4 December, 2020

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Reconciliation: Looking Forward 6 – Advice Without Common Sense

By Rajiva Wijesinha –

Dr. Rajiva Wijesinha MP

The recent decision of the President to seek further advice before deciding whether to proceed with the impeachment against the Chief Justice is most welcome. It suggests that he feels concern about the position to which various elements in government were propelling the legislature.

There is no doubt that there have been several misjudgments with regard to the treatment of the Chief Justice. It was certainly unusual that someone with no previous experience of the Courts should have been elevated to the Supreme Court, and I have even heard it said recently that this was designed to prevent the elevation of the then Secretary to the Ministry of Justice, who would in the ordinary course of things have become the first woman Supreme Court Justice. But she fell foul of the Minister, and did not receive her due, though all those working on implementation of the Human Rights Action Plan have found her more conversant with the law, as well as administration, than anyone else in government now.

Be that as it may, there is nothing intrinsically wrong with putting an academic on the bench, and in fact Mrs Bandaranayake’s judgments have generally been acceptable, with nothing as outrageous as that which emanated from a previous Chief Justice. However it should have been recognized that to fit her in on a par with others with regard to seniority was not particularly wise, if seniority on the Bench was the only criterion for being elevated to Chief Justice. Certainly, given the tender age at which she was appointed, it was inevitable that, if that were the only criterion, she would be Chief Justice sooner than later, and have a lengthy tenure.

Both before and after she was appointed Chief Justice, government appointed her husband to important positions. Sri Lanka has no clear guidelines about such matters, and the question does not seem to have arisen before with regard to judges, perhaps because previous judges with spouses willing to undertake government employment were male, and the question of providing an occupation for wives does not often arise. In this case, the problem was compounded by Mr Kariyawasam not being especially accomplished, whereas the positions he was raised to would ordinarily have required someone of advanced financial acumen.

Such appointments without rationale are not however uncommon in Sri Lanka, so government cannot be faulted for offering such positions, nor Mr Kariyawasam or his wife for his accepting them. The problem was compounded however when there was evidence of financial improprieties, which led to Mr Kariyawasam’s resignation from the National Savings Bank. Unfortunately the resignation came only when there were pressures both from within the Bank and from the political opposition, while no inquiry was instituted until after the Chief Justice was seen as making decisions not in accordance with the wishes of the government.

The speed with which government then moved, culminating in the impeachment effort, was remarkable, and created the clear impression that it was those decisions that had led to such a reaction, not the problems of propriety that had arisen. So the question of reform and regulations to prevent abuse has been forgotten, and we seem to be working in terms of retribution or, perhaps even more worryingly, intimidation.

Unfortunately those advising the President with regard to this issue seem not to mind what impression they create. If the President wished to deal with a Chief Justice whose judgments seemed to him prejudiced – and it could well be argued that the Chief Justice was being recalcitrant after her husband had been compelled to resign – then attention should have been focused on issues where clearly there were serious problems.

Unfortunately, the manner in which the impeachment resolution was drafted suggests more prejudice than principle. By piling on matters that on first principles do not amount to misconduct, those who drafted the resolution gave the impression that all this was part of a witch hunt, not a serious attempt to ensure that the judiciary abided by traditional norms. This impression was compounded by misleading statements in the House, as when the exercise of discretion by the Chief Justice in making an appointment to the post of Secretary of the Judicial Services Commission was described as unconstitutional. That the facts alleged were not accurate, and that there had been precedent for such an appointment, only confirmed the view that the aim was to hang the Chief Justice by any means to hand.

It is a relief then that the President has slowed down what seemed a grindstone. One can only hope then that he finds senior figures with judicial or legal experience who will advise him in a balanced fashion with regard to the report of the Parliamentary Select Committee, as well as the various issues that this controversy has raised.

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Latest comments

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    Oh dear! More hypocrisy from the master of it.

    Not one word of blame for the president – everyone else is to blame for “advising” him?! We all know who calls the shots, so save your breath.

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      Well said! How true. Have you noticed his statements of ‘inside’ information – without any substantiation – mere gossip,to boost his ‘insider’ ego status! As the Bard said ‘Ripeness is all!’

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    God this bugger takes the cake!

    The woman Secretary to the Justice Ministry that he is refering to is none other than his own cousin Dhara Wijetilaka. He must be dreaming when he thinks that Dhara had any chance of being appointed to the SC. Dhara was as much unaware of legal practice as Shirani B. having not praciced in any great sense. She was able to only engage in ministry politics got into a fight with GL and then was kicked out.

    Shameless Rajiva! Does he think that all of us ae nitwits nt to draw the connections? Whaat a joker!

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    President seems to be the innocent party. Good example the SEC. He appoints, he removes, now everything is quiet so its OK. Someone doing the job according to Presidents Conscience.

    NSB job was given to CJ’s spouse knowing well that wife was CJ. Then Duminda shot and sent to Mt Elizabeth Hospital, Singapore. Why dont you buy a few shares from Raynor to help the family according to my conscience? NSB obliges but all hell breaks loose. Transaction is reversed due to the great wisdom of the Pres. Shaped according to his conscience. Chairman NSB takes the call and resigns.

