I feel confident that Sri Lankans will make their own systems – through a combination of many systems supported by Truth. When each group travels in its most natural path – there will be least interference from travelers along other paths and we would mentally share with each other – through our Truth and Common belief. If not for this parallel travel called diversity – we do not need Equal Opportunity laws in multicultural areas.
l by Gaja Lakshmi Paramasivam
(December 03, Melbourne, Sri Lanka Guardian) I write in response to the article ‘Independence of judiciary & law of humanity’ by Dr. Ruwantissa Abeyratne, published in Sri Lanka Guardian.
Dr. Abeyratne says ‘The Resolution “Basic Principles on the Independence of the Judiciary” adopted by the Seventh United Nations Congress on the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders, held at Milan from 26 August to 6 September 1985, which was endorsed by the United Nations General Assembly Resolutions 40/32 of November 1985 and 40/146 of 13 December 1985 recognized the basic principles that: a) through the Charter of the United Nations, the peoples of the world have affirmed, inter alia, their determination to establish conditions under which justice can be maintained to achieve international co-operation in promoting and encouraging respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms without any discrimination; b) the Universal Declaration of Human Rights enshrines in particular the principles of equality before the law, of the presumption of innocence and of the right to a fair and public hearing by a competent, independent and impartial tribunal established by law; and c) the International Covenants on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and on Civil and Political Rights both guarantee the exercise of those rights, and in addition, the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights further guarantees the right to be tried without undue delay.
The Resolution recognized that the above notwithstanding, there still existed frequently a gap between the vision underlying those principles and the actual situation and the organization and administration of justice in every country should be inspired by those principles, and efforts should be undertaken to translate them fully into reality. It also states that rules concerning the exercise of judicial office should aim at enabling judges to act in accordance with the above principles.’
Even as I started responding, I received from Ganesh – a fellow Australian Tamil with whom my only contact has been our daily exchanges of emails – an email headed ‘Subject: FW: invention of email’ http://techland.time.com/2011/11/15/the-man-who-invented-email/’
Given that the email is my popular medium of communication, I was intrigued and hence went to the website. The opening paragraphs said:
‘If you’re reading this, you’re online and, as such, you probably have an email account. But have you ever wondered about the origins of email? It’s not exactly a cut-and-dried case, as various forms of electronic messaging have been around since the humble telegraph.
I had the opportunity to sit down with V.A. Shiva Ayyadurai, who holds the first copyright for “EMAIL”—a system he began building in 1978 at just 14 years of age. It was modeled after the communication system being used at the University of Medicine and Dentistry in Newark, New Jersey. His task: replicate the University’s traditional mail system electronically.’
What has this got to do with Dr. Abeyratne’s article ‘Independence of judiciary & law of humanity’?
I seek to include in our thinking the words of Mr. Basil Fernando of Asian Human Rights Commission during his interview with The Janasansadaya, a human rights organization in Sri Lanka ‘The government’s idea of law and order is the prevention of challenges to the government and the most important requirement for law and order is to prevent all opposition to its plans.
Opposition to the government is considered as disorder. Thus, the idea of law and order is to maintain total control by the government with or without law.
On the other hand, the rule of law means the following, as summed up by the eminent British jurist Tom Bingham:
“The core of the existing principle is, I suggest, that all persons and authorities within the state, whether public or private, should be bound by and entitled to the benefit of laws publicly made, taking effect (generally) in the future and publicly administered in the courts.” (Tom Bingham, Rule of Law. Penguin Books 2011, page 8).’
I remembered my experiences relevant to this in the consciousness of all three of the above – Email Pioneer – Shiva Ayyadurai; International Law Expert – Ruwantissa Abeyratne & Human Rights Law Expert – Basil Fernando.
As I have said before, email was part of the issue over which I was threatened with legal actions by Australian University staff. The above email from Ganesh helped me appreciate – where some of my Power of Resistance had come from? At the time I was first threatened by the University of NSW (UNSW) – to my knowledge, there were no particular laws relating to email communications. Later I contributed to Government Policy on this. On 21 September 1999, I received a letter from the Legal Officer of the University threatening Legal Action if the use of the email system to write to staff was not stopped. I responded asking whether the Legal Officer was objecting to just emails or any correspondence at all. I asked also:
‘If you truly think that I have been the real cause of the harassment or if you think you already have just cause to charge me, it is your duty as UNSW solicitor to lay charges against me in the best interests of the UNSW’.
The legal officer wrote that it was only for email and not other correspondence. The officer asked me to write – only when invited to do so – and then too to write only to the person who invited me to write.
