21 July, 2024


The Impeachment As A Primer On The Rajapaksa Way

By Tisaranee Gunasekara

“Dreadful symptoms of the coming dissolution….”Thomas Mann (Buddenbrooks)

In a classified cable written on 24th February 2010 (and revealed subsequently by Wikileaks), theUS Ambassador identified Supreme Court Justice Shirani Bandaranayake as a supposed ‘Rajapaksa-loyalist’.

The vicious and illegal impeachment of the same Shirani Bandaranayake, just two and half years later, demonstrates that the Rajapaksas do not tolerate loyalists; they demand acolytes. One is either a Rajapaksa-serf, with no mind or will of one’s own; or a Rajapaksa-enemy, who will be vilified and hounded out.

In the Rajapaksa universe, the middle-ground between subjugation and opposition does not exist. Those who think that they are allies and loyalists will find themselves standing on quicksand, sooner or later. At that point the only choice is between submission and resistance.

That was the story of Chief Justice Shirani Bandaranayake.

It all began with the Sacred Areas Act. That most invidious and iniquitous piece of legislation, and not the Divineguma Bill, was the casus belli of the impeachment.

The Sacred Areas Act – Town and Country Planning (Amendment) Bill is its full title – is a Rajapaksa classic. The Act consisted of 4 pages and 8 clauses. Its purpose was to give the Rajapaksas absolute control over every inch of private land. It empowered the Minister of Buddha Sasana and Religious Affairs to acquire any land or building by the simple expedient of affixing a label and issuing a gazette notification.

Compared to the Sacred Areas Act, the Divineguma Bill is a model of rectitude and accountability.

Clause 4 of the Act empowered the Minister to takeover ‘any area of land’ in ‘any municipal area, an urban development area or any trunk road development area’ defined as:

a)      a ‘Protection area’ for the protection of natural amenities;

b)      a ‘Conservation area’ for the conservation of the natural environment and the protection of places of natural beauty within the environment or

c)      an ‘Architectural’ or ‘Historic Area’ for the conservation of architectural or historical value.

Clause 5 empowered the Minister to define any land as a ‘Sacred Area’ and take it over.

The Act would have made land-grabbing easy, fast and perfectly legal. The Rajapaksas, their kith and kin could have decided that a farm is in a ‘conservation area’, a factory in a ‘protection area’ or a house has an ‘architectural value’, and acquired any of them, legally. No Lankan would have been safe from the marauding powers of this most draconian law, from small-holding farmers and middle class home-owner to large-scale businessmen. It was Step II of the process Rajapaksa-takeover economic assets begun by the Expropriations Act of 2011.

Since they had the parliamentary numbers, the Rajapaksas would have regarded the Act as a fait accompli.

In November 2011, in response to a petition by the CPA, a Supreme Court bench headed by CJ Shirani Bandaranayake ruled against the Sacred Areas Act. The right to private property is not a fundamental right enshrined in the constitution. Therefore the Sacred Areas Act could have been deemed constitutional had it not been for the 13th Amendment. Under the 13th Amendment, land is a devolved subject. The 13th Amendment clearly stipulates that legislation on devolved subjects needs the concurrence of all provincial councils. The CJ could not have approved the Sacred Areas Act without committing a barefaced violation of the Constitution.

The Act was already on the parliamentary order paper when the Supreme Court ruled that it needs the approval of all provincial councils. Speaker Chamal Rajapaksa circulated the Act amongst provincial councils for their approval. The councils were told to give their consent by February 15th 2012. Since the UPFA controlled all existing PCs, no snags were expected.

But the Eastern PC refused to approve the Act; both the TMVP and the SLMC opposed it. And even more surprisingly, the North Central PC wanted more time to discuss the Act.

Faced with this unexpected resistance, the government withdrew the Act in April 2012.

Three people were instrumental in impeding the Sacred Areas Act – CJ Bandaranayake, the Chief Minister of the NCP Berty Premalal Dissanayake and the Chief Minister of the EP Sivanesathurai Chandrakanthan.

14 months later all three are out of jobs.

In September 2012, the government forced the untimely dissolution of three provincial councils. The Chief Minister of the Sabaragamuwa PC was reappointed but not the chief ministers of the rebellious NCPC and the EP. The TMVP and the SLMC were humiliated publicly.

The new NCPC and EPC acceded to the Divineguma Bill without a murmur.

Weeks after the regime was forced to withdraw the Sacred Areas Act, the NSB scandal erupted.

