Hilarious! Can you name the Magazine that featured Karunanayake as the best Finance Minister of the Year 2017?
Damn the name in shame. In fairness, a title awarded to the Asia Pacific region for obtaining a loan of US 1.5 billion for Sri Lanka. Let them lament in hell on lost credibility among institutions associated with the rock of Gibraltar status for financial sturdiness.
There are many journals’ that give coverage for a return of fortune – be on your marks, cover page ladies and gentlemen-don’t fall for cheap publicity in exchange of a fistful of benefits, to get a - made up, make up mug-look photogenic on a
Deciding on the Men of the Year 2017 is an easier task as the names roll of the mouth without an ulcer. They are the only icons of Good Governance-The Three Commissioners appointed by President Sirisena on the Bond scam under the Commission of Inquiry Act are the relevant men.
President Sirisena acquired acclaim in selecting three gentlemen that prefer to be unnamed and unheralded but brought glory to our land that many thought had no judges of competence, integrity and independence that required foreign judges to sit to determine events occurring in local conditions.
The Supreme Court consisted of many good men and women at all times but few went to seed because in search of more benefits than legally entitled to, sought closer association with politicians and allowed themselves to be manipulated that brought ill-fame to the Judiciary that in the worst of times - was a shade better than other disgraced institutions.
Now in its prime with an elegant team at the helm, the Supreme Court needs a captain smart, bold and brave, to lead them to the field.
Sure will with time to come, as it has again peaked. Meanwhile, the creation of Yahapalanaya earns repute as it keeps a check on Yahapalanaya engaged in its many naughty ways-it must and should. Let us turn the pages of history to take a peep at the Special Commission of Inquiry Act under which Mrs. Sirimavo Bandaranaike was deprived of her civic rights. Mind you the Commissioners appointed in the Bond inquiry were nominated under a distinctly different statute called the Commission of Inquiry Act like the Udalagama Commission that was appointed to inquire into War Crimes. Special Commission of Inquiry Act too had its fangs eliminated as it too could make only recommendations, which became effective and binding on passing a motion giving effect to its recommendations by a majority in Parliament.
Likewise the Parliament can do the needful in the bond inquiry too if the members deem the recommendations are sufficiently worthwhile. Your turn Attorney - General to advise the Government
Nevertheless the Judiciary – then - consisted of bold men (Justices Wimalaratne, Vythialingam and Percy Colin-Thome] to issue a Writ of Prohibition nullifying the decision of the Special Commission of Inquiry that faulted Mrs. Bandaranaike, made the UNP Government present two bills in Parliament negating the judgment of a court of law, for the first time, in our legal history.
Two Bills endorsed by the Cabinet as being ‘urgent in the national interest’ were rushed through Parliament.
By the first Bill - the Special Presidential Commissions of Inquiry (Special Provisions) Act No. 4 of 1978 Parliament took the unprecedented step of specifically declaring null and void the judgment of the appellate courts in Mrs. Bandaranaike’s case. Section 10 of the Act stated:
“Any such judgment, decree or writ issued by the Court including the judgment pronounced and writ issued by the Court of Appeal (“Interpolation–highest appellate court under 1972 constitution”) in Application No. 1/78 are hereby declared null and void and of no force or effect whatsoever.”
The second Bill was the UNP Government’s First Amendment to their brand new Constitution. The amendment deprived the courts of its ‘jurisdiction in similar Writ Applications’.
The amendment was made retroactive from September 7, 1978 preventing Mrs. Bandaranaike access to any court of law in matters consisting of her deprivation of civic rights.
That made history in the times of J.R. Jayewardene and his brother Harry Jayewardene QC, when judges’ homes were attacked and their offices locked that made the great Chief Justice Neville Samarakoone rise up against the Executive to safeguard the Judiciary that appointed him to that position picking him from the insignificant bar table.
So would Justices Chitrasiri and Prassanna Jayewardane be accorded a similar place in the judicial sphere if they reached correct conclusions in the bond scam without fear or favour acting within their jurisdiction, as the offenders, would raise it in courts as their last resort.
