By Laksiri Fernando –
When I wrote my last piece on the impeachment debacle, “Parliamentary Select Committee Exposed,” I was extremely concerned and shocked about the fact that the Chief Justice was insulted and humiliated by two members of the Parliamentary Select Committee. These happened reportedly irrespective of protests by the CJ, the legal team and the opposition members, and unfortunately complete disregard or tacit approval of the Chairman of the PSC, Anura Priyadarshana Yapa, whom I so far considered a decent gentleman or politician.
The walk out of the Chief Justice was in protest against this outrageous situation and there were unfortunately some who even considered the walkout itself as impeachable completely approving the humiliation that she had to undergo before these two male hecklers.
It came to my attention how much pain or anguish that public humiliation could inflict on a person, a woman or a man and in both of these cases women, when I came to know about the suicide of a female nurse in London who was humiliated unintentionally though because of a ‘royal prank’ call during the same week from Sydney, Australia.
It is not my intention to say that both cases are same except the fact of humiliation. When Kate Middleton, Dutches of Cambridge, was in a private hospital in London for reportedly morning sickness, there was a call from two young broadcasters from 2Day FM, Sydney, pretending to be the Queen and Prince of Wales asking about Kate’s health early in the morning. A nurse of an Indian origin who was at the telephone exchange at that time allowed the call and information. She was apparently gullible under the circumstances. The radio in Sydney without much consideration for the implications, broadcasted the prank in effect humiliating the nurse. The nurse, a mother of two young children committed suicide on Friday apparently because of the humiliation.
The humiliation inflicted in the case of the nurse was not intentional. Last night I saw the two broadcasters who gave the call apologising and virtually crying. But the humiliation inflicted on the Chief Justice was not unintentional. Otherwise an apology should have been in order by now. I am sure that some even would unashamedly justify the humiliation and some have already done so by trivializing the words used.
One is a nurse and the other is a Chief Justice and a recognized legal academic. There is of course a vast difference in education and background and hence stamina for endurance. The Chief Justice probably would like to forget about the insults given her stature, determination and courage. As the Buddha said, if you don’t take insults, the insulters have to take them back. But humiliation is humiliation whether it is a nurse or a Chief Justice. In the case of Sri Lanka this is a public interest issue given the deteriorating ethics and culture of particularly the politicians. Some have become nose biters and ear eaters!
The reported utterances of the two members of the PSC are completely unacceptable by all standards, national and international. Therefore, disciplinary action should be taken against these two members. By whom might be a million dollar question? The following are some options.
- There is no much point in asking the present President personally to take action against these two Ministers. Asking any justice from him would prove futile given his jubilant attitude against the rivals or enemies and also jovial defence of people like (Dr) Mervyn Silva. He does not seem to be serious about justice.
- Asking the Speaker to take disciplinary action against these two members of the Parliamentary Select Committee however is in order as they were appointed to the PSC by him in his official capacity. At least in that way the Speaker might be able to preserve the reputation of the Parliament from public contempt. Otherwise talking about ‘supremacy’ of parliament is useless.
- Asking the Secretaries of the SLFP and the UPFA is also in order because one Minister is a member of the SLFP and the other one does come under hopefully the discipline of the UPFA as his party is a constituent member.
- Whether the above efforts would prove futile or not, another option left for the legal fraternity, the civil society and the opposition political parties is to boycott the two ministers from all public events at least for an earmarked period in protest.
We all have seen the photograph published in The Island newspaper yesterday (10 December 2012) captioned “Divided in fighting, united in feasting.” No one would ask opposition parliamentarians or anybody else to be impolite or disrespectful to anybody in the government even those who were involved in insulting the Chief Justice. There are circumstances that we have to be civil and social to all human beings. But politics simply would become a joke if the opposition politicians are not serious about what they preach or claim to fight for. The following is the photo.
Divided in fighting, united in feasting