Colombo Telegraph notes with concern that two prominent members of Friday Forum have ‘disappeared’ from the organization. The names of Jayantha Dhanapala and Jayampathi Wickramaratne are missing in two press statements released recently. One of the statements calls upon Chief Justice Mohan Pieris to openly declare whether or not he was present at a discussion where a coup is alleged to have been plotted to overturn the results of the recently held Presidential Election. The second, released to mark Independence Day, raises ‘urgent concerns’. Both statements carry the list of all Friday Forum members at the bottom.
It has been the practice of Friday Forum to have its releases signed by Jayantha Dhanapala. Jayampathi Wickramaratne’s signature is usually placed in releases related to constitutional matters.
Colombo Telegraph notes that Jayantha Dhanapala and Jayampathi Wickramaratne have received advisory posts in the new Government. Meanwhile civil society activists say that Friday Forum as well as the Dhanapala and Wickramaratne ought to have first issued a statement about this ‘disappearance’ of the two from the watchdog outfit, especially since it champions transparency and accountability.
Friday Forum has not yet responded to Colombo Telegraph’s queries.
We publish below the statements in full;
20th January 2015
Chief Justice – An Urgent Issue of Public Concern
We have learned from recent newspaper reports that the Foreign Minister, Mr. Mangala Samaraweera, had lodged a complaint with the CID alleging that Chief Justice Mohan Peiris, among others, participated in an attempt to thwart the legitimate result of the recently held presidential election by the use of force or by declaring a state of emergency. It is alleged that the Chief Justice was seen in the company of candidate and then incumbent President Mahinda Rajapakse and others at Temple Trees in the early hours of 9 January as election results were being announced and the alleged attempt at subverting the law was taking place.
As a group of citizens committed to the promotion of democracy, the rule of law and good governance in general, the Friday Forum is deeply shocked by allegations made against the Chief Justice and more so by the lack of a response from him. If the allegations against the Chief Justice are true, it would further erode the independence and the national stature of the judiciary of Sri Lanka. Members of the judiciary are expected to be very restrained in their relations, in particular with the executive, in order to maintain judicial independence. Participation in an attempt to overthrow the legitimate government or subvert the legitimate result of an election are serious offences under the law of Sri Lanka. While the allegation of the coup are still to be proved, the allegation about the Chief Justice’s presence at Temple Trees alone seriously compromises the high office and calls into question his fitness to continue to hold this office. It is not an acceptable explanation that the Chief Justice was called upon by the President to tender advice on the handing over of power, since that is not within the purview of the Chief Justice’s functions or duties.
The vital importance of the independence of the judiciary to the democratic rights of the people has been repeatedly pointed out in our previous statements on the judiciary. The judiciary is required under the Constitution of Sri Lanka to exercise the sovereign judicial powers of the people. It is expected to uphold the Constitution and deliver justice without fear or favour. It is the Supreme Court headed by the Chief Justice which would be called upon to adjudicate any challenge to the result of a Presidential Election.
After all, justice must not only be done but must be seen to be done. According to the universally respected Bangalore Principles of Judicial Conduct (2002):
A judge shall not only be free from inappropriate connections with, and influence by, the executive and legislative branches of government, but must also appear to a reasonable observer to be free there from.
The Friday Forum calls upon the Chief Justice to urgently address public concerns over the serious allegations made against him by either denying his presence at Temple Trees on the night of the Presidential Elections or else resigning from office so that the dignity of the judiciary is not irreparably damaged.
Professor Savitri Goonesekere – Javid Yusuf
On behalf of The Friday Forum;
Professor Savitri Goonesekere, Mr. Javid Yusuf, Professor Gameela Samarasinghe, Dr. A. C. Visvalingam, Mr. Ahilan Kadirgamar, Professor Gananath Obeyesekere, Ms. Damaris Wickremesekera, Ms. Shanthi Dias, Mr. Faiz-ur.Rahman, Ms. Suriya Wickremasinghe, Professor Ranjini Obeyesekere, Ms. Manouri Muttetuwegama, Mr. Saliya Pieris, Rev. Dr. Jayasiri Peiris, Dr. Deepika Udagama, Mr. Danesh Casie Chetty, Mr. Tissa Jayatilaka, Professor Camena Gunaratne, Mr. Priyantha Gamage, Rt. Reverend Duleep de Chickera, Mr. Pulasthi Hewamanna, Professor Arjuna Aluwihare, Ms. Radhika Coomaraswamy Mr. S. C. C . Elankovan, Dr. Selvy Thiruchandran, Mr. Suresh de Mel, Mr. J.C. Weliamuna, Mr. Chandra Jayaratne.