A rule to remember is not to hit a man, who is down and out personally as he tries hard to rebound making him a heroic figure in the act of resignation. Such is possible, as in the case of Tilak Marapana, whose resignation became periodic, as he is restored to greater glory with the passage of time. Such are Parliamentary traditions to be deprecated. There is a way to resign and a time to do so. That revolves around, public perception dependent on the known surrounding circumstances of each individual case determined on an objective basis. Go man go-before thoughts of an eventual removal or the call for the resignation arises.
Ravi Karunanayake was hopelessly belated, as he waited too long/late in the hope of a reprieve till he was booted out by hostile public opinion that left him with no alternative, but to resign. Facts speak for themselves, however hard they are suppressed.
“Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster. And if you gaze long enough into an abyss, the abyss will gaze back into you.”
~ Friedrich Nietzsche
When wheels of change begin to turn, they do not care who stands in between. The brashness and bluster, which is usually associated with change, alone, could consume into oblivion those who dare challenge change.
Or for that matter, a mere whisper of change could send intense ripples on a placid pool of civil service and those who pretend to be ‘servants’, but who in fact are masters of evil.
Only those who have a discriminating mind could withstand the fury and fierceness of a socio-political change. That change has no mind, it has no heart and it certainly has no mercy. Guessing that such a change would grant small favours is incredibly naïve and foolish.
Resting in a comfort zone without making any strategic or tactical adjustments to one’s journey’s goals is unacceptable. And meandering aimlessly along an already trekked road would result in being bereft of fresh opportunities leading to one’s material and spiritual stagnation.
When Sri Lankan voters elected this Government in the last Presidential and General Elections in 2015, the hopes and expectations were unforgivingly high.
They, the hopes and aspirations, are now being dashed to the ground. Corruption and nepotism, I have written many a time, over and over again, cannot be traced to the last regime alone.
All politicians, especially in the so-called Third World, are unwisely clinging on to the belief that political power gives them unlimited supremacy over their subject. Whether it’s a democracy or a dictatorship, this frightening phenomenon of political power invested so much with power to impose any and everything on the masses is further augmented by populist policies that these rulers advocate before they assume the mantle of power.
Lack of preparedness on the part of an overwhelming majority of the country to embrace democracy as a mode of government is being displayed each time such populist rulers come to power.
Sophisticated tools such as a well-educated civil service and a robust private sector that a modern democracy employs to facilitate governing mechanisms, albeit available to be followed to the letter, the excruciatingly slowness of the process in ‘getting things done’, tells on the entire system and impatience on the part of the masses is exploited to the hilt by the existing parliamentary opposition in a democracy or an underground one in a dictatorship. This impatience of the masses is easily made into a battle cry by the prevailing socio-political forces in the country.
Social scientists may debate as to what precisely is the cause and effect of this convoluted process, yet would not conclude as to one single overall effect such a defaced system would eventually bear on the people. The burden of freeing this corrupt system of all its advocates and executives is too heavy to bear, for one man or one movement.
Revolutions may erupt in such conditions if the material circumstances conspire to produce such. Revolutions with all their optimistic promises have invariably met with limited results. Whether it’s the Russian, Chinese or Cuban kind, they have all produced an utterly enslaved people, servile to the power they desired.
They not only need to be accountable and transparent, they need to be speedy and efficient in their pursuit of corrupt dealers and catching them. .they are perceived by the country as a mere substitute for a cabal of trendsetters of corruption and nepotism, this country is definitely heading for a more frightful end.
Undoing of the results that such revolution entail is no easy task for the succeeding powers-Sri Lanka is far away from such revolutions.
She has successfully thwarted any such attempts on all occasions. But the underlying force of simmering frustrations is taking deep root and the results could be either an explosive outcome or apathy. Whichever it is, a confrontation between two value-systems seems inevitable.
Ravi Karunanayake’s forced resignation from his portfolio is manifestly a result of the workings of an agitating democracy. Ravi Karunanayake was a witness in the case of the notorious ‘bond-scam’. Its main accused was Arjuna Mahendran, the then Governor of the Central Bank. In the course of the examination of Ravi K, it was revealed that he was a recipient of a luxury apartment that belonged to a well-known business-woman in Colombo.