    Z Score, judgement not in favour of Govt. Divinesuma, judgement not in favour of rulling junta. Orders given, get rid of her by any means. Impeachment blind cheque signed by 117 blind mice. PSC becomes a circus. All hell breaks loose. Pres in his great wisdom and conscience wants to appoint another committee.

    Aney Meke Hari Vihuluwak Nede. Meyata Pissu thamiy.

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    “it could well be argued that the Chief Justice was being recalcitrant after her husband had been compelled to resign”
    Mr Wijesinghe,this is really unworthy of you. While posing as a temporising element you are in fact further blackening the CJ’s character. Not to speak of handing another argument to her detractors.

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    “It suggests that he feels concern about the position to which various elements in government were propelling the legislature.”

    What a load of rubbish.

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    What a hypocrat is this man have become.
    He says an academic cannot be a Judge and we are talking about someone who have a PhD from the Univ of London in Law.

    If a dubious MA-RA can cheat and get through Law college and more recently Namal Baby have passed with distinction – 98% marks on after facing the final exam on a special air-con room.

    So the Parliamentary Select Committe – PSC chaired by a lawyer who was to come for the rescue of Kasippu mudalalis and another bank robber and 9th grade dropout and orchesterd by MA-RA is not good enough and who is going to review now? isnt it Dr. Mervyn and Dr. Rajiva and another – probably Dr. Shiranee Thilakawardena ?

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    .. accd to RW…… “Mr Kariyawasam not being especially accomplished, whereas the positions he was raised to would ordinarily have required someone of advanced financial acumen?

    can anyone let me know what acumen these folks have:

    a. 7-Eleven clerk handling the Military and Police?
    b. Gas station attendant handling the Economic development?
    c. 8th grade dropout handling Trade and commerce?
    d. a CWE bill clerk handling another ministry.
    e. 9th grader handing housing
    f. Gramarakshaka have become the new Chief Minister of North Central Province.

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      All true but why do you think the country is in this state. We have massive economic development that, we do not feel. In fact we feel we can not breath. So this man was put there for their use. And so he was used

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    Dr. Rajiva,

    a question for you – This transaction of Golden Key shares for over 100 million was done by the chairman of NSB on his own?

    Why not the other directors, among them the Royal Astrologer, who was not smart enough to find this coming along responsible? Havnt you heard something called collective responsibility in a business entity?

    Isnt a govt transation exceed 1 million need tresury and Ministers approval? are we to belive that mr. Kariyawasam did forge the approvals of the minister of Finance as well as the treasury and Central Bank?

    Finally, can you please let us know the acumetn of the Royal Astrologer have in taking this Director position of the NSB? I am sure he was to predict of any investment gonna fail:)

    the reading public here will be much thankful for you prompt reply here?

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    Rajiv should be recruited as the poster boy for Unilevers as brand ambasador for Surf Exelmatic, Rin and Sunlight washing powders.

    Laundry baas par excellence.

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    How gigantically disingenuous this man can be!
    And he fools no one.

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    I appreciate Prof Rajiva’s well-balanced analysis of the events. It is heartnening to see that in the governemtn there are at least a few who can look at issues with a critical mind. It is for the same reasons I believe that peopel with educated should enter politics more and more. Now that lot of the educated and skilled people stay away from politics, it is the most uneducated and most unsuitable for high office that comes to do politics in this country.

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    Dr. Wijesinghe, are you in a fool’s paradise to believey that the President will get
    “senior figures with judicial or legal experience who will advise him in a balanced fashion with regard to the report of the Parliamentary Select Committee, as well as the various issues that this controversy has raised?” You are sadly mistaken.

    You say:
    “Secretary to the Ministry of Justice, who would in the ordinary course of things have become the first woman Supreme Court Justice. But she fell foul of the Minister, and did not receive her due” Here you are holding a brief for your relation. She too did not have any experience in a higher court (Court of Appeal) to elevate to the Supreme Court.
    You blame the present Constitution for all these problem (in your earlier article) Those responsible are your own relations, one from your mothers side, the other from your fathers side. It’s JRJ’s constitution and MR’s 18th Amendment that has taken us to the present dictatorial crisis. If the 17th amendment was in force we would have had many independent Commissions, such as Elections, Public Service, Police, Judicial Service, etc.

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    NOT THAT THE PRESIDENT FEELS CONCERNED, HE IS CORNERED WELL AND TRULY FROM ALL FOUR SIDES, ABOVE, AND BELOW. IT IS TIME HE COUNTED HIS DAYS TO RETURN TO HIS MUD HUT. HOPE IT IS STILL STANDING AND NOT WASHED AWAY BY THE FLOODS. IF IT IS SO THEN HE WILL HAVE TAKE HIS KURAKKAN SHAWL AND TURN IT INTO AN “AMBUDE” AND WEAR IT AROUND HIS GROIN AND TRY TO FLOAT (HOPE HE DOES NOT SINK), AS HE DOES NOT KNOW HOW TO SWIM. HIS BACK, FRONT AND SIDE RIDERS MAY HOLD HIM UP ABOVE THE WATER.

