6 December, 2020

Blog

Telephone Call Judgments, Whitevanning & Constitutional Council

By Mangala Samaraweera

Minister of Finance and Mass Media Mangala Samaraweera

If my memory serves me right, I cannot recall an occasion in Sri Lanka’s recent history when the Executive and the Legislature of Sri Lanka drew as much praise and applause as they did, both from our own citizens and the international community, than on the occasion of the passage of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution. 

It is perhaps the single greatest achievement of this House in recent times, and it stands as President Sirisena’s single greatest achievement since his election to office in January 2015. When, at some point in the future, Sri Lanka pauses to reflect on its history, this piece of legislation will perhaps stand as a milestone, and the beacon that heralded change in Sri Lanka towards good governance and strengthening of democratic institutions that facilitated our nation’s advancement as a strong, vibrant and stable democracy and prosperous and peaceful nation.  

The 19th Amendment that was signed into law on 15 May 2015 by the then Speaker of the House, Hon. MP Chamal Rajapaksa, after being voted in favour by nearly every single Member of this House, was not the result of a personal agenda of an individual or a group of individuals. This was the realization of the vision and the will of the majority of our people who are pro-democratic and progressive minded. It was the result of a movement to which people of our country including the late Venerable Maduluwawe Sobitha Thero, politicians, civil society activists, human rights defenders, students, religious leaders, academics, journalists, artists breathed life and gave momentum. 

There was a time in Sri Lanka where the judiciary operated through “telephone call judgments”. Under this system, all judges were appointed by one man. All ministers were chosen by that same man. In that time, the executive, legislature and judiciary all operated in lockstep in service to that man. If you were with that man, you could never be charged or convicted, whatever your crime. If you went against that man, his sons, his brothers, or some distant cousin, you would be arrested, charges fabricated against you, accused of terrorism, convicted, or worse, thrown into a white van.

That man was invincible. The country was helpless. Then on one day in November 2014, Your Excellency, you risked your life and brought this self-made God to his knees. All of us united, under Your Excellency’s leadership, defeated that man on 8 January 2015, and ushered in a new era of true democracy, of liberty and independent institutions, to this country

Under our government, we fortified our nation’s Constitution against the tyrants of tomorrow. We took politics out of the appointment of judges and key government positions and created an apolitical process where representatives of all political parties and eminent persons from civil society would vet judicial candidates.

For the first time in decades, judges of every level could travel the country and the world with their head raised high. It became clear to the public that they were nobody’s lapdog, that their appointments and promotions were removed from politics.

Today, independent judges give independent verdicts. One former Member of this house has already been sentenced to death for a number of murders.

A former DIG has been sentenced to death for running a contract killer squad. The former president’s secretary has been sentenced for misappropriating public funds.

During the 56 days in which Mahinda Rajapaksa purported to serve as Prime Minister, we all got to see what their intentions really were. Several police officers and witnesses involved in cases against ‘budding flowers’ received calls suggesting that they put their lives and the lives of their families before their commitment to their jobs. Suspects waltzed in and out of the FCID wearing shorts and t-shirts. A man under investigation for robbing our national airline was reappointed as the head of that airline.

Then, all of a sudden, after the 26th October attempt to seize power was ripped apart by an independent judiciary on the Court of Appeal and Supreme Court, they realized that their true enemy was the very existence of an independent judiciary, and the Constitutional Council and its chairman who guard that independence. Suddenly they realized that the judges and Speaker will not bow down to their threats.

An independent judiciary, or independent Speaker, is a deadly poison to the Rajapaksa way of governing. Such critical positions must be entrusted with “Sahodharayas” in their world, not patriots like Karu Jayasuriya who will put the country above all else.

The President and Prime Minister must be proud of having promoted a Speaker who is the symbol of democracy in this country. This former army officer does not travel around the island climbing on stages, thumping his chest and bellowing about how much he loves this country. Instead he shows us how much he loves it by fighting to defend and strengthen our democracy.

