26 November, 2020

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My New Year’s Wish – A Final Rest To “Ghosts” Of Years Past!

By Chrishmal Warnasuriya

Chrishmal Warnasuriya

G’day from down-under

Our customary few lines that usually accompany my New Year’s wish-list this time comes from the land of Skippy the Kangaroo and boxing day MCG cricket (sans the sand-paper of course); hence the slight delay in reaching you, my apologies! Our extensive travels and the chance to look at things from a more abstract perspective, away from the local body-politik, did once again contribute much to the thought process that preceded these words; reflecting upon the unprecedented roller-coaster ride we went through last year in our socio-political life and the resultant eerie silence that we’re experiencing at present, with almost a fear of not knowing what new surprise awaits us at the next turn.

Looking back at the whirlwind Judicial-Legislative-Executive activity particularly over the last couple of months of last year makes us pose the question “why”? Beyond the obvious political self-interests of all concerned parties in this equation which are self-evident to even a novice in the science of politics, a more cogent question to me is why did the system break down? What happened to the so called “yaha paalana” regime that many of us risked life & limb to install and put in place? When I visit this question critically, I am simultaneously alerted to the fact that this year we commemorate for the 10th consecutive time, the brutal slaying of our one time learned friend and better known journalist par excellence Lasantha Wickramatunge (the twain not mutually exclusive nor far divorced from one another in fact, as what happened to yaha paalana has very much to do with what was not delivered as assured); thus with your permission I’d like to dedicate a few paragraphs in his honour, hoping at least this year we’ll set out to rest some of our “ghosts of the past” to final rest!

What is happening with “Lasantha”?

My mind runs back to that fateful day in January 2009. We too had recently returned from England with a young family to a country with heightened military operations against the LTTE amidst internal political turmoil, having been away for several years and despite many invitations (and opportunities) to remain there; as we felt that our professional presence “at home” was needed more than the selfish demands of greener pastures elsewhere. Almost immediately on returning to Hulftsdorp I was active again in initiatives driven primarily by “legal quarters” aimed at upholding democratic values and the Rule of Law. That day having just returned from Court, I received a telephone call with the dreadful news and being close to the Kalubowila hospital I remember rushing there with another colleague at the Bar (Prasad). The sorry sight of our slain colleague being rolled on the stretcher in front of our eyes and the news that followed almost immediately that “the freedom of the pen” had been killed was too much to take.

I still remember that sombre walk home, climbing up the staircase and my kids Kiara & Chrishen vividly recall how I took them down to the yard where I had recently taught them how to put up a flag-pole, toggle a knot and raise the national flag; we took the flag down to half-mast and I uttered these words to them – “puthe (daughter/son), today is the day we killed freedom to speak in our country“!

What happened thereafter, our protests and struggles are very much recorded history which is freely available online so I don’t need to repeat it but what is important is that we gave leadership to a movement of the People, a resurgence to demand for what we felt was rightfully our sovereign entitlement; a government subject to the Rule of Law and principles of democracy, which we finally thought we attained in January 2015, coincidentally also on the 8th day of the month! What have we done thereafter? Have those persons that we installed in office delivered our desired results or are they so overcome with self- indulgence, having tasted state power after many years, that other than their own pursuits of fast accumulating personal wealth and basically enjoying a jolly gay-life with their merry men, there is nothing much that we the People have secured after all that struggle?

For instance do any of them who shouted with us for “justice for Lasantha” on the streets prior to the election (or even Thajudeen & Ekneligoda for that matter) even know what is happening to those cases or prosecutions; or have we once again been taken for a ride and these poor souls not being allowed to rest peacefully even now, after all that struggle? Isn’t that (coupled with many other broken promises) the reason for the yaha paalana regime to face their Waterloo, as they did in November/December last year?

Judicial Independence – Sovereign Power of the People

Many a battle over the last few months between the Executive & Legislative arms of government were fought before the Judicial arm; I daresay there’s many more to come over the following months looking from here at the way tides are moving in Colombo. I’ve stated this publicly before, that this very fact of judicial intervention is an endorsement that our “system” actually works, not to be taken lightly or be subject to ridicule or contempt as a failed state, as some local and foreign players (with manifestly vested interests) would happily castigate us to be.

However is this prompt action to hear and dispose cases within matters of hours or days where larger matters of state are involved enough? Shouldn’t this same judicial activism extend to even settling other (perhaps seen as more unimportant) matters of ordinary citizens as well; as for instance the long-prolonged case of Lasantha’s murder? After all is it not the Judicial Power “of the People” at play, as held in several judgments of the apex court and in that backdrop, is it only politically expedient cases of the day that deserve prominence?

