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JUDICIAL CORRUPTION

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Dr Nihal Jayawickrama

I grew up, spending my childhood, adolescence and early adult life, in the home of a judge who ended his judicial career as head of the country’s highest court. I also had the enviable experience of serving as his private secretary sometime between my graduation and entry into the profession. The life of a judge of that time, as I observed it, is perhaps best described in the words of Justice Michael Kirby of the High Court of Australia. The regime imposed on a judge, he said, “is monastic in many of its qualities”. Lord Hailsham, a former Lord Chancellor, described the vocation of a judge as being “something like a priesthood”. Sir Winston Churchill considered that “A form of life and conduct far more severe and restricted than that of ordinary people is required from judges”.

While judges did not isolate themselves from the rest of society, or from school friends and former colleagues in the legal profession, they rarely, if ever, socialized with politicians. They declined to perform the quasi-executive function of serving on commissions of inquiry. In that relatively calm and stable economy, their salaries were rarely increased. They drove, or were driven, to Hulftsdorp in their own cars. They lived in their own homes, except for the Chief Justice who was provided with an official residence.

In the early 1960s, when I was admitted to the Bar, and began practising before the courts of this country, any suggestion that a judge or magistrate might be corrupt would have been so preposterous that, in fact, it was never heard. A strong tradition of integrity underpinned the judiciary at every level. At a time of immense change, both political and social, the judiciary remained constant in its commitment to equal justice under the law.

Of course, the judiciary had its share of problems and its critics. The trial rolls were long; the backlog in the appellate court was enormous. The rules of civil and criminal procedure were Victorian. I recall expressing the exasperation of a starry-eyed young lawyer when, writing the annual report as honorary secretary of the Bar Council, I described the judicial system as an antique labyrinth with tortuous passages and cavities through which the potential litigant must grope, often blindfolded, in his search for justice. From below the Bench, some of the judges seemed short-tempered and discourteous; some seemed lazy – one, in particular, appeared to fall asleep from time to time; and not every judge appeared to be learned in the law. However, it was unthinkable that a judge could be corrupt.

 

The emergence of judicial corruption

It was some ten years later, in the 1970s, when I was serving as Permanent Secretary to the Ministry of Justice and also, ex officio, as a member of the Judicial Service Advisory Board, that I encountered, for the first time, a complaint that a magistrate had accepted a bribe. The complaint appeared to be true. When confronted, the magistrate resigned his office. It was also during this period that I saw and experienced, with considerable unease and sadness, how some serving judges could demean themselves, and the sanctity of their office, in the pursuit of preferential treatment from the executive branch of government. When some of these efforts proved to be rewarding, it was difficult not to become sceptical. It was time for the illusions of youth to disappear.

 

Conventional bribery

The picture changed dramatically in the 1980s and in the decades that followed. The civil, criminal and appellate procedural reforms of the 1970s which we introduced were repealed and the Victorian laws revived. Thereafter, many a litigant or accused person began to find it more economical to secure the disappearance of a case record or the absence of a witness than continue to retain counsel for prolonged periods when no progress was made in his or her case. Complicated procedural steps meant several gatekeepers requiring payment to facilitate movement to the next stage of judicial proceedings.

In a direct mail survey in 50 Sri Lankan judicial stations conducted by the Marga Institute in 2002, civil litigants, virtual complainants, and remand prisoners reported to having paid bribes to lawyers’ clerks, court clerks, police officers and fiscals. Lawyers reported hundreds of incidents of bribery, the beneficiaries being the same. Several Judges admitted to being aware of such acts of bribery, and added members of the legal profession to the list of beneficiaries. Finally, the Judges identified at least five of their own brethren as bribe takers, three of them being in connection with the delivery of judgments. The report of that survey was published by the Marga Institute under the title: “A System Under Siege; An Inquiry into the Judicial System of Sri Lanka”.

