Impeachment debate and its fallout on power devolutionJanuary 23, 2013, 7:53 pm
from Sebastian Rasalingam in Canada
The previous Chief Justice who was impeached stands accused of financial wheeler-dealing and arrogance of power in judicial cases where she had a conflict of interest. If she had been tried before a proper court, she may well have been found guilty. However, her real `crime’ was her arrogance and non-compliance. Whenever things could be settled by cordial discussion she dug her heels and asserted that she was the Chief Justice - things don’t happen that way even in the so-called Western democracies.
Think of this theatre under power devolution, with some local land-owner high-caste Chief Minister (possibly a Mervyn Silva, Chelvam of the North), pitted against a regional `chief justice’ selected from a tiny caste-based pool of local lawyers. The regional Chief Minister would have got away with it without even a news headline. In the present system, at least all the light is focused on one national stage.
If the CJ was officiously arrogating power to safeguard her private interests, the politicians too were obnoxiously ensuring that they were in control. Listening to the Impeachment Debate makes us realise that Lanka’s Members of Parliament have no dignity, decorum or basic civility. They are men and women who have come to power by the most devious means and who are ready to cling to power by mendacity and murder. Can any serious matter be decided by such men, in their shouting and `standing committees’? Surely, it is not constitutional reform that is needed, but a mandatory test of education, a clean police record and some good breeding. We need good role models of honesty, civility and plain good-nature.
There are some Members of Parliament who have the education and the potential for honesty and civility. Unfortunately, they rise like champions of justice when they are not committing the offence.
It was refreshing to listen to MP Sumanthiran denouncing Prof. G. L. Peiris and Vasudeva Nanayakkara for their total lack of principles. However, why doesn’t Mr. Sumanthiran look at himself in the mirror and ask himself some basic questions that might help himself to emerge as a new honest leader of Sri Lanka, instead of playing destructive politics by working for the TNA? (Tamil National-socialist appendage)
Sumanthiran stated that he has 21 years of professional experience practising in Colombo. For at least 18 years, he implicitly and explicitly supported the murderous regime of Prabhakaran and never denounced the kidnapping of children, forcing children, women and civilians to become fighters, training orphans into suicide bombers etc. When the constitutional rights of the Tamils were denied by Prabhakaran by preventing the Tamils from voting in several elections, the TNA (and Mr. Sumanthiran) went along with it. Prabhakaran himself ruled the Tamils for three decades but the Sampanthans and Sumanthirans never told him to legitimize his rule by a vote. After all, the cyanide king came to power by killing the TULF leaders like Amirthalingam. So the LTTE-TNA cannot claim that the 1977 TULF victory legitimized them.
When Tamil leaders or MPs who opposed the methods of the LTTE got assassinated, Mr. Sumanthiran said nothing. He himself lived among the Sinhalese, practised as a lawyer and led a privileged life while claiming discrimination and genocide of the Tamils. So, his speech about the unconstitutional acts of the government and its ministers is nothing but an example of cynical hypocrisy, unless he follows up on it and atones for his past.
National leaders and not tribal chiefs
How can Sumanthiran follow up on it? Perhaps he should look at Mr. Anandasangaree. The latter is the only Tamil MP that I can think of who stopped practising as a lawyer when he became a Member of Parliament, since such practice would surely lead to serious conflicts of interest. Most countries do not allow MPs to also practise in the courts.
Mr. Anandasangraee is one of the few people who had the courage and honesty to stand up against the Nazism of the LTTE. Mr. Sumanthiran can surely see how Mr. Sampanthan is playing divisive politics, not just within Sri Lanka, but also among the Tamils. However, Mr. Ananadasangaree too has got trapped in the Vaddukkoddai time-wrap.
So, MP Sumanthiran is young enough and cosmopolitanly educated to be able atone for his sins and take a leaf from Mr. Anandasangaree. But he can go further. He can abandon Tamil tribal politics based on land-owning caste discrimination. He should make himself the leader of a future programme which shuns parochial ethnocentrism. The future of the Tamils of Sri Lanka does not lie in segregationist devolution where they end up falling into the hands of some odious ‘Mervyn-Chelvam’-type Chief Minister from Manipay or Mavattipuram.
Last Updated Feb 23 2017 | 09:15 pm