Politics of the High Posts Committee of Parliament
Posted on February 15th, 2020

by C.A.Chandraprema Courtesy The Island

February 15, 2020, 7:17 pm

article_image

Though Parliament comes in for public scrutiny on a regular basis, it is seldom that the work of the various Committees of Parliament receives any kind of public attention, with the sole exception of the Committee on Public Enterprises (COPE) which does make waves from time to time.  One Parliamentary Committee that is almost never spoken of outside Parliament is the High Posts Committee which vets nominees for high positions in the government service. I wish to bring to the attention of the public, a serious conflict of interest issue in relation to the High Posts Committee of Parliament which will have a direct impact on the national interests of Sri Lanka.

 Last Thursday the Secretary to the Committee on High Posts sent me a letter enclosing representations made to the Committee on High Posts against my nomination as the Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka to United Nations in Geneva, and asking for my responses to the allegations made.

The so called ‘representations’ that had been made to the High Posts Committee were actually printouts of a scurrilous article that appeared on the JDSLanka website on the 3rd February and a media release by the so called International Truth and Justice Project (ITJP) headed by Yasmin Sooka. The latter included a ‘dossier’ on me and that too had been included as a part of the representations made against me.

 This was sent to me in an envelope marked ‘Confidential’ and inside the outer envelope was another envelope to which was attached the covering letter, and the so called representations made against me were in the second envelope. The administrative staff of the High Posts Committee need not have bothered to take all those precautions. On the 7th February, an article appeared in the JDSLanka website under the title ‘Police mislead parliament to whitewash criminal record of Geneva envoy’, where they had reproduced a confidential police report on me sent to the High Posts Committee. It’s only too plain that there is a direct link from the High Posts Committee of Parliament to overseas websites and groups working against Sri Lanka’s national interest. So we might as well discuss everything in public.

TNA to vet nominated SL envoy to Geneva!

 The JDSLanka article of 7th February mentioned above stated that “The (High Posts) committee chaired by opposition lawmaker MA Sumanthiran is due to meet on 7 February.” What this means is that if I had been able to get my documentation across to the High Posts Committee on time, Tamil National Alliance Parliamentarian M.A.Sumanthiran would have been presiding over the committee when I presented myself for an interview! There seems little doubt that the JDSLanka website is better connected to the High Posts Committee than I am, and when they say that Sumanthiran was not only to sit on the High Posts Committee on the 7th February but to actually preside over it, I have reason to believe what they say. There is a direct conflict of interest involved if M.A.Sumanthiran or indeed any member of the Tamil National Alliance sits on the High Posts Committee to interview the nominee for the position of Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka to United Nations in Geneva.

 The TNA wants UNHRC Resolution 30/1 implemented in full. Just last Friday, the headline story in The Island stated that the Tamil National Alliance had urged the visiting European Union delegation to bring pressure on the present SL government to fully implement Resolution 30/1. If an MP belonging to an organization that was canvassing international support to force the government of Sri Lanka to fully implement UNHRC Resolution 30/1 was to sit on, or preside over the High Posts Committee when it meets to interview the nominee for the position of Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka to United Nations in Geneva, does that not constitute a conflict of interest?

 Furthermore, the scurrilous JDSLanka-ITJP articles against me were reproduced on the Vikalpa website which is operated by the Centre for Policy Alternatives, an NGO with which TNA Parliamentarain M.A.Sumanthiran is closely associated. (See following link: https://www.vikalpa.org/?p=36787) The outstanding issues in Geneva revolve around UNHRC Resolution 30/1 which seeks to take punitive action against the Sri Lankan armed forces for having won the war, and the September 2015 Report of the OHCHR Investigation on Sri Lanka and its precursor, the 2011 Report of the UN Secretary General’s Panel of Experts which accuse the Sri Lankan armed forces of having committed human rights violations.

 The Tamil National Alliance which sits and according to JDSLanka even presides over the High Posts Committee, is on the other side of the divide and has a vested interest in ensuring that a person who can represent the government of Sri Lanka effectively does not get to Geneva. The TNA is routinely described by the international media as ‘proxies of the LTTE’ as the following examples show.