Shirani Bandaranayake became the CJ in May 2011. Pradeep Kariyawasam was appointed Chairman of Sri Lanka Insurance in June 2009 and Chairman of the NSB in May 2010. At the time his wife was a mere Supreme Court justice and thus totally dependent on Rajapaksa-goodwill. President Rajapaksa was being his mendacious-self when he told the wilfully-gullible Minister Witarana that he appointed Mr. Kariyawasam to the NSB because he feared to antagonise Dr. Bandaranayake.

Whether the Rajapaksas used a really existing case against Mr. Kariyawasam (as they did with Berty Premalal Dissanayake – the case of Lolugaswewa road) or whether they initiated/manufactured a case remains to be discovered. Either way, their intent was to punish the CJ’s husband for her refusal to violate the constitution.

And to send her a signal about the costs of dissent.

The CJ refused to become a serf and was hounded out of office.

Legalising Persecution and Repression

The presence of a totally servile Chief In-justice constitutes an ‘Open Sesame’ for the Rajapaksa-project of killing democracy via legal means. The law allowing the detention of suspects for 48 hours is already through; it will not be used against white-vanners. A new law imposing a two-year prison term and a million rupee-fine on anyone maintaining contacts with a banned terrorist organisation is to be introduced next month.

The bizarre development in the Kolonnawa quadruple murder case is an omen of how the law will work, post-impeachment. The driver of Bharatha Lakshman Premachandra, in his eye-witness evidence claimed that after Mr. Premachandra fell, “Duminda Silva fired at Mr. Premachandra and shouted out ‘wedithiyapan – wedithiyapan’ (shoot – shoot). About 10 others with him opened fire” (The Sunday Times – 23.10.2011). This week, this key witness against Duminda Silva recanted and said that he made his original statement under duress. The way is thus opened for the AG’s Department to exonerate that prominent Rajapaksa-kith, Duminda Silva. With the AG who withdrew child rape charges against Mr. Silva now heading the judiciary, the transformation of Duminda Silva from suspect to victim should happen fast.

The regime is ordering 3,300 tear-gas canisters, 2,500 riot helmets and other riot-control equipment at the cost of Rs.17.37 million. Given the Rajapaksa-plan to extract as much money from the citizenry via taxes – a garbage tax is in the offing – the extra equipment will be needed to supplement the persecutory-work of the new judiciary.

Serfs will be protected and promoted. Those who refuse will be persecuted and destroyed.

The middle-ground is a myth.

Welcome to Rajapaksa Sri Lanka.


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Latest comments

  • 0

    It all boils down to give a free hand to the family from taking over lands, businesses etc and nothing can be contested in courts because of the Rajapakse proxy MP. MP should consider doing away with his gown and wig and donning national and sataka.

  • 0

    Thanks for reminding us of some of the recent historical events that have peeved the Fuehrer. It puts some of the events in context. Well the people are still illiterate to the goings on and a much worse fate must befall us before the Fuehrer finally loses the plot and we know what happened. It is just history repeating itself in a similar fashion.

  • 0

    Thank you again for spelling out and clearly the background. This also highlights, in an indirect way, while US embassy cables labeled her (before she became CJ) dr. SB as a MR loyalist, sitting through favorable judgments to the regime, after reaching the top and getting the space to operate with freedom acted upon keeping the public trust, something pointed out by relatively upright persons like Elmore P also.

    I’m not trying to whitewash ( she doesn’t need it, with all the sacrifices she made, not withstanding whatever her detractors have to say) her, but until she reached the top, obviously on many occasions ( 18th amendment etc;) she had to toe the line. If she hadn’t done that she would have ended up another Mark Fernando J, honorable but not given space by the then regimes nor the then CJs and finally overlooked.

    As this piece argues persuasively, after being overlooked once (appointment of CJ asoka de silva) and playing ball ( sitting through judgments on SF, 18th amend) she could get space to operate only since May 2011.

    This piece also reminds us, while the CJ must be ruing some of her decisions – allowing her family get too pally with this regime and getting involved with a sister’s property purchase – when this regime wants to go after someone, it doesn’t matter how clean or not so clean that one is, as it operates with the mindset of a great white shark, all the time.

  • 0

    Again the story re-told of the way to becoming a Dictator via democratic
    means! This is the obvious agenda, step-by-step forward march. Even
    the intelligentsia have to maintain silence, as do these Editors at the
    monthly brunch.
    Mention of Rs.17.37 Mil. riot-gear is transparent compared to the
    Floating Armoury down south belonging to Family control (Without Company
    Registration if within SL Waters) and eventual local use?

