The Sunday Leader

“No Opposition MP Can Stay Away From Supporting Us” – Wijedasa Rajapaksa

The newly appointed Justice Minister, President Counselor Wijedasa Rajapaksa in his first interview after his appointment said that the former President did not consider the capacity of the Judges when they are appointed but their blind loyalty to him and said that when appointing incompetent people with political patronage to the hallowed Judiciary, the Judges are bound to oblige to the Executive. “There were many instances where there were interferences and intimidation and the judiciary had no other option but to oblige what they were requested by the Executive. All these happened because there was no proper mechanism in appointing members to the judiciary. As a result people were helpless. That is why we intend to bring the 17th Amendment at the very earliest and appoint the Constitutional Councils and Independent Commissions,” Justice Minister said. The Minister further said that irrespective of party politics, legal action would be taken against all politicians and public officers who have robbed the country’s wealth. He said the government will recover the money to give relief to the people.

Excerpts of the interview:

 

By Nirmala Kannangara

 

Q: You have pledged your support to the impressive 100 day programme. Are there any legal constrains that you are concerned about doing this?

A: There is no such legal obligation but we have given a promise to the people. We have already started a very transparent mechanism. What we have pledged to the people we will fulfill.

 

Q: Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL) is asking the removal of the Chief Justice. How do you see this situation?

A: We have to discuss with the Chief Justice and get the opinion from our party leaders before taking a decision. Serious allegations have been levelled against the Chief Justice and if he does not want to step down we have to resort to the available legal procedure. It is premature to reveal what the legal procedure we are planning.

 

Q: There have been increasing allegations against the Executive of interfering with the judiciary. What are the key areas you as the new Minister of justice see as remedies to this?

A: All these years the Executive Presidency has interfered in judiciary in so many ways. When the Executive President appoints the judges, he has not followed any procedures. The Executive has not sought the capacity of the judge but has considered the loyalty to him. When appointing incompetent people with political patronage they are naturally obliged to the Executive.

Since the power was with the Executive Presidency, there were interferences and intimidation where the judiciary had no other option but to oblige to what they were requested. All these happened because there was no proper mechanism in appointing members to the judiciary. As a result people were helpless. That is why we intend to bring the 17th Amendment at the very earliest and appoint the Constitutional Councils and Independent Commissions.

 

Q: Your campaign pointed out corruption in the country heavily. How conducive is the present legal structure to investigate these allegations?

A: We have always being against bribery and corruption which we campaigned against heavily. We are taking certain strategies to bring politicians or officials who were involved in bribery or corruption to book. We do not want to follow the steps former President Mahinda Rajapaksa took to protect the corrupt politicians and officials. People voted for the common opposition candidate to eliminate corruption from the society. We have now taken initial steps and once the Independent Commissions are appointed we can see how efficient the once inactive Bribery Commission.

 

Q: Implementation of the Independent Commissions is crucial to fulfill the pledges you have given to the people. Are you concern about the time afforded to you and the mechanism?

A: I am not concerned about the time given to implement the independent commissions as we know that we can carry out the promises given in our election manifesto. To implement the independent commission for good governance we need support of two third majority in the parliament. As we do not have that, President Maithripala Sirisena requested the opposition to join hands with us to bring good governance to the country. No opposition MP can stay away from supporting us as no one can reject our proposals.

In the event the opposition MPs refuses to support the government to bring back the independent commissions for good governance, the voters will oust them at the next general election. For their survival in politics the opposition will have to support us in parliament to get the majority to pass the important bills that is vital to introduce good governance in this country.

 

Q: How will you ensure transparency in the process against Bribery or Corruption and how far will you go meeting out justice?

A: Prof. G.L. Peiris made the Bribery Commission a Rest House for the pensioners and appointed judges and other retired officials. Although the existing laws are sufficient to take action against those who are accused of bribery or corruption, these pensioners do not carry out any duty other than resting at the Bribery Commission.

There is an urgent need in revamping the commission. For this I have some new ideas and planning to present to the cabinet for their approval. The Commission to Investigate Bribery or Corruption has to conduct the investigations in a transparent manner as people should know how these investigations are taking place without any political interference.

 

Q: How confident are you of getting the support of officials at government departments like Bribery or Corruption

A: The powers of the Executive President were so corrupt the government officials could not discharge an honourable service because of the interference from the top. But our government has already ensured these officials free hand to carry out their duties without our interference. We are confident that most of the officials at the Bribery Commission too are ready to discharge their duties without prejudice if the government does not interfere with the investigations. In the meantime, I have an idea to strengthen the prosecutions at the Bribery Commission with eminent prosecutors from outside to review the cases that have been prosecuted by the bribery officials.

