Rajpal's Column

24th June 2001

It was all in a week's work

By Rajpal Abeynayake
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As if political tragi-comedies of last week were not quite enough, there was the attempted strangulation of the Speaker the day before he gave his historic ruling.

Now, reading the judgement, it would seem like it needs a boa constrictor to strangulate Anura B, in all his rotundity.

But, what attempted to strangulate him was more like a puppy. A puppy PC so to speak, and an "unnamed lawyer'' who was hitting all round the wicket without having the littlest of guts or decency to divulge his own name.

But, first about the puppy PC, who, it should go without saying, this writer holds nothing personally against. But, it's his hilariously dangerous attempts to deprive the people of this country of their democratic rights and privileges that should be abhorred with a vehemence that this columnist usually reserves for, say _ never mind_.

The story began when the twosome referred to above, told reporters of a national daily that "if the Speaker gives a judgement against the court ruling on the impeachment motion, that he will be doing so against the laws of the country.'' The speaker was thus exhorted to "abide by the laws of the country'', and furthermore, a dire threat was being held against lawyers and other persons who "were challenging the court ruling'' and thereby inviting action on grounds of contempt.

In the entirety of his career, this puppy PC seemed to be under some strange delusion that the law is his private property. Historically speaking, one indicator of that which is richly worthy of remembering is a judgment that was entered into by him in the Press Council. In this judgment, lesbians were referred to as "sadists'' who "practice violence against society.'' Therefore, in all his wisdom, puppy PC delivered judgment on that occasion, that those who wrote an article saying that "convicted rapists should be let loose among lesbians" ( not to have high tea with them we suppose_) should be exonerated. The judgment also said that it is the lesbians who commit violence against society, and that therefore the petitioner in this case was supporting violence against society himself! ( What did they say, "wandinna giya devale hise kada wetuna wage?'' - the shrine room came crashing on the supplicant's head?).

That was a gem instance of taking the law into one's own hands, because it went smack against all the worldwide conventions and human rights treaties, to which we are signatory, which expressly forbids discrimination or state action against any persons on grounds of their sexual orientation.

But, this latest by the PC should go down in the history books, and of course, in the parliamentary hansard, if this puppy potentate is brought, as he should be, before the house on grounds of violation of privilege. One cannot intimidate parliament for one's own ends, and if there is a grouse, the PC should have gone to court, like all law abiding men with a grouse do, or gone to Geneva or wherever he has a forum, instead of seeking to intimidate parliament in which the people's sovereignty lies, via the members of the house. But, the facts are simpler. This whole judgement was patently wrong, as the Speaker has pointed out. