What is the impact of Shashi Tharoor’s visit to SL?
Reasons behind the failure of ‘Nam 200’
Will the Supreme Court send Diana home?
First met with Sajith
These days, the government is preparing to present the 2024 budget to the parliament. President Ranil Wickramasinghe and the ministers of the government have already announced that only the salaries of government employees will be increased in this year’s budget. However, the government has not yet issued a statement regarding the salary structure of most private-sector employees. Despite this, the government took a Cabinet decision last week to increase the VAT from 15% to 18% so that the whippers come before the procession. In addition to this, the opposition has already predicted that the budget will impose a number of taxes such as wealth tax, property tax and inheritance tax. The International Monetary Fund has also stated that it is still unable to meet the revenue targets given to the government.
When the situation was like this, representatives of several international organizations took steps to visit Sri Lanka last week. One of them was the visit of a high-ranking World Bank delegation to Sri Lanka. The other group was a high-level delegation representing the European Commission and the European Parliament. The most special event that was seen here was that this group came to Sri Lanka without much fuss and without much fuss and took steps to discuss with the opposition leaders including Mr. Sajith Premadasa. Generally, after the arrival of this kind of high-level delegation to Sri Lanka, the first meeting is with the ministers and senior officials of the government led by the President.
The representatives of the opposition will meet after that. But this time, turning it upside down, the World Bank delegation and the European Commission delegation first met not the ministers of the government led by the President, but the opposition leader Sajith and members of the common opposition. Most likely, the reason for this is that they have premeditated that soon this group will work to gain government power.
The financial fund also came
Last time, when the representatives of the International Monetary Fund came to Sri Lanka, a similar incident was witnessed. There, the leader of that group, Mr. Peter Brewer, and his group, when they arrived in Sri Lanka, took steps to meet the opposition leader Sajith Premadasa and the general committee of the opposition before meeting the President. Notably in this discussion, Sajith said to Peter Brewer directly that he will take steps to amend the agreement of the financial fund, which includes a number of conditions oppressive to the people, under his future government. There, Peter Brewer was perplexed and questioned Sajith as to which conditions would be revised. Sajith had said there that he would take steps to revise things like tax revisions and electricity bill hikes that were oppressive to the people under a government of his.
When this information was reported, at the press conference attended by Peter Brewer, a certain journalist asked whether the conditions of the financial fund could be amended in that way. Brewer then replied that the conditions could be revised if necessary through discussion.
The European Commission also approached Sajith
Along with this step taken by the Financial Fund, the delegation of the European Commission that came to Sri Lanka last week also meet the opposition led by Sajith before meeting the ministers of the government led by the President. The most special feature of this group was the inclusion of high officials representing the European Parliament and the European Commission. Sri Lanka’s economy is still barely surviving on the GSP granted to Sri Lanka’s exports by the European Commission. This team’s trip to Sri Lanka was very special due to the tax exemption.
However, Sajith, G.L. Peiris, Harsha de Silva, Iran Wickramaratne participated in the discussion on behalf of the opposition in this meeting and other groups took steps to show the situation in Sri Lanka to the representatives of the European Commission. They said that even though the government always talks about good governance, the country’s democracy has been completely shrivelled without holding elections. This group pointed out that the best example is the government’s failure to hold the local government elections despite a court order, and the failure to hold the provincial council elections. In addition, government tried to bring repressive ordinances such as the Online Act, the Anti-Terrorism Act, and the Broadcasting Authority Act to the Parliament in such a way as to violate the basic rights of the people.
The MPs led by Sajith pointed out to the European Commission that the government tried to postpone the presidential election in the same way that the local government election was postponed, and that the government had to withdraw that effort due to opposition led by SJB. Also, the opposition representatives pointed out that the government is committing massive fraud and corruption even in a background where the country has been declared bankrupt, opposition members were able to explain this with examples.
