On the verge of a constitutional crisis

| by Hana Ibrahim

( January 6, 2012, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) The post-Independent history of Sri Lanka records many catastrophic antecedents. We evolved through internal insurgencies, a civil war, both State and non-State terrorism, attempted coups and many political chaos of shame. The latest, we are progressively slipping towards a constitutional crisis. The constitutional territorial dispute that seemed to engulf the three arms of the government has now slipped out of constitutionality and turned into a sheer game of mud-slinging and muscle power.  It is far removed from its professionalism.

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In totality, the responses and reactions from every fraternity is a reflection of what we bred over the years in our so-called professional conduct as well as in our responsibility. Senior Minister, Prof. Tissa Vitarana’s serious statement epitomizes this status. How on earth a Senior Minister could have the audacity to make such serious allegations: the President appointed the Chief Justice’s husband, Pradeep Kariyawasam as the Chairman of National Savings Bank at her specific request. If the minister himself stands by the truth of his statement he himself should immediately resign from the government that he has been serving. Both the general public and other professional spheres should demand an inquiry into the statement.
Irrespective of the truth of his statement, the sheer gravity of it is what we are all about in our conduct. Scratch each other’s back and bend laws and regulations as long as we benefit from them.  If Minister Vitarana knew about this atrocious conduct of the Chief Justice and the President why did he wait for so long to question it? His integrity speaks volumes as he waited till the Supreme Court’s decision on the Divi Neguma Bill and the whole saga of impeachment.
Our parliamentarians continue to deviate from the accepted and established norms of responses. In the aftermath of the Supreme Court’s decision, Minister Wimal Weerawansa said, “The Court of Appeal referring the PSC report to the Supreme Court for its determination based on a constitutional interpretation is like asking the robber’s mother about a robbery.” The statement is a reflection of Minister Weerawansa’s world view. We are almost certain that he would have said something to the contrary, if the decision was to be in favour of his opinion on the issue. Minister Weerawansa makes no reference to the content of the determination of the Supreme Court.
For the sake of democracy and the separation of power, Parliament has to remind itself of its role. Parliament is created for the enactment of laws. They are expected to legislate good laws for the greater common good of the people. They cannot wear the robes of judges which are vested with the Judiciary. History reminds us that we are not free of any tension among the Executive, Legislature and Judiciary. However, history also reads that eventually each party has respected each other’s role at the end.
Unfortunately, the conduct of many of our legislature is far removed from their predecessors. The hate speech and the abuse unleashed by many parliamentarians remind the voters that we have failed in our responsibilities in selecting our representatives for the Parliament. The worrying ambiguous stance of the UNP makes them no different to anything of the ruling coalition.
Ultimately, the whole issue is now melting down to a theory of hackneyed foreign conspiracy. It is a crystal clear indication that the government is running out of any other legitimate justification for the move. This sounds now more hypocritical with the finance secretary’s latest announcement that Sri Lanka will seek a new 1 billion loan from the International Monitory Fund (IMF), one of the so-called foreign elements that the government is speaking about.
For the sake of democracy of the country we all wait for a sensible statement from the Parliament on the 8th. If something sensible comes out of the statement that itself would prove that the legislature is still preserving its elements of dignity for the sake of the democracy of this country.
(The writer is the editor of the Ceylon Today, a daily based in Colombo, where this piece originally was appeared)
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Author: Sri Lanka Guardian

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