21 September, 2020

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Small Miracles That Can Be Achieved Through Justice

By Basil Fernando

Basil Fernando

Basil Fernando

Deterioration of the Legal Intellect -11- : Small Miracles that Can be Achieved Through Justice

In this series of short essays I have attempted to demonstrate the terrible situation of institutions of justice- police, prosecutors and the judiciary- through some samples. I have also tried to show how intricately linked are the political and societal crisis plaguing the country and the sad state of justice institutions.

In this essay, I will try to go through the same exercise by narrating stories which stand in opposition to the Sri Lankan experiences. I have been living in Hong Kong for nearly 25 years. Owing to the shared colonial past, the basic structure of the justice institutions here are almost the same as they are in Sri Lanka. However, the stories that I have told in this article series would be shocking, in fact almost unbelievable, to the present generation of people living in Hong Kong. For the older generation which has lived here before 1970s, however, the Sri Lankan stories would be a reminder of how things were here as well.

The situation here has changed a lot from the 1970s and judiciary enjoys highest level of confidence from all sections of the society. The judiciary, in fact, is respected as the chief protector of rule of law and stability of the dynamic metropolis. There is broad consensus that rule of law is the foundation of society. Everyone agrees that it protects individual rights and also creates an enabling environment for the security of investments and thus contributes to economic development. The prestige the judges have here would make any person proud to be member of judiciary.

The government has also ensured that necessary financial arrangements required for providing a functional system of justice are made. All modern facilities are provided, down to the detail of tape recording of all court proceedings. The result of these arrangements is obvious- Hong Kong has a fair system of adjudication without delay. Among the more expensive aspects of justice system in Hong Kong is running a truly efficient system of control of corruption, through the prestigious Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC). This institution has proven its metal and enjoys the confidence of the people.

The discipline brought about by corruption control has been felt in all state services including the police. It also enjoys the confidence of the people. People are not afraid to complain against the police, whenever there are reasons to do and these complaints are quickly and fairly investigated and corrective action is taken speedily. All such matters are duly conveyed to the people. Over the years, police have fought a credible battle against all kinds of crime, while at the same time respecting the rights of the people involved.

Same can be said of the office of the public prosecutor which functions under the department of justice. Its functions by the principles of jurisprudence and there is no political subservience in its functioning. Attorney General Department is the legal adviser to the government and in this capacity it plays a prominent role in maintaining rule of law.

All this machinery has solidly impressed on the population that law is observed strictly and fairly for everyone irrespective of socioeconomic status.

Lawyers in Hong Kong also abide by this ethos. The Bar Association provides for a strict control of discipline and all complaints against lawyers are credibly and thoroughly investigated and acted upon.

That is the framework within which, politicians also function. No one is privileged with impunity. Impunity, in fact, is no more a part of the system.

The justice system has made special arrangements for protecting minorities, through the Equal Opportunities Commission for instance. One of the remarkable aspects of the Hong Kong life is the way, women have been able to assert their rights and have made their presence felt everywhere. Rule of law is upheld in all matters relating to sexual offences as well.

The result of all this is a vibrant civil society. People are assertive and they make sure that they get the respect they deserve. There are many open and active protests and small and big demonstrations. Recent protests of the umbrella movement demonstrates how strong these protests can be. All these activities are carried out within a rule of law frame work and justice institutions ensure that conflicting claims are settled in a just manner.

My idea here is not to create the impression of a paradise but to argue that the problems that exist in justice institutions in Sri Lanka can be resolved. One must concede that the present state of things is horrible. That is more the reason why we need to focus and strive for solutions.

I came to live in Hong Kong only because, I was not allowed to live in peace and practice my profession with honour back in Sri Lanka. My name was included in a death list just because I attempted to practice my profession with honour and without fear of undue pressures. Even as I was coming to the air port to leave Sri Lanka with a protective ring of few well wishers, we were pursued by a group of four persons security agencies, sent from the house of a cabinet minister living in the area. They failed only because a tire of the vehicle they were following us with got punctured. Quite contrary to that experience, Hong Kong, the city state which came to host me for all these years did not give me a single occasion to complain of any harassment. The difference of two places in my view lies with their respective justice institutions- police, prosecution and the judiciary.