A condition by the delegates
After listening to the facts presented by the opposition, the representatives of the European Union said that they will not only discuss these issues with the heads of the government but will also take steps to discuss the issues in the European Parliament. European Parliament officials also made another special request. That is not to make the details of this discussion public until the meeting with the President takes place. Sajith and the team expressed their agreement. Accordingly, later these European delegations met the ministers of the government led by the President, but none of the matters discussed were reported to the media.
The question raised by the World Bank
The delegation of the World Bank, which came to Sri Lanka, met the opposition representatives led by Sajith. Sajith along with Harsha, Iran, Kabir and others were present in this meeting. This meeting, which was held with a dinner party, was also a very decisive one based on the matters discussed there. In particular, the leader of the opposition directly asked the representatives of the World Bank how a recognized and international institution like the World Bank would work with a president without a mandate and a government without a mandate. Also, Sajith and his team took steps to inform the representatives of the World Bank about the anti-democratic program being carried out by the government by suppressing the people’s rights.
Meet Shashi Tharoor
In addition to these two special meetings, another special meeting was held last Wednesday at the opposition leader’s office under the chairmanship of Mr Sajith Premadasa. Shashi Tharoor, a prominent and powerful political figure in India, was also present. Campaigning has started these days aiming at the general election in India. The two main parties are the Gandhi family’s main Indian Congress and the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party led by Modi. The Indian Congress is ready to contest this time with a broad alliance. One of its protagonists, Shashi Tharoor, represents the Congress Party of India. Many people have predicted that Shashi Tharoor will be the foreign minister of the government if the Congress party comes to power in this Indian election.
Shashi Tharoor had received the invitation to visit Sri Lanka from the alumni of Colombo University. Shashi Tharoor, who accepted the invitation and came to Sri Lanka, had arranged to hold a special lecture on the ‘BRAK’ organization. After that, to everyone’s surprise, Shashi Tharoor came to the opposition leader’s office at Marcus Fernando Mawatha in Colombo to meet opposition leader Sajith. Usually, that happens very rarely. Although it is a common occurrence for opposition representatives from other countries to come and meet the ministers of the government, it is not common to see meeting the members of the opposition including the leader of the opposition. Along with Sajith, many graduates of Colombo University including G.L Pieris, Kiriella, Harsha, Kabir, Iran, Hakeem, and Mano were present in this meeting.
Nirmala Sitharaman’s journey
In this manner, while a leader of the Indian Congress party was visiting Sri Lanka, another special representative representing the Indian Bharatiya Janata Party had also visited Sri Lanka. That is Dr. Nirmala Sitharaman, who was the finance minister of Modi’s government. India’s Finance Minister Sitharaman came to Sri Lanka to participate in the ‘Nam 200’ event organized to mark the 200th anniversary of the Indian Tamil people living in the plantations. Jeevan Thondaman, who was the representative of the plantation sector in the government, was entrusted with the organization of the event, which was to be presided over by the President. Also, Palani Digambaram of the Samagi Jana Balavega, who is the most popular and powerful politician of the plantation, and Mano Ganesan, V. Radhakrishnan-led Dravida Progressive Alliance (TPA) and SJB representatives were invited.
But from the beginning, Sajaba had a number of problems regarding this event. The first of which was that the ceremony organized to mark the 200th anniversary of the Indian Tamil people in the plantation region was not held at Plantation areas, but it was organised it at Sugathadasa Stadium in Colombo. The second was that it was aimed at developing the political image of Thondaman rather than the people of the Plantation. Next, according to the reliable information received by the Digambarams, it was said that a group of people had collected a large amount of money for organizing this event. Accordingly, SJB-led Digambaram, Mano, Radha Krishnan and others held a special discussion last Wednesday night to make a decision on whether or not to participate in this event.
In this discussion, the plantation leaders pointed out to the group including Sajith that Jeevan Thondaman has not done anything for the Tamil people of the plantation, and as a result, Thondaman is trying to use this as an opportunity to re-develop his dwindling image. The group pointed out to Sajith that the former President Ranasinghe Premadasa and Jeevan Thondaman’s grandfather, Soumyamurthy Thondaman, who gave the greatest service to the Tamil people in the 200-year-old plantation, said that the current rulers have forgotten them. In addition, there were reports that some people had collected a large amount of money from this event, so everyone was of the opinion that the event should be boycotted. Accordingly, in the end, Sajith also decided that no one from SJB should participate in this event.
