17 October, 2021

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Make The Impeachment Boomerang On The Rajapaksas

By Tisaranee Gunasekara

“You’d wear out a marionette of steel if you pulled the string and jerked it all day long”. Diderot (Rameau’s Nephew)

The impeachment of the Chief Justice is neither the beginning nor the end of the Rajapaksa-rush towards absolutism. But it does constitute a watershed moment in that journey, perhaps its final really-existing breaking-point.

Whether the impeachment boomerangs on the Rajapaksas or scythes Lankan democracy depends on how the judiciary, polity and society, including the non-SLFP parties in the UPFA, respond to it.

The Rajapaksas are determined to get rid of the CJ, because she has begun to block their way and cramp their style. Impeachment is the only possible solution to the Rajapaksa conundrum that is judicial independence – since doing to a chief justice what was done to Lasantha Wickremetunga or Prageeth Ekneligoda is not tenable….yet.

A pinprick of light still prevails in this gathering Cimmerian darkness. By going for the impeachment in such a ham-fisted fashion, the Rajapaksas have overplayed their hand. Handled properly, the impeachment can be used to de-legitimise the regime nationally and internationally, and impose a strategic wound on the Rajapaksa project.

The impeachment can be made to boomerang on the Siblings, if the CJ continues to stand firm and our customary indifference does not condemn her to wage this national battle alone.

The impeachment is a mark of Rajapaksa hubris; it is a result of Rajapaksa-numerical strength and of Rajapaksa-political weakness. It denotes a break in the Rajapaksa’s Southern hegemony. The impeachment is symbolic and symbiotic of the Siblings’ inability to do to the judiciary what they did, with such terrifying success, to the legislature, the army, the bureaucracy and the SLFP. All those entities succumbed to that particular Rajapaksa concoction of threats and rewards, snarls and smiles, with nary a murmur. Until a few months ago, the judiciary seemed to be headed in the same anti-democratic direction; and the Rajapaksa power-project seemed totally unassailable.

The Rajapaksas do not want a chief justice who will cooperate with them some of the time, on some of the issues (as Shirani Bandaranaike indeed did). The Rajapaksas want a chief justice who will do their bidding, unquestioningly, on all the issues, all the time. The Rajapaksas want a chief justice no different from the fawning ministers/parliamentarians, the subjugated military-bosses and the supine bureaucrats, the sort of mindless underling they have become accustomed to.

Why the judiciary in general and the CJ in particular decided to resist Rajapaksa tyranny is for historians to debate. For us today it suffices that they are doing so. The judiciary, led by the CJ, is fighting to prevent itself from becoming another pillar of Rajapaksa power. They cannot win that necessary battle without the backing of all those who value the rule of law and understand that tyranny becomes destiny only through default.

 The Rajapakses Expose Themselves

According to reports, the impeachment motion is riddled with errors and inaccuracies – just like Rajapaksa development and Rajapaksa governance. This shoddiness stems not only from the Rajapaksa penchant for low-quality, be it in road-building or parliamentary conduct, but also from the impeachment’s very nature: a rush-and-rash job, motivated not by a desire for justice but by a raging thirst for vengeance.

Logically it would have been better for the Rajapaksas if the CJ continued to do their bidding. Logically it would have been better for the Rajapaksas if they did not have to impeach the CJ.

Though the Siblings pursued their power-agenda ceaselessly, from November 2005, they did so while making an effort to maintain appearances. They pretended fidelity to such impediments in their path towards absolutism as the 13th Amendment or judicial independence because they did not want to reveal, completely, their real purpose. But with the impeachment (and the growing talk about a 19th Amendment) the Rajapaksas have torn asunder the veil of deception of their own making and displayed their natural self to the world.

Interestingly, intriguingly, the Rajapaksas engaged in this political-disrobing while the world’s attention was onSri Lankavia the UPR process.