These are questions perhaps that those of us engaged in exercising the Judicial Power of the People ought to ask ourselves in the coming year, so that at least we clean up our act before we criticise the other two organs of government. Whilst here I’ve had occasion to discuss both the State & Federal judicial systems in Australia with many practitioners and there is much that we can learn to expedite our system of administering justice, to make it more user-friendly; that holds as paramount the interests of the citizen seeking assistance at the pure fountains of justice rather than archaic and pompous procedure and rules that only stand to restrict access to the institution itself.

Whither 2019 – Is enough really enough?

One tends to ponder when travelling through cities where the “system works” as to when we will ever get there? These systems are capable of cushioning the effects of even severe economic downfall and negative growth, the resident is yet assured some basic standard of life and personal freedom. In the state of Victoria the city council goes to the extent of ensuring not only that there is at least 15% of greenery within the city limits, with parks and playing fields etc; but also that there are sufficient barbecue grills fully equipped with gas supply so that residents may come and enjoy their leisure with their family and friends, all provided by their government structure. So how do we get “our system” from the hand-to-mouth economy that we are at now to that level where the sovereign Sri Lankan citizen enjoys at least the same perks as their elected representatives do (at the poor tax-payers expense)?

We have in our present Constitution (1978) given a limited mandate, in Public Trust that it will not be breached to three institutions to govern us; Article 4 (a) Legislature or Parliament (b) Executive including the President & Cabinet and (c) Judiciary. May I repeat a passage from a New Year’s message a few years ago – “… If this is the quality of life we as a People deserve after almost 70 years as an independent nation, then why do we need governments and spend so much time and energy on elections? We may as well keep our sovereignty intact but contract out the everyday management of our resources to some other country with a proven track-record (thus reduce all the wastage in jumbo sized Cabinets etc) and see if we can get a better deal…”. In my humble opinion education is the key. The great Madiba (Nelson Mandela) set out to change the liberated South Africa with the vision that “education is the weapon with which we can change”; I say it is also true for Sri Lanka.

As things are progressing this year or definitely by next year we will be given another opportunity to wield that most potent of weapons in a democratic system; our freedom of franchise. Let us see whether the disappointments of the past have taught us anything at all, whether we will still run behind proven non- performers in our party-system and elect the same majority of self-indulgent, self-centred ego-maniacs who have nothing but their own personal gain at heart or will we at least now, lay to rest the mistakes of our past and progress along a pathway to a new Sri Lanka.

Power to the People! Subha Aluth Avuruddak Weva!

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Latest comments

  • 6
    2

    Yes, we also remember in the good company of MR, Weerawansa, Gammanpila, GL etc supporting the unconstitutional dissolution of Parliament. And you lost, lost badly! Trying to find a niche in politics is not so easy, no?

    • 6
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      Aluthkade Bro,

      Brilliant comments. This guy Suriya has to Just shut up and hide inside MS white sarong.

  • 4
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    This guy also creeped at the very last moment to appear in courts and supported the view that what Sirisena did was correct. By the way he was not retained by any of the parties because for obvious rasons.

    Shameless !!

    Is there a process to revoke the license given to practice law when blatantly supports a view for political gains? In the same way AG should also be ashamed with his Solicitir General and the Deputies.

  • 2
    3

    Words of wisdom!

  • 5
    2

    And what exactly is the point you are attempting to make apart from making a desparate effort by haphazardly selecting phrases to appear like an Australian “mate”?

    LMAO

  • 7
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    Yes Yes Killi Maharaja paid handsomely to appear for Silly at the Supreme.
    Also defended coup in every way possible.
    Get lost good that JVP ousted him from national list slot.

  • 3
    5

    “Yahapalanaya” didn’t end as bad as the previous “Dharmista Samajaya” ended. Praise the Lord. Where will UNP (who gave us 1978 Constitution) take the country next with their Federal Constitution in the new year? I am sure wordsmiths among the crooks must be cooking another catch word to deceive the masses. Take my word, that will end far deadlier than all their gory acts put together , whatever the ****ing word they are going to label it with.

    Soma

    • 2
      2

      soma, UNP (who gave us 1978 Constitution). Who perfected it. Why take away the honour from you. You yourself complete it!

    • 7
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      Somass.

      Rata bedanavo, Ranavoruvoo dadayamkaranvo, Maha sangatathnaya sira gatha karanavo. Good show for 2019.

    • 4
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      somass

      “Praise the Lord.”

