30 May, 2024


No Constitution Without Separation Of Power Will Fix Corruption 

By Asoka Seneviratne

Asoka Seneviratne

Imagine the scenario 1. The police arrest a drug king pin. All the evidence is in hand to prosecute. The word goes to a big politico about this. The politico has a vested interest. He calls the IGP or DIG and instruct not to proceed. The word goes down the chain of command and the drug lord walks away.

Imagine the scenario 2. A politico is caught red handed taking a bribe off a government contract. Evidence is all over. Police kicks the case up to AG. AG indicts. But last-minute evidence file disappears from the police. Case dismissed.

Scenario 3.  The same politico is in deep trouble. AG has all the evidence to indict and throw him to the slammer for the long haul. AG gets a call not to indict or to drag on. AG fears his job security and follows suit.

And there are a lot more scenarios….

All of the above has been happening in our motherland for decades. How else can one explain the fact that not a single politico of our parliaments has been thrown in jail even though the whole nation knows dozens of them break the Law Day in and out. How many times have we witnessed AKD, Ranjan or General Fonseka openly accuse the vast majority of the MP’s being corrupt or downright criminals?

Filter it down to Pradeshiya Sabha. How many of those goons take bribes to approve a plan or a project? But how many of them have served a day in the slammer?

Then think about this scenario. A small-time street drug pusher is caught with 2 ounces of dope. Police rush to arrest and prosecute. As if that does not meet the punishment for the crime, the corrupt media goes onto expose him or her on public TV attempting to fool the masses that we are a nation of law and order. What hogwash? Laughable!

The poor guys sold an ounce of dope to feed his family. On the contrary, the drug king pin was building massive wealth some of which was shared with a politico or two. Besides he was engaged to destroying whole families into misery. The little guys goes to jail while the politico goes on to enjoy perks and privilege, all paid with people’s money that we don’t have. 

Is this not what we commonly call corruption? A totally broken system of law enforcement and carriage of justice. One set of justice for the rich and the powerful, and another for the rest of us.

Underneath all this ugliness is the fear of the police to do their job in keeping with the oath! He or she must carry out the orders or risk a transfer to a remote station or a demotion. How on earth is the police going to do their job without fear or favor, if they must risk their livelihood. Why are thousands of cops on the street blocking Aragalaya? They know full well in their heart of hearts that the leadership has no mandate and the use of PTA to suppress protests is not legitimate. But can they afford to defy orders and risk their jobs?

So here comes the billion-dollar question. How can we insulate law enforcement and the justice system from political interference? The answer is simple. Any constitution we plan to introduce in the future must have mechanisms for separation of power. The executive and law enforcement must be independent. Executive branch or the parliament has no business interfering into law enforcement. Period !

Lets take the US. The attorney General is appointed by the President after being vetted and approved by the Senate. This is a huge step and a must do step to ensure the character of the AG. But once appointed there is a time cherished tradition that the executive branch will not dictate to justice department how to do their job. Justice department is independent. There were cases of violating this cherished tradition during Trump administration, but the institutions of Democracy and the free media always kicked into action to expose and prevent. Besides Trump was voted out of office during the next GE anyway.

So how can we in SL insulate the police and justice system from Executive interference. A lot need to happen. We need to introduce Primaries for election to high office thereby taking away the power of a party leader to dictate who runs. Let the man with best vision and character win ! Not the favorite of the party boss. Then we need to appoint ministers outside of parliament thereby ensuring executive branch cannot influence law making and other parliamentary functions. Remove the provision that excludes President from prosecution.

Decisions at parliamentary oversight groups over ministers and departments must be done with secret ballot. All ministers and heads of government departments must be subject to open public hearings. All government contract bids and winners must be on public domain.

COPE  must be given teeth. Just mere recommendations to AG is  huge waste and serves no purpose but only a smoke screen to fool transparency.

 In short, any constitution must incorporate transparency into government operations unless such action affects national security.

Finally, a word about the oath taken by ministers. We all have seen these goons standing in front of the President and pledging to protect the laws and the constitution. Then in no time, they start violating that oath by corrupt and illegal acts. The party know, the leadership knows, the country knows but he continues to enjoy his privileges and perks. So how can we not conclude that this “oath” is simply a joke ?

In fairness, there are perhaps a handful of clean guys. But simple human fear of risking their own political positions keep them from exposing others. Sad !!

Finally my fervent hope is that my beautiful mother-land , after 75 long years from independence come of age, mature and with the help of the brave young generation of today, clean up our corrupt political culture and set an example to the region and the world that Sri Lankans demonstrated to the world how to build a nation into prosperity without corruption where Rule of Law reins. 

They already demonstrated some of it by getting rid of two powerful Rajapaksa’s out through the back door while the world was watching. I am confident more will follow! Our nation will be that much better without them!