  • 0

    Luckily I applied early for my green card.

  • 0

    Quoted from the article:

    “The bizarre development in the Kolonnawa quadruple murder case is an omen of how the law will work, post-impeachment. The driver of Bharatha Lakshman Premachandra, in his eye-witness evidence claimed that after Mr. Premachandra fell, “Duminda Silva fired at Mr. Premachandra and shouted out ‘wedithiyapan – wedithiyapan’ (shoot – shoot). About 10 others with him opened fire” (The Sunday Times – 23.10.2011). This week, this key witness against Duminda Silva recanted and said that he made his original statement under duress. The way is thus opened for the AG’s Department to exonerate that prominent Rajapaksa-kith, Duminda Silva. With the AG who withdrew child rape charges against Mr. Silva now heading the judiciary, the transformation of Duminda Silva from suspect to victim should happen fast.”

    All these are calculated by the ROYAL FAMILY….

    Poor folks have to suffer further – until the marauders, criminals are no longer there.

    • 1

      I am not sure, I should have sympathy for the poor. Poor people vote for this corrupt clan regularly.

      • 0

        Yes, but there is no option before poor, so long media is not capable of making them adequately aware about the presence and the future of the country. The Island is said to have high literacy rates, but when it goes for elections, they blindly use their universal franchise for criminal to become lawmakers in the parliament.

        Actually this should come from the majority of the people.

  • 0

    I feel that the proposed Sacred Areas Act (Town and Country Planning)had not been afforded wide publicity my mainstream media.

    Since the ouster of Shirani Bandaranayake, the media has a largely discontinued interest in what she might be planning for the future. I suppose she would go back to teaching?

  • 0






    • 1

      I agree. Arab Spring Style revolution must take place. This violent and greedy family will not leave otherwise. Sri Lankans must show them the door.

      • 0

        Should start from Computer Gilmart……free..ezing the data bas..ses.

  • 0

    Another great piece by Tissaranee! Do you all know that the Mahanayakes of Malwatte refused to receive this fellow Mohan Peiris.That the Bar Association including Wijedasa were not prsent at the ceremony? Peiris obviously has a thick hide to brave all this resentment

  • 0

    President Rajapakse lost his last defense strong hold after CJ Impeachment. Now he sails like a ship without a Rudder.

    After dismissing some of the top Commanders in all three forces who were loyal to Gen. Sarath Fonseka, now MR left with many inexperienced Party goon loyalists as commanders with no sufficient battle ground experience.

    That’s why Gota is pressing hard to send freshers to USA for training which USA refuses on many occassions due to past human rights violations.

    In political arena, President lost the cream of advisers and Law professors after CJ impeachment.

    Now MR is a Lame Duck both in Military Capability and in Legal front and now vulnerable Both to India and International Criticism.

    Knowing this very well India Played a very cool game on GLP’s last visit.

    What India had to struggle in the past to achieve 13+ with MR Govt………now GLP is offering them on a Platter.

    Very soon what Prabhakaran couldn’t achieve with war…..India is going to achieve just by looking what’s going inside Sri Lanka.

    MR is going to get cornered both Internationally and Locally and will loose all the war victories blaming nobody else but due to his own stupidy, and only to be blamed himself.

  • 0

    “The regime is ordering 3,300 tear-gas canisters, 2,500 riot helmets and other riot-control equipment at the cost of Rs.17.37 million..”
    Just what the doctor prescribed for the country’s economic ailments
    at this time, folks. As they say in Hollywood “Fellers, you ain’t seen nuttin yet” As to the Chinese, they’d say “We are into interesting times” Boy oh! Boy, what a wunderful stuff that Chintana is. Mao’s Red Book is dog poof compared to our man’s.


    • 0

      Opposition parties should order Bullet proof vests, Riot helmets and gas masks and hand and arm protection gloves, Navy boots to cover and for self defense, loud speakers, satellite transmission cameras for worldwide viewers, special video and television cameras and cameramen and reporters, swiss knives for hand to hand fight, smoke bombs for cover, steel belts and goggles.

      Also opposition parties should order Traser guns, pepper spray, air sirens, gas vapor absorbing towels and prepare a special defense front line protest force with qualified martial art personnel.

  • 0

    It is sad that Rajapaksa supporters are completely blind to what is happening to this country. How long can Sri Lankans deny, nepotism, corruption, unsolved political murders, white vans, the unfair impeachment of the Chief Justice, who simply stood in the way, the stifling of dissent, the attack on anyone, including world leaders and international agencies, who have criticized or asked for accountability? A recent article in the Economist predicts these deliberate path towards dictatorship by what many agree are anti democratic policies carried out by a family, determine to own this island, causing strife while doing so.

