BASL owes us an explanation
Dharmapala Senaratne in his letter published in
The Sunday Leader of August 9, says that I had
presented ‘a funny poser’ in that I had (to quote him)
"on the basis of the position of the BASL that every
person has a legal right to be represented by a lawyer"
asked whether BASL would ask its members to refuse
services to the Defence Ministry personnel. As presented
by Senaratne in that form, my query would certainly be
not only ‘funny’ but illogical, absurd and also non
I certainly did ask the question, but not in the form
presented by Senaratne. My query was raised after I
referred to BASL’s stand in the Liyanaarachchi affair in
the late ’80s. First pointing to BASL’s current stand to
quote its secretary’s statement as published in the
Island of July 15 "that every person has a legal
right to be represented by a lawyer, and lawyers have a
duty (save in exceptional circumstances) to appear for
such person," I then referred to its ‘Liyanaarachchi’
stand, which Senaratne has himself stated was that
BASL’s members would not appear for any police officer
in any criminal case until lawyer Liyanaarachchi’s
killers were brought to book. I also asked what the
exceptional circumstances were.
In the context in which I posed the question as
clarified above, readers may judge whether the question
was untenable; considering that ex facie the two
positions seem irreconcilable. Readers may also consider
whether in that context, the question was untenable;
considering ex facie that two positions seem
irreconcilable. Readers may also consider whether in
that context, the question posed was funny or a "figment
like notion." But Senaratne juxtaposing my reference to
assert a person’s legal right to the services of a
lawyer with my query on Defence Ministry personnel was
In this regard, Senaratne asserts that BASL’s
‘Liyanaarachchi stand’ and its Defence Ministry stand
are by no means inconsistent. Senaratne has also
requested me to explain if I think this stand justified.
I do not think this stand is justified and am glad to
explain. I have several objections to this consistent
and contradictory positions of the BASL.
1. BASL now says every person has a legal right to
A legal right can only be withdrawn by legislation
or legislative processes or by judicial intervention
based on such legislation so BASL cannot unilaterally
withdraw such right unless it can be brought within
the above confines and/or its own constitution permits
it, and such authority in itself within the parameters
or the country’s constitution.
2. Regarding this last aspect consider this. A
legal right is a right protected by law. Article 12
Chapter (iii) Section 12 (1) states: "All persons are
equal before the law, and are entitled to the equal
protection of the law." If therefore as BASL now
claims that every person has a legal right to a
lawyer’s services, it is arguable that BASL’s stand in
the Liyanaarachchi case was not merely unjustified but
also unlawful, as violative of a person’s fundamental
rights under the constitution.
3. These apart, as I have already mentioned in para
(ii) of my letter, was it justified on any grounds of
fairness and reasonability or of natural justice to
penalise all and every member of the police force for
the alleged crimes of some of its members?
4. As regards the ‘object’ of the lawyer’s strike
against police officers one can’t contest the nobility
of the object as stated by Senaratne. But however
noble an objective, one cannot be indifferent to the
means employed to achieve that goal. For on the
argument of a worthwhile object justifying the means,
however unfair, the police themselves could justify
the alleged murder on the ground that its object was
the suppression of terrorism.
To sum it up, as stated in my letter, clarifications
of the BASL stand in the ’80s as against its current
stand is warranted. It may have some rational
explanation for the inconsistency, than either Senaratne
or I have posited. It is salutary nevertheless that
opinions in the press are analysed by others sent
through the ‘intellectual’ wringer so to say, answers
obtained, and the real position arrived at as far as
possible. I will continue to enjoy Senaratne’s somewhat
Manners maketh a man
I write in response to the article titled "The school
that failed," and extend my heartfelt condolences to the
bereaved parents of late Anuthara Kavindi Jayawardena. I
was rather shocked and worried to see the mean and base
language used by the past and present students of
It is true one has to he proud of one’s school, but
when something goes wrong, it is the duty of the
principal, teachers and students and moreover the
parents to identify for themselves where they have gone
Dear, Chathurika Jinasena (a present student of
Musaeus College) please learn to present your
arguments/suggestions in a coherent and respectful
manner, for manners maketh a man.
