I must candidly say that I am disappointed as our politicians act without much foresight in their efforts to please acolytes who were loyal to them at the expense of good order and in the process defame the national legislature.
Mark Twain said that politicians must be changed like diapers often and for the same reason. Yes, such change took place recently; sadly the majority came from the same caboodle that rotate and cling to the legislature. In referring to what MT said, I am kept guessing whether we have men of stature who can place the image of the country first and not pander to the whims and fancies of leaders who act for short term gain and stand up to what is right.
Assuming that there was no legal impediment for him to be sworn in it’s my humble view that it was important to give more weight to the morality of having a man convicted of murder in the legislature.
There is a landmark decision given by a man of learning, eminently suitable for the position of Speaker who did not act to protect his position. He was the late Anura Bandaranaike.
When he was Speaker he gave a historic ruling on the 20th June 2001 when a three-judge bench of the Supreme Court issued a stay order to restrain the Speaker from appointing a select committee to inquire into the conduct of the Chief Justice consequent to a motion of impeachment against him. Quite apart from his standard of moral conduct, he did irreparable damage to the justice system and the country has paid heavily for such omissions and commissions.
Anura Bandaranaike ruled on the SUPREMACY of Parliament and rejected a THREE-JUDGE BENCH stay order, REFUSED intervention or interference and amply strengthened the hands of those who took office after him on how to administer Parliament and maintain the dignity of the August Assembly described as “UTTARITHARA ” However politicians mouth this word when it suits them.
In this back drop I fail to comprehend how a man convicted of murder and sentenced to death now in jail for life as the death penalty is not functional being allowed to come to Parliament to be sworn in. Is the Parliament supreme now with a convicted murderer as a member? He is a man who had transgressed the law and was sentenced by the High Court and hence is he a suitable person to legislate to law abiding citizens.
I learnt with horror that a leftist has said Jayasekera is presumed innocent till his appeal is heard. It is evident that he is cannot appreciate that a murderer in the death row is unfit to be sworn in a as a legislator. Are other accused sentenced to death allowed to revert to their normal lives till they are pronounced innocent by a higher court on a future date.
The person who figured must go through the due process and the Appeal Court must provide a verdict that the accused is innocent and cleared of the charge of murder since that is the practice that exists in our country and I guess all over the world. If the law is the same for all then it should apply to him too.
Mr. Editor you without any ambiguity said in a recent editorial that a person being tried for murder should never have been nominated to contest an election. None who value good order will disagree with you.
The country is well aware as a reader pointed out recently that a leading light of the ruling party mounted the stage and exhorted the ignorant gullible voters to give a Manape to him. It is indeed sad that we have in our system politicians who are incapable of assessing the incalculable harm they do and the horrendous lesson they impart to the young when they act in that manner.. The many substandard politicians who had a piggyback rides who got washed into the legislature will now follow him as the senior did not recognise the need for credibility and for public acceptance of good order. Any politician of whatever hue, must set standards to the people and this applies to the 225.
Is this a signal that a pardon is to follow and possibly apply to others too who have political connections?
Sri Lanka has many firsts starting with the world’s first woman Prime Minister emerging from our small country which gave us immense joy. Therefore what has taken place is most unacceptable.
Mr. Speaker I learnt that some ignoramus had requested you to expunge from Hansard what took place so that future generations will not observe the quality of our legislators. I do not think it’s correct to expunge since only what is unprintable that flow from the mouths of substandard men who engage in fisticuffs after a heavily subsidized meal enjoy that luxury gets expunged. The Hansard must contain an accurate record of Parliamentary proceedings and that is the tradition that prevails in all Parliaments.
Mr. Speaker to your credit none has said that you are a corrupt politician. However your image stands badly sullied. In any other country, the Speaker would have resigned over such an issue. Perhaps, you are aware the president and Prime Minister have gone public claiming that they did not influence any person regarding the entry of a man from the death row.