This is also why, your Excellency, they are targeting and maligning the Hon. Speaker, Karu Jayasuriya. They learned the hard way that he is fearless, honest, and truly independent.

The Constitutional Council is primarily aimed at de-politicizing the state and public service, and within the brief period that it has been in operation, it has proved to be successful in its intended objective.  

It is no secret, Hon. Speaker that, since the establishment of the Constitutional Council, our country has witnessed a remarkable improvement in the quality of delivery of justice. I am confident that this is a cause for pride for our learned judges themselves when they interact with their peers in other countries. As the Hon. Speaker has clarified, seniority, while being one of the criteria employed by the Constitutional Council in nominating and approving persons for appointment, is not the only criteria. For a country to develop, meritocracy is essential.

If, on occasion, the Constitutional Council had not approved a nominee submitted by His Excellency the President, which had resulted in the President having to submit fresh nominations to the Council, this is not a reason to feel slighted. It must be a reason for the President to feel proud that our democracy is becoming stronger. This is what checks and balances are about. This is what democracy is about. This must be a reason for pride to see that what one set in motion is actually yielding the intended results. If an impasse were to arise in the course of business, then the Constitutional Council and the President must work together to find a solution rather than engage in action that would exacerbate a situation. This, to me, is the beauty of democracy and what sets us apart from an autocracy or dictatorship.

Since January 2015, we who are the elected representatives of the citizens of this country have managed, despite hindrances and obstacles, to achieve remarkable progress in terms of strengthening systems of checks and balances, thereby curbing unbridled power vested in the executive. Some of the mechanisms that we have set up, such as the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka and the Police Commission perform a commendable role in protecting the rights of our citizens and empowering our citizens. This, in turn, strengthens us as a nation. 

The Human Rights Commission in particular, which has been accorded Grade “A” status by the Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions, has become an institution that all of us as Sri Lankans can be proud of.

Any reversal of these good governance gains will not only make our citizens suffer in the hands of autocracy, it will isolate us internationally and plunge Sri Lanka into isolation once again. It will have a detrimental impact on Sri Lanka’s potential for economic development and the achievement of prosperity that all our citizens yearn for and deserve.  

*Speech made by the Minister of Finance and Media, Mangala Samaraweera during the adjournment debate on the Constitutional Council in Parliament on 21st February 2019

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Latest comments

  • 6
    12

    Wow Sri Lankan Human rights Mafia is given GRADE A by the GLOBAL human right Alliance which is USA funded Human rights business to subjugate the world. President is answerable to the People. All the politicians who are answerable only a electoral district and not to an electorate, even then they cheat voters every time, Civil society is reporting to the CPA or to Mangala Samaraweera or directly to the Embassies, they are members of the constitutional council. but not the president. President was sabotaged by the foreign countries and their friend UNP that way.

    • 5
      1

      A very good piece by Mangala – he is doing what Ranil should be doing ……….. I can’t fault it ……… other than Mangala’s faith in Sirisena to do the right thing for the country.

      I don’t give a fig about what the outsiders say ……… this is the right thing and in the end that’s all what matters for the nation.

    • 7
      1

      Sir,
      Am I the only one who puked, after seeing a beaming Mangala S at Rocket Rohitha’s wedding do in Hambantota?
      Cheers!
      PS: Why do you mingle with a corrupt political family to that extent? Explain yourself first Mangie!

  • 13
    1

    Anyone who even has an atom of intelligence will realize that the constitutional council is one of the main positive changes that happened in along time. But for some who have vested interest and for others who are not used to democracy will always cry foul. How come the president after four years suddenly realised that the constitutional council is very biased.

    • 2
      0

      This comment was removed by a moderator because it didn’t abide by our Comment policy.For more detail see our Comment policy https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/comments-policy-2

      • 0
        0

        Well said, JD! This crook samaraweera ……

    • 0
      5

      In the politically rotten Sri lanka, Constitutional council does not have people of the whole island electe d. It like appointing IGP and AG by the PM.