The resulting shame and accusation of corruption was too great for any politician to survive. In the past, Finance Ministers had resigned but never for corruption and other nefarious activities. Shameful acts of many a Minister in the Governments of Chandrika Bandaranaike and Mahinda Rajapaksa had gone without suffering any punishment or injury.
In the J. R. Jayewardene Government Minister E. L. Senanayake, MPs of Anura Daniel and Sunil Ranjan Jayakody were removed overnight when they were alleged to be of some serious misdeeds.
Court proceedings were initiated by the Attorney General’s department in cases of allegations against party supporters. But that era is gone. Transparency and accountability, the notion of ‘not only Caesar, Caesar’s wife too must be above suspicion’, open and frank discussion about governmental initiatives on all and any matters have all flown out of the window.
It is a very tragic moment in the life of our Republic. As evidenced in all banana-republics, those who hold power seem to be above the law. A culture that generates Police officers who go the extra mile to stop a three-wheel driver who happens to take a wrong turn but invariably looks the other way when a more serious traffic violation is committed by a tie-wearing driver of a Mercedes Benz of 500 series is indeed not amusing. It is heart-rending. But the great number of the Colombo-elite is getting away with more serious crimes, white or blue-collar-kind.
The calibre which once produced exemplary politicians, classy elites, decent and kind rural leaders is no more. Where are the Wanninayakes and M. D. Bandas and M. D. H. Jayewardenes today? Where are the top-notch businessmen who managed massive business empires yet looked after their employees with compassion and fairness? It is an amusing exercise even to talk about such a lofty past in the context of present day tragedies. Both Ranil Wickremesinghe and Maithripala Sirisena have been dealt a wonderful hand today. In the wake of the Ravi Karunanayake-fiasco, they can mercilessly go after the perpetrators of corruption and nepotism of the Rajapaksa regime.
Any delay will be treated as connivance and condoning of those deadly dealers of political malpractice.
If such action is hastened, if accelerated pursuit of justice and fair-play is undertaken, then we can ask those Sri Lankan expatriates to come back and invest in a country relatively free of corruption. Otherwise we have no right to ask nor do those expats have any obligation to come back to a corruption-filled hell hole in the Indian subcontinent. They say, ‘strike while the iron is hot’.
This is the chance, maybe the only chance the current rulers have, to restore their credibility; this may be the only opportunity that they would get to validate themselves as trustworthy rulers; it may be the only opportunity they get to display their much-heralded political slogan of accountability and transparency.
They not only need to be accountable and transparent, they need to be speedy and efficient in their pursuit of corrupt dealers and catching them. Instead of being justifiable chasers after wrong-doers, if, on the contrary, they are perceived by the country as a mere substitute for a cabal of trendsetters of corruption and nepotism, this country is definitely heading for a more frightful end. I have written many a column about the culture gap that is yawning in Sri Lanka’s landscape of politics. Continuing along the same path trekked by the Rajapaksas in the past would only lead to the fringe of chaotic absence of order and a cultural vacuum. Being merciless in the presence of corruption is not an unkind act. Being ruthless in pursuit after corrupt politicians is a noble conduct on the part of such pursuers. Detaching oneself from all political biases and prejudices is difficult and burdensome. But they have chosen to bear that burden. That is the burden they have to carry as long as they continue in their pursuit of their own personal goals.
The county cries for decency. The county demands fair-play for all. The country is poised for a fresh beginning yet the rulers seem to be lost in their own pursuit of power and money. That is the prevalent perception of the voters who elected them in January, 2015. It is a great error if one would take the Ravi Karunanayake ouster in isolation.
Eventually he was convicted by the public court. There is no conviction by a judicial process. Yet, the prevalent public opinion apparently found him guilty. Whether that kind of process is valid or not is another matter altogether. But the context matters. In politics, it’s all context. No politician can disregard context because it is real and the only dynamic that controls and influences events to follow.
The writer can be contacted at [email protected]
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