Peace for the World

Peace for the World
First democratic leader of Justice the Godfather of the Sri Lankan Tamil Struggle: Honourable Samuel James Veluppillai Chelvanayakam

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Sri Lanka 'on right track' to achieving sustainable democracy

After coming to power, Sri Lanka's President Sirisena took steps that observers believe are a major shift from the previous government's policies. But analyst Siegfried O. Wolf says Sirisena still has a lot more to do.
Presidential candidate Mithripala Sirisena waves at his supporters as he leaves after casting his vote for the presidential election in Polonnaruwa January 8, 2015
(Photo: REUTERS/Stringer)Civilians who have fled from Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) controlled areas arrive at an aid camp near Vavuniya, 224km north of Colombo, Sri Lanka, 20 January 2009
(Photo: EPA/STR +++(c) dpa - Report+++)
  • Author Interview: Shamil Shams-Date 30.01.2015
Sri Lanka's new leader Maithripala Sirisena, who defeated former president Mahinda Rajapksa in the January 8 poll, says he wants to reverse the "revenge politics" of the former regime as he recently reinstated the country's former chief justice Shirani Bandaranayake, who was impeached two years ago after she refused to support a law granting greater powers to Rajapaksa's brother.

Being A New Sri Lanka – Part 2

Colombo Telegraph
By Sanjayan Rajasingham -January 31, 2015
Sanjayan Rajasingham
Sanjayan Rajasingham
Stay aware
I’ve often heard the refrain “I’m not interested in politics”. If “politics” here means the latest political gossip – what X’s son did, who Y snubbed, etc – I’m not too interested either! However, if it means how our rulers use the power we have given them, we need to think again. Their power is public power, and they hold it for us. If we don’t keep an eye on them, they will probably abuse it.
Start small on this one. If you aren’t a newspaper person, read an article on the front page of a newspaper each day, or if that’s too much, one on the front page of a Sunday paper. Another option is to follow a certain column (though here you are at the mercy of what the columnist thinks is important). Either way, try and do one thing a week to keep in touch with what’s going on. Along with this, talk to others about what you read. Even if the papers are anathema to them, they will listen (at least briefly) because it’s coming from you.
There are several important things going on these days. Check out and see if promises are being kept. Find out about the budget, and ask if it’s just another election gimmick. Check out the reinstatement ofShirani Bandaranayake and ask if you think it was right. These are the “political” events that we need to know something about.
Riots May 1958 - A Tamil passenger was taken out of the vehicle and beaten up
Riots May 1958 – A Tamil passenger was taken out of the vehicle and beaten up
Go for public protests and rallies. This will require time, some inconvenience, and a willingness to accept a minimal level of risk. It is because of this that they are important. Quite apart from whether the protest succeeds or not, there is something about engaging in public protest, about publicly demanding change, that can be transformative. It builds confidence. It makes us more likely to resist when we are wronged. It deals a blow to the play-it-safe mentality which is lethal to a democratic ethos. In short, it builds civic character.Read More

Interim Budget: A Necessary Corrective to Rajapaksa-Economics


by Tisaranee Gunasekara
“Ultimately it is what happens in peoples lives that matters.”
Sri Lanka Human Development Report 2012 – UNDP
( January 31, 2015, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) November 2006: The Fourth Eelam War was raging. The regime exhorts the populace to make sacrifices – and awards the executive, the legislature and the judiciary massive salary hikes. The steepest increase goes to President Rajapaksa .