If you do history will place you among erudite men who adorned that seat before the era where copies of the Bible and the Quran, chilie powder etc started flying with the blessings of seniors.
We were recovering slowly and getting back to the civilised world after acquisition of honours like sacking the Chief Justice after a trial by nondescripts and the jailing of the war-winning general tried by a kangaroo court when a murderer was brought from the death cell by you and an oath administered.
Another matter of critical importance for the present ruler is to bear in mind that the results of laws implemented now will be felt only in decades to come and those who brokered them will not be around to observe the good or bad. Hence they should give serious THOUGHT before fresh legislation is enacted.
I am confident the current non-traditional politician President whose simple life style demonstrate, will ensure only laws that will benefit generations to come will be law when they can proudly say we are Sri Lankans.
I make this humble appeal as we observe that much of the chaos that prevails today is due to short term gain decisions of politicians to gain power.
May the blessings of the Noble Triple Gem be with the rulers to take wise decisions that will not impact adversely on generations to come and use the rare opportunity gained to strengthen institutions. We desperately need strong institutions where the law applies to all citizens alike.
Brian de Silva
Lawyers Collective condemns Anti-Terrorism and Online Safety Bills
The Lawyers’ Collective condemns the latest version of the Anti-Terrorism Bill and the Online Safety Bill gazetted in September 2023. The Government of Sri Lanka has failed to respond to the serious and fundamental concerns raised about the Anti-Terrorism Bill gazetted in March this year. The government also failed to adopt any transparent and accountable process through which the Bills were explained, justified and robust public consultation facilitated before they were gazetted. The definitions adopted for ‘terrorism’ and ‘false statement’, and related offences created under the two Bills are excessively broad and vague, and thus do not represent a measured and proportionate means of serving specific and necessary law and order objectives.
Indeed, the Anti-Terrorism and Online Safety Bills represent an attempt to institutionalise excessive executive discretionary power over a broad range of ordinary activities of the citizens of Sri Lanka. At a time when the country’s democracy quotient is at a historical low, attempts to rush into enactment dangerous laws that have a high potential to crush dissent and curb civil liberties causes much alarm. Citizens of this country are currently making a wide range of demands on their elected representatives and government officials in the context of the deep economic crisis and the bearing it has on their lives.
Democracy demands that the widest possible space be created at this time to hear citizens’ grievances and to engage citizens and citizen groups, especially vulnerable communities. The intolerance represented by the two proposed laws towards legitimate dissent, critique, opposition and organising around different ideas and solutions for governance in Sri Lanka is a direct threat to democracy, civil liberties and the role of the judiciary in protecting citizens’ sovereignty against executive capture.
Sri Lankan recent history is marked by terrible violence and social and economic devastation caused by repressive approaches to unrest and inequality in our society and polity. Having emerged from decades of war and violent insurrection, the government and opposition parties would be mindful of the responsibility that they bear towards the current and future citizens of this country. In this moment, the legal profession has a role and responsibility to act to safeguard people’s treasured freedoms.
The Lawyers’ Collective calls for the immediate withdrawal of the two Bills. The Collective also calls for the adoption of a transparent process of consultative law making and the proposal of executive and legal measures that are proportionate and responsive to the needs of the people. The Collective demands that the government desist from enacting laws that will harm the very foundations of democracy in Sri Lanka. Such laws that grant the executive excessive powers to curtail citizen’s fundamental rights to freedom of expression and thought, freedom of association, freedom of assembly and liberty erode the sovereignty of the people that is the very basis of Sri Lanka’s constitution.
On behalf of the Lawyers’ Collective
Rienzie Arsecularatne, President’s Counsel.
Upul Jayasuriya, President’s Counsel
Jayampathy Wickramaratne, President’s Counsel
Geoffrey Alagaratnam, President’s Counsel
Dinal Phillips, President’s Counsel
Saliya Pieris, President’s Counsel
Lal Wijenayake, Attorney-at-Law
Upul Kumarapperuma, Attorney-at-Law
K.W. Janaranjana, Attorney-at-Law
Nuwan Bopege, Attorney-at-Law
Recently, I have made it a point to listen carefully to dhamma discourses by erudite Bhikkus , very specially on the consumption of meat by Buddhists and the Vinaya rules laid down by the Buddha on this subject.