What mental agony will the late Kavindi’s parents go
through, when they hear of your version. "This girl who
committed suicide did not have the strength to tolerate
the thing which happened."
What was it that she couldn’t tolerate? Something has
happened that went beyond her tolerance limit. Just
imagine what you would have done, if you were in
Kavindi’s position. Why couldn’t you say I feel sorry
for my colleague or sister’s untimely demise?
Sri Lankans do not insult a dead person. We have a
very good culture to honour and respect others. We ought
to love our enemies.
Ranee Mohamed did not try to insult or humiliate your
school. She has just done her job. She did not call you
a "dog" or "bitch."
Dear, Ranee Mohamed, when you speak or write the
truth, the whole world may insult you but the entire
universe respects you. Well done, keep on writing.
V. R. John
Share the success with depositors
I am a desperate depositor who sold a land purchased
by us way back as 1985 when we were employed, as an
investment in retirement. The land was purchased in 24
installments from The Finance Company. We sold it in
2007 and deposited the money with Golden Key at an
interest rate of 18% to be received monthly as we had
retired and were not entitled to any pension.
My husband passed away a couple of months ago and I
am now in a desperate situation. We planned our
retirement but Lalith Kotelawala and Company, has put me
into this unfortunate situation.
I can’t understand why the authorities are so slow in
solving this problem. I hope you would highlight our
case again in The Sunday Leader.
I do not know whether this point has been taken into
account by the Central Bank.
Several of Lalith Kotelawala’s institutions — Seylan
Bank, The Finance, Ceylinco Insurance etc. are boasting
about their achievements. How about the shareholders who
are reaping the benefits — Lalith Kotelawala and the
rest who are in custody? Their profits should be
directed to a special account, say a Depositors’
Account. If they have craftily diverted their shares to
some other account, it should be traced and action taken
to freeze such account and monies diverted to the
The Inland Revenue Department has been quick to
identify the large depositors and is already targeting
them. It is unfortunate that the Central Bank has not
been able to get the Kotelawalas to pay back what they
owe to the affected depositors.
A Desperate Depositor
We stand by you
This refers to Isuri Ruwinika’s letter which gives a
drop of saline to her old school in Colombo 7. I am not
sure whether she was a student or a staff member. There
is no need to merely blame the school authorities and
leave the responsibility for this death go unaccounted.
Action should be taken to charge everyone involved with
this death in a court of law.
Police say that this girl was not the actual owner of
the phone. To have dragged the girl by her tie and
locked her up in the staff room is really inhuman. It is
a pity that the prefects had done this to a student of
their own school. That shows how wicked the children of
this Buddhist school are.
Lot of gossip and mud was thrown at the dead girl.
But the school authorities kept mum, and made the school
premises out of bounds for photographers and reporters.
In an unfortunate incident of this nature any prudent
person would have rushed the child to the nearest
government hospital. But the learned principal had
chosen to take the child to a private hospital without
even loosening her tie. This perhaps was to avoid making
a statement to the police post at the government
The Health Department conducts first aid classes for
schools while the police conducts demonstrations for
school children on obeying traffic rules. This school
does not seem to have benefitted from any of these. If
Anuthara had survived the ordeal many would have been
charged for attempted murder.
It is not too late even now if only someone will come
forward to tell the truth. Even an anonymous letter to
the parents or the police with the truth will give some
solace to the parents of this child. Any incidents of
this nature in the future too may be swept under the
It is the bounden duty of a national newspaper to
expose this type of incident. But for Ruwinika the truth
is bitter. She is unable to face the bitter truth and
that is why she has used Mariyakade language.
Ranee Mohamed keep exposing the hidden facts of this
case . We are with you. Let "dogs," "bitches" and pups
bark. God bless you.
Prompt Presidential Puswedillas
During the tenure of the late J. R. Jayewardene, a
chairman of a then highly respected blue chip company
which in recent times has been disgraced by the
fraudulent acts it had allegedly committed, had been in
the habit of giving in to the ‘drink’ too much and at
times even made a public nuisance of himself.
His jest landed him and his company in deep trouble
when JRJ took offence at his swipes on the Presidential
Commissions the ‘Old Fox’ established at the time. One
such joke was that a Presidential Commission is akin to
a visit to a toilet. One sits down at it and the matter
This obviously was going too far for the liking of
JRJ and before the late chairman realised it, one of his
company’s biggest assets — its building and premises in
the Fort, was promptly taken over by the government.
Fortunately, at the instance of a particular cabinet
minister, sanity prevailed and the building was
Today, we see a similarity in the present government
wherein the President promptly appoints a Commission to
probe or investigate heinous crimes perpetrated on
individuals, media organisations and the general public;
from abductions, assault and even murders of journalists
to the abduction of even baby elephants; there are
supposedly investigating committees.
Sadly, none of these committees or investigators have
come up with anything substantial thereby creating a
doubt in the minds of the public as to whether there are
any committees or investigations at all!
The only difference between the JRJ reaction and the
present government, is that while JRJ was prompt in
taking economic action against individuals, the present
regime seems to prefer a more violent method such as the
use of white vans and acts of violence, conducted with
Whenever the government is faced with an embarrassing
incident, the President promptly calls for an
investigation. Perhaps one should rename these
Presidential investigations as PPP — an acronym for
Prompt Presidential Puswedillas!
It is regretted that a lot was expected of the
President whose credibility is now taking a nose dive
due to gross inaction or action against the wrong
Capt. George Oscar Henricus
Captain George Oscar Henricus died on July 4, and was
laid to rest on July 9.
Captain Henricus qualified as a Master Mariner at a
comparatively young age and joined the then Colombo Port
Commission as a Harbour Pilot in 1955 at the age of 27
years and thus became the youngest entrant to the
service. He was also the second Ceylonese to join this
exclusive service, the first being Capt. H. J. H. Garsen.
It should be borne in mind that the pilot service was
then dominated by expatriates. With the passage of time
Capt. Henricus rose steadily in rank to the post of
Deputy Master Attendant, Master Attendant and with the
formation of the Sri Lanka Ports Authority in 1979, to
the post of Harbour Master and Head of Division, which
position he held until his retirement from service after
a distinguished career of 34 years.
Hailing from an illustrious sporting family, he
excelled in boxing at his alma mater Royal
College and also in hockey, and was at one stage,
president of the Amateur Boxing Association. His
illustrious younger brother Barney was a Gold Medalist
at the Empire Games later to be known as the
He was one of the few Burghers who never wanted to
migrate and when I posed this question to him on the day
he retired, his reply was quite emphatic — "I was born
in this country and this is where I will die." He was
generous to a fault and I am aware of entire families
who benefited from him financially. There were many who
took advantage of his generosity.
I recall the time I was the Hony. Sports Secretary of
the Colombo Port Commission and we had to conduct
various Government Services Tournaments on shoe-string
budgets and when we were short of money, as we often
did, it was Capt. Henricus who dipped into his personal
funds and helped us out. The government contribution to
sports at that time was negligible.
His sense of humour was infectious and even when his
health was on the decline, he never lost this gift. A
few dedicated officers who had retired from the Ports
Authority formed the Sri Lanka Ports Authority Retired
Staff Officers’ Association of which Capt. Henricus was
an active member.
His witty jokes and personal experiences kept all of
us entertained. However, when illness laid him low, he
stopped attending these meetings. His absence was felt
by all of us and the void left by him was difficult to
Capt. George Oscar Henricus was laid to rest amidst a
large and distinguished gathering after a funeral
service at the Baptist Church, Cinnamon Gardens.
His wife Minette pre-deceased him three years ago.
All members of the Sri Lanka Ports Authority Retired
Staff Officers’ Association extend their condolences to
his three children, Keith, Hars and Michele.
N. Leslie Cooray