25 September, 2021

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The Costs Of Pleading The Fifth

By Malinda Seneviratne –

Malinda Seneviratne

Malinda Seneviratne

Americans of the United States are familiar with the term ‘Pleading the fifth’.  It refers to the 5th Amendment to the Constitution which, in popular understanding, gives witnesses the right to desist responding to questions if it was felt that the answer would contribute to self-incrimination.  It has been used so often, in and out of court, that ‘pleading the fifth’ in common understanding in fact yields what it was designed to hide: incrimination.

Now in US courts it is standard practice for witnesses  to place hand on Bible or whatever religious text that goes with the individual’s faith and pledge to speak the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth (“So help me God!”).  That said, the ‘fifth’ really doesn’t make any sense for its reference clearly wrecks the ‘whole truth’ part of the pledge.  For whatever reason, US courts (and of course constitution and amendment architects) don’t seem to mind.

Practice, however, has made that plea meaningless for juries do take note of that which is said and do reflect on reluctance to respond.  People take note too.

Perhaps it’s a cultural thing.  Perhaps it is habit, having used ‘the fifth’ to get away with anything (should we say ‘to get away with murder’?) that prompts its ready use by citizens of that country who are stationed as diplomats in other parts of the world when tough questions are thrown at them. Perhaps it is nothing more than taking a leaf out of the President’s handbook for dealing with the uncomfortable (Barack Obama once said, ‘Please don’t ask us about that’).  Whatever it is ‘No comment’ seems to be the top response scripted for whoever has to answer the phone at the US Embassy in Colombo (and elsewhere too).

It is strange indeed that the loudest mouth, so to speak, in the international community, that not only spits out threats and indulges in nauseating justification for countless crimes against humanity, cannot respond to a simple question for which the answer could be an equally simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’.

Last week it was alleged that an USAID official had promised to fund an opposition election campaign.  This was after the organization took an ad calling ‘civil society organizations’ to submit proposals for a voter education project.  The United States has support various election-related projects over the years.  Voter education is a patently joke-subject in a country that has enjoyed universal adult franchise for over 80 years, much longer than the USA which, even today, selects and does not elect its president and which on one occasion experienced a hilarious situation where the president was selected by a vote by a panel of judges!  What these voter education projects seek to obtain is therefore matter for suspicion, not least of all given the credentials of the outfits that have benefited from US largesse  (see ‘Is an election a “village tank” to monitors and donors’ and ‘On making valid points and fudging critical issues’ for details of how the US was either swindled by prominent NGOs or else knowingly propped up dodgy outfits engaged in equally dodgy projects). .

That project has since been canceled and that is telling!  But never mind all that.  When the question is put, ‘was such an offer made?’ or if clarification is sought on the allegation, the US Embassy says ‘no comment’.  Pleading the fifth, essentially.

As of now, to be fair to the opposition, no one has come up with any solid proof to substantiate the contention that such a meeting did take place and such an offer was indeed made.  The US does not help the opposition by pleading the fifth because conclusions can and will be drawn.  Given the long history of political interference outside stated mandate by USAID (the outfit was hoofed out of Russia), the Government has every right to summon officials for explanation.  Saying ‘I will come only if my momma accompanies me’ (momma being US Ambassador Michele Sison of course) doesn’t help un-cloud the picture.  It only gives credence to allegation.

The Loudest Mouth in the World can do better than plead the fifth.  And if it fears conversation then it is laughable that it wants to educate voters because democracy is about debate and discussion, not silence and shy-making.

*Malinda Seneviratne is the Chief Editor of ‘The Nation’ and his articles can be found at www.malindawords.blogspot.com

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Latest comments

  • 4
    2

    The voter education project of US is something that has been ongoing for years. It is sound and electorates like Sri Lanka need it badly. Malinda says because Sri Lanka has had 80 years of universal franchise such funds should not apply to Sri Lanka. He suggest that our voters are more politically literate than US voters. Is this why they have kept a government that is so rotten in power for so long? Why they vote for Mervyn, Wimal and the monks? We still use indelible finger ink at elections like Pakistan and Afghanistan. [Edited out]

    • 2
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      Prem,

      What ever you say, I don’t buy it.

      Because I am paid to write in my way.

      Am I? Lol

      • 8
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        MS: You are the loudest and most IGNORANT mouth at this time!
        Pl. do some RESEARCH AND ANALYSIS and educate yourself without merely recycling you IGNORANT PREJUDICES.