Border Aggression And Civilian Massacres; The Role Of The Mossad

Colombo Telegraph
By Rajan Hoole -January 31, 2015
Dr. Rajan Hoole
Dr. Rajan Hoole
Border Aggression and Civilian Massacres – Part 14
In the drive to establish paramilitary Sinhalese settlements in the North-East, the circumstances we have given leave little room to doubt that Israeli agencies were involved, although the basic idea was much older and moves were already afoot in July 1983. In establishing the Weli-Oya settlement, the strategy was originally not to drive away the Tamils in one go. For a few weeks there was methodical harassment by the convicts planted there. It then stopped, and soldiers approached Tamils in the area and talked to them pleasantly. Such sophistication was new to the Sri Lankan Army.
Ravi Jayewardene \ File photo
Ravi Jayewardene \ File photo
In stirring up troubles in the Eastern Province from April 1985, the role of the Mossad has been widely alleged. However, there are no obvious links on the surface, except again the sophistication involved in bringing different elements together the state media, Muslim ministers and Muslim thugs from Colombo and the Security Forces. There are also other considerations, which lead us to answer the question of Mossad involvement in the East in the affirmative. The involvement of the STF in the troubles is beyond doubt.
While the Special Task Force, the STF, was being formed, Ravi Jayewardene took along with him on his visit to Israel DIG Police, Mr. Shirly Wijesuriya. They visited the Mossad chief and the Mossad training field. One of the purposes as Ravi Jayewardene told the Mossad Commission was to “gather special techniques” for the STF. Selected personnel from the STF were sent to Israel for training. Ravi Jayewardene was intimately involved in the formation and the functioning of the STF. According to Herman Gunaratne, the men for the STF, their commander Zernie Wijesuriya and the ex- SAS mercenaries from KMS to train the STF were all hand picked by Ravi Jayewardene..Read More

Suddenly Rajapaksa Appointed HRC Wants Human Rights!

Sri Lanka Brief31/01/2015
Commissioner of the Human Rights Council of Sri Lanka (HRCSL), Dr Prathibha Mahanamahewam has now started to campaign for Human Rights in Sri Lanka. He was appointed by the former President Rajapaksa under the 18th amendment. Under Rajapaksa rule he was white washing all HR violations of the regime. He was aslo appointed as a director of the  Kothalawala Defence Academy, which was controlled by Gotabhaya Rajapaksa.
Speaking to Sunday Leader he has said that ‘even the previous government carried out thorough investigations into complaints they received related to human rights violations.’
Further  he ha s said that 100 day programme promises to introduce the Right to Information and Witness and Victim Protection Bills which is conducive toward improving human rights situation in Sri Lanka.
He goes further and crtitisie the 100 days programme not having a HR approch.!
He says that ‘the HRCSL right now is that the100 day programme does not include a provision to establish a system to protect and promote human rights. He added that even in certain other countries like the USA, New Zealand, there have been promises during elections to implement programmes similar to the 100 day programme – but for that purpose there need to be a proper system and the HRCSL will intervene to establish that system. He also pointed out there are certain things that are not included in the 100 day programme that are important in terms of human rights such as the national inquiry into violations of human rights.’
“Any government is obliged to protect citizens and rights of the people. The major issue is protecting human rights which need to be strengthened in our country,” he has said.
HRCSL which  never  said a word on the estrictions brought upon some NGO and civil society activities through the NGO Secretariat circular, now wants it to be withdrawn.   “Last week we had a meeting with civil society activists. Their first request was to look into this circular which is hampering their freedom of speech. We have given lot of consideration to that request and we expect to inquire the relevant parties and give our recommendations to withdraw the circular,” Mahanamahewa  has  added.
Futher more he wanted to change the  Prevention of Terrorism Act as well: “We have to make sure that international human rights and humanitarian laws are protected in the PTA. I think it is the time for us to see the amendments to PTA Act where there is a need to look into security laws to fall in line with the standards of the Intentional Covenant for Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).”
Mr. Mahanama even wanted to l put pressure on the new government to protect and promote human rights.
The question is why he was not so vocal under Rajapaksa regime?
Read the Sunday Leader article here