 

Global phenomenon

Judicial corruption was not a Sri Lankan phenomenon. In Bangladesh, a national household survey revealed that 63% of those involved in litigation had paid bribes to either court officials or the opponents’ lawyer. In Tanzania, a commission of inquiry reported several instances of judicial officers accepting bribes to grant injunctions, reduce sentences or dismiss cases; accepting bribes from advocates to give preferential judgments; and colluding with auctioneers to share the receipts from selling property belonging to litigants. In Uganda, the Chairman of the Judicial Service Commission reported several complaints of judicial officers taking bribes to give bail or judgment. In Argentina, 57% of those polled said that they felt corruption was the main problem with the judiciary. In Honduras, three out of four polled believed the judiciary was corrupt. According to the Geneva-based Centre for the Independence of Judges and Lawyers, out of 48 countries covered in its annual report for 1999, judicial corruption was pervasive in 30 countries.

 

Undue influence

Corruption in the judiciary is not limited to conventional bribery. An insidious and equally damaging form of corruption arises from the interaction between the judiciary and the executive, as well as from the relationship between the judiciary and the legal profession. For example, the political patronage through which a judge acquires his office can give rise to corruption if and when the executive makes demands on such judge. Similarly, when a family member regularly appears before a judge, or when a judge selectively ignores sentencing guidelines in cases where particular counsel appear, the conduct of the judge would give rise to the suspicion of corruption. So would a high rate of decisions in favour of the executive. Indeed, frequent socializing with particular members of the legal profession, the executive or the legislature, is almost certain to raise the suspicion that the judge is susceptible to undue influence in the discharge of his duties.

 

The blurring of a critical relationship

In Sri Lanka, a dramatic change in the relations between the judiciary and the executive occurred with the advent of the Executive President, the ultimate source of power and patronage. For example, in 1983, a Judge of the Supreme Court described to a parliamentary select committee his relations with the then President:

“I want to say this. My relations with His Excellency the President have been very cordial. In fact, I know him. I have only met Mrs Bandaranaike for a few seconds in my life. But I have known the President from 1948 and I have had very cordial relations with him. We had a common interest in history. I admire his culture, his refinement, and it was never my intention to do anything harmful to him personally. We have met at several functions at President’s House, at private dinners, and in 1981 he invited me and my wife for his birthday party at President’s House. We were very honoured. My community, my family, are his traditional supporters”.

The same Judge described how he enjoyed the hospitality of a Cabinet Minister:

Thanks to the hospitality of the Honourable Minister of Lands, we were all sent on that wonderful trip of the sites. We got younger. You know, we all went and it was a delightful trip. I wrote and told you about it. Lovely time, delightful! We were hoping we could make it a sort of annual trip.”

He also spoke about a prominent Opposition parliamentarian:

“His step-brother, Mr Michael Dias, has been a friend of mine since he was my tutor in the Lex Aquilia at Cambridge University in 1945-48. However, my friendship with Michael Dias has brought me no advantages. The two brothers are as different as chalk and cheese. I think in 1973, Honourable Minister of Lands, your nephew Upul had that tragic death by drowning. I met you in the funeral house. That was a time when he was turning Hulftsdorp upside down. We had a conversation about that. I think I told you in plain, blunt, Anglo-Saxon what I thought of him. You may remember this. I wish to say that in the 1977 election nothing gave me greater pleasure than listening all night to the Dompe result.”

 

The blurring continues

The blurring of the critical relationship between the Judiciary and the Executive continued under later Presidents. For example, in 2004, on the eve of the general election, a Chief Justice, reputed for his political sagacity and legal acumen, participated in a religious ceremony in a Buddhist temple together with a Cabinet Minister and several candidates of a particular political party. The television camera constantly focused on the Chief Justice, who was seated at the feet of the Minister (who appeared to be on an elevated seat) during the long programme. Several years after he had left office, the same Chief Justice publicly apologized for not having given the right judgment in a politically sensitive case. “I am very sorry. I am asking the whole country: forgive me”, he was reported as having said (Sunday Times, 26 October 2014).