        Sinhala Modayas like you think that Sri Lanka is a great democracy and the SInhala voters who constantly vote for criminals do not need voter education?! Sri Lanka today, after 60 years of independence, is a quasi-military dictatorship run by the President’s brother – a war criminal – with a facade of endless elections to cover up the democracy deficit and vote in CORRUPT AND CRIMINAL AND RAPIST POLITICIANS because there is NO voter education. The Sri Lankan voter is a MODAYA and Sinhala Moda voters have been kept ignorant and stupid by their post-colonial leaders and media and newspapers like your rag..

        Why do SInhalas vote repeatedly for the corrupt and criminal politicians? Sinhalaya modayas are desperately in need of voter education to rescue democracy from the Mahinda Jarapassa dictatorship?!

        ALso, Political culture is corrupt to the core in Sri Lanka. UNP and SLFP and the monks in parliament are all corrupt and the voters are STUPID AND UNEDUCATED on the PRINCIPLES, SUBSTANCE AND PRACTICE of democracy which is GOOD GOVERNANCE, transparent and accountable government..

        The politicization and militarization of Buddhism has meant that Buddhist monks are violent and live luxury lives. IN Thailand Buddhist monks are banned from parliament and this should be the same in Sri Lanka and Myanmar.

        The corrupt parliament of the uneducated Sinhala Modayas last year illegally impeached the Chief Justice. The Sri Lanka parliament is full of uneducated and corrupt clowns because uneducated moda Sinhalayas vote them into power. The biggest need to clean up the country and its rotten politicians and political culture is for VOTER EDUCATION. This is the single most important need for NGOs and every one and we should thank the US for this program. The Sri Lankan political parities are virtual dictatorships and family businesses and democracy is a joke because voters do not know their rights and demand accountability from corrupt politicians.

        • 3
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          Buddhism is being destroyed and distorted, militarized and politicized to save the Rajapaksa brothers from a war crimes trial. The Ravaya Bala Sinhala Buddhist Modayas and BBS are an INSULT TO WHAT THE BUDDHA TAUGHT.

          Sinhala Buddhism is a disgrace and laughing stock the world over today. SHUDDER!

      • 1
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        Do you sell yourself?

    • 4
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      Malinda got Rajapakse ushne (heat) and barking at US. -:)
      Well he had to fulfill obligations of getting a free laptop. -:.

  • 1
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    Malinda fully qualified to be an international editor in chief of the Nation. Lol

    • 1
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      What conformity does your attestation stand for?

  • 7
    2

    What about the laptop you got from the President Mr.Malinda Seneviratne? When you are commenting about voter franchise in Sri Lanka, why don’t you also comment about the Government using Government assets for election work? May be US wants to educate people that use of Government assets during election is a violation of the election laws. Also what about changing the number of electorates in a Provincial Council, just before the election, may be the masses have to be educated about that too. What about all the ruling party violence during elections, shouldn’t the masses be educated on this as well. I never thought a lap top would blind your eyes and shut your ears! By the way what voter franchise have you been talking about?

  • 6
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    Malinda Seneviratne –

    RE: he Costs Of Pleading The Fifth

    “Americans of the United States are familiar with the term ‘Pleading the fifth’. It refers to the 5th Amendment to the Constitution which, in popular understanding, gives witnesses the right to desist responding to questions if it was felt that the answer would contribute to self-incrimination. “

    Malinda, Is the US Citizen, Goyabaya Rajapaksa going to take the 5th for All the crimes he committed and all the lies his associates, the BBS, The Pliuce, the IGP, THE STF, The JMO, and a most of other associations and shills committed?

    Those shills include those Editors of Daily Mirror, Daily news, Lankadeepaya and a not of others including the ministers,?
    What about the President?

    What fraction of Sinhalese Buddhists need to take the 5th for the lies in the Land of native Veddah Aethho.

  • 6
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    Pleading the 5th does not mean the prosecutor cannot come after you. In fact pleading the 5th can be more costly if you the defendant. By doing so one acknowledges there is something to hide.

    This leaves law enforcement to deploy full weight of the law on the single party than considering other offenders.

    5th is helpful if one is asked to give a witness testimony against someone they know. Staying silent is better than lying which can throw off a case and waste time and resources.

  • 3
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    Why is it that people throw personal abuse at the writer instead of making a rational rebuttal of the content?

    • 4
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      Ask yourself being in their shoes, and you will not understand the thrills in it and will never bother to question again.