  • 0

    Thank you Thisaranee for siting the history of what went wrong for CJ.It is crystal clear what the agenda of the Regime is.People can do many things in this context.(1).Avoid attending mass meetings of UPFA
    (2).All clergy must boycot the regim’s politicians not to allow them to step inside the hallowed precincts of Buddhist shrines, Catholic churches,Hindu Kovils and Muslim Mosques.(3)Prevail upon the anti rajapakse govt politicians to cross over to the opposition and remain as independent MPP.(4)Make Rajapakses get jittery by conducting huniyan ,thovil and other witchcrafts.(5) Professionals like doctors ,nurses, Paramedics,lawyers,academics accountants, engineers must not accept political positions and boycot any one of their kind for accepting positions.

    • 0

      The biggest weapon Rajapakse regime has is All communication/information systems are controlled by their stooges.
      see Rupavahini, ITN,Lake House are their mouth peices.
      Other chanels are controled thro’ Govt. power by not giving Govt. advertisements etc etc.
      So every right thinking people in this country, if they are against this regime, they can do one small thing without any threat from anyone, THAT IS TO REFRAIN FROM READING or VIEWING “PRO-GOVT. MEDIA.”

      If you want to do something, will try to do this first.
      Don’t give advertisements,Don’t Read, Don’t View.
      Each and everybody should inform another(atleast) FIVE persons also. Thanks

  • 0

    My question is according to the Constitution the Legislature, Executive and the Judiciary should work independently……how come executive select the Chief Justice….

    it is a common sence ….and specially in Sri Lanka that the Executive always select his stooge as a CJ….and thereby get all his sordid bills and issues passed and authorised by his stooge CJ…..similar to ex. CJ Sarath N. Silva.

    Therefore it is time to select the future CJ by the Supreme Court only…..and not by president.

  • 0

    The Gardiners are learning the ropes of Chnthanya now.
    It is said they had to give away the Gallface Hotel and now facing with giving away the Cargills outlet chain to the Family Oligarchy.
    May be the instrument of NBT/VAT imposed on businesses doing above 500 million aquarter was a pre-cursor to the arm twisting.
    if you regular Cargills outlets now you see less and less vehicles parked in front and less and less comodities out in the shelves.
    So unless they submit to the oligarchy they are going to have to close them anyway and the clan will re-open the same ( perhaps with the same name) and remove the Tax.!!!!
    Welcome to the ‘Nilla Pirunu Deyak'( Iguess the Mahinda Chinthanaya meant to say they will create more snake dancer girls. Casinos and a SEX / drugs. 3S( sex/sun/sand) culture with tourism to the hilt, thus country full of Blue Films( Nilla Pirunu Deyak).
    Ha! ha! ha!
    a la carte ‘Chinthanya’

    Sapiri Gamak, Supiri Ratak, Nilla Pirunu Deyak!!!

    Mahinda Chinthanaya ( 2005 )

    Forum readers are kindly recomended to read the Witness stand statement by Retired Gen. Hon. MP(Appointed by People’s Vote but stripped by the Chinthana Clan) at ‘Sudu Kodi case).
    That is a prophetic statement of the future of this country now unfolding Verbatime.!!!!
    Leaders are born( once in awhile) and can not be propped up by 80′ cut-outs!!!!
    When this country learns to appoint leaders based on their track record( that is how Gen Fonseka became Commander of the Armed forcesand won the war!!!)
    And appoint persons who delivered on promise( he promissed not to pass the LTTE menace to the next Army Chief and hedelivered!!!!).
    Then this country of SriLanka will become a STATE.
    Until then it is a FIEFDOME and the folks are Sheep (aren’t the majority(98%) anyway!!!)

    So long suckers!!! long live the king!!!


    • 0

      What MARA’s plan is to get rid of any threat, both political and economic to his Dictatorial regime.

      Knowing that it is the upcoming Middle class who contribute both Financially and Politically to opposition parties will be the greatest threat to MARA dynasty, he systatimacally plan to destablise the Middle class.

      MARA frauduently bankrupted Golden key empire due to Hon.Lalith Kotalawela been a staunch UNP supporter. Similarly acquiring Daya Gamage’s Sugar farm and Harry Jayawardena’s Sugar plantations are other examples.