In 2011, barely weeks after his retirement, another Chief Justice was appointed as an Adviser to the President. When a judge, and a Chief Justice at that, decides to take a great leap from the Supreme Court to the Presidential Secretariat to serve the executive branch at its core, the alarm bells must surely begin to ring. The country was entitled to know, but was not told, whether the Chief Justice had sought this position, or whether the Head of the Government had offered it to him, when and why.

In 2014, yet another Chief Justice travelled from Colombo to the deep south, to join the then President, his immediate family and his siblings, in celebrating the Sinhala and Hindu New Year rituals at the President’s “ancestral home”. Several pictures that were published showed the participants, including the Chief Justice, “attired in white and facing south” feeding milk rice to each other and engaging in other traditional transactions in what was essentially a family occasion.

 

In the same year, the same Chief Justice joined the President’s entourage (which included Ministers and Members of Parliament) on an official visit to Italy and the Vatican. It was the first occasion when a Chief Justice had accompanied a political leader on a state visit abroad.

 

Such conduct too, was not peculiar to Sri Lanka. A former President of the Supreme Court of Jordan, speaking at a conference in 1999, provided several illustrations from his own personal experience of this form of judicial corruption. He described how judges were pressurized by executive authorities to render judgment contrary to law; received benefits from the government in the form of gifts in money or in kind; and offers of employment to the judges’ children. He also spoke of victimization when the decision did not accord with the wishes of the executive.

 

The corrupting influence arising from the interaction between the judiciary and the executive has been documented by a Nigerian jurist. For example, he describes how a newly appointed judge, still undergoing training, was flown by a presidential jet to try a sensitive case of national importance and delivered his judgment by midnight; and how a judge trying a case of an opposition leader said he would need time to consult others before delivering his judgment. In Costa Rica, 54% of those polled believed that judicial decisions were subject to external “pressures”.

 

Combating Judicial Corruption

 

In 1997, after almost two decades in academia, I was persuaded by a former colleague at the Commonwealth Secretariat to “come down from the ivory towers” to work at Transparency International in Berlin. That non-governmental organization was then in its formative years, and one of its principal objectives was to identify sectors that were vulnerable to corruption, and then to formulate strategies to combat such corruption. It was there that credible evidence began surfacing of corruption in judicial systems. How should this phenomenon be addressed? Independence had always been considered to be the single fundamental requirement for a national judiciary. Judicial independence is not a privilege of judicial office, but an essential pre-requisite for the protection of the people. How real was that protection if the evidence that was surfacing was an accurate reflection of the state of the judiciary? Was judicial independence being traded for money or other benefits? Was adherence to the principle of judicial independence, by itself, sufficient to ensure the delivery of justice? Was it now necessary to formulate and implement a concept of judicial accountability?

 

Judicial Accountability

 

Accountability was not a new or novel concept. It is a constitutional requirement in a society based on the rule of law and democratic principles of governance that every power holder, whether in the legislature or the executive, is, in the final analysis, accountable to the people. Was there any reason why the judiciary, which is entrusted by the people with the exercise of judicial power, should not, individually and collectively, be accountable for the due performance of its functions? The challenge, however, was to determine how the judiciary could be held to account in a manner that was consistent with the principle of judicial independence. My colleague, the late Jeremy Pope, and I agreed that these were issues that were best resolved by the judges themselves.

 

Judicial Integrity Group

 

For that purpose, we initiated discussions with a representative group of ten Chief Justices from Africa and the Asia-Pacific region who agreed to meet under the auspices of the United Nations. At that preparatory meeting in Vienna in April 2000, which was chaired by Judge Weeramantry, Vice-President of the International Court of Justice, the Judicial Integrity Group (as this group of Chief Justices is now known) agreed that judges should be accountable to the community they serve through their absolute adherence to a set of judicial values, and that a statement of core judicial values should be capable of being enforced by the judiciary without the intervention of the executive and legislative branches of government. The Group believed that transparency at every critical stage of the judicial process will enable the community, especially through its legal academics, civil society and a free media, to judge the judges.