To begin with it was one of the conditions which Devadatta insisted on as mandatory, which the Buddha in his profound infinite knowledge declined as impractical. He even cited instances where previous Buddhas declined such requests. What the Buddha said was that killing was not at all permissible, but the consumption of meat was left to the discretion of the persons concerned whether it be the lay persons or bhikkus.
Some may dislike meat out of sheer sansaric habit while others may relish it, but the Budhdha laid down certain important pre-conditions on the consumption of meat. He prohibited eating the flesh of 10 animal species like the lion, elephant, tiger, leopard, bear, horse, dog, cat, snake and human flesh.
On the other hand he prescribed an important Vinaya rule known as the ‘thri kotika paarishudda‘ which literally means that whoever gives it as an offering or consuming it must make sure that the meat comes from an animal which was not specifically slaughtered for the purpose. Meat bought at a market is without doubt such a meat and may be offered to and received by a Bhikku..
A previous Buddha has even assisted a bhikku through his infinite knowledge by suggesting that he should go begging for alms on a particular street where a lay dayaka was preparing a meal of rice with crab curry. The bhikku concerned was extremely pious but could not attain arahat status as he had an excruciating earache. No sooner he ate the crab meal his acute pain ceased and he concentrated his mind on the dhamma and attained Arahathood then and there. The layman who offered the crab meal noticed the difference in the Bhikku and was thrilled to know that he had given alms to an Arahat.. This hppy thought came back to him at the time of his death, whicn occurred very much later.
His Chuthi chiththa was so powerful that he was born in a splendid divine abode with a huge mansion which had the insignia of a large golden crab at its entrance to remind him and all of the crab meal which was offered to an Arahat.
A lay person once asked the Buddha whether it was correct to recommend the eating of foul smelling flesh like fish for instance and the Buddha has replied that tanha irrsiya krodha maanna dhitti are more foul smelling and should be eschewed completely if you wish to attain the bliss of Nibbana. Looking down on people who consume meat is also a sinful thought which should be avoided , as it does not benefit anyone.
Dear friends, I have tried to tell the English speaking folk who do not have the opportunity to listen to our Sinhala sermons some profound truths. They even do not know that there have been more than 500,000 Buddhas in the past aeons of time and a Mahaa Kalpa is an enomous space in time which only a Budhha can comprehend. The knowledge of a Sammaa Sambuddha is infinite.
Lastly a word of caution to those who obstruct the doing of good deeds. They cannot even receive the Anumodnaa Kusalaya by a mere wish of happiness at a good deed, [sadhu] but will certainly reap the evil rewards of obstructing good deeds, May you all be well and happy.
Cecil de Mel,
Tel. 011 2648565
Nuclear power for Sri Lanka
There is much talk at the moment of nuclear power generation for the country. The idea is certainly very good. We do need more energy to run the county and the future demand will be far higher than now.
I do understand that nuclear energy is clean, cheap and harmful effects on the environment are minimal. So far the thinking is fine; but it’s important to bear in mind that in case of an accident, the damage will be colossal as we have seen in Chernobyl. What a disaster that was! And in a country much more disciplined than us and with far better technological knowledge and experience. Our knowledge will be wanting.
If all does go well, it will be fine but in case of an accident I hate to think of the kind of disaster we shall have to face.
We have a reputation for using cheap material and also for taking short cuts. Our work ethic too is most wanting. A nuclear power plant needs to be handled with the greatest care. An accident will cause much irreparable damage.
If we do go ahead with the nuclear power proposal, the project (including, most importantly, construction) must be handled by those who have experience and an unblemished record.Nuclear power will be a must some time or other. We must tread the road towards it extremely cautiously.
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