The Juridification of Peace and the Integrity of the Judiciary

by Ruwantissa Abeyratne
…For justice are the grand natural lawyers, and perfect judges -it is in their Souls;
It is well assorted – they have not studied for nothing- the great includes the less;
They rule on the highest grounds – they oversee all eras, states, and administrations.
The perfect judge fears nothing – he [she] could go front to front before God;
Before the perfect judge all shall stand back – life and death shall stand back – heaven and hell shall stand back. – Walt Whitman
( January 31, 2015, Montreal, Sri Lanka Guardian) On 15 November 2011 I published an article in this journal entitled The Juridification of War and Compensation of Victims.  My article was based on “Inter arma enim silent leges” –  a maxim attributed to Cicero, which translates as “in times of war, the laws are silent”. In the 21st century, this maxim, which was purported to address the growing mob violence and thuggery of Cicero’s time, has taken on a different and a more complex dimension, extending from the idealistic synergy between the executive and the judiciary in instances of civil strife, to the overall power, called “prerogative” or “discretion” of the sovereign, to act for the public good and the role of the judiciary as the guardian of the rule of law.
Today, my question is “Inter Pace Silent Leges” – are the laws silent in  times of peace?  This  would all depend on the independence and integrity of the judiciary.
“Peace” referred to hear is not just the absence of war.  It is  freedom from disturbance;  a state of quiet and tranquility.  There could not be lasting peace without justice.
In February 2014 the United Nations released a press statement stating that  Secretary General Ban Ki -moon had announced: “the rule of law was at the heart of the work of the United Nations”, adding that when public institutions failed to deliver justice or protect rights, conflict prevailed.  “People must be able to trust that their institutions can resolve disputes promptly and fairly,” he emphasized.  At the international level, adherence to the rule of law was critical for preventing conflict and resolving disputes peacefully.  The United Nations provided wide-ranging rule-of-law support to Governments, he said, explaining that the Department of Peacekeeping Operations and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) had been designated the global focal point for police, justice and corrections.  That arrangement had already helped efforts in Mali, Democratic Republic of the Congo and Haiti.
 On 23 August 2004, the then Secretary General of the United Nations released a report entitled  The rule of law and transitional justice in conflict and post-conflict societies  where he said“Justice, peace and democracy are not mutually exclusive objectives, but rather mutually reinforcing imperatives. Advancing all three in fragile post-conflict settings requires strategic planning, careful integration and sensible sequencing of activities. Approaches focusing only on one or another institution, or ignoring civil society or victims, will not be effective…”
The bedrock of these three elements – justice; peace; and democracy is the integrity of the judiciary.  In 2001 the United Nations Office of Drug Control and Crime  Prevention issued a report which said that judicial corruption was a development issue: ” Judicial corruption appears to be a global problem. It is not restricted to a specific country or region. Yet manifestations of corruption seem to be at their worst in developing countries and countries in transition. According to the Geneva-based Centre for the Independence of Judges and Lawyers, of the 48 countries covered in its annual report for 1999, judicial corruption waspervasive in 30 countries”.
There are countries that have issued advisory guidelines on proper judicial conduct.  For example Jamaica, in its principles of judicial conduct (particularly applicable to the appeal courts and Supreme Court) states: “An independent judiciary is indispensable to impartial justice under law. Judges should therefore strive to uphold and exemplify judicial independence in both its individual and institutional aspects”.  The Canadian Judicial Council, in its exhaustive document “Ethical Principles for Judges”  provides that judges should devote their professional activity to judicial duties broadly defined, which include not only presiding in court and making decisions, but other judicial tasks essential to the court’s operation: “Judges should not engage in conduct incompatible with the diligent discharge of judicial duties or condone such conduct in colleagues”.
Jeffrey M. Shaman, Director of the Center for Judicial Conduct of Canada , in his article “Judicial Ethics” indicates the power of judges in society: “Judges are important public officials whose authority reaches every corner of society. Judges resolve disputes between people, and interpret and apply the law by which we live. Through that process, they define our rights and responsibilities, determine the distribution of vast amounts of public and private resources, and direct the actions of officials in other branches of government”.
Independence and objectivity are the hallmark of an honourable judge.  Judge Learned Hand eloquently identified the centrality of judges to the administration of justice in his decision in Brown v. Walter: : “Justice does not depend upon legal dialectics so much as upon the atmosphere of the courtroom, and that in the end depends primarily upon the judge”.   The future of individuals and society as well as the life of persons are within the power of a judge. Such a power brings to bear the need for  ethical standards of conduct that the ordinary citizen is not required to meet.
The Judicial Code of Kenya prescribes numerous penal sanctions for unethical judicial behaviour.  Starting from the most severe of punishment the order is: dismissal; reduction in rank or seniority(demotion); stoppage of increment in rank; withholding of increment; deferment of increment; reprimand (including severe reprimand) ; no recovery of the cost of any or part of the cost of any loss or damage caused by default or negligence.
Integrity of the judiciary hinges upon probity, fairness, honesty, uprightness, and soundness of character.  Joseph Addison said: ” The best law in our days is that which continues our judges during their good behaviour without leaving them to the mercy of such who might by an undue influence trouble and pervert the course of justice. William Rufus said “whosoever spares perjured men, robbers, plunderers, and traitors, deprives all good men of their peace and quietness”.   Francis Bacon went along similar lines: ” A king that setteth to sale seats of justice oppresseth the people; for he teacheth his judges to sell justice; and “pretio parata pretio venditur justitia” (the sale price of the bribes is justice).  Judges ought to remember that their office is “jus dicere,” and not “jus dare”; to interpret law, and not to make law, or give law.
 The author is  former senior counsel and Chairman, Joint Appeals Board at the International Civil Aviation Organization.