 

The Bangalore Principles of Judicial Conduct

 

At the request of the Group, I prepared an initial draft statement of principles of judicial conduct, drawing on rules and principles already articulated in national codes of conduct (wherever they existed) and in regional and international instruments. Over the next twenty months, that draft was widely disseminated among senior judges of both common law and civil law systems in over 75 countries. In November 2002, at the Peace Palace at The Hague, a revised draft was placed before a Round Table Meeting of Chief Justices drawn from both the civil and common law systems, at which Judges of the International Court of Justice also participated. The final draft that emerged from that meeting – the Bangalore Principles of Judicial Conduct – identifies six core values of the judiciary: Independence, Impartiality, Personal Integrity, Propriety, Equality, and Competence and Diligence.

 

In 2006, the Bangalore Principles were unanimously endorsed by the UN Economic and Social Commission (ECOSOC) in a resolution which requested Member States to encourage their judiciaries to develop rules with respect to the professional and ethical conduct of judges based on the Bangalore Principles. Sri Lanka has ignored that request.

 

Commentary and Implementation Measures

 

In 2007, at the request of ECOSOC, the Judicial Integrity Group developed a 175-page Commentary on the Bangalore Principles which has since been published by the UN and by national judiciaries in several languages. Sri Lanka has failed to take note of that.

 

In 2010, the Judicial Integrity Group agreed on Measures for the Effective Implementation of the Bangalore Principles. That statement describes action required to be taken by the judiciary, and the institutional arrangements to be established by the State to secure judicial independence and accountability. Among the latter is an independent appointment mechanism with both judicial and non-judicial members to ensure that persons selected for judicial office are persons of ability, integrity and efficiency. Through the recently enacted 20th Amendment to the Constitution, Sri Lanka has rejected that requirement.

 

Conclusion

 

The Bangalore Principles now provide the judiciary with a framework for regulating judicial conduct. It is the global standard. These Principles have been the model for codes of judicial conduct from Belize in the Caribbean to the Marshall Islands in the Pacific, from Tanzania to the Philippines, from Bolivia to Jordan. They were motivated by the need to address the phenomenon of judicial corruption. Many judiciaries across the world have profitably employed them to achieve that objective. However, the Sri Lankan Judiciary has chosen not to formulate or to implement a code of judicial conduct to regulate itself.



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Features

Investigative Journalism?

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I usually end up totally exhausted when I finish reading the local newspapers from the Pearl. There are so many burning questions and so much is written about them but there are no conclusions and definitely no answers. For example, we seem to have three burning issues right now and this is not in order of importance.

We have a lengthy report that has been published on the Easter Sunday carnage. Everybody knows what I am talking about. However, no one, be it an editor, a paid journalist or a single one of the many amateurs who write to the papers, has reached a conclusion or even expressed an opinion as to who was responsible. At least not a believable one! Surely there are energetic and committed young people in the field of journalism today who, if asked, or directed properly will go out and find a source that would give them at least a credible hypothesis? Or do conclusions exist and has no one the courage to publish them?

At least interview the authors or should I use the word perpetrators of that report. If they refuse to be interviewed ask them why and publish an item every day asking them why! Once you get a hold of them, cross-examine them, trap them into admissions and have no mercy. It is usually geriatrics who write these reports in the Pearl and surely a bright young journalist can catch them out with a smart question or two, or at least show us that they tried? The future of the country depends on it!

We have allegations of contaminated coconut oil been imported. These are very serious allegations and could lead to much harm to the general populace. Do you really believe that no one can find out who the importers are and what brands they sell their products under? In this the Pearl, where everyone has a price, you mean to say that if a keen young journalist was given the correct ammunition (and I don’t mean 45 calibres) and sent out on a specific message, he or she couldn’t get the information required?

We are told that a massive amount of money has been printed over the last few months. There is only speculation as to the sums involved and even more speculation as to what this means to the people of the Pearl. Surely, there are records, probably guarded by extremely lowly paid government servants. I am not condoning bribery but there is nothing left to condone, is there? There are peons in government ministries who will gladly slip you the details if you are committed enough and if you are sent there to get it by a boss who will stand by you and refuse to disclose his sources.