I responded by saying ‘All my correspondence has been educational. UNSW is required by law to practice EEO principles and policies. EEO principles and policies demand that we provide services to all staff equally – whether they be Chancellor or Cleaner; Full time permanent employee or part-time casual employee. Hence the University solicitor has a duty to serve the part-time contractor equally as the Deputy Vice Chancellor.
Your attempts at silencing me would, in my opinion, constitute violation of Basic Human Right to Speech. If I had acted in an irresponsible manner, and harmed anyone then I deserve punishment under the Universal Code of Conduct. But then such rules must be applied Equally to all. I therefore urge you to take action against me or anyone else who is in breach of such Codes of Conduct.’
Using Mr. Basil Fernando’s analysis to highlight the difference between ‘law and order’ as applied by governments and ‘rule of law’ as interpreted by the judiciary, to my mind, the University Administration is the parallel of the Government – using the name of their positions and the name of law – to maintain / enforce ‘law and order’ in the environment they think they are in charge of. They seem to have ‘thought’ I would take their word as law. Under the system of Democracy, this includes cultural laws common to the local environment (the parallel of the electorate). But to claim such authority – one needs to have been elected by majority in that group and therefore not rely on merit. To that extent they need to be required to manage within their local areas. Hence the need for devolution.
If the ‘rule of law’ were to be applied in an area where the people on whom it is being applied, do not have knowledge / understanding of the law, the result would be enforcement on them – where there are no benefits for at least accepting those laws. If for example, there was a UN monitored system here in Australia, of how migrants are treated at the workplace, and/or if the Australian politicians had developed a law to say ‘this category email is right and this category is wrong’ – the academics and administrators at the University of NSW would not have understood such law. They did not demonstrate knowledge of the Inclosed Lands Protection Act 1901, under which they reported me to the Police. When the University Security asked me to ‘leave’ I asked them I(thanks to Gandhi) under what law they were asking me to leave? They said the law of Trespass. When I asked them what that law said – they said it said that one could not enter private property without permission. I said the University was Public property. Even the judges who heard the charges against me, had difficulty with this. In other words even the judges did not apply the ‘rule of law’ system that Mr. Basil Fernando refers to above. Australian theoreticians in law would have made a lecture on that subject if they had thought that they would get UN status for doing so. There was not One – who acted out of belief in the law. Like majority race in Sri Lanka, they were comfortable with the system as it was. I was the black-sheep.
In today’s email from the UN – I read ‘Australian authorities must do more to assist the victims of human trafficking, particularly when the victims are children, an independent United Nations human rights expert has warned at the end of an official visit to the country.
Joy Ngozi Ezeilo, the Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons, especially women and children, issued yesterday in which she called for greater attention to the rights and needs of trafficking victims in Australia, a “destination country” for trafficking.
“Australia has shown strong leadership and committed considerable resources to combating trafficking in persons,” she said. “However, I still observe that there is no national plan of action for combating trafficking with clear indicators for measuring outcome and impact.”’
To me, the above from the UN is also the parallel of ‘rule of law’ with little regard for the realities of Australians – including migrants who are already hurting within the ‘real’ Australian system. To my mind UN is top heavy in the issue of refugees. Unless we feel connected to the groups without investment in UN conventions, we are likely to set standards higher than the ones that countries with global status could achieve. To my mind, UN’s reluctance to try Sri Lankan Government for war crimes is also for this reason. The parallel concession needs to be made in the case of countries such as Australia which are still struggling to insist on Equal Opportunity practices.
There is value in the Natural system – which is strongly present in the family system. I said today, to a migrant married to a White Australian – not to give too much weight to ‘Australian theory’ – but to rely on her Tamil culture for parenting her children. To my mind, that way this Tamil would draw on the Truth of those whom she respected – rather than expecting through theory of another culture; theory that is yet to be practiced. With juniors in her family, including her children, I was recommending the ‘law and order’ system of the Government, against the ‘rule of law’ of the judiciary/theoreticians.
Where there is weak investment in a particular law, the ‘law and order’ system is likely to contain more Truth than the ‘rule of law’ system that those distant to the issue, such as the UN, recommend. In the above mentioned University email system for example, that ‘law and order’ system would have been the more appropriate one – if I also had been ‘one of them’ or if I were ready to compromise to keep my benefits. I feel strongly that the hierarchy thought / thinks – that I would have accepted them blindly. That would have maintained harmony – the very harmony that the Sri Lankan Government is claiming to be developing now in Sri Lanka – including amongst Tamils. It is when the ‘rule of law’ is applied – that there is conflict in areas with weak investment in common laws.