Battle of the Inspector General’s seat
C.D., who served as the Inspector General of Police after receiving a third extension of service. Mr. Wickramaratne’s service extension also ended on Friday (03). Since the President had not taken steps to nominate anyone for the post of Inspector General until Thursday, many thought that the country would once again run without an Inspector General from Friday. But on Friday, the media close to the President’s family reported that the President has extended CD’s term of service for the fourth time. But Public Security Minister Tiran Alas had stated to the media on the same day that no decision has been taken regarding the appointment of a new Inspector General of Police.
However, two weeks ago, in a special disclosure through this column, we said that a cold war had broken out within the government based on the position of Inspector General of Police. For the second time, the President has re-elected CD for the post of Inspector General of Police. When Mr. Wickramaratne’s name was recommended and sent to the Legislative Council, although the Legislative Council worked to approve it, the Constituent Assembly had taken steps to inform the President that it would be very appropriate not to recommend Mr. Wickramaratne’s name.
But despite that notification, the President appointed CD for the post of Inspector General for the third time. Since Mr. Wickramaratne’s name had been proposed, the Constituent Assembly consisting of nine members including the Speaker, Prime Minister and Leader of the Opposition had unanimously taken steps to reject the President’s recommendation. The president was in China at that time on his Chinese tour. After the information was reported, the President used his powers, to reinstate CD as the Inspector General of Police. When the opposition questioned the matter in the parliament, the speaker said that the work done by the legislative assembly according to its powers was also legal and the measures taken by the president were also legal.
What we told came right
And last week, we made another special disclosure and said that we have received information that the President is ready to propose CD’s name for the post of Inspector General for the fourth time, and if it is rejected by the Legislative Council, CD will be nominated again despite the objection as the Inspector General of Police. Accordingly, it was seen from these events that a cold war is building between the President and the Legislative Assembly regarding the position of the Inspector General of Police.
An exchange of letters
This cold war that was behind the scenes suddenly came to the fore when the former Secretary General of the Parliament Dhammika Dasanayake as the Secretary of the Legislative Assembly sent a letter to the Secretary of the Ministry of Public Security. The letter was requesting information about the five senior DIGs after Mr. Wickramaratne. The Secretary of the Constituent Assembly sent this letter to the Secretary of the Ministry of Public Security in order to get the opportunity to make a very correct decision by conducting a timely study of all names if several names are presented for the post of Inspector General of Police at the last minute as per the request of the members of the Constituent Assembly.
A letter from the president
However, when this letter from the Legislative Council was addressed to the Secretary of the Ministry of Public Security, it was seen that another new crisis was being created. According to reports, the reason for this is that the President has taken steps to send a strict letter to the Speaker containing clauses related to the appointment of the Inspector General of Police. According to the known information, in this letter, he has mentioned CD as the Inspector General of Police on several occasions. It is said that the nomination was sent but at the last time, it was mentioned that the name was rejected without giving reasons.
It has also been learned that the Constituent Assembly has made a request for the service records of the five most senior officers currently in active police service, and it is mentioned in the letter that they have not proposed the name of any officer except the name of C.D. However, it has been learned that the President has informed the speaker in his letter that asking for the details of senior officials by the Legislative Assembly in a situation other than the name he recommends and no other name has been recommended so far is a violation of the constitution.
Accordingly, with this letter said to have been sent by the President, there are signs that another new crisis is emerging based on the position of Inspector General of Police. However, since Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena is abroad these days, it is not known that there has been any discussion about the next steps to be taken regarding this letter. And due to this strict letter, the conflict between the President and the Constituent Assembly is could last longer.