21st January 2015
Independence Day and other urgent concerns
The Presidential election of 8 January 2015 saw a resurgence of the democratic process in Sri Lanka, driven by an electorate which, in unprecedented numbers, exercised its franchise to choose not merely a President, but the future it wanted for the country. The election showed us that Sri Lankans in all parts of the country, irrespective of ethnic or religious differences, united in their resolve to restore good governance and the rule of law and to resist authoritarianism. This provides a foundation on which the newly elected administration must build a new framework of democratic governance that promotes inclusivity, diversity and pluralism. While many issues need attention we concentrate for the moment on the following.
We urge that the celebrations be kept simple and dignified without major military and military hardware demonstrating parades, floats, and the use of school children. The occasion should promote new standards of simple and disciplined lifestyles. Most important is to use the opportunity to remember the victims of the civil conflicts which Sri Lanka has endured since independence, to pledge our collective commitment to peace and reconciliation, and to resolve that there should never be such violence in our country again. We call upon the government, as a sign of our commitment to national unity, to ensure that the national anthem is sung in both Sinhala and Tamil, and that this practice be continued.
The election also shows that poverty and disadvantage have cut across all ethnic lines and people are looking for a better economic future. It is imperative that the current government addresses the problems of economically disadvantaged groups including those affected by conflict and war, and natural disasters including floods and droughts. While acknowledging that these problems are common to all throughout the country, those of the people in the North must be resolved on an urgent basis. This includes restoration of land, resolution of the Indian trawler issue, resolution of the Chunnakam groundwater pollution problem, and a people-centred and inclusive development programme in the context of a long term political solution for the region.
Transparency, media, right to information
The Friday Forum is aware that implementing the 100 day programme will not be easy, and that all necessary measures to restore a democratic framework cannot be carried out during this short time. However we call upon the government to to live up to public expectations in building an environment of transparency and good governance within this time. In the aftermath of the elections, the media has been continuously reporting allegations of the abuse of authority, rampant corruption, illegal amassing of wealth and the plundering of the countries’ economic and other resources that took place in the last few years. We ask that these reported instances of wrongdoing be addressed urgently and those found guilty be brought to book. This must be done with strict adherence to legal procedures and in a transparent manner which wins public confidence.
Transparency also requires a media which is both free and responsible. We deplore the behaviour of the media in the run up to the elections. Both print and electronic state media were grossly servile and partial to the point of indecency and showed a total disregard for all norms of responsible journalism. We demand that both the State and the private media take a balanced, dignified and professional approach and present news with independence and integrity rather than serving the dictates of individuals. We also call upon the government to ensure that the promise to enact a freedom of information law is fulfilled.
It is critically important that the trust and goodwill placed in the current administration by the people of Sri Lanka not be squandered but be used as the first step in re-building a truly democratic country.
Professor Savitri Goonesekere – Professor Camena Gunaratne – Dr. G. Usvatte-aratchi
On behalf of The Friday Forum;
Professor Savitri Goonesekere, Professor Camena Guneratne, Dr. G. Usvatte-aratchi, Dr A.C.Visvalingam, Ms. Suriya Wickremasinghe, Ms. Shanthi Dias, Rev. Dr. Jayasiri Peiris, Mr. Suresh de Mel, Mr. Tissa Jayatilaka, Ms, Damaris Wickremesekera, Professor Arjuna Aluwihare, Rt. Reverend Duleep de Chickera, Mr. Javid Yusuf, Ms. Manouri Muttetuwegama, Professor Gameela Samarasinghe, Mr. Faiz-ur Rahman, Mr. Priyantha Gamage, Professor Arjuna Aluwihare, Mr. S. C. C . Elankovan, Mr. Pulasthi Hewamanna, Dr. Deepika Udagama, Professor Ranjini Obeyesekere , Mr. Ahilan Kadirgamar, Mr. Ranjit Fernando, Mr. Danesh Casie-Chetty, Mr. Chandra Jayaratne.
Worry / January 25, 2015
I sincerely suppose whether it is Friday Forum or any other academic forums of Sri Lankans, you are just wasting the meaning of political ideology or good governance concept. Can anyone of you please tell me what exactly means by GOOD GOVERNANCE? Or is there something call Sri Lankan way of doing “Good Governance.”? If anyone of you supposes that YES we do have Sri Lankan way of doing GOOD GOVERNANCE, then the all 100 days program and poor people’s vote for change is seriously F—KING SUCKS.