Dr. Abeyratne says about the UN Resolution regarding Judicial Independence – ‘The Resolution recognized that the above notwithstanding, there still existed frequently a gap between the vision underlying those principles and the actual situation and the organization and administration of justice in every country should be inspired by those principles, and efforts should be undertaken to translate them fully into reality. It also states that rules concerning the exercise of judicial office should aim at enabling judges to act in accordance with the above principles.’
That to me is the primary responsibility of the UN – through the governments of member States and / or directly with the victims. I for one did not get any credit from the UN for upholding the principles of Equal Opportunity and Racial Equality. Like with academics who use theories to get benefits rather than actually practice them in their own lives, the UN agencies also talk about the ‘rule of law’ system much more than actually practicing it themselves.
This morning’s email from Ganesh about the American Tamil Email Pioneer – Shiva Ayyadurai – confirmed to me yet again – that there is a system that works to support genuine workers/investors who become an active part of a Universal system. Shiva Ayyadurai and I have in common – not only the University Communication system that was put together to help Medical academics (my work at the UNSW was also to help Medical Academics). We have in common at a deeper level – our Tamil-Hindu culture which has value beyond the physical borders of its birthplace – India.. To the extent we have contributed in common – we would draw from each other’s work – even if we are not conscious of each other. That is the value of Truth and Its Universal influence. Global systems are based on this discovery. I am strongly conscious of the deep value of Indians – in Hinduism and our Family culture. Hence I would naturally be supported by all those who are part of that system – even if individuals do not know it. What they do not know – they would not need to approve of or disapprove of.
This is not the first time such ‘true support’ has come my way. One such support happened during the time I was in pain soon after resigning from the substantive position in the University of NSW. I was continuing to be in close communication with those in the University, especially within the Medical Faculty. One day, I was about to write to a Medical Faculty Administrator (who was talking about leaving) – for him not to leave. Even as I opened the email box to compose – I received an email from our friend Sunthu – who initially installed the email system for us but from whom I had not received any emails until then. Nor had I sent any to Sunthu at that point in time. The email was a picture of Jaffna’s Saint Yoga Swami – with his Great Saying ‘Summa Iru’ / Keep Still. Intuitively, due to my faith in Swami – I refrained from writing to that UNSW Administrator. Later, I realized that it was to clear the path of Truth during changeover time – which was needed to continue with the Democratic systems I had implemented. To some, these may be coincidences. To me – they are manifestations of Truth to support a true believer. Without such a system – there is no need for Global Common Standards. Those who invest in Global systems would eventually become part of that system and therefore to the extent of their natural investment they would influence the system.
Money rich countries like Australia, would find it more easy to invest in UN systems – systems established by those like themselves. This does not mean that the system will work naturally for them. They have to consciously work the system beyond their natural investments. Natural investments are the costs we paid into the system for which we have not received benefits nor are expecting future benefits. These costs include the respect we pay genuinely to those from whose work we are benefiting/have benefited.
Money poor countries like Sri Lanka, on the other hand, have to depend heavily on the local systems to maintain harmony. When the mind is still – as Yoga Swami asked me to keep mine – we stop trying to please / oblige others. We start identifying with our inner Truth. That Truth brings us the support we really need from any part of the world and from previous generations.
The problem, with democracy is that we produce more than through autocracy to ‘show’, on the way to autocratic positions – as is the case with the Lankan Government. From the point we ‘show’ we stop following others. Hence unless we ‘show’ as per a global system – our work from that point onwards has little or no value. Under autocracy, we waited to get into the higher position to ‘show’ outcomes. Until then we just followed the system and added our work to the leader’s.
I feel confident that Sri Lankans will make their own systems – through a combination of many systems supported by Truth. When each group travels in its most natural path – there will be least interference from travelers along other paths and we would mentally share with each other – through our Truth and Common belief. If not for this parallel travel called diversity – we do not need Equal Opportunity laws in multicultural areas. UN’s Secretary General is reported to have said yesterday “We can help migrants move safely and legally. We can protect their rights. We can encourage their contributions to the countries that they left, and the countries where they live,”
These are still within the ‘rule of law’ system. Until this is our reality – we would do well to invest more and more in Truth and Natural systems – starting with our own Truth. Today, I bless Shiva Ayyadurai, for his work and belief in pioneering the email system which has helped me reinforce yet again that Truth always manifests Itself to support those who uphold Truth. It also helped me better appreciate that Australians are not as generous in sharing their status with migrants. If they were, Australian Medical Academics would have supported me the way American Medical Academics supported Shiva Ayyadurai. That to me could be due to not having fought for independence as Equals/Independents. They are in this regard, to my mind, the parallels of Sinhalese of Sri Lanka. Hence, like Sri Lanka, Australia needs us – independent migrants.