Revelation of Wijayadasa
Last week, Justice Minister Wijayadasa Rajapaksa made another special disclosure to the media. He said that some people in Sri Lanka have invested 55.5 billion dollars in foreign countries or deposited in foreign accounts and also said that if this money can be brought to the country, the foreign exchange issue can be solved.
Wijayadasa is a President’s counsel. Therefore, it is believed by many that he will not speak for the sake of talking. We also believe that Wijayadasa made this statement with some acceptable documents in hand. Such a new document is circulating on social media these days and it can be seen that the names of famous businessmen and elite people of this country who deposited money in foreign countries are mentioned in it. The ‘Inside Politics’ column has also heard that the list of names has gone to the hands of the leaders above Wijayadasa.
Will the whereabouts come out?
Accordingly, Wijayadasa makes this revelation under such a background. As Wijayadasa is also the Minister of Justice of the country, it is the duty of Wijayadasa to reveal the names of certain people who have illegally deposited money in foreign countries and prepare a proper program to bring that money back to the country. The whole country is waiting for Vijayadasa to make such a move. If not, people will consider this speech by Wijayadasa to be similar to the statement made by Wijayadasa regarding the Pearl Express ship.
On that day, Wijayadasa said in Parliament that a person named ‘Chamara Gunasekara’ had received a bribe of 250 million dollars based on the Express Pearl ship. Wijayadasa also disclosed the related foreign bank account to the country. But today there is no Chamara Gunaseker. Not even $250 million. There is no word about the Express Pearl. But many are waiting for Wijayadasa’s new revelation that such fate will not befall.
Sajith to plantation
Meanwhile, after the ‘Nam 200’ ceremony held in Colombo under the chairmanship of Indian Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, the MPs of the SJB discussed the matter. Many people pointed out that the decision taken by Digambaram, Mano, Radhakrishnan’s Dravida Progressive Alliance and SJB for not participating in the event was correct, and the people of the plantation did not participate. Also, it was further said that it was not possible to make the festival as successful as Thondaman had planned.
Accordingly, at the end of the discussion, it was decided that Digambaram, Mano, Radhakrishnan and others would launch a special program for the plantation people under the leadership of opposition leader Sajith. It was seen that Sajith was happy with Digambaram’s request.
Basil to the Taj
Meanwhile, there were several requests from a special person in this country to meet the Indian Finance Minister, Dr. Nirmala Sitharaman, who is visiting the island currently. It was none other than Basil Rajapaksa. Nirmala Sitharaman was the Finance Minister of India during Basil’s tenure as Finance Minister. Basil, who went to India at the beginning of the economic crisis, negotiated with Sitharaman and the Indian government got a loan of 4 billion dollars for Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka bought fuel, medicines and food during the economic crisis during the Corona period, and thanks to this 4 million dollars were received from India.
Because of this, recently, on several occasions, Basil had asked the Indian High Commission in Sri Lanka to give him an opportunity to meet the Finance Minister. Due to these continuous requests, the Indian High Commission finally gave Basil the opportunity to meet Nirmala Sitharaman. It was at the Taj Samudra Hotel. Basil, who met the Indian Finance Minister there, took steps to express his gratitude for the help and assistance given in the past.
Diana’s MP ship
The conversation between State Minister Diana Gamage and two SJB MPs Rohana Bandarat and Sumit Sanjay Pererath in Parliament had become the main topic of the Sri Lankan media and social media in the last two weeks. But by last week, the heat of it ended and media coverage given to the judgment given by the Court of Appeal regarding Diana Gamage’s position as a Member of Parliament took centre stage. The judgment was divided, and the two judges, Nishanka Bandula Karunaratne and Khema Swarnadhiphi, who were the presiding judge, said that the petition challenging Diana’s position as a member of parliament was dismissed as the petitioner had failed to establish his evidence. While announcing his decision in the court, the judge said this.
