MR, and civic rights | Page 2 | Daily News

MR, and civic rights

Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa, addressing an election rally, the other day, referring to Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe's comment that PRECIFAC has recommended that Rajapaksa be stripped of his civic rights, says that the government was barking up the wrong tree and that he could never be divested of his civic rights. The reason. No judge in the country would permit this to happen, MR went onto to state.

It is gratifying indeed to note that Rajapaksa has such blind faith in the independence of the judiciary under Yahapalanaya. It certainly is an acknowledgement that, under the present government, the judiciary is holding the scales evenly, and, that, there is no interference, whatsoever, in the judicial process. There was ample evidence demonstrative of this, in recent times. The President's own referral to the Supreme Court for a determination on the duration of his presidential term saw the SC going strictly by the provisions of the 19th Amendment, declaring that his tenure runs only for five years, contrary to other opinion, and, the Attorney General's own arguments.

Turn the clock back four years and what did the country witness? The country's first lady Supreme Court Judge, who ruled against an attempt by a powerful minister, and, Rajapaksa sibling, to handle public finances, independent of parliament, was tried by a kangaroo court, read Parliament Select Committee and impeached, after being subject to the worst insults, both, inside and outside parliament. Not only that, the Court of Appeal President, who ruled that the impeachment was null and void, and, was next in line to be appointed to the Supreme Court, was denied the promotion. The victimized judge resigned, and, died shortly thereafter, a broken man.

Rajapaksa, has also other reasons to be happy at the evenhanded manner in which the courts are functioning today. His own brother Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, against whom a corruption case is pending, before the Magistrate's court, has been given a fair hearing in the “imminent arrest” appeal, to the Supreme Court, and, most say, is being treated leniently, given the lengthy postponements of his case. Juxtapose this with the treatment meted out to Sarath Fonseka, where the courts worked at breakneck speed, to have the former army commander thrown behind bars.

Not just the courts. Even the quasi-judicial bodies have acted with complete independence. The Presidential Commission on the Bond issue, summoned the Finance Minister and subjected him to a virtual inquisition, at the hands of state counsel of the Attorney General's Department. The Prime Minister, no less, was subject to intense questioning by the self same Bond Commission, and, what is more, in the subsequent report, slapped with mild strictures.

Hence, Mahinda Rajapaksa can rest assured that his civic rights matter, if ever it comes before a court of law, would be dealt purely based on the merits of the charges, and, not impelled by duress, exerted from the top.

Be that as it may, the civic rights issue of Mahinda Rajapaksa has set the cat among the pigeons, in the Joint Opposition camp. Already legal opinion has been proffered by former Chief Justice Sarath Silva on why Rajapaksa could not be deprived of his civic rights. Pohottuwa chairman, and, former law professor G. L. Peiris has not put forward any legal points, but has slipped into the role of a chandiya. He is challenging the government to go ahead and take away the civic rights and see where it will get it. Replying to journalists at a media briefing, Peiris harks back to the time President J.R. Jayewardene deprived Sirima Bandaranaike of her civic rights and says that this was out of fear on the part of JRJ to face the country's most popular leader at a future election. Similarly, it was out of fear of Mahinda Rajapaksa, as the most popular leader in the country, that the present government is talking about taking away his civic rights.

Peiris forgets, or, ignores the fact that Mahinda Rajapaksa has already faced two popularity tests and come a cropper in both. He can no longer be the most popular leader in the country, on that basis. True, there is large crowd attendance at election rallies addressed by MR. However the same, or, even larger crowds were seen when he faced the two popularity tests, referred to above. Peiris, like Rajapaksa, apparently is being carried away by numbers. Besides, JRJ went ahead and deprived the ‘most popular politician’, Sirima Bandaranaike of her civic rights. By the same token, MR too could well suffer the same fate.

Already, JO stalwarts are urging the electorate to vote for the pohottuwa, at the LG elections as a means of expressing solidarity with MR, who, according to them, is going be deprived of his civic rights. Addressing a media conference yesterday, JO front liner Bandula Gunawardena said this was the time for the people to stand up and rally round the leader who won the war, who is going to lose his civic rights. Hence, this election, as far as the JO is concerned, will be a single issue poll, not about garbage, dengue, or, other local issues. 


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The people are disgusted with the present breed of politicians who are blind or do not observe the rule of law and continue to steal public funds. The efficiency in pulling the wool over the public eye is an art perfected with values reaching astronomic heights. All this said to be done in the name of development. For every rupee spent on these so-called development projects at least a thousand dollars is stolen and many people are driven to the brink of starvation. On the eve of the forthcoming polls, one notices the extensive procrastination by advertisements giving vent to extol the virtues of men who were the architects of the frauds. The people have already identified the crooks and their bogus cries. This breed will soon reap their harvest and be interred in the political graveyard to return to dust.


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