Justice Minister terrorised
Posted on August 18th, 2017

Editorial Courtesy The Island

The UNP and the SLFP dislodged the Rajapaksa government, promising to usher in good governance or yahapalanaya. Atop that, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said a UNP-led government would adopt the Licchavi method, which was in vogue during the Buddha’s time, to solve problems—assembling peacefully, deliberating peacefully and dispersing peacefully. But, the suppression of dissent has become the order of the day. The recent stormy session of the UNP’s Working Committee (WC) is a case in point.

Minister of Justice and Buddha Sasana Dr. Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe ran the gauntlet at Sirikotha on Thursday. The UNP WC members and parliamentarians, all out for his blood, tore into him like a pack wolves. He has incurred the wrath of the UNP heavyweights by criticising the Hambantota Port deal and refusing to act in contravention of the legal procedures to expedite judicial investigations into allegations against the members of the former government. He was shouted down, abused and frightened into submission. Are they demanding kangaroo courts?

The leaders of the previous government must be probed. There are very serious allegations against them as well as their kith and kin. After all, that is one of the main election pledges of the present government. The corrupt members of the Rajapaksa government currently in the yahapalana Cabinet must also be probed and hauled up before courts for the theft of public funds and various other rackets. But, show trials must not be conducted to distract public attention from the damning evidence emerging before the bond probe commission against the UNP big guns and their cronies. It is said that justice delayed is justice denied. Similarly, justice hurried is justice buried. Is the government planning to give justice a grand burial?

Above all, the UNP must put its own house in order before accusing others of corruption and abuse of power. It may be recalled that Sirikotha had been reduced to penury before the change of government in 2015. It had been left with no funds even to pay its utility bills, but about six months after the regime change it was in a position to outspend the UPFA at the last parliamentary polls! Will the UNP declare its campaign expenditure and explain how it raised such a colossal amount of funds within so short a period of time? The same goes for the SLFP, whose war chest was overflowing with funds under SLFP-led governments. Undeclared funds and political leaders’ dependence on moneybags, some of whom are involved in shady businesses, have made the two main parities stink to high heaven like the garbage mountains at Karadiyana and Meethotamulla.

Is it that the UNP’s decision-making body considers a discordant note struck by Minister Rajapakshe, who makes no bones about his opposition to the Hambantota Port deal a far worse offence than the bond scams which have damaged the UNP’s image irreparably? Ironically, the UNPers who are defending the port deal and baying for Wijeyadasa’s blood are the very ones who hysterically let out howls of protest against the Chinese-funded Port City project while they were in the Opposition and vowed to scrap it first thing after forming a government. Today, China has been allowed to reclaim more land from the sea to build the Port City and given an inland port for a song! Their hypocrisy reminds us of the pithy local saying ‘a kabaragoya (water monitor) becomes a thalagoya (land monitor) when one feels like eating it’.

Intriguingly, Minister Wijayadasa did not argue before the Sirikotha kangaroo court on Thursday that in opposing the Hambantota port deal he had acted in keeping with the popular mandate the UNP obtained in 2015 to stop national assets being handed over to the Chinese. He should also have maintained that he could not abuse his position to rush the state prosecutor at the behest of some ministers because he was adhering to the principle of good governance which the present government had received a mandate to usher in.

How can anyone hope for justice and fair play in a country where the Justice Minister himself is denied justice and harassed for expressing dissent and refusing to manipulate the judicial process for political expediency? The yahapalana leaders who believe they can pull the wool over the eyes of the people and win elections with the help of a string of show trials against their opponents while defending the crooks within their ranks are living in cloud cuckoo land.

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