The Indian, US Main Course, With A Side Order Of Sri Lanka

Colombo Telegraph
By Mano Ratwatte -January 31, 2015 
Mano Ratwatte
Mano Ratwatte
I am not an expert nor professionally trained to a foreign policy analyst. What I love to do is follow international affairs. I started to do this as a child growing up in Sri Lanka where we had access to printed media from all corners of the world. There was no TV back then. Hence what I share here are not views of a self proclaimed expert of any sort, but my interpretations of what I have seen and also experienced. Because of the long winded nature of this opinion column I would split it into two parts.
Part I
US – India
Everyone is talking about the hug Obama gave Modi. Body language is important in global relations. Remember how Angela Merkel cringed in disgust when George W Bush gave her a shoulder rub at the G8? International political watchers give a lot of credence (more than to Astrology) to body language when powerful leaders meet. It is an open secret that the Obama regime and Netanyahu’s rightwing Israeli regime do not have any body language and warmth when they meet. Theirs is one of irritability and “we are saddled with each other”. Modi’s hug was followed shortly with a joint communiqué on a “strategic vision for the Asia-Pacific and Indian Ocean region”.
This importance was symbolized when for the first time in modern Indian history, a US President attended their Republic day parade where India (ironically there are 600 million people without toilet facilities, a massively sub-literate, caste ridden unemancipated population and abysmal poverty in this nation with nuclear weapons) displayed its first-world military prowess even prompting a silly “thumbs up” by President Obama.

This is a humble appeal I am making to your Excellency the President Maithripala Sirisena, and The Hon. Prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe of the republic of Sri Lanka

LEN logo(Lanka-e-News -30.Jan.2015, 11.55PM) 
This is a humble appeal I am making to your Excellency the President Maithripala Sirisena, and The Hon. Prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe of the republic of Sri Lanka
Dear Sir,
It is four years ago today ( 2011-01-30) ,the Lanka e news website portal and its most precious library were set on fire thus reducing the entire building and all that were in it to ashes. It is four long years since the website portal was totally destroyed . We therefore urge your esteemed selves to arrange for a proper investigation into this crime , nab the true culprits , and grant us an adequate compensation.
Four years ago today , on January 30 th , early morning , our news website office situated at Daham mawatha , Malabe , Colombo district where we carried on our news website was set on fire , and razed to the ground.
During the era when there weren’t exact Sinhala letters pertaining to the internet it was we who produced them and distributed free to the people while launching the first on line news website , ‘Lanka e news’ on 4 th February 2005, the day Sri Lanka received its independence ; and by the time it was destroyed completely on 30 th January 2011 , it had flourished so much so that it was posting news in all three languages , Sinhala, Tamil and English. During that time the number of permanent employees was 12, while there were three employees on contractual basis.
It is a well and widely known fact that our news website office fell victim to this disaster because , we always followed a steadfast fearless and forthright policy ,frankly exposing the truths against the obnoxious reign of Mahinda Rajapakse. Our website also openly supported common opposition Presidential candidate Sarath Fonseka in his campaign during the Presidential election 2010.
Following the Presidential elections on 26 th January 2010, due to the unrelenting threats and intimidations we had to face , the founder and owner of the website and Editor , that is myself had to flee the country out of fear for my life. A free lance journalist of Lanka e news , Prageeth Ekneliyagoda was abducted and went missing.
At the time the office was burnt down , there were over 3000 valuable books , in the library. It was a most valuable library comprising books which were gathered from editors who are now long dead. It also contained invaluable books , magazines, DVD cinema and music CDs , stored computer data and equipments, very expensive cameras, recording equipments, digital video editing equipments , Photocopy , Fax machines and office equipments . Every one of these items was reduced to ashes.
The building including the roof were fully damaged. At the time this tragedy struck , our monthly earning from the website was Rs. 500,000.00. We were deprived of all this , when on top of this devastation , a ban was officially imposed on our website.
It is without any trace of doubt I say , it was the Mahinda Rajapakse government that was fully responsible and accountable for it. The police instead of apprehending the culprits , it arrested two members of the flotsam and jetsam of society , and claimed they were the culprits. Ultimately they were released.
Even though four years have elapsed , no case had been filed regarding this well planned arson that was committed .
In the circumstances , we appeal to your good selves to kindly look into our woes and dire plight which is the direct result of the ruthless diabolic arson committed on the Lanka e news website when it was being run duly and legally in this country, with a view to granting us adequate compensation after computing the losses due to the damage caused ,including the income we were deprived of during the period the ban on the website was in force. We also hope under the salutary good governance policy of your government , the true culprits too will be apprehended and duly punished.