    • 1
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      Don’t you realize that he is Malinda [Edited out]

    • 0
      3

      ‘Why is it that people throw personal abuse at the writer instead of making a rational rebuttal of the content?’

      Because they have lost the argument and can go no further.

  • 2
    1

    count the number of rejected votes after the introduction of proportional rep. system and the quality of people elected by voters. after 80 years of voting history still our people have to learn a lot. but we do not know the curricula of the proposed political education programme. if you go back and study you will undrstand that even parliamentarians and local govt. members were given training on matters pertaining to local govt. and decentralization etc.all conducted by NGO’S using foreign funds.
    -sundaram

  • 3
    3

    Do UNP supporters need USAID to learn how to Vote?…Funny isn’t it….

    But then didn’t Ms Sisson , conduct intensive training recently for the UNP leadrshiph council and the “Cabinet ” on “How to Govern”

    80 years on and still learning….. May God help the Christian Faction…

    • 1
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      K.A Sumanasekera

      “Do UNP supporters need USAID to learn how to Vote?…Funny isn’t it…”

      It is really farcical.

      But then MR hasn’t got VP to prevent a section of people from voting UNP. Of course it cost MR some loose change. It was an investment well worth it.

  • 4
    3

    Isnt this joker Pleading The Fifth, himself by desisting from responding to issues about the abuse of power and the wide scale corruption by this authoritarian regime because he feels that the answers would contribute to self-incrimination ( a-la laptop santhosams et-al)?

  • 7
    1

    Mr.Seneviratne,

    I was surprised to read the following comment in your article:

    The ‘fifth’ really doesn’t make any sense for its reference clearly wrecks the ‘whole truth’ part of the pledge. For whatever reason, US courts (and of course constitution and amendment architects) don’t seem to mind.

    It is not a matter of someone minding…It is the highest symbolism possible for the principle of being Innocent until proven guilty.

    The burden of proof lies with the prosecution and therefore if you were to be witness in your own prosecution, you can protect yourself from your own testimony, by pleading the 5th. That means the prosecution has to find evidence elsewhere to convict you and cannot use your words to convict you. This is not about truth or lies but about proving a case beyond reasonable doubt.

    Truth is subjective and you should know, writing for a govt rag.

    I hope you grasp the significance of the principle at play here.

    There is NOTHING in the US Constitution that is there by accident or happenstance.

  • 3
    4

    USAID is CIA.

    they give wheat Flour (remeber PL481 or something in Sri Lanka which gave Wheat Flout to use in projects…) Money is used for CIA work.

    • 5
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      JimSofty

      “USAID is CIA.”

      So are Gota, Fonseka, Basil, …………… and many in the armed forces.

      • 2
        2

        The Lankan military like the Indian RAW, Pakistani ISI, Egyptian Mukhabarat is a pawn of the CIA working under their payroll.

        • 2
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          SL intelligence while sleeping with CIA also sleeping with ‘wife beater’ Mossad (Thanks to Para Gota Greasepiya) like Champika of DM, an inamorata for both.
          Its doubtful that, like with ISI she is having an illicit affair with RAW too thus everyone is using her, let alone the small eyed yellow creatures.
          What a demand eh? or rather what a trash!

          Para-rajafcuksake sold the para-cuntry outright.
          Para regime has to pay a huge price.
          Must deport all Parayos back to TN, Malabar Hills and to Orissa and handover the Island back to Native Vedda.

          • 0
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            Native Veddah ki Jai Ho!

  • 4
    1

    What a ridiculous and pompous article from this demented, sick variant pretending to be a journalist. His writings will go down well with the morons and thugs who are ruling this country. This guy is looking forward to receiving another laptop free from the king for services rendered.

  • 1
    1

    I fully agree with Malindha. We do not need any education you know pinky floyde and all that stuff cool no Mali http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yj3dIo8PDjs.

    We know what we want and we know what we are paid to want also. We want fascism. We want to fight and kill and kill and kill likee this no????https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GjhKOPZCj1w. May all your children be good fighters and may they all fight the USA like the Japs did in the second world war. Then we can also become a developed country like japan by 2050 no? Good Malina, sweel mali, beautifool black baby boy, lead the way to our bright future.

  • 2
    0

    Malinda, did you mean your heading in the otherwise. I could smell your unscrupulous mind in rephrasing it to “The costs of pleading the filth”.

  • 0
    0

    Even now, the election of the US president is not completely on voters.

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