I wrote this essay as a response to a comment made by a reader of my past article (part 10 of the series), who in good humour has said, “the writer must be dreaming”. I want to assure him that my reflections are product of my life experiences. I have had opportunity to see both- the harms justice systems can cause and also,the good they can do to the society.

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Latest comments

  • 3
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    Basil Fernando

    RE:Small Miracles That Can Be Achieved Through Justice

    Yes.Justice Vs. Injustice to the Victims.

    1. Catch the Criminals.

    2. Give them a fair trial, a day in court.

    3. Find them guilty or not guilty

    4. Punish the Guilty. Acquit the not-guilty.

    5. Guilty murderers hang them.

    6. Guilty rapists, castrate them and jail them for 10 years hard labor.

    7. You will get wonderful results.

    Talk to the Saudi Arabians. At least they punish those who are caught and found guilty. They even punish the innocent based on false evidence and the Iblis, Satan influenced Wahhabis.

    Satan, Iblis simply wants to kill people. Wahhabi follow this ideology,

    So, how many guilty will; allowed to go free, on order to save one-innocent?

  • 3
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    Basil Fernando

    RE: Small Miracles That Can Be Achieved Through Justice

    Small Miracles That Can Be Achieved Through Democratic Elections.

    See what Wimal Modawansa, of 2/2 =0 fame, was sating before Jan 8. Interesting.

    [Edited out]

  • 6
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    Basil you are so right!
    Doing the Right thing in Sri Lanka is a thankless task. You can survive the system there only if you are CORRUPT, compromised, turn a blind eye and avoid taking any PRINCIPLED positions.
    The universities are filled with pseudo academics who do not know the meaning of the word ETHICS, as are most governance institutions.

    This is due to the CORRUPT POLITICAL CULTURE that has been built up by the Political Representatives of the Sinhala Modayas who have distracted the Sinhala Modyas from the corruption by attacking the minority communities – since independence in 1948.

    Today I read that “Sri Lanka’s President Maithripala Sirisena has appointed four Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) parliamentarians as Deputy Ministers on Wednesday evening. This is after promising to reduce the number of Cabinet Ministers, he has appointed one of the most corrupt clowns – Thilanga Sumathipala.
    Some Yahapalayanya – a Joke played on Sinhala Modyas!

    ‘MPs Sanath Jayasuriya, Wijaya Dahanayake, Eric Weerawardena and Thilanga Sumathipala took oaths as Deputy Ministers at an event held at the Presidential Secretariat, the President’s Media Unit said. ‘

    Long live SInhala Moda Yahapalayanaya and Yahapalakayo!

    • 1
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      Basil Fernando

      RE:Small Miracles That Can Be Achieved Through Justice

      Yes, Injustice still prevails…along with DOUBLE STANDARDS.

      Forgotten People – The Evicted and Displaced North Muslims of Sri Lanka (English)

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9JV60McNQ9o

      Published on Jun 1, 2013
      The Evicted and Displaced North Muslims of Sri Lanka. The expulsion of the Muslims and other nations from the Northern province was an act of ethnic cleansing carried out by the Tamil militant Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) organization in October 1990. In order to achieve their goal of creating a mono ethnic Tamil state in the North Sri Lanka, the LTTE forcibly expelled the 72,000 strong Muslim population from the Northern Province.

  • 2
    1

    BASIL F’DO IS RIGHT…. HIS REASONS TO FLEE TO HK GET JUICIER BY THE DAY BUT YET TO CLICK THE RIGHT BALANCE TO A ACCEPTABLE STORY.

    Wonder whether there are any Sri Lankans who fled Sri Lanka under similar circumstances living in HK today who had got battered worse than BF yet struggling with their Torture Claims with the HK Immigration with no hope of a future??
    Basil F’do must be the only Torture claimant to flee to HK and able to reside & be employed freely as HK does not permit any torture claimant to be a resident and the freedom to work.
    HUMAN RIGHTS enjoyed by BF AND THATS is SHOWN TO THE OTHER TORTURE CLAIMANTS in HK AMAZES ME. probably there may be no Sri Lanka Torture Claimants in HK

    Quote BF “ven as I was coming to the air port to leave Sri Lanka with a protective ring of few well wishers, we were pursued by a group of four persons security agencies, sent from the house of a cabinet minister living in the area. They failed only because a tire of the vehicle they were following us with got punctured”
    WONDER WHO LOOKED BACK TO DISCOVER THE TYRE PUNCTURE IN THE VEHICLE OF SECURITY AGENCIES THAT WERE IN PURSUIT ? WAS IT YOU or the wellwishers?
    WONDER WHAT BF MEANS BY 4 PERSONS SECURITY AGENCIES? NOT HEARD OF SUCH AGENCIES BEFORE.