The Rajapaksa need/desire to axe a chief justice who finally decided to place the constitution above the will of the executive is comprehensible. But they could have waited until the UPR process was over. The Siblings are adept at deception, and in the past they acted with considerable guile and wile to seduce the nation and hoodwink the world. Their dexterity enabled them to conceal behind a banal façade the insatiable ferocity of their power-famish. But this time they decided to go for the Chief Justice’s jugular, while the world was watching. They could have waited, mouthing their usual shibboleths for a few weeks more, but didn’t. They could have used at least a pinch of finesse and a drop of restraint, but didn’t. Instead, they went for the kill, with bloodcurdling howls and bared fangs, at once. In doing so, they exposed their true-self, far more repellently than a thousand critical analyses could have.

Their new normal is demonstrated by their decision to reject, sans explanations, the unexceptionable requests by several countries (at the UPR) to respect judicial independence.

Why did the Rajapaksas act with such uncharacteristic rashness? Have their Chinese overlords given them a gilt-edged assurance about their financial, political and diplomatic safety? If so, what promises did the Rajapaksas make, in return? Or did their fury at an unexpectedly recalcitrant chief justice make the Rajapaksas abandon sense and sobriety and lash-out, Medamulana style? Did the Rajapaksas decide to nuke the CJ because anger made them forget the incinerating impact such a strike cannot but have on the people, the country and even themselves?

The Rajapaksas are in a hurry; they want to rid themselves of this CJ and replace her with a tried-and-tested henchman. It does not require oracular powers to know that all seven UPFA members of the Parliamentary Select Committee (a careful mix of wolves to maul the CJ and sheep to bleat indifferently) will find Shirani Bandaranaike guilty. But if those Lankans who are appalled by this dangerous charade, who understand its deadly consequences (including to themselves) make their displeasure felt, that might suffice to compel the left and minority parties in the UPFA to oppose this most egregious of travesties. If the impeachment gives rise to societal outrage, if it creates just a few wavelets of dissent in the UPFA, even a win for the Rajapaksas can become a pyrrhic victory.

Once this CJ is out and her supine successor is in, the Rajapaksas can amass every iota of power, constitutionally and legally. To achieve this end, the Siblings are willing to destabilise the system and confound the society, to blackenSri Lanka’s image internationally and cause ordinary Lankans to suffer a critical loss of confidence in every branch of government.

Under Rajapaksa rule the Rajapaksas deny themselves nothing, from tax-free sports cars to witch-hunting troublesome chief justices. The cost is of no moment because the only things that count are Sibling Power, Familial Rule and Dynastic succession.

Just as Vellupillai Pirapaharan warped Tamil aspirations, undermined Tamil interests and destroyed Tamil future, in mindless pursuit of his own megalomaniac nightmare.

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Latest comments

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    Hurrah! Thisaranee. Let us turn this impeachment attempt into a blessing in disguise- to get rid of the despotic regime !

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      Great stuff Thisaranee! Hats off to you! Keep up the brilliant work.
      As you say, “tyranny becomes destiny only through default”. It is time for all educated and professional Sri Lankan’s one and all to call a halt to the Rajapakse juggernaut and march for REGIME CHANGE!
      This act of impeaching the first woman CJ will ensure BLOWBACK – Rajapakse’s days are numbered. He will be impeached and Gota the goon will be packed off to the Hague for a war crimes trial!

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      The Rajapakse war criminals should be tried in a criminal court for all their white van murders and looting of public property including the house of the General Manager of the Bank of Ceylon on Green Path, and not the CJ!
      Quite right, superb article: how can a party to conflict – the accuser – of the CJ judge the merits of the same case? This is a travesty of justice.
      Thee fact is that criminals are running Sri Lanka today, there is a generalized situation of anormic chaos, high suicide rates, emerging as law and order and due process and the entire justice system is being subverted to establish a Rajapakse dictatorship. Sri Lanka has gone from the frying pan into the fire. Freed itself form the bloody Prabakarn only to be enslaved by the bloody Rajapakse. The social fabric and institutions in the South of Lanka are deteriorating, just like they did in the north under Prabakaran.
      The rise in crimes and suicides/ attempts indicates the break down of social norms as sociologists know, as a result of Lanka’s slide into dictatorship. A Central Provincial council politician and armed forces personnel have tried to or have committed suicide and even the prisoners are in open revolt and there have being killings in the Magazine Prison in Colombo. Sri Lankan society and social norms are falling apart as the Rajapakses assault the judiciary and norms.
      Time is ripe for regime change – people of Lanka are rising up!