Yours truly ,
Sandaruwan Senadheera
Editor and owner of Lanka e News
From London

How Rajapaksas misused super luxury CHOGM buses

la 1Misuse of luxury buses by the Rajapaksa administration during the Commonwealth Heads of State meeting in Colombo in November 2013 has come under investigation by the Foreign Affairs Ministry.
The luxury buses had been acquired by MP Namal Rajapaksa, for Minister Sajin Vaas Gunawardena and the former Chief Minister of the Uva Province Sachinda Rajapaksa and given on lease by the Lanka Ashok Leyland Company.
As much as Rs.900,000 a month was paid for the buses and the Foreign Affairs Ministry had paid a whopping Rs.25 million and it is not known for what purpose the two buses were used.
Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera ordered the investigation after the two buses were brought and parked at the Ministry premises without anyone's knowledge.
Further inquiries will be conducted by the Criminal Investigations Department in consultation with the secretary of the Foreign Affairs Ministry, a spokesman said.
A special feature of these two luxury buses is that they are highly advanced in transport and passenger comfort which other luxury buses don't have.
Below are pictures of former Uva Chief Minister Shashinda Rajapaksa travelling in one of the luxury buses.
la 2
- SLM -

Finding Lasantha’s Killers: ‘Question Mahinda Rajapaksa First’ Says Lasantha’s Brother Lal

Colombo Telegraph
January 31, 2015
Casting doubts on the government’s pledge of delivering justice to the unresolved murders of several journalists, a fresh investigation into the assassination of Sunday Leader Founder/Editor-in-Chief Lasantha Wickramatunge has not yet begun despite a clear pointer being available on where to begin the probe.
Mahinda Wijedasa and LasanthaAs Colombo Telegeraph reported in 2013, former President Mahinda Rajapaksa had on three occassions divulged the involvement of former Army Commander General Sarath Fonseka in the killing to Lasantha’s brother- Lal Wickrematunge – a fact which was also conveyed to former Human Rights Chief Navi Pillay by the Colombo Telegraph Editor in London.
When Colombo Telegraph inquired, Lal said the first time Mahinda Rajapaksa referred to Fonseka’s hand in Lasantha’s killing was over the phone, after he had attended a felicitation at the Galadari Hotel upon declaring Fonseka’s intention to contest at the Presidential elections.
“This felicitation also honoured three lawyers who died during that time and the three pictures were on the podium. Gen. Fonseka garlanded Lasantha’s picture and bent down and clasped his hands together in reverence and this picture was carried in the print media. President Rajapaksa called me in office and said ‘Eya danagahala wendala paw samawa gaththa eka hondai’ ( its good that he got down on his knees and asked for forgiveness),” Lal said adding that the other two times this fact was stated was when he mentioned it to him personally.
Lal says its mysterious as to why President Rajapaksa who was also the Defence Minister during his tenure, did not take measures to enforce the law with regard to the information he claimed to have possessed.
“I mentioned this during the vigil held to mark Lasantha’s fifth death anniversary and it was covered by the BBC Sinhala. They had questioned Gen Fonseka on it but he had denied it, claiming it was the former President Rajapaksa who was responsible for Lasantha’s death,” Lal said.
But prior to this statement, when Lal questioned Gen.Fonseka on who he believes killed Lasantha, he had said that it was drug dealers who were masquerading as politicians.
“I am unable to speak on the truth and wherefores of this but since a fresh investigation has been promised by this government, these facts maybe a place to start,” Lal says.
“The obvious thing to get to the bottom of this investigation is to start by questioning and recording former President Mahinda Rajapaksas’s statement. And if the investigators summoned me, I’m prepared to place further information which would be of use to them.” Lal further said.