    QUOTE BF” sent from the house of a Cabinet Minister living in the area.”
    WHICH CABINET MINISTER’S HOUSE WAS it? SURELY IT WOULD HAVE BEEN THE CABINET MINISTER’S WIFE WHO SENT THE 4 GUYS OR GALS FROM THE SECURITY AGENCIES…… THIS CABINET MINISTER MAY HAVE BEEN incapable TO LIFT HIS PHONE TO CALL THE AIRPORT SECURITY OR THE POLICE TO STOP YOU? HE MAY HAVE BEEN INTOXICATED AT THE TIME? What a great escape.

    • 1
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      Thondamannar, While I am no fan or supporter of Basil Fernando I believe it is necessary to clear up a few points that you raised. Basil never claimed to be a victim of torture but that he had to leave SL because he was told that his name was on a UNP hit list. In Hong Kong if you can gain employment and your employer is willing to sponsor you then it is easy to obtain a work visa and this is what Basil did. After 7 years in HK anyone can get right to land without a visa.

      It is interesting however, that in the ten years I worked for Basil he never once mentioned the harrowing escape you have quoted.

      …..Quote BF “ven as I was coming to the air port to leave Sri Lanka with a protective ring of few well wishers, we were pursued by a group of four persons security agencies, sent from the house of a cabinet minister living in the area. They failed only because a tire of the vehicle they were following us with got punctured”….

      I think perhaps this is in response to the comments that have appeared in the press lately about his unsupported claim of having to leave because he was on the UNP hit list. Perhaps if he could name the minister, or some of the ‘well wishers’ could come forward and verify his account, then it might clear the air.

      These comments are not meant in any way to be derogatory of either party but merely stating the facts as known and required. I sincerely hope CT will allow them.

  • 0
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    ‘My idea here is ……to argue that the problems that exist in justice institutions in Sri Lanka can be resolved.’

    This is Sri Lanka. Without political will nothing will be resolved. Unfortunately, no Sri Lankan leader has that will.

  • 1
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    Basil,

    you have entitled you article: ‘Small Miracles That Can Be Achieved Through Justice’. May I suggest that even greater miracles can be achieved through honesty…….?

  • 0
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    The power equally not distributed to the four pillars of democracy , so the resultant imbalance. One pillar if raised above the others how the structure would be even? The people’s power is hijacked by politico probably the area mp the executive don’t want to lose one in the number game to prove confidence and the spineless black coats connive with the party or parties in power! Turf war.

  • 0
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    John Stewart Sloan ..Quote”May I suggest that even greater miracles can be achieved through honesty…….?” I DOUBT. IF YOU GOT INSTANCES, KINDLY QUOTE………

    I did not, it was quoted by BF the harrowing experience, which not only you,even the HK ImmD has or is not aware.

    So…. according to you, I believe enetered HK as a visitor and then got sponsored then 7 years ect., Such an imminent or knowledgeable Lawyer that he portrays of himself to be the fact of his real intention to enter HK blurred or pre-meditated as SINGAPORE BEING THE CLOSEST TO SRI LANKA.
    Also the members of the Liberal Party & Prof. Wijesinghe had assisted him to flee to HK and not to singapore.

    For your good fortune BF came to HK and you got an opportunity to earn a stipend for (10) years by the courtesy of AHRC & BF by BASHING SRI LANKA INSTEAD OF UK.

    • 0
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      Thondamannar,

      I think you may have misinterpreted my words. I have no sympathy or respect for Basil. I must say that I did at one time but then I saw him manipulate the system to his advantage. Yes, I worked for him for ten years and earned a salary, but, I earned it! Unlike many of the more highly paid persons in the AHRC whose only claim to fame was praising their bosses.

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