasculated. There was calculated subversion carried out by hoodlums of the ruling party of that time. These elements obviously had support and patronage from higher echelons of power.
The ugly incident has no doubt put “Judge Hirunika” on a spot. The ruling parties have firmly disowned her due to here direct involvement. The remarks of the JVP is telling. Its politburo member and Member of Parliament Vijitha Herath charged that the Police were under heavy pressure not to deal with Ms. Premachandra. He further said “Previous government was toppled due to the ‘white van’ culture but now we have a ‘black defender’ culture,” He claimed she was accountable since her vehicle had been used by her personal staff.
Ms. Hirunika Premachandra must demonstrate greater wisdom and restraint if she is to have a long and successful political journey. This is a nobrainer. Recklessness and combativeness may obviously pose impediments. Most importantly she should never, ever take the law on to her own hands.