      You mean your Huniyan Deviyo Dr Mahinda, VP, …

      “Where will UNP (who gave us 1978 Constitution) take the country next with their Federal Constitution in the new year? “

      Tell us why you are afraid of a Federal constitution. Give us some rational and practical reason why you oppose it given that the Federal structure would equally apply across the country. Your panic attack and paranoid could wait.

      • 2
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        A federal Sri Lanka will need huge military resources to keep it federal.

        Soma

  • 5
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    You have no credibility at all so just shut up and get lost. You were a great supporter of the constitutional coup.

    Hats off to JVP for not giving you a national list seat.

    People like you are scum of the earth.

  • 2
    0

    Every new year /year, we write about the death of Journalist and near murder of democracy. However, no tangible steps are taken, especially by the Legal Luminaries to bring to light the total number of death of journalists within the last 10 years, irrespective of racial religious differences and make an effort to ‘catch the thief’. If possible file a private plaint and show the world you are at it similar to the FR petition filed against the ‘government to safe guard democracy’?.

  • 2
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    A federal Sri Lanka will need huge military resources to keep it federal.

    Soma

    • 2
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      Soma!
      Ridiculous: in effect military resources could be reduced considerably in a real federal Srilanka. All communities could live happily without unnecessary interference by the Central Government. Similar to families being happy when their members get married and move out of the family home. I don’t have to explain to you Soma, what families are made of, unless you want to dominate..

    • 3
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      somass

      “A federal Sri Lanka will need huge military resources to keep it federal.”

      Its Hindians’ problem, not ours. Let them do the worrying. Even if you have a 21 Million men strong standing army it would be the Hindians who will decide the shape, structure and nature of this island.

      You ought to remember the following period 26 Mar 1971 – 16 Dec 1971, almost 48 years ago.

  • 4
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    Chrishmal Warnasuriya remembers the fateful day in January 2009 rushing to the Kalubowila hospital with another colleague at the Bar (Prasad) and saw slain colleague. Then as he puts it ~ “I still remember that sombre walk home, climbing up the staircase and my kids Kiara & Chrishen …………we took the flag down to half-mast and I uttered these words to them – “puthe (daughter/son), today is the day we killed freedom to speak in our country“!
    .
    The freedom to speak was killed much earlier, Chrishmal.
    In 1948, to disempower and silence ‘the poorest of the poor’, over a million were disenfranchised.
    In 1956, to silence sathyagrahis outside Parliament, goons were used to beat the hell out.
    The 1958 pogrom was to tell the victims what is in store if they voice grievances.
    The brutal killings/disappearances of journalists working for “Uthayan”?
    And on and on Chrishma.

  • 5
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    Mr. Chrismal Warnasuriya: You have given a very appropriate title to your article – “A Final Rest To Ghosts of Years Past”. That APPLIES to all those, including you, and our Attorney General who MISLEAD the President and TOOK PART in that “coup d’etat” of 26th October 2018.. Have a nice life and many more years to come, away from our Sri Lanka.

  • 5
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    Chrishmal Warnasuriya and Mathri Guneratne, both bloody humbugs and opportunist who shed crocodile teams.

  • 0
    0

    Native, I have to concede to your oft repeated statement that it is the Hindians who are the final arbitrators however much we jump up and down. Even they can’t help this pathological condition of the Hindu/Christian section of the Sri Lankan Tamils (all Tamil speaking people irrespective of their religion caste or the date of arrival) to remain gloomy and unhappy and trigger troubles all the time while collectively Hindia has managed to keep Tamilnadu in place. They are the flag bearers of Tamil racism and nothing but a perennial nuicence to Hindians.

    Soma

  • 1
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    Mr Anaga
    List down the advantages of a federal structure in this small Sri Lanka and demonstrate that at least 75% of Tamils (all Tamil speaking people irrespective of their religion caste or the date of arrival) are benefited, vis-a- vis the demographic distribution of Tamils (all Tamil speaking people irrespective of their religion caste or the date of arrival) across the island.

    Soma

    • 0
      1

      If it is a real federal structure the Tamils will look after their own internal matters. Prevent state aided Sinhala colonization of the Tamil areas so as to change the texture of the population. Education to be based on on basis of the Tamil culture and additional universities will be provided for education. History will be re written to include the The Tamils contribution to Srilanka. Industrial development could be done without constrains from central government. Foreign assistance could be obtained which will include diaspora contribution without payment of santhosams to obtain licence to carry on developments.. Sinhalese too could be invited on our terms for employment according to their capabilities, as there will be no fear of overriding. Live without fear of army intervention at every turn. Switzerland is smaller than Srilanka (16.000 sq miles against 25,000 sq miles) but a successful federal government with equal rights to 4 languages is given. To make the long story short it is like a family of say 5 children, who move out of their parental home after marriage. But the are not each others throat. On the contrary they get together on occasions and exchange pleasantries and live happily. There are so many federal states in the world, USA, Canada, Gemany, Belgium etc. … What are the disadvantages for you other than bulling the Tamils, convert Hindu temple into Buddhist temples to show your superiority due to your inferiority complex. India though not constitutionally federal, language wise states are in place. You can go on adding but when you are in a state of imaginary fear nothing will clear your mind. I have suggested earlier as to why not lease out north and east to the Tamil speaking population similar to the lease agreement with China and see the progress.?
      I would suggest the you visit the Canadian embassy and ask for their constitution instead of being a frog in the well. English and French languages are given equal rights.