      Similarly while Rajapakses started Building hotel chains from North to East to West and South…..they also have a 50% stake on the rest of the five star hotels through owning shares.

      Similarly they systematically plan to acquire rest of the Five star hotels by increasing 5 star hotel room rates thereby making them less guest occupancy…..and loosing business, and thereby start buying their stake through stock market.

      These all happen while Basil giving bogus tourist arrival figurs in the media….while Gulf Air stopping Colombo flights.

      last two months alone 30 Free Trade BOI factories were closed loosing 1500 Jobs and the Foreign investers kept a polla ( Borrowed but not paid) over a Billion Rupees to local Banks and ran away without even paying EPF,ETF to the staff and workers.

      These are all taking place while MARA saying that the economy is booming, while SB Disanayake saying country is heading towards US $10,000 per capita income…..and CB Governor dsaying that both USA and EU praise our economic progress.

      It is time to Audit CB’s Gold and Foreign Currency reserve.

      MARA’s long term plan is to Monopolise the whole economy under their posession similar to a Dictator and to rule the country for ever.

      MARA Postrers, banners and Cutouts in every corner of the Country, and Both Media Press, TV and Radio Publicity and also naming every thing from Dana to Buddhist preletes upto mega Stadiums, roads, harbours and Airtports under their name say it all.

      While doing everything from Building world’s tallest Buddhist statutes to building Pansalas, temples, Giving mega Danas, Luxuary vehicles, Air tickets, overseas trips, Bringing Buddha Relics to country are all part of MARA strategy to hide behind the yellow robe to instigate communal violence, incase of an economic uprising.

      Surely and definiterly people are going to rise against MARA dictatorial regime….and it is not a matter of How…but…When.

    • 0

      All Private business owners like Cargills, JKH, AMW, Richard Pieris & Co. etc. should form a “Private Enterprises Union” and fight against MR’s Dictatorial and unlawful Tax hikes to destroy and to Grab private Business Enterprises.

      • 0

        When all Govt.Corporations including CTB, Railway, Sri Lankan, Mihin Air, co-perative stores and all others running at Billions of rupees losses, and finally have to be borne by the Citizens, why Govt. pin padi Gon Harak Ministers without Minimising those losses…..keep on adding and increasing Taxes and other duties to Private Sector Enterprises and Businesses…… Isn’t this unfair…..

  • 0

    Excellent,Tissaranee,A frightening scenario aided and abetted by the UNP.

  • 0


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  • 0

    Sadly,the 24 hour approval by CJ Shirani B,and other judges, of the 18th amendment which made MR a virtual dictater,with a subserviant military,was the saddest hour of the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka and of the nation.
    Such vast modification of the constitution cannot,in fairness to jurists,be considered and approved in such hurry.
    The Court could have asked for more time.
    Shirani B,virtually disgraced the court she headed,and the court’s acquiescence in Divineguma was taken for granted.
    But when adherence to constitutiona provisions was suggested,the fury of the thwarted President & his brother Basil,resulted in the ‘impeachment drama’.
    Now a ‘discredited’ CJ is “installed”
    The world is amazed and amused.

  • 0

    Below are the results of a BT poll carried out to assure the opinion of the professionals in the country.

    “The email poll which asked two more questions drew more than 900 respondents, the highest ever in a BT poll. The street polls by BT partner, Research Consultancy Bureau, were not undertaken this time due to insufficient time. Another island-wide poll on the public impact on consumer prices is under preparation by the BT-RCB polls team to be released in coming weeks.

    Asked whether the impeachment procedure was in line with the Constitution, 61.7 respondents said NO, 18.6 per cent said YES while 19.6 per cent were undecided (U). The ‘U’ response here, and comments that followed this response, revealed that many people were unaware about the process or unsure about the constitutional provisions relating to the impeachment of a judge.
    Some 77 per cent said the impeachment would have grave consequences for Sri Lanka while 11.7 per cent said NO and 10.7 per cent were undecided”.

  • 0


    • 0

      I think Rajapakses broke the Public Apathy when they impeached CJ Shirani B.

      Now it’s an open game where all are uniting to face Rajapakse in an open pit.

      While Rajapakses hiding behind party thugs, corrupt police, armed forces and hit squads and bought up Buddhist Monks, people are uniting with opposition parties, trade unions, media and foreign governments.

      I am surely believe that Rajapakse days are numbered…..and it’s due to their own stupidity.

  • 0

    Congratulations Tissaranee.the impeachment is a disgrace! Rajapakse will bluff his way for some more time and then the day will dawn for his impeachment

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