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    Colombo Telegraph:
    Why do you persist in publishing the piffle produced by these people who make no bones about their being spokespersons for the Rajapaksa regime? Opinions for and against the Regime, yes. But blatant propaganda from this creature and his buddies? Give us a break, CT!

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      Never mind, Anti-B, at least it provides a forum for his blatant hypocrisy and exposes his true colours, so let him persist in his clownish antics – kinda like a stripper peeling away the layers! He’s almost naked now – a really repulsive sight in store for us, huh?

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    Oh! the President is lily white and advisers are the culprits!Do you expect the President to appoint a truly independent commission? By the way, does the Constitution provide for appointing such a committee to review the findings of the PSC?

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    Rajiva Wijesinghe can solve the education crisis, he can formulate a new constitution that would finally put an end to decades of ethnic grievances, he can come up with the structure of administration, he is a master of diplomacy, the settler of the displaced, the protector of all rights human and otherwise and now the worthy judge that the CJ’s “judgments have generally been acceptable”. If Rajiva Wijesinghe could only slow the rising waters and cool the earth a few degrees I have no choice but to conclude that he is GOD himself or in the very least His chosen gift to Sri Lanka. How these natives just simply don’t see the sheer greatness of the man among us?

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    Spot on, Prof Kumar David! “Disingenuous” was the word eluding me. High time, I think, for someone to write a book about our political wolves in sheep’s clothing, those boasting left or liberal ideologies who have helped to consolidate, entrench tyrannical power in this land. Though someone like GLP might fail to find a place in such company as, brilliant chameleon that he is, no one could ever accuse him of taking any kind of ideological position!

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    I agree that the President is cornered from all sides. Rajiv is now coughing on the advice of the President. He would never have uttered what he say now about the impeachment without the President’s blessings. If the Lady Secretary referred to is Dhara, on a comparision Shirani B is miles ahead of Dhara though shirani B did not have even a days practice before courts.
    Srinath

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    Rajiva is first and foremost a politician. Therefore one needs to consider his statements primarily in that light. Secondly he might be a lawyer or academic. He probably says what is most expedient as a politician, hoping that his “balanced” tone might win him some support. His conscience might prompt him to believe otherwise. I believe he has seriously under-rated the intellectual capabilities of readers and commentators on this forum.

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      LP,
      Rajiva is not a politician.A politician is one who has contested an elective office by going before the people.

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      and he is certanly not a lawyer. Can’t you see that from the tone of his writings?? I thought that woud be obvious to a third grade student!

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    “Late is the hour in which this conjurer chooses to appear”

    Grimma Wormtongue “The two towers”

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    Why , oh why must we listen to this man?

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    Safa’s comments are interesting.

    Ranil & Co who tasted blood (no pun intended )at the turf war between the two SLFP heavies very close to the Regime,thought Kary’s rather unconstitutional effort to become a Director taking along his Tamil mate would be the WMD to finish off Rajapaksa.

    On the other hand the CJ was too Constitutional on tens of thousands of mainly poor rural kids, causing them anguish, despair and despearation and pushing some to the verge of suicide.

    They are still in limbo and have lost one full of productive life.

    Then the CJ hijacked the Roster to give her friends at Ceylinco a fair hearing against the Golden Key Card vultures.although most these depositors are from top end of the town which the UNP organizers frequent.

    No woder Ranil and his mates have gone Cold Turkey.

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      Ranil is a parasite. period. Talking about him is a waste of time.

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      K. A. Sumanasekera:
      At least Rajiva’s bs is comprehensible. Yours is pure gobbledegook. Why don’t you get whoever pays you right this incomprehensible stuff to pay for some tuition classes? It’ll be money better spent!

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    Pl correct me if I am wrong. It was the established practice to have the majority of SC Judges from the official bar with the rest from the unofficial bar and one from the jurists. Dr. ARB Amarasinghe was Secretary of Ministry of Justice when he was elevated to SC and he was considered as a jurist.

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    One who is not married cannot and will not seek divorce. Tamil Eelam(TE) and Sri Lanka(SL) were not married constituionally as one country, when SL declared the former Ceylon as a republic for the first time in 1972, when the people of TE boycotted the drafting of the constitution.

    The Tamils of TE were made stateless and made a colony of SL. The people of TE rightly asked for independence from the coloniser in 1977; when Britain refused to intervene, when TE requested.

    TE took the same steps taken by more than 30 African countries to successfully liberate themselves and be independent.

    The people of TE did not and will not ask for “separation” as the GOSL pretends. All what they ask for is the liberation of TE and to be independent.

    The word “Liberation” and not “Separtion” in the names of TULF and LTTE showed clearly what the people of TE asked and will ask.

    The Sinhalese of SL are racialised, emotionalised, brain washed and stupidised by their racist leaders to believe that TE is asking for “Separation”.

    The Sinhalese badly need rehabilitation to this truth and not the four University of Jaffna students who were arrested and are being “rehabilitated” by SL.

    From what was told by Mahinda Rajapakse to Mano Ganeshan this week on “separtist move”, it is clear that the head of state should first be rehabilitated speedily.

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