Leadership accused of  playing politics at the expense of association

Lawyers differ on BASL strategies

A section of lawyers styled as the Forum of Independent Lawyers of Sri Lanka has accused the BASL leadership of misusing funds to gain personal and political mileage at the expense of the interests of the association.

The following is the full text of statement issued by Anoma Goonatilleke, President of Forum ILSL and its Secretary, Saman Galappaththi: "As members of the legal profession, proud of its traditions and committed to its wellbeing, we are appalled by the recent activities of the current leadership of the Bar Association, and would like to express, in the strongest terms, our disgust at the blatantly self-serving initiatives which are seriously hurting the stature and reputation of our profession at large and the Bar Association of Sri Lanka.

There are values which the legal fraternity holds sacred. By virtue of our discipline and training, we are accustomed to looking at issues and making decisions on the merits of a matter, without allowing ulterior motives to govern our actions. We have contempt for those who have no qualms of conscience about subverting their positions and flagrantly abusing the trust placed in them by their peers, to pursue agendas inspired by nothing other than the desire to benefit themselves.

Although they are no longer among the living, we recall with nostalgia the giants of the Bar who, in their time, were at the helm of affairs of the Bar Association – men of the caliber of H. W. Jayawardane, H L de Silva, Desmond Fernando, Eardly Pereira, Nimal Senanayake and Ranjit Abeysuriya. They are men of sterling ability and character who would not have dreamt for one moment of selling their soul for a mess of potage. Their achievements derived from their own talent, and they had no use for largesse, local or foreign, for self-advancement. They gave leadership to the Bar, according to their own lights, determining their programmes of work for the Association in keeping with priorities of immediate relevance and benefit to the overwhelming majority of the membership of the Association.

We know well that rank and file of the Association are deeply resentful of the unprecedented degree of politicization which the current,. leadership of the Association has introduced into its activities. The. Constitution of the Bar Association lays down the parameters within which the Association is expected to serve the interests of its members.

The accomplishment of its goals is clearly ill served by dividing its membership through the adoption, in the most offensive ways, of partisan political attitudes which can hardly reflect the wishes of the membership, as a whole.

There are still some of us who have not degenerated into purchasable commodities. It is on their behalf that we demand a halt to the divisive activities of the leadership of the Association, an active though uninspiring party politicians. We strongly object to their misuse of the funds,’ to gain personal and political mileage at the expense of our Association."

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