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Latest comments

  • 9

    When the Pakses are happily spending their out of office time in luxurious state homes and yet their off-spring and catches are sucking the blood of the nation, I begin to think that we have been fooled in thinking that we have achieved something through the “Aragalaya”. Separation of Powers? Independence of various institutions? Is the average public servant (including the judiciary) economically independent to take an independent decision? Constitutionally guaranteed independence of various organs of the state becomes a farce when all such office-holders are effectively “paupers”. Money First! Money Second! Money Third! How did Kaputapakse get the VIP lounge for his arrival and who footed the food bill? Is this because the relevant institutions do not have the “Independence” to act? They have. But they love to lick the boot and be a part of the “Commission – oriented” society for their livelihood. In the past did you ever hear a retired Chief Justice taking the job of chairmanship of a Bank? No. They truly spend their retirement in keeping with the dignity of office they held. Why is this difference? The poor man must live. The pension is a pittance to maintain the status required.

    • 9

      Asoka, you are absolutely right. Corruption is now normalized as culture (2000 year civilization). As you said except for a handful , most parliamentarians, PS members, high ranked government officials, businessmen, low and odor, even judiciary – – -etc are corrupted. So much so, public has accepted corruption as normal. For example, what happened with Nirupama / Nadesan files ??which is just a tip of an iceberg. A Italian residing in Lanka arrested for peddling drugs in 2019 was sentenced to life term rigorous imprisonment. Lankans including politicians involved life long are free to continue their business. Even, so called educated here in CT, starts pointing here and there , some justify by saying there is no corruption free country. Information obtained from RTI indicate many funds allocated for development gone missing, politicians pocketing the compensation received after ship wreck …Now committee appointed to investigate sugar scam. . Country should be named as SCAM / SHAM Lanka.

      • 5

        chiv, Allocated funds are not the only things missing. Nadesan proved judicially that the owner of Malwana is an invisible robber, unable to manifest in courts. So what could one expect from the Pandora files, specially as president’s trusted friend.

    • 4

      Good Sense, What does a retired Chief Justice know about banking except ego chasing tied to a post. For that matter, Pakses in luxurious state homes with blood sucking offsprings, you call folly. Good to stuff their mouths with money till they become breathless.

  • 8

    AS, The faster our corrupt political culture is cleaned up as you say, the faster our future will brighten. Judicial punishment and recovery of stolen dollars must be recaptured by president from the no jobbing robber family.

  • 2

    Primary elections within political parties organized by an independent election commission to select candidates to contest any election whether, presidential, parliamentary or local government institution within the political parties.

    it makes sense and more democratic and enhances inner democracy prevents party leader or secretary of the party to nominate their favorites for elections and allow the party members the democratic right to select the best.

  • 9

    Elections will never bring a paradigm change to the status quo. As the writer correctly observes, the whole system rewards the corrupt and punishes the innocent. Therefore the only solution is a massive revolution that sweeps away the parasitic scum and installs a team of educated and committed youth to steer the nation forward. There is no other way.

    • 4

      A revolution is not a banquet as we learned earlier last year.
      People should want it. there are many obstacles. corruption is one, and our media another.

  • 9

    I recently received a video clip (I believe available on Tik Tok) of Tiran Alles, stating in public how he arranged a meeting for MR & Basil with the LTTE through an intermediary by the name of Emile Kanthan, where Basil agreed to pay LTTE Rs 180m to buy boats, which had been paid in cash & witnessed by Tiran. This was apparently payment for LTTE for preventing voting in the North & East, giving an advantage to MR over RW in the Presidential stakes. What happened thereafter is history & the defeated RW is now the saviour of the Rajapakse clan & Tiran is the Minister for Policing.
    In my understanding, collaborating with the enemy is high treason, punishable with the death penalty in war time. Now that it has come to light, why is RW & Alles, with all their powers bestowed to them, silent? Was it all lies? If so Why is Alles, a liar, continuing as a Police Minister? Law & Order, Policing, justice, what a farce in SL
    Wonder how many navy & military personnel lost their lives thanks to the contribution of the ‘saviours of Sinhala nation & Buddhism’ to the LTTE.

  • 4

    Asoka S,
    Good Day.
    “So here comes the billion-dollar question. How can we insulate law enforcement and the justice system from political interference? The answer is simple.”
    It’s a question indeed on everyone’s lips, since 11/2019, without an answer being spun out!
    However, we had a bright spark at a famous “Watering Hole’ proffering that the enlightened, emancipated, masses with their long heritage be trusted to do the needful!!
    Last time we witnessed 6.9 million such valiant and formidable people! Except this time rhey need to muster in excess of 7+ million – daunting but given the experience of 11/2019, it’s chicken feed!!!
    So he claims with confidence!!!??
    He claims to have unmatched faith in Sri Lankans to do the needful, when duty towards the nation makes a Call!!

  • 0

    RAJ-UK. I thought TA-MR-VP Deal is stale news. It was news all over. There was nothing to surprise the Chinhalas.

  • 0

    1. How about a Police Station comes under the command of an underworld gang tasked to harass the political foes of the President.
    2. They operate above the law. Murder, extortion, kidnap, plunder, pillage is in their portfolio.
    3. Police hierarchy turns a blind eye and ask the victims to proceed to court.
    4. The judges are bribed or other wise to have the loot blessed and proceed to the Bank singing and dancing.
    5. Corruption in the Judiciary and the Police Force has reached the core.

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