=     The Hindustan Times 6 November 2006 – an article titled “Pro-LTTE Tamil Party seeks Indian aid.” states that the Tamil National Alliance supports the LTTE.

=     The Economist 13 august 2009 – an article titled “Voting in the empty Tiger’s lair” states that the Tamil National Alliance used to be a proxy for the LTTE and took their orders from Velupillai Prabhakaran.

=     The Colombo Telegraph: 4 September 2018 – an article by Kumarathasan Rasingam titled ‘Tamil National Alliance – a sinking ship’ states that the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) was formed with the blessings of  LTTE leader Prabhakaran in 2002.

While the international media thus speaks of the direct link between the LTTE and the Tamil National Alliance, the LTTE for its part is portrayed as follows:

=        The Economic Times 12 January 2008 – an article titled “LTTE deadlier than al Quaeda: FBI” observes that the FBI had ranked the LTTE ahead of Al Quaeda and Hamas and as the deadliest terrorist organization in the entire world.

=        FBI Website 1 October 2008 – in a post titled “Taming the Tamil Tigers” asserts that the Tamil Tigers are among the most dangerous and deadly extremists in the world.

Thus if according to the JDSLanka website the person who had presided over the High Posts Committee on February 7th to vet Sri Lanka’s nominee to be the Permanent Representative to the UN in Geneva was M.A.Sumanthiran, a politician who belongs to the TNA which according to the news reports quoted above is widely considered to be a proxy of the world’s most ruthless and blood-thirstiest terrorist organization, would that not have been a travesty of propriety? It need hardly be stressed that anybody even remotely connected to the LTTE and its offshoots will have a vested interest in seeing to it that a person who can look after Sri Lanka’s national interest within the UN Human Rights Council is not sent to Geneva.

 Members of the TNA and especially individuals like M.A.Sumanthiran are connected to the NGO network that has been working against Sri Lanka both locally and in Geneva. This includes JDSLanka and ITJP which have been jointly canvassing against my appointment. I have written the most exhaustive account not just of the war, but of the entire conflict from the time it began in the 1950s till it ended in May 2009.

From that point onwards, The Island has comprehensively covered the international campaign launched against Sri Lanka. From the time the UN Secretary-General appointed a Panel of Experts to advise him on the issue of accountability with regard to allegations pertaining to the final stages of the conflict in Sri Lanka in June 2010, I have written extensively about the processes in the UN in relation to Sri Lanka.

 It’s well known that The Island exclusively made public the contents of the 2011 Report of the UN Secretary General’s Panel of Experts.  I have written extensively on the Resolutions that were passed against Sri Lanka in the UN Human Rights Council in 2012, 2013 and 2014. I have also written in extensive detail on the provisions of the controversial Resolution 30/1 and its extensions 34/1 and 40/1 which the previous government co-sponsored in 2015, 2017 and 2019. I have analysed the September 2015 Report of the OHCHR Investigation on Sri Lanka on which Resolution 30/1 was based.

 I have also analysed the implications of the local laws that the previous government introduced in fulfillment of the provisions of Resolution 30/1 such as the Office of Missing Persons Act, The International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance Act and the Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters Act. In 2015, The Island exclusively made public the legal opinions and reports that six of the world’s foremost experts in the law of armed conflict, Sir Geoffrey Nice QC, Desmond de Silva QC, Rodney Dixon QC, Professor David M. Crane, Prof. Michael Newton and Maj. Gen. John Holmes had provided to the government of Sri Lanka. Apart from all this, I also happen to be a journalist who has analysed in minute detail the TNA influenced draft constitution which was presented to Parliament by the Prime Minister Ranil Wickremasinghe in January 2019.  