I put it to you, dear readers, that we do not have enough professional, committed and adequately funded news organisations in the country. We can straightaway discount the government-owned joints. We can also largely discount those being run by magnates for personal gain and on personal agendas. As far as the Internet goes, we can forget about those that specialise in speculative and sensationalist untruths, what are we left with O denizens of the Pearl? Are there enough sources of news that you would consider willing to investigate a matter and risk of life and limb and expose the culprits for the greater good of society? Can they be counted even on the fingers of one hand?

In this era when we have useless political leaders, when law and order are non-existent when the police force is a joke, it is time the fourth estate stepped up to the mark! I am sure we have the personnel; it is the commitment from the top and by this, I mean funding and the willingness to risk life and limb, that we lack. Governments over the last few decades have done their best to intimidate the press and systematically destroy any news outlet that tried to buck the usual sycophantic behaviour that is expected from them by those holding absolute power.

Do you think Richard Nixon would ever have been impeached if not for the Watergate reporting? Donald Trump partially owes his defeat to the unrelenting campaign carried out against him by the “fake news” outlets that he tried to denigrate. Trump took on too much. The fourth estate of America is too strong and too powerful to destroy in a head-to-head battle and even the most powerful man in the world, lost. Let’s not go into the merits and demerits of the victor as this is open to debate.

Now, do we have anything like that in the Pearl? Surely, with 20 million-plus “literate” people, we should? We should have over 70 years of independence built up the Fourth Estate to be proud of. One that would, if it stood strong and didn’t waver and collapse under pressure from the rulers, have ensured a better situation for our land. Here is Aotearoa with just five million people, we have journalists who keep holding the government to account. They are well-funded by newspapers and TV networks with audiences that are only a fraction of what is available in the Pearl. Some of the matters they highlight often bring a smirk of derision to my face for such matters wouldn’t even warrant one single line of newsprint, should they happen in the Pearl.

Talking of intimidation from the rulers, most of us are familiar with the nationalisation of the press, the murder and torture of journalists, the burning of presses to insidious laws been passed to curtail the activities of Journalism. These things have happened in other countries, too, but the people and press have been stronger, and they have prevailed. We are at a watershed, an absolutely crucial time. It is now that our last few credible news sources should lift their game. Give us carefully researched and accurate reports with specific conclusions, not generalisations. Refuse to disclose your sources as is your right, especially now that the myopic eye of the UNHCR is turned in our direction.

All other ways and means of saving our beloved motherland, be it government, religion, sources of law and order and even civil society leadership seems to have lapsed into the realm of theory and rhetoric. Our last chance lies with the Fourth Esate and all it stands for. I call for, nay BEG for, a favourable reaction from those decision-makers in that field, who have enough credibility left in society, DON’T LET US DOWN NOW!

 

 

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Features

The world sees ugly side of our beauty pageants

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Yes, it’s still the talk-of-the-town…not only here, but the world over – the fracas that took place at a recently held beauty pageant, in Colombo.

It’s not surprising that the local beauty scene has hit a new low because, in the past, there have been many unpleasant happenings taking place at these so-called beauty pageants.

On several occasions I have, in my articles, mentioned that the state, or some responsible authority, should step in and monitor these events – lay down rules and guidelines, and make sure that everything is above board.

My suggestions, obviously, have fallen on deaf ears, and this is the end result – our beauty pageants have become the laughing stock the world over; talk show hosts are creating scenes, connected with the recent incidents, to amuse their audience.

Australians had the opportunity of enjoying this scenario, so did folks in Canada – via talk show hosts, discussing our issue, and bringing a lot of fun, and laughter, into their discussions!

Many believe that some of these pageants are put together, by individuals…solely to project their image, or to make money, or to have fun with the participants.

And, there are also pageants, I’m told, where the winner is picked in advance…for various reasons, and the finals are just a camouflage. Yes, and rigging, too, takes place.

I was witnessed to one such incident where I was invited to be a judge for the Talent section of a beauty contest.

There were three judges, including me, and while we were engrossed in what we were assigned to do, I suddenly realised that one of the contestants was known to me…as a good dancer.