Two Judges Opinion
Sufficient evidence should have been submitted to the court to submit such a request and seek relief from the court. However, the petitioner has come to the court without sufficient evidence. The petitioner has submitted to the court as evidence only the criminal case against the respondent. Also, the petitioner has come to the court relying on several statements given to the police by the Deputy Controller of Immigration and Emigration. According to the Evidence Ordinance Act, the issue of whether this evidence can be admitted also arises in the court. Therefore, the evidence presented by the petitioner is not sufficient to confirm the request he is asking the court. According to the Court, the petitioner has come to the court without sufficient evidence to prove…’
The petitioner says that this petition was presented as a public welfare case. In presenting the case for public welfare, it should be presented without political theories hidden behind it. Unethical profit should not be expected from such cases. It should also be presented in good faith. The petitioner has submitted this with the aim of defaming the respondent MP Diana Gamage and maliciously tarnishing her good name to carry out his personal agenda. Judge Karunaratne had stated that it is not a right to get relief from the court.
The other verdict
But here the other judge, Mr. Marikkar, gave a completely different decision. Judge Marikkar said that Diana Gamage has no qualifications to hold the position of MP.
Thus, it is necessary for the 1st respondent to show her evidence to find the truth. The respondent filed her statement of objection on 24 February 2023. She has not challenged the position of the petitioner in those objections.
Unlike government employees, MPs are elected by popular vote. They are maintained by taxpayers’ money and public money. So they are accountable to the public. The petitioner and the public have a legitimate expectation that when they vote they are voting for a citizen of Sri Lanka.
On that basis, I do not see any obstacle or difficulty for the 1st respondent to reveal her citizenship to the court. However, the 1st respondent has not disclosed her citizenship rights.
If the 1st respondent had submitted documents to prove her citizenship rights, the petitioner would not have been able to proceed with this application. However the denial of the 1st respondent has prima facie strengthened the case of the petitioner against her.
It is to be noted that the 1st respondent made the statement to the CID on 31st October 2022 while she was holding the office of Minister of State. Moreover, she never alleged that the statement was involuntary or coerced. Therefore, it appears that there was no coercion, threat or influence when she made the statement.
Accordingly, it appears that the integrity, honesty, transparency and accountability of the 1st respondent are questionable as she failed to produce any documents or satisfy the court against the petitioner’s case against her citizenship rights.
As the 1st respondent has failed to produce documents to show that she is a citizen of Sri Lanka at the time of the parliamentary elections or before being appointed as a National List Member of Parliament, she is not entitled to be a Member of Parliament of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka.
If there is prima facie evidence that a person holding a certain position is not qualified for that position, that person must show that he is qualified to hold that position.
This situation is further developed by the book ‘Writ of Remedies’ by Justin BP Banerjee.
Considering all these facts, the 1st respondent has failed to show that as a citizen of Sri Lanka she is qualified to claim to be a Member of Parliament.
As I have emphasized earlier the 1st respondent being a Member of Parliament of Sri Lanka should be transparent and accountable to the public. As her rights are being challenged in this case, at least the 1st respondent should have a relevant document or citizenship certificate to prove that she is a citizen of Sri Lanka.
The 1st respondent has an imperative right over the petitioner and the public. Because she is running a public office that is run with the public’s taxpayers’ money and the public’s money.
Therefore, I emphasize that as a Member of Parliament, the 1st respondent should be a role model, transparent and accountable to the public. Therefore, I am of the view that the duty of the 1st respondent is to properly prove her citizenship rather than challenging the position of the petitioner.
As I have analysed, the 1st respondent has failed to prove that she is entitled to hold her position as a Member of Parliament and hence the petitioner is entitled to the relief sought in the petition.
The petitioner has proved a prima facie case against the 1st respondent.
Considering the above-mentioned facts, I cannot agree with the admission of the President of the Appellate Court.
Case to Supreme Court
Accordingly, at the end of the verdict, civil activist Oshala Herath, who submitted the petition against Diana, said that he was in the opinion of Judge Marikkar, and because of that, he would challenge this decision before the Supreme Court. Accordingly, Diana’s future will be decided by the Supreme Court’s final decision.