Because I notice nothing is working in this new government’s 100 policy. Yeah, WR, MS, Anura K, Rev, Rathana, Champika, Rajitha, Ravi, Harsha, etc are talking about MR and his cronies’ corruptions. Of course, it is fact that MARA, GORA, BARA, NARA, GABRAL, MOHAN-P, UGC -university higher Goons, Sri Lanka Foundation Goons, Diplomats Goons, military personals, lap top buggers, news TV buggers, and thousands of others stole millions of dollars from poor Sri Lanka. So what? That is okay? Let it go? Lets move on? Is that Friday Forum’s explanation of Good Governance? Or you really wanted to tell MS and RW to do something differently?
Few months ago, CT was highly critical about Jayantha Danapala’s role in MR’s government on free media. Now what? How come Danapala becomes the greatest foreign policy adviser? Is this what you call Sri Lankan Good Governance?
If the Chief Justice Mohan Peiris was with MR on that Election Day discussion, he clearly violates the judiciary’s role. If that is true than what the F—King discussion behind the screen to send him to Brazil as diplomat? Is this what you call Sri Lankan Good Governance?
If Gabral and Sajin Vaas steel or deal millions of rupees from Sri Lankan people, then why still they hang out? Is this what you call Sri Lankan Good Governance?
Why do you have Welikada? Bogambara, and Boosa? Are they only for poor people?
Well, if you feel dilemma to practice good governance, 1) I cannot expect from you anything; 2) you definitely received ransom from MR to survive during his presidency; 3) of course, faces changed but Sri Lankan way of Good Governance is not changed or will never change; 4) you will definitely steel poor Sri Lankans future; and finally 4) you are proving Sri Lanka is failed state with regard to Good Governance.
Hadi Sheriff / January 25, 2015
@Worry fantastic reply I too agree.
malaka / January 25, 2015
We have sent you an email, please reply, then we can approve your comment – CT
malaka / January 25, 2015
We have sent you an email, please reply, then we can approve your comment – CT
Navin / January 25, 2015
Yea. Complaints about corruption have been made; cid/police are there; magistrates are there, prisons dept vans are there; hand-cuffs are there; remand prisons are there. Basil has flown; Gota is definitely in Sri Lanka. Namal Baba is still screwing; the big booruwa is still braying; and the rest of the vermin are pretty much wallowing in the filty lucre. .
So the question is valid: “Why do you have Welikada? Bogambara, and Boosa? Are they only for poor people?”
Maithripala: Please answer.
malaka / January 25, 2015
[Edited out] We have sent you an email, please reply – then we can approve your comment – CT
JULAMPITIYE AMARAYA / January 25, 2015
We Had goo d governance with queen B,
then with J R Pappa,
then with Premadasa,
then with wijethunga,
then with chandrika B,
then with Mahendra R Chinthna,
Now we have Mr Yahapaalanaya!!!!!!!!.
BUT FOR ALL THOSE , WE PAID FROM OUR BLOOD AND SWEAT.
Amarasiri / January 25, 2015
RE: The names of Jayantha Dhanapala and Jayampathi Wickramaratne are missing in two press statements released recently.
“One of the statements calls upon Chief Justice Mohan Pieris to openly declare whether or not he was present at a discussion where a coup is alleged to have been plotted to overturn the results of the recently held Presidential Election”
“The second, released to mark Independence Day, raises ‘urgent concerns’. Both statements carry the list of all Friday Forum members at the bottom.”
“Friday Forum has not yet responded to Colombo Telegraph’s queries.”
CT, I do not think it is Appropriate for those who have joined the Present Govt. on such statements as they are conflicts of interest, even though they are Friday Forum Members.
vishvajith / January 25, 2015
I view that these two members, now in the Govt’s inner circle should rightly step away from the FF.
Dev / January 25, 2015
Isn’t that better than what Dhanapala did before when he was in the board of Dialog (which was blocking CT) but continued to call for the “rule of law..etc”
Rather hypocritical of him and continued to be silent when questioned….better this way I think…
paparazzi / January 25, 2015
Well, What do you expect from them now? Waasi Patthata Hoyya. Save My Skin.
Bhavana / January 25, 2015
Come on CT, why do you think this is news?
We are a Buddhist country and haven’t you heard of the Buddha’s parable of the Raft? Buddha preached that his own teachings were like a raft that could be used to cross a river, but should be discarded after crossing the river.
The two gentlemen who have left FF have acted according to the Buddhist principle. They engaged in FF as a “means to an end” of achieving high office. Now that the jobs are received and they have started the journey of life of “serving others”.