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        Yes, indeed great stuff – keep it coming!
        a senior aide of the President has said that it was her husband’s “dealings” and various other improprieties that forced the hand of the government.
        Well first impeach the criminal clown who is Governor of the Central Bank for the waste of public funds on the Hambantota Commonwealth Games Bid fiasco, Nivard Cabraal, who is up to his neck in crooked deals, and P.B Jayasundare another crook and the Petrol thief Susil Premajayantha first.
        And of course MR 100 percent Basil Rajapakse the uneducated LA petrol pump man who has land grabbed in Colombo 7, Passikudha and Kalpitiya to build tourist hotels after getting rich quick and rising high from being an LA petrol pump attendant!

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          Yes, lets talk about Basil Rajapassa’s and all the Rajapassa syblings and the Brother’s in laws ill gotten gains and undeclared assets gains, first!
          The CJ’s alleged 19 million apartment is peanuts compared to the Rajapassa’s ill gotten loot!

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    Excellent article that pretty much sums of the situation in Sri Lanka with the regime of the Rajas. Thank goodness that we still have writers like Tisaranee Gunasekera who not only call a spade a spade but do so in excellent prose. Reading the front page of the Daily Mirror’s report on the Welikada Prison crisis was excruciating. One wonders if the Daily Mirror has sacked all their proofreaders.

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    I believe Tisaranee Gunasekara after availing herself to a similar assault by R. Premadasa then on society, what MR is currently involved committing himself over hundred percent than R. Premadasa did, would have realised her folly to support such megalomaniacs, believing they do so for the common good of the people. No certainly not. I truely Commend Tissaranee Gunasekara for her brilliant piece of writing, to put in a nutshell the escapades of MR in governance. The time has come for all the decent educated in the Country, to throw aside all other differences and unite to oppose tooth and nail the jaggernaught, that is MR who is about to steam roll the last of the vestiges of Democracy in this land of ours, the Judiciary by impeaching and removing the CJ. True the CJ may have her share of blame. But at least she has decided to turn around and fight. If we all without supporting her, do exactly what Pastor Neomler did, be mindful that it is Curtains for this Country. I hope it is crystal clear for the masses of this country, of things to come when you see the concessions offered for his siblings to import Racing Cars for their pleasure at the cost of Infant Milk Food and many other essentials of the masses to subsidise such imports. If MR gets through this vile of his, be assured his guile has no bounds thereafter.

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    Hats off to this brave lady! wow! The female version of Lasantha!…fearless unbowed and unafraid. A really great piece of writing ma’am

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    May the blessings of every god be with you

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    It is time that the Sri Lankan people everywhere in the country realized that they have a bunch of crooks ruling the country, abusing their powers and milking this country dry. It is time the people knew what the international community knows, and is trying hard to say. Corruption and human rights violations rules.
    Who is going to to hold the Rajapakasa’s accountable?

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    Brilliant – as usual!

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    It was Prabakaran and his LTTE outfit that was responsible for bringing Rajapakse and his henchmen into power by imposing their might on the Tamils and preventing them from voting freely.
    Rajapakse follwed Prabakaran’s style in kicking the ladder after climbing the height and Prabakaran deseverdly met his Waterloo at Nandikadal.
    A gratful Rajapakse inducted into his fold all those who helped Prabakaran and he is continuing the process in a more refined style as he has sycophants as advisors and supporters who are satisfied with the crumbs falling off his table.

    But Rajapase made a mistake when he thought he could have the same luck with the female CJ who he thought would be a tame and easy to deal with, and to his surprise finds that she has a mind of her own and made of much sterner stuff.

    That has put him in diffulties which he is trying to sort out by using his power and influence.He knows that he can depend on the Hakeems and their ilk but there is some uncertainity about those remnants of the left who hark back to the days of their glory in the sixties and seventies.Having become geriatic they remain undecided as they have to survive having tasted the perks of office, the good life and comforts that go with it,which is why they remain in a quandry.