Sripavan takes office

Justice K. Sripavan took oaths as the 44th Chief Justice of Sri Lanka before President Maithripala Sirisena at the Presidential Secretariat yesterday -
By Dharisha Bastians-January 31, 2015

  • Following judicial ‘reset’, country’s most senior judge entrusted to lead Supreme Court
  • President’s Office calls Sripavan 44th Chief Justice of Sri Lanka
  • Controversial Mohan Pieris’ tenure erased from judicial history
Kanagasabapathy Sripavan, the country’s most senior Judge was sworn in as the 44th legitimate Chief Justice of the Republic yesterday, marking the end of a two year drama in the Supreme Court.
Justice Sripavan, 62, took oaths before President Maithripala Sirisena last evening, the Presidential Media Unit said. Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and Justice Minister Wijedasa Rajapakse were present at the swearing in at President’s House yesterday. Justice Sripavan’s family members were also present during the small oath-taking ceremony.
Justice Sripavan had been appointed “44th Chief Justice of Sri Lanka,” the Presidential Media Unit said.
The recognition of Justice Sripavan as Chief Justice No. 44, following Chief Justice Bandaranayake who was No. 43, the Government appeared to have erased the memory of controversially appointed Chief Justice Mohan Pieris from the annals of Sri Lankan judicial history.
Chief Justice Sripavan administered the oath of office to President Sirisena on 9 January at Independence Square, after his campaign overlooked Chief Justice Mohan Pieris to preside over the important swearing in ceremony.
The new appointment comes two days after President Sirisena pressed reset on a two year impeachment saga, dramatically reinstating Chief Justice Shirani Bandaranayake to office on Wednesday (29) based on a procedural point of the law pertaining to her sacking in 2013.
President Sirisena revoked Mohan Pieris’ appointment to the office on the basis that Bandaranayake’s removal was unlawful, and there had been no vacancy created for the position. Bandaranayake was also sent a letter, requesting her to resume duties at the Supreme Court.
After serving 24 hours back at the helm of the Supreme Court, Bandaranayake (58) retired from office on Thursday, with eight years left to serve.
The new Chief Justice entered the Bar in 1976 and joined the Attorney General’s Department in 1978. A student of Jaffna Hindu College, Justice Sripavan was appointed Deputy Solicitor General in 1996. After a 24 year career in the law, he was appointed as a judge of the Court of Appeal. Justice Sripavan became the President of the Court of Appeal in 2007 and ascended the bench of the Supreme Court in 2008. In 2013, Justice Sripavan was sworn in as Acting Chief Justice for a brief period.
Chief Justice Sripavan becomes the third ethnic Tamil to ascend the office, following Suppiah Sharvanandan (1984-1988) and Herbert Thambaiah (1991) both of whom also hailed from the Northern Province.
Pix by Sudath Silva

Judges of Supreme Court and Court of Appeal Take their Oath before the President

Former Court of Appeal Judge Anil Gooneratne was appointed as a judge of the Supreme Court yesterday and was sworn in by President Maithripala Sirisena.
Justice Gooneratne served on the Court of Appeal bench that quashed the findings of the Parliamentary Select Committee inquiry against Chief Justice Shirani Bandaranayake in 2013. The ruling angered the former ruling administration which deprived Justice Gooneratne of a promotion to the Supreme Court.
High Court Judge Lakshman Tikiri Bandara Dehideniya was appointed as a judge of the Court of Appeal, filling the vacancy created.