 

Q: The opposition MPs who have pledged their support to President Maithripala Sirisena after the election is accused of taking the decision to do so solely to escape from certain bribery or corruption charges against them. In that context will you not take any action against the corrupt MPs who were involved in looting public money?

A: Not only those who have now pledged support to the President’s 100 day programme but also those who have worked with us for President Sirisena’s victory would be brought to book if they have looted public money. This is not done in vengeance but for the sake of the country. People of this country cannot afford the politicians or the government officials to loot the public money for personal use. Those who have misused public funds will have to face consequences in court and all steps would be taken to recover what they looted. This money belongs to the general public and we can give them many reliefs to bring down the cost of living.

 

Q: How do you see the tussle for the SLFP leadership between Mahinda Rajapaksa and President Maithripala Sirisena?

A: The former President said that he offered the SLFP leadership to President Maithripala Sirisena. However, whether former President liked it or not, according to the SLFP party constitution, the party leadership automatically goes to the incumbent President.

6 Comments for ““No Opposition MP Can Stay Away From Supporting Us” – Wijedasa Rajapaksa”

  1. Chris

    It is heartening to note that a a qualified and competent person with the right attitude and sense of direction for discharging his duty has been appointed Minister.Although in the past the position has not been an absolutely coveted one for senior politic ions The Justice Minister’s status is a key one and the pulse and heartbeat of any nation.As a Sri Lankan lawyer living and practicing overseas I have watched with utmost sadness and often with disgust the deterioration of administration of justice in Sri Lanka descending to gutter levels on many occasions the system should have upheld the law for the sake of preserving the integrity and reputation of the whole nation.Felix Dias Bandaranayake started the rot and Rajapakse reached new depths in contaminating and destroying the administration of justice.The very meaning of the word “Justice” means enforcement of the law fairly in preference to all other considerations.This includes striking down bad laws even at the risk of incurring the wrath of the executive.
    JR Jayawardena who to a substantial extent must take responsibility for the chaotic political situation that currently prevails was the architect of using thuggery against Jusctices if one recalls what he did to CJ Samarakoon.
    Mr Wijedasa’s job is not second to the Finance ministers job and in the wake of the stinking mess that Rajapakse has left behind will be not only a mammoth but also a most daunting one.In my respectful view restoration of Justice to the people in the real sense of the word will form the cornerstone for building the next electoral victory.Should Mr Wijedasa fail,which it seems is unlikely to happen,people will not trust them to deliver on any other promises they have made.
    With absolute love for my motherland I wish and pray that Mr Wijedasa fully succeed in his endeavours and we will wait and watch eagerly

    • Chris

      It seems from a fair analysis of the recent election results for the opposition parliamentarians to not support the cause,as Mr Wijedasa rightly points out would be tantamount to political suicide at the forthcoming general elections.This is a fair prediction not the”Sumanadasa Abeygunawardena “type.
      Cheers!

  2. Champika

    Don’t let Rajit6ha.Senaratna to escape. He is a big thief. You have to investigate life jackets case, fish commissions and his ships.

  3. Dr M.L.Najimudeen

    Dr Wijedasa Rajapakshe is the most qualified Rajapakshe in the country.
    Next to late Dr N.M.Perera he is the only politician with double Ph D.
    I am sure he will prove his capability.
    All the best of luck Wije

  4. The principle is as follows: Parliament adopts the laws and the judiciary interprets the law. Differences are reconciled with the assistance of parliamentary commissions and laws are adjusted according to the recommendations put forward by the commissions. This mechanism upholds the principle of the separation of powers in a well functioning democracy. It is also known as the “ongoing conversation” in a democratic system of government. The envisaged changes is a clear indication that the system of democratic rule works in Sri Lanka.

  5. daggy

    Hey !! President Counsel, just shut up and get on with the job you have been entrusted and also have accepted the invitation to the Dehiwels Asharamaya at Bellantara Lane for the impending Birthday Celebration of that Buddhist Monk ?/

    You were there last year with Dhumiya / Soma and the crowd hobnobbing with the then Government’s big wigs.

    You are a shameful fellow.
    Now lets see what you are capable of doing for the ” Yahapalanaya” ?
    You guys won the first battle against MR – The propaganda war……
    Hope same won’t be used already to hoodwink the masses.?????

    Already, Ravi.K has pulled the wool over the Yahapalanaya Justice by announcing the date of the Mini- Budget for the 29/Jan which fall on the date he has to attend court for violating finacial regulations.
    you are quiet … Is it “Yaha Apalanaya” ” WHY ???????
    What is good for the Goose is also good for the Gander….
    Yahapalanaya appears to be taking the shape of “All FarrrrrrrT and No Sh.t”

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