For all these reasons and more, Parliamentarian M.A.Sumanthiran and the TNA in general because of their politics, would have cause to be displeased at the fact that I have been nominated to represent Sri Lanka in Geneva. As such there is a serious conflict of interest issue if M.A.Sumanthiran or any member of the TNA even sits on the High Posts Committee when I as the nominee for the position of Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka to United Nations in Geneva turn up to be interviewed. Yasmin Sooka and the anti-Sri Lanka activists in JDSLanka will make accusations against me at that end and M.A.Sumanthiran et al. will examine those accusations at this end! How is the High Posts Committee of Parliament supposed to look after Sri Lanka’s national interest in such circumstances?  

Conflict of interest

 Section 7(f) of the draft Code of Conduct for Members of the Sri Lankan Parliament states that “Members shall declare any private interest or conflict of interest if any, relating to their public duties and take necessary steps to resolve any conflict  arising thereby in a way that the public interest is protected.” Has M.A.Sumanthiran declared as he should, that there will be a conflict of interest if he presides or even sits on the High Posts Committee when it interviews the nominee for the position of Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka to United Nations in Geneva? Obviously not. Even though Sri Lanka still does not have a proper code of conduct for MPs, that does not mean that they have a licence to do just as they please.

 In this context, I wish to draw attention to a 2008 report to the Lok Sabha of the Indian Parliament titled “Various facets of misconduct and basic attributes of standards of conduct/behavior expected of Members” where conflict of interest has been defined as “a situation in which a member has knowledge of his private pecuniary or non-pecuniary interest that is sufficient to influence the exercise of his public duties and responsibilities; or a situation in which a reasonably well informed person can have a reasonable apprehension that such a conflict of interest exists.” If any member of the Tamil National Alliance presides over or even sits on the High Posts Committee when the nominee for the position of Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka to United Nations in Geneva turns up to be interviewed, will not any ‘reasonably well informed person’ have a reasonable apprehension that a conflict of interest exists?

 The Lok Sabha report quoted above observes that the vote of a member can be challenged on the ground of personal, pecuniary or direct interest and can even be disallowed by the Speaker if, in his opinion, it has been validly challenged. Objections can also be taken to the inclusion of a member in a Parliamentary Committee on the ground that the member has a personal, pecuniary or direct interest of such an intimate character that it may with prejudice affect the consideration of any matters to be considered by the Committee. If the Speaker holds that the member in question has a personal, pecuniary or direct interest in the matter before the Committee, he ceases to be a member thereof forthwith.

 The Parliamentary Research Service of the Indian Parliament states that Legislators may be required to disclose interests where they hold pecuniary interests (income from employment, shareholding, and directorship) and non-pecuniary interests (membership of an interest group).  In some cases, the legislator may be asked not to participate in the discussion or vote on a topic where there may be a conflict of interest. An MP may object to another MP joining a Parliamentary Committee on the grounds that he has personal, pecuniary or direct interest.  Till the Speaker’s decision, the MP cannot vote in the committee.  If the Speaker decides against the MP, he shall quit as a member of the committee. Such is the practice in India.

Smear campaign

Of course, Members of the Sri Lankan Parliament can argue that we don’t have the rules that the Indian Parliament has, so we can do just as we please and ride roughshod over all notions of propriety. The JDSLanka-ITJP representations made to the High Posts Committee of Parliament against my appointment as the Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka to United Nations in Geneva contain two allegations – firstly that I was a member of a death squad called PRRA in the late 1980s, and secondly that on the instructions of Mr Ranil Wickremesinghe former Prime Minister and present leader of the United National Party, I had killed four people including two lawyers called Kanchana Abeypala and Charitha Lankapura. I categorically reject all such allegations.  

If anyone asserts that I was a member of a death squad called PRRA, it is up to the person making that assertion to prove it in a court of law. Likewise, if someone claims that I had killed anybody, that too should be proved in a court of law. These alleged incidents are supposed to have taken place over 30 years ago. Twenty years ago, in 2000, there was a smear campaign orchestrated against the then Opposition Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe and myself just before Parliament was dissolved for the general election of the year 2000. I was then perceived to be the media advisor to Mr Wickremesinghe. This smear campaign of 20 years ago has been revived for the collateral purpose of questioning my suitability to be the Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka to United Nations in Geneva.