Finance Minister Ravi K’s Money Laundering Case Postponed

Colombo Telegraph
January 30, 2015 
The Colombo High Court yesterday postponed the case against Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake who has been charged with allegedly facilitating money laundering, for March 4.

The case as postponed by High Court Judge Devika de Livera Tennakoon when Defence Counsel Reinzie Arsekualaratne informed the judge that Minister Karunanayake was unable to be present before the Courts yesterday as he was due to present the 2015 interim budget before the parliament.
Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake
Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake
As there was no objection from the prosecution, the case was postponed to March 4.
The Attorney General indicted Nexia Corporation, Linton Sirisoma and Karunanayake for allegedly facilitating money laundering in violation of Central bank regulations and the Exchange Control Act by depositing Rs. 390 million in a Standard Chartered bank account, which had been later used to purchase shares of the Union Bank. The transfer had been made by Sri Lankan American billionaire and hedge fund dealer Raj Rajarathnam.
During the hearings it was alleged that Karunanayake was directly involved in the fraud and that he intervened to collect the funds once the money was deposited in Sri Lanka.
“Exchange Control is the function of the Central Bank. The Central Bank is governed by the Monetary Board. The Secretary/Finance (Treasury) is a member of the Monetary Board. The Minister of Finance is the Boss of the Secretary/Finance. How nice to have a person charged with Exchange Control crimes as Finance Minister” a good governance activist told Colombo Telegraph.
Responding to the question above a retired secretary to the finance ministry said; “The Exchange Control offence as far as I am aware from a reading of the newspapers is a technical offence, namely the failure to inform the Exchange Controller of an inward remittance of foreign exchange. Actually Exchange control is generally reserved for outward payments and not for inward remittances since the rationale for Exchange Control is to control outward payments which can worsen the balance of payments. After the Money Laundering Act was passed the rationale for reporting of inward remittances above the threshold fixed by the Controller is to control money laundering and terrorist financing. So if the case falls under one of these two there would be a serious situation even if the case is pending and not proved. But if the case is merely for the failure to report to the Controller I think it is a technical offence.”
“The remittance came through the banking system and all such remittances are reported by the banks to the Central Bank in any case. While a departmental inquiry under the Exchange Control Act may have been necessary I am not sure whether it warranted a criminal case to be instituted. Of course I don’t know all the facts and would not want to comment since the matter is sub judice.”
“The late N.U Jayawardene would lament that the biggest mistake he made in his public office was to pass the Exchange Control Act. Exchange Control was introduced by the British colonial ruler to prevent enemy forces undermining Sterling since the British Government was no in a position to convert the pound sterling during the war and even for several years afterwards. There was the Sterling Assets Agreements with the colonies.
“With the end of the war the Defence Regulations lapsed and with it Exchange Control. There was no rationale for retaining Exchange Control as the county did not face any balance of payments problems then. NUJ lamented because he reproduced the Exchange Control Defence Regulations which included inward as well as outward remittances. The new Minister should review this outdated law and amend it suitably if he wants to attract foreign investment to the country. Of course being heavily indebted to foreign bankers and to China the country now needs all inward remittances to be able to repay the foreign debt as it falls due.” he further said.


by Rajan Philips-

"We cannot rewrite history, but we can right history," said Justice John C. Hayes III last week in a South Carolina Court in the US, while retroactively vacating the guilty verdicts against nine African Americans for sitting at an all-white lunch counter in a popular restaurant in Rock Hill, South Carolina, on January 31, 1961. They were 18-year-old high school students then and went to jail, refusing bail, and inspiring other Civil Rights activists of that era. Now in their seventies they had to wait for 54 years to have history righted. By that standard, the righting of judicial history in Sri Lanka took just two years to be accomplished. Even two months ago, no one could have imagined such a swift reversal of the vulgar and highhanded impeachment of Chief Justice Shirani Bandaranayake in January 2013. What took place on Wednesday and Thursday was a necessary course correction, which necessarily took an unusual detour.