      • 1
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        But Mr Anaga, my question was what PERCENTAGE of Tamils (all Tamil speaking people irrespective of their religion, caste or the date of arrival) will be benefited given the fact that +50% of them presently live outside NE.
        Now Mr Anaga can you replace the word ‘Tamil’ by ‘Sinhalese’ in your comment and see how reads. That is how the other provinces may wish to proceed. Now tell me what PERCENTAGE of Total Tamil speaking population will be benefited. You say “Sinhalese too could be invited on our terms for employment according to their capabilities, as there will be no fear of overriding” Are you serious?
        Sinhalese will jump to grab that opportunity to get rid of Tamils (all Tamil speaking people irrespective of their religion, caste or the date of arrival) from their provinces.
        IN FEDERAL SRI LANKA PEOPLE WILL BE WALKING FROM PROVINCE TO PROVINCE.( Reminds me of how Mr Prabhakaran got everybody in NE marching ). EVERY ACT OF TAMIL RACISTS IN NE WILL BE MIRRORED IN OTHER PROVINCES.
        I am awaiting to see how you are going to respond to this PERCENTAGE issue arising out of the EXISTING distribution.

        Soma

        • 0
          1

          Soma!
          Do not beat about the Bush. The percentage will considerably increase . The Tamils who came over to Colombo and left Srilanka due the army bombing from the plane including ‘Barrel Bombs’ by Lalith Athulath Mudali , will return to Srilanka and live without fear in federal state. I dare say that Federal state is not the real answer as Central Government can still Interfere with people like you in it. Hence, the status quo which prevailed prior to the Britishers rule should be re-established. to ensure equity. It is because the percentage of Tamils are less than the Sinhala population we need to safe guard the Tamils at least in a small way by a federal constitution. As I said earlier people who live in an imaginary fear cannot see the rights and wrongs. They are self centred ,selfish and self seeking. If you know- that you don’t know- you know something- that is you don’t know, but if you pretend to know what you don’t know, you will never learn. Let us stop this continuous comments.

  • 1
    0

    Quite a lot of Lankans seems to be of the same kind( as author). What is surprising is, what ever the exposure and the experience of living outside of Lanka do not make any difference to this kind. Pseudo is the word. It will be appropriate to call Pseudo Lanka. There are pseudo patriots/nationalist/politicians/ journalist/ religious heads and so on. There are more of Pseudos and less of the reals. This guy is just one of many.

  • 1
    0

    But Mr Anaga, my question was what PERCENTAGE of Tamils (all Tamil speaking people irrespective of their religion, caste or the date of arrival) will be benefited given the fact that +50% of them presently live outside NE.
    Now Mr Anaga can you replace the word ‘Tamil’ by ‘Sinhalese’ in your comment and see how reads. That is how the other provinces may wish to proceed. Now tell me what PERCENTAGE of Total Tamil speaking population will be benefited. You say “Sinhalese too could be invited on our terms for employment according to their capabilities, as there will be no fear of overriding” Are you serious?
    Sinhalese will jump to grab that opportunity to get rid of Tamils (all Tamil speaking people irrespective of their religion, caste or the date of arrival) from their provinces.
    IN FEDERAL SRI LANKA PEOPLE WILL BE WALKING FROM PROVINCE TO PROVINCE.( Reminds me of how Mr Prabhakaran got everybody in NE marching ). EVERY ACT OF TAMIL RACISTS IN NE WILL BE MIRRORED IN OTHER PROVINCES.
    I am awaiting to see how you are going to respond to this PERCENTAGE issue arising out of the EXISTING distribution.

    Soma

  • 2
    1

    Sri Lanka’s best journalist Shenali Waduge has written immensly about dangers of federalism. Please take a copy and read especially K Pillai you.

  • 0
    0

    Good article. Everybody ganged up and usurped the Peoples soverignity. Now even the International community and NGOs are powerful than the People of the country, all thanks to politicians and Judiciary.

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