    Much depends on the dictates of their conscience and good sense if any of it still remains with them to tilt the balace against the possibility of a 19th Amendment becoming entrenched in the country’s Constitution in the future.

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    Tissaranee has summarised the situation well.
    If the PSC members appointed, have any self respect and concern for the citizens,and view the ‘charges’ against the CJ dispassionately,she will not be impeached.
    But they are lackeys and are liable to ‘political suicide’ if they do.
    Do they have the courage nerverthless,to save the nation from continued tyranny, and save/serve future generations?

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    Govt could be brought around if all sectors unite and launch a mass protest. Since the politicians are directly involved they seem to be taking a back seat at the moment until the motion runs its course. The legal farternity too seems to be holding back for the moment.

    This signals aa long fight on the legal front. For the moment it is left to the public, media and international community to maintain the pressure on the govt.

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      Sorry should read

      The legal fraternity too seems to be holding back for the moment.

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    Excellent as usual. Impeaching the CJ while the Universal Periodic Review was taking place is a declaration that the Rajapakse govt does not care a hoot for the International Community.

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    EXCELLENT ARTICLE AND COMMENTS WONT DO.

    LET US KICK OUT “RAJAPAKSE AND HIS HUNDRED THIEVES”

    THE IMPEACHMENT WILL CERTAINLY BOOMERANG ON “PAKSHAS”

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    Yes the CJ impeachment turned Hellfire on the regime, and I forecasted it. Auspicious time gone bad. Yesterday’s attack on Velikada prison may have a hidden agenda linking many issues and to stir up greater trouble. It tells how things could change rapidly and with past experience, all have to be vigilant and be prepared to implement a rapid action plans if such incidents take place.

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    Thanks Tisaranee for the insightful article, Rajapaksas are afraid of the pen more than anything. The ink flowed from your pen is really the tears and the blood of the people of this country. People of this country are disturbed and worried. The peace prevails in the country is not the real peace, but the peace of the cemetery. Ordinary people are leaving the shores of this country taking greater risks by fishing boat to Australia. The rulers are unmindful of all the events and incidents taking place in Sri Lanka. They are deaf dumb and blind.

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    Tisaranee…barkis is willing. (only a few would understand)

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    Raja crook will appoint another crook for this post again to have his own criminal activities without any judiciary involvement

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    Like several others have noted, I too see the faintest glimmer of hope here, and thanks Tisaranee for the power of your pen. The madam CJ has probably realised her folly in in acquiescing to the regime and has awoken to the now very real prospect that mother Lanka’s future is at stake. She may not realise it, but if more (many more) women stand up for her cause and join hands, they can well engender the necessary change to the power dynamics that prevails. From history we know that women are a force to be reckoned with and the hand that rocks the cradle can also influence the men in their circles to join in the struggle to bring in change. Yes we can, yes we can; will all you women out there join us?

    Do we want to become a Zimbabwe with Mugapakse continuing to do his dirty work at will? Surely not I say!

    PresiDunce Bean: are you simply proposing to Tisaranee a la Dickens, or are you talking about something else?!

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    Watch out! Mahinder would pull a “Srimavo” on the people. That is, assemble a constitutional council outside parliament and write a new constitution. In that he can write in a new supreme court with new judges like Srimavo did to prevent the 1947 Supreme Court from hearing the kodeeswaran case that was referred by the Privy Council to rule whether the Sinhala Only Act violated Section 29(4) of the constitution. Srimavo and her leftist dropped that safe guard covenant.
    No one expect the Tamils protested with the Vaddukkodai Resolution. Some legal scholars then and later wanted to to know what happened to the 1948 Parliament, the constitution and that Supreme Court. They opined that they both still exist de jure but not in fact!!! Go figure what that means.

    None of the Sinhalese protested the 1972 constitution what chance that they would protest a successful impeachment of the CJ or write a new constitution leaving out the 13A Minus. Lots of Tamils will welcome both so they can go and reaffirm the Vaddu Resolution thinking that the IC will be more sympathetic in 2013.
    Mahinder might stop the impeachment if the Sinhalese who oppose the impeachment and support the 13A publish the possibility of Two-States One People being imposed by the IC!