Mohan Pieris, the hitherto ‘de facto’ Chief Justice, was sent home packing on the technicality that he had been appointed to a non-vacant position by virtue of the procedural flaw in the then government’s impeachment resolution. In other words, the Rajapaksa government had not technically impeached the Chief Justice, even though it crowed it did so disregarding procedural objections, and bullied Dr. Bandaranayake to vacate her office and her official residence. Quite properly, the ‘de jure’ Chief Justice returned to the Supreme Court just for one day and retired, enabling the government to appoint Justice K. Sripavan as the new Chief Justice. History has been righted. The proposed constitutional changes should make sure that the judiciary is never again monkeyed with by the Head of State and/or Head of Government, as it has been since 1978.

The High Noon drama could have been avoided if Mohan Pieris had gracefully walked away from a position that he had disgracefully come to occupy. Pieris should have vacated his position just as the Governor of the Central Bank and the Secretaries to the Ministries of Defence and Finance vacated theirs after the January 8 election. He should have known that the reinstatement of Shirani Bandaranayake was an undertaking in the opposition manifesto (Paragraph #94) at the election, and he dug his hole deeper by attending a controversial meeting at Temple Trees with the outgoing president in the wee hours of January 9 morning, while vote counting was still going on. What additional signal did he need after the mighty national snub of not being called upon to deliver the oath of office to the newly elected President? He had the gall to ask for a diplomatic posting, but got clever by half and did not take it when he was offered one. In the end, he had no place left to go except his private home.

He is the master of his own misfortune, but as a Catholic he should know there is still life after trespasses both in this world and the next. He could use the upcoming Lent Season for a religious retreat, sing ‘God of Mercy and Compassion’ in atonement, rediscover his moral moorings in the Bible, and start bandying the message of his reformation to others as Felix Dias did after 1977.

That said, the government could have managed the inevitable surgery at the apex of the judiciary with some solemnity and earnestness through timely statements in parliament. The back and forth in the media between Pieris and government ministers was not an edifying instance of good governance. Parliament and not media scrums should be the first and the main forum for messaging. The general media can and will broadcast what transpires in parliament, but there is no point in persisting with the parody of cabinet briefings bypassing parliament that became a feature during the Old Regime. Nor is it necessary for cabinet ministers to offer broadsides on matters way outside their portfolios. They should be disciplined to mind and speak to their portfolios and files only.

Unlike the High Noon at Hultsdorp, the Central Bank came in for a quiet reallocation from the responsibilities of the Finance Minister to those of the Prime Minister, by way of a gazette notification. This is a significant departure from normal practice which should have warranted a statement by the Prime Minister in parliament. Not surprisingly, no one in parliament raised any concern about this. The matter has received some publicity thanks to Dr. WA Wijeywardena, a former Central Bank Deputy Governor, writing about it in one of his weekly articles. While calling the move "legally and operationally unworkable", Dr. Wijewardena, to my mind, is being charitable in also arguing that the new move could be "a step toward the bank’s independence." He does not give much credence to the litigation involving the new Finance Minister and the Central Bank’s implication in it, as being a plausible reason for listing the Central Bank under the Prime Minister instead of the Finance Minister. But no one knows the government’s real reason for this departure from normal practice, and the Prime Minister and the government have not helped the cause of good governance by doing things opaquely by gazette notification without a transparent explanation in parliament.

It was apparent during the election campaign that the topic of good governance was not just a Colombo fad, but one that resonated well in the villages and outstations. When people outside Colombo began using expressions like yahapalanaya, they were not parroting in the vernacular what the Colombo elites are accused of picking up from UN texts and Wikipedia accounts about good governance, but were giving verbal expression to their experience of bad governance under the Old Regime. The people do not know the text book attributes of good governance but they sure know what they want from a new government after experiencing under the Old Regime everything they do not want to see in any government. Needless to say, most of what the Old Regime did was in contravention of the norms of good governance, and while exposing the misdoings of the Old Regime the new administration must also demonstrate how it is doing things differently. At Hultsdorp, the government did what it had to do. In regard to the Central Bank, the government owes an explanation to parliament and through it to the people.