But, here’s the catch! Her number didn’t tally with the name on the scoresheet, given to the judges.

When I brought this to the notice of the organiser, her sheepish reply was that these contestants would have switched numbers in the dressing room.

Come on, they are no babes!

On another occasion, an organiser collected money from the mother of a contestant, promising to send her daughter for the finals, in the Philippines.

It never happened and she had lots of excuses not to return the money, until a police entry was made.

Still another episode occurred, at one of these so-called pageants, where the organiser promised to make a certain contestant the winner…for obvious reasons.

The judges smelt something fishy and made certain that their scoresheets were not tampered with, and their choice was crowned the winner.

The contestant, who was promised the crown, went onto a frenzy, with the organiser being manhandled.

I’m also told there are organisers who promise contestants the crown if they could part with a very high fee (Rs.500,000 and above!), and also pay for their air ticket.

Some even ask would-be contestants to check out sponsors, on behalf of the organisers. One wonders what that would entail!

Right now, in spite of the pandemic, that is crippling the whole world, we are going ahead with beauty pageants…for whose benefit!

Are the organisers adhering to the Covid-19 health guidelines? No way. Every rule is disregarded.

The recently-held contest saw the contestants, on the move, for workshops, etc., with no face masks, and no social distancing.

They were even seen in an open double-decker bus, checking out the city of Colombo…with NO FACE MASKS.

Perhaps, the instructions given by Police Spokesman DIG Ajith Rohana, and Army Commander, General Shavendra Silva, mean nothing to the organisers of these beauty pageants…in this pandemic setting.

My sincere advice to those who are keen to participate in such events is to check, and double check. Or else, you will end up being deceived…wasting your money, time, and energy.

For the record, when it comes to international beauty pageants for women, Miss World, Miss Universe, Miss Earth and Miss International are the four titles which reign supreme.

In pageantry, these competitions are referred to as the ‘Big Four.’

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Better use of vanity projects; Cass apologises, and New Year graciousness

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A wise one, with the interests of the country at heart, calling himself ‘A Member of the Silent Majority’, wrote in The Island of Friday, April 9, offering an excellent solution for the better and genuine use of the Mattala Mahinda Rajapaksa International Airport which was built at a stupendous cost to both the Treasury, and wildlife abundant in the area, to satisfy an ego and sycophants’ cries of Hail to the King. Even sans Covid and lockdowns and shut downs of airports, the Mattala Airport was a white elephant, endangering and displacing the black elephants, roaming along their familiar corridors; receiving such few airplanes. Thus, as the writer Cass mentions says, convert the airport to a super hotel with excellent and sure-fire access to wildlife watching, like referred to hotels in Kenya and elsewhere. Yes, it will definitely be a bigger money earner than an airport waiting for a plane to land. Expensive equipment going rusty could be transferred to smaller airports being developed all over the island. There was such a hue and cry when storerooms, within the deserted airport, were used for paddy storage, but not even a whimper of concerted protest when the vanity projects were being built. We also heard that on the rare occasions a plane was to land/take off, peacocks in the area were shot at to prevent them flying into the planes. Aney, what a sin, just to have a name on a nameboard! Use the Suriyawewa Cricket Stadium too for a better purpose and less costly to water and maintain green in near desert climate conditions. What about a residential training institute for youth, perhaps in small industries? If the king-sized ego demands the name be present, OK, leave it. What’s in a name?

Any matter, financial or economic, with benefit to country buttressing it – refer to Dr Harsha de Silva and Eran Wickremaratne. Likewise, anything pertaining to fauna, flora and preservation of natural habitats ask Devani Jayathilake. Cassandra would give two years of her life (she does not have 10 left, she suspects) to know what the answers of the three wise and sincere ones mentioned would be to the proposal to convert the Mattala Airport, oops sorry – Mattala Mahinda Rajapaksa International Airport – to a 7 star hotel for wildlife watching and then tourists proceeding to Yala and other places that were touted to be reached easier if planes brimful of tourists, landed in Mattala. Pipe dream even sans Covid-19.