  • 3
    0

    This comment was removed by a moderator because it didn’t abide by our Comment policy.For more detail see our Comment policy https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/comments-policy-2

  • 2
    0

    This comment was removed by a moderator because it didn’t abide by our Comment policy.For more detail see our Comment policy https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/comments-policy-2

  • 1
    5

    Another victory of the Yahapalana government is exposed as follows in the leading article on CT today:
    “Exposé: Sirisena-Wickremesinghe Intervene To Protect Corrupt FCID Chief Cop”.
    Mangala only writes to CT; he should read many an article appearing on CT before writing about his government’s achievements.

  • 2
    0

    This comment was removed by a moderator because it didn’t abide by our Comment policy.For more detail see our Comment policy https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/comments-policy-2

  • 2
    0

    This comment was removed by a moderator because it didn’t abide by our Comment policy.For more detail see our Comment policy https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/comments-policy-2

  • 0
    4

    The eternal complaining and bickering the way of losers and the incompetents. Voters have no choice except these.

  • 4
    0

    we all were misdirected by Sirisena.
    In comparison with all leaders past and present Sirisena is an ingratitude and ungrateful person in human history.

    Do not trust anyone.
    we all need to be wise to select and elect a leader for the future generation.

  • 4
    0

    In this article the Minister of Finance and Media, Mangala Samaraweera uses words like Telephone Call Judgments, Whitevanning , contract killing cops, MP convicted for murder etc etc.
    In other words highlights the steady erosion of “Law and Order”.
    The Constitutional Council (CC) of SL came in at the right time and acted fearlessly. Accolades.
    The reasons for the need of a CC is another story.
    One felt that translations of the article must be read by secondary school students.
    .
    Hold it. Hold it.
    It is NOT an article but was a speech made by the Minister of Finance and Media, Mangala Samaraweera during the adjournment debate on the Constitutional Council in Parliament on 21 February 2019.
    It was intended to make some MPs squirm. Did it?
    No way! The MPs were not there!
    .
    By the way Mangala, do you still want that Lankan Navy retiree to be the next DG Customs?

  • 2
    2

    One of the best speeches in recent times. Let others grow up and emulate. For those who vilify the CC read the following verse from Kotte period Poet Alagiawanna Mukaveti’s ”Subashithaya” ” Nohim Suwndha Vihidena Sondha Sandun Dara. Kele Sitina Vedhi Angano Kereti Dara.” Translated would read” Sandal wood enormously rich in fragrance being used as firewood by Aboriginal women”.No stopping or turning we are on the Democratic Expressway.

  • 5
    0

    Dear Mr.Smaraweera,

    I agree with some of what have wriiten but disagree with a lot. Because of CT 300 word cap it is difficult to analyse every thing in one go but I will give it a go. You are a decent man and so I think RW is, but it upset me when he recently spoke of Forgive and Forget. in Kilinochi. We can never FORGIVE or FORGET what Manhintha & Gotha did. You havent achieved everything as we expected. You are still harbouring killers , Thugs Criminals and Thieves . Actions speak louder than words.
    President Sirisena’s single greatest achievement since his election to office in January 2015:
    What is it please ?
    Under our government, we fortified our nation’s Constitution against the tyrants of tomorrow.

    *** No you havent. Mahintha is the Nations Darling and he is roaming free. He will sweep to power at the next election.
    Please do me a favour. Set up a meeting with him. and tell him the following.

    1) Next election is going to be all about Pro China Party ( SLPP) and Pro India Party UNP ?
    2) It is not the TNA which is divding the Country it was he who sold Sri Lnkas Sovereignty down the Kelani River.
    3) MR understands what Indian pressure means. India is taking over Sri Lanka by force. a) Half of Colombo Port b) 70% of Mattale c) Hambanthota d) 60 % of Palali and so on .
    India is not waiting for Sri Lanka to agree but taking over by force.