 The specific allegation in the ITJP-JDSLanka representations made against me to the High Posts Committee, is that the killings of four persons including Kanchana Abeypala and Charitha Lankapura had taken place on the instructions of Mr Ranil Wickremesinghe. Those who are alleged to have been killed are supposed to be members of the JVP. Political fellow travellers of the Tamil National Alliance like the ITJP and JDSLanka have brought this issue before the High Posts Committee. Yet for the past 10 years and more, both the JVP and the TNA have worked very closely with Mr Ranil Wickremesinghe.

 At the 2010 Presidentail elections, Mr Ranil Wickremesinghe, the JVP and the TNA all worked together in an attempt to make Gen. Sarath Fonseka the President of this country. Though they failed on that occasion, the collaboration between these parties continued and in 2015, Mr Wickremesinghe, the TNA and the JVP working together succeeded in making Mr Maithripala Sirisena President of this country. Mr Ranil Wickremesinghe then became Prime Minister and the TNA and the JVP unequivocally accepted his leadership. At a Cabinet meeting that took place on 21 January 2015, an Anti-Corruption Committee was formed under the Leadership of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremasinghe. TNA leader R. Sampanthan, TNA Parliamentarian M. A. Sumanthiran and JVP Leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake were all members of that Committee.

 JVP leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake in fact was appointed as the head of the Rapid Response Committee of that Anti-Corruption Committee headed by Prime Minister Wickremesinghe. If the JVP leader had believed for one moment that Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe had actually instructed anyone to kill their members or sympathizers, he would not have accepted the position of Head of the Rapid Response Committee of the Anti-Corruption Committee under Wickremesinghe. Throughout the tenure of that government, the JVP and the TNA stood by Mr Ranil Wickremesinghe. When he was ousted from the position of PM in October 2018, the TNA and the JVP were right at the forefront of the campaign to have him reinstated and they succeeded in doing so.

 The High Posts Committee should take note of the fact that according to the scurrilous allegation made by JDSLanka and the ITJP, it’s Mr Ranil Wickremesinghe who had given me instructions to kill the four people they have mentioned. Mr Ranil Wickremasinghe is still in Parliament and still the leader of the United National Party. I invite the High Posts Committee and particularly its TNA and JVP members to ask Mr Ranil Wickremesinghe whether at any point in the past, he gave me instructions to kill anybody. That I think, would be the best way to put this matter to rest.

3 Responses to “Politics of the High Posts Committee of Parliament”

  1. Charles Says:

    6.9 million people voted for the President Gotabaya Rajapaksa not to allow the phantoms of the past from denying the President from taking decisions in the intest of the Country. Therefore President’s decision should over ride the Hightpost Committee to appoint Mr. C.A Chandraprema as the Goverments representative in the UNHR Council in Geneva. The future Goverment of the President should take action to dismiss all Parliamentary Committees and a

  2. Charles Says:

    6.9 million people voted for the President Gotabaya Rajapaksa not to allow the phantoms of the past from denying the President from taking decisions in the intest of the Country. Therefore President’s decision should over ride the Hightpost Committee to appoint Mr. C.A Chandraprema as the Goverments representative in the UNHR Council in Geneva. The future Goverment of the President should take action to dismiss all Parliamentary Committees and a

  3. Charles Says:

    6.9 million people voted for the President Gotabaya Rajapaksa not to allow the phantoms of the past from denying the President from taking decisions in the intest of the Country. Therefore President’s decision should over ride the Hightpost Committee to appoint Mr. C.A Chandraprema as the Goverments representative in the UNHR Council in Geneva. The future Goverment of the President should take action to dismiss all Parliamentary Committees and appoint New Committees. TNA should not be given the Prrsidentship in any such Committee.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

 

 


Copyright © 2020 LankaWeb.com. All Rights Reserved. Powered by Wordpress