The thought of the millions, nay billions, our country was indebted to China to construct these vanity projects aka white elephants of the Rajapaksa fiefdom sends Cass’s blood racing in her contracting veins. And now another hair-brained scheme is being exposed, not new but re-exposed: that of the stupendous amount sent direct from the Central Bank with no nod, as reported, from the then Cabinet or Parliament, to an American-resident con-man to improve our appearance on the world stage or at least American stage. My word!! Cosmetics of creams and colours and such like can improve the face of an already beautiful woman. But a country that was once beautiful, glorified, accepted internationally and then politician-spoilt, cannot be redeemed by PR work, however expensively. Nivard Cabraal was the then Govenor of the CB. Of course, as every Banda, Singho and their women say, nothing will come of this. Powerful political sweeping under the carpet in the presence of cardboard administrators and sycophantic hosanna singers, makes the matter disappear and not merely hides it. Unless of course there are enough intrepid outers-of-truths and persistent protestors, brave and national minded enough to continuously tease the matter like a cat its caught rat. Ranjan is locked away in hard labour for four solid years, losing his Parliamentary seat for misusing the gift of his gab, while convicted murderers of the right colour attend Parliament, escorted and all.

Cass apologises

To the reigning Mrs World, Mrs Caroline Jurie, for crowning, uncrowning and recrowning of the winner of the recent Mrs Sri Lanka contest. Caroline Jurie took this stride because the winning contestant was four years on the way to being a divorcee, which status forbids a woman from attempting to wear the crown of Mrs…. (country) with a view to becoming Mrs World. This title and honour is bestowed on a woman who promotes, holds sacred the institution of marriage and is a married woman. Cass castigated Caroline Jurie without knowing then the fact that Jurie had protested about this candidate being considered due to her impending divorce; and allowed to contest. She said she withdrew from the panel of judges since her point was not taken by the others. WHY is the Q. Easy to answer. The new beauty queen of shaky married status was a loud speaker in favour of Presidential Candidate Gotabaya R in Polonnaruwa (captured on social media) and probably spoke on stages for SLPP Parliamentary candidates. So of course she was slated to win; vision impaired over rules and future probabilities, She has her height – one advantage. Beauty can always be dexterously rubbed and painted in. But honesty is important and cannot be cloned or grafted in.

Cass now definitely faults the new Mrs Sri Lanka. She should not have contested, having her papers sent in for divorce and not retracted. What happens when she wins the divorce (or her husband wins it, however the divorce was first mooted). Another local contest? And if the divorce was still pending and she went overseas at great expense and won THE crown or a lesser one. To be returned forthwith when she has to remove the present gold band from her third finger, which probably she has already removed but hastily wore for the contest and when preparing for it? This is why Cass avows that many young women particularly, are so very selfish and forward and uppity and even dishonest now. In Cass’ time and even a decade or two later, a girl would never do what this new beauty has done, flipped aside a core rule and necessity of the contest, just to win by honest means or foul. Way the country’s going, my friend.

Post – Aluth Avurudhu

Cassandra is stuffed gill-high with kavun, aluwa and crunchy kokis, preceded by kiributh and lunumiris. She is fending for herself because a dip in Covid numbers and having had the jab, her domestic wished to enjoy a family new year having missed the last one, locked down as we were. Cass made her own kiributh – tasting somewhat like it should, but the sweets were all gifted her. So, also the offers of help, sleep-ins at others’ homes and solicitous frequent inquiries of ‘how are you?’ Kind and gracious relatives and friends, acquaintances too are thanked; and the most appreciated being neighbouring kitchen helps and care givers. Three-wheeler drivers who spin Cass around on errands too make enquiries. And thus her thoughts when resuming work at the nekath time and word processing this article. Sri Lankans are such good people: kind, caring, willing to share and genuine. And then specters themselves on this very sunny landscape: the dishonest, selfish, revengeful and disgraceful. Shrug them off, clear the mental picture and pronounce thank goodness for goodness around.

May all of us (decent people) have a very good year to follow today –Subha Aluth Avuruddhak!

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