    Please tell him to retire from Politics for the sake of what is left of Sri Lankas Sovereignty. If he is elected he is going to be a Lame Duck PM. Take over will be complete
    Can you please carry out the UN Resoltions and bring this sad saga to a close which is a Blot on Sri Lankas history since independance.
    FEDERALISM is the only solution. DIVIDED we stand UNITED we fall
    Send all the Colomo Tamils back to the North as the only reason they are there is to seek employment.
    Good luck with your endeavours.

  • 3
    1

    The removal of Mangala Samaraweera occurred within minutes of his speech in Parliament – reproduced in CT of 21 February 2019 titled “Telephone Call Judgments, Whitevanning & Constitutional Council”
    This is how dissent is punished in the circle of elites.
    The draconian Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) is designed to tackle non-elite Lankans.

  • 2
    4

    Mangala Samaraweera Here you accuse that the Mahinda Rajapakse govt was chanign judiciary decisions via phone calls. But, I suppose you heard the Udaya Gamamanpila talking and he says, 19th amendment and appointing of AG, IGP, and Judiciary have been appointed in a very corrupt way. constitutional council on purpose selectivly had left buddhist Judges a aside and every judge appointed was christian.. IGP and AG had been appointed leaving the senior people aside and they are partial to the UNP govt.

  • 0
    0

    Ben Hurling: You want to know why “…..mingling with corrupt…..” That “Fable” – “Ali Baba and Forty Thieves” has been re-written as ” Three Ali Babas ( MR, Ranil & MY3) and Several Hundred Thieves”. The difference is, all “Three” show they FIGHT each other, but “HUG” each other at “Weddings”. The other “Difference” is: This is not a “FABLE”. but a TRUE LIVING AND A CONTINUING STORY. Now, we have to teach this “True Story” to the PEOPLE and FREE their hearts and minds from that “Fable”.

  • 0
    0

    “and it stands as President Sirisena’s single greatest achievement since his election to office in January 2015. “
    Wow!
    Your Excellency, you risked your life and brought this self-made God to his knees. All of us united, under Your Excellency’s leadership, 
    Wow!

    Soma

  • 0
    0

    My PRESIDENT is a member or Head of a Political Party with a ‘ FASCIST ‘policy of forcing down my throats the, Race, Religion, Language of the Majority Sinhalese and this they proudly DECLARE DEMOCRACY.

    The Judiciary of ‘MY COUNTRY’ and the Judges are appointed by ‘THIS PRESIDENT’ who is supposed to be holding ‘HIS OFFICE’ for and on behalf of the TAMILS, MUSLIMS, and all other peoples . Where the Tamils are caged for decades on suspicion unsubstantiated crimes and outside the laws of natural justice facing their future ‘WITH NO CHARGES, NO CASE , NO JUDGEMENT , AND NO BAIL OR FREEDOM’.

    I have to say all have access to FREEDOM OF JUSTICE’ in ‘MY COUNTRY’.

    Places of worship of Hindus, Christians and Muslims in ‘MY COUNTRY’ are under siege by Yellow cladded Reverends, the, Archaeology , Army, Navy, Air Forces and the Govt Forest Departments. and the innocent owners of the premises and lands are ‘FORCIBLY’ driven to the streets without MERCY, RELIEF, ALTERNATE ARRANGEMENTS’.

    Yet, I SHOULD ADMIT AND SAY I HAVE FREEDOM OF THOUGHTS , RELIGION and ENJOYING ALL THE UNIVERSAL FUNDAMENTAL HUMAN RIGHTS’.

    IN SHORT I AM CURSED TO BE BORN NOT AS A SINHALA BUDDHIST IN THIS ISLAND LAND OF ACRA BORN INDIAN BUDDHA.

Leave A Comment

Comments should not exceed 200 words. Embedding external links and writing in capital letters are discouraged. Commenting is automatically disabled after 7 days and approval may take up to 24 hours. Please read our Comments Policy for further details. Your email address will not be published.