So let’s learn from their example and form an organization or two to “agitate” for change so that at least a few of its activists can achieve salvation through higher office.
Sabbe satta banvantu…. How does it go?
Nimal / January 25, 2015
It is sad that CT never learned about Jayantha Dhanapala!
He is an opportunist.
As Rajapaksa ignored him, he join the Friday Forum.
Now Srisena has offered him a prestigious post and royal salary, he quietly left the Friday forum.
By the way, who is this Akilan Kadirgamar?
What is his qualification for him to be with this forum? Is it the name ‘Kadirgamar’? If Friday forum keep people just for their family name, all Tom, Dick and Harry can join this forum.
Today only I got an opportunity to see the names of members. We never heard of ‘Akilan Kadirgamar’ among the intellectual crowd.
Will Friday forum explain this to us. Thank you
mali / January 25, 2015
@ Listen guys, you really don’t know the meaning of good governs.
As everyone knows Jayantha Danapala is a brilliant, skillful, experience diplomat. Who ever came to the position during Rajapasksha regime, the position is only for the name. person has to work according to rajapaksha’s instruction leaving his talent behind. Maitree will get the best of danapala for good governs.
Chief justic should be impartial. He shoudn’t be with the rajapaskha during election day. It is wrong. keeping the CJ with rajapsksha is not a good governs.
Don’t worry, Cabral, sajin will pay the price for all those corruption. letting them steel the money under the rajapasksha era is not a good governs.
who did gave the chance to steel money. They did all the corruption under rajapaskha umbrella.
you want to bring justice to all the corruption that was happen for a decade within 100 days. you think it is practicable? only 16 days has left. what non sons you are talking.
Kettikaran / January 25, 2015
If Nimal does not know who Ahilan K is, it is his own fault. Young Ahilan, son of Prof. Silan Kadirgamar, is a brilliant product of, I believe, the New York University. He has written widely on recent Sri Lankan politics and is considered an up and coming scholar and political analyst. His analysis on SL political affairs has been featured in leading Indian Newspapers like the Hindu.
Please also do not denigrate our own Jayantha Dhanapala, a senior UN diplomat. He would have been UNSG if Sri Lanka had the political clout and standing in the world. We did not and South Korea benefited. JD’s valuable services are still utilised by the UN. To call him an opportunist will be a slanderous accusation against a first class gentleman. It was simply a case of the Rajapakses being ignorant to use the right people to man our diplomatic postings overseas. This is why they are paying for it now.
burt / January 25, 2015
Fear not: be happy: Gota’s white vans have not picked them-up.
Sam.Samare / January 25, 2015
CT!! And this is news?You do seem to have a some hidden agenda!
Mallaiyuran / January 25, 2015
Prof.Jeyampathy [Edited out]
Wasanthi Danthanarayana / January 25, 2015
Look here these J+Js are mere survivors who make deals under any government for high posts. It is very easy to make `policy statements’ and creep into power politics from the back door. One time Rupe was the glory man now J+J’s. One is replaced by another. They give the same advice. Only the English language phrases will be different. One by one FF crowd will slowly enter into the UN system. This is a class game of the civil society elite. They are not taken by the white van only people who come to the streets `disappeared’ and faced risks. FF kind of characters remained abroad with assignments.These gentlemen and ladies come out during easy times.
We want to know what happened to the CSO team that went behind RW praising him? I wonder what happened to that Nadaya lead by Dr Sara and Fernando woman.
Somebody had gagged their mouth. Good lesson to all who run behind politicians.
We never saw this Purawesi fellows when white vans came to take journalists. That Eknaligoda lady is fighting for years. None of the Purawesiyo has joined her ever…they emerged when going is good…so gentlemen and ladies let us watch the scene as they betray one by one the struggles for justice.
Who can agree to send the cheating Mohan to Rome? Who gave authority to this government to make this deal?Why did they appoint the SD to SLRC? Do you think they understand anything of Yahapalanaya?
Do not be surprised if Tamara and DJ become advisers to somebody one of these days…
shankar / January 26, 2015
“Colombo Telegraph notes with concern that two prominent members of Friday Forum have ‘disappeared’ from the organization. The names of Jayantha Dhanapala and Jayampathi Wickramaratne are missing.”
Oh god,has the white vans started to operate again.Everyone says it was gota’s brainchild,but still continuing maybe with fonseka taking it over from him.It reminds me of those 2 poor JVP activists who went to do propaganda work in jaffna and are still missing and parents are frantic and are in anguish and have been sent to all the army and navy camps on a wild goose chase being told that they are here and there.