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    Tissaranee – Me dear,

    CONGARTULATIONS on initiating the belling of the Cat
    or should I say DOGS?)

    It is important that when cleaning the stables … each and every one of the signatories to the impeachment be held responsible for their folly.
    (Most of them dont understand what they have signed nor its ramifications).

    If we continue to have political appointees running the civil service … nothing will change.

    We all understand that a regime change is an absolute necessity ……

    BUT WHO HAVE WE GOT to appoint to positions of power?

    Each and Every politician in Sri Lanka, currently, have many skeletons in the cupboard ……… So non of them are suitable.

    So in belling the cat … make sure that the mice (the smaller hoodlums in the current scenario) don’t run amok.

    Tell BArkis that the farmer’s wife is after the three blind mice.

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    1 What has happened to the dissenters to the article?

    2 The grand plan is still on course as we have a placid public unsure of themselves in light of this subjugation.

    3 These minor obstacles are no impediment to achieving the final goal.

    4 It is up to us to educate the public in a language they understand as to what is going on. Most people in Sri Lanka DO NOT believe what is written here.

    5 Tisarinee your piece MUST be translated into Sinhala and be put into the Blogosphere. If you already have, let me know the link.

    6 Talking to the converted is of no use, we have to change the perception and hoodwinking of the people on a daily basis.

    7 Sri Lankan public must first be educated to think, and rationalize before a logical explanation is of any use to them.

    8 Until we stop passively giving everything away to this CABAL, and actively rebel against it, all the writing is of no use.

    9 Trust me, the behavior of the legal fraternity of Sri Lanka bar a few, just disgusts me as they put self before country, and greed before law.

    10 If they cannot understand that their whole ethic is nothing but mush in Sri Lanka, what hope have we got in convincing the rest of the Country.

    SO ALL LAWYERS UNITE TO PROTECT THE LAW FROM EMBEZZLEMENT AND DOWN TOOLS TILL THE CABAL IS FORCED OUT, ONLY THEN CAN WE IN THE COUNTRY PROTECT THE FREEDOM WE CHERISH FROM SEIZURE!

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    Why blame the President and his siblings. We Sri Lankans always find someone else to blame for our foolishness and idiotic behavior. You and I voted them into power. So lets kick ourselves. Pl do not blame others.

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    If ever there was a brilliant journalist loose in this country, it is Tisaranee Gunasekera and it is not just technical skill but a facility with words that is applied to matters of real import with an honesty and sincerity without equal.
    As another reader has remarked, whatever has happened to the media mongrels that are usually so willing to produce their “erudition” for our delectation. Where or where are the Dayan Jayatillekas, the Rajiva Wijesinhas, the Chandraprema’s etc. etc.? Too busy begging for their next bone from their masters or occupying their tongues in an another of their productive endeavours – boot-licking?

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    Tisaranee has provided us with as polished and succinct review of the Chief Justice fiasco as any available. There was a time when Mervyn de Silva, his equally gifted son Dayan Jayatilleke and one or two others of similar insight would also provide this kind of vital public analysis, but such critiques are less and less so in the era of the white van (the exception is the National Peace Council and its writers). Meanwhile those of us who admire Sri Lankan civilization, history and culture can only hope informed analysts like Tisaranee can keep up journalistic pressure to help prevent Lanka from Zimbabwe-style self-destruction. I have always admired Tisaranee, whose bravery matches her serious intellect, and this piece confirms my trust in her judgement.

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    Always read your hard-hitting articles. @ the moment these articles are all that keep us afloat. Thank you for your courage

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    Thisarenees guts should infect the rest of the folks of the country – then it will be easier to drive these marauders out of their power.

    In post war scenario, if IC could provide our able leaders with better system to get the nation back on tracks – we will become one of the properous nations in the asia.

    As any computer program could have – what we are experiencing today is error in the prevailing system.

    These kind of writers are the assets of our nation :)))

    Your are the best among the least minority of brave writers that we have for SRILANKA today.

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