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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 sequitur surely.

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 wrong.

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 lawyer representation.

A legal right can only be withdrawn by legislation or legislative processes or by judicial intervention based on such legislation so BASL cannot unilaterally withdraw such right unless it can be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 infrequent letters.

Fair Query

Colombo 5

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 Musaeus College.

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 wrong.

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 Depositors’ Account.

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 hospital.

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 carpet.

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.

Disgusted Parent


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 is dropped!

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 subsequently divested.

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 impunity.

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 people!

R. Silva



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 Common-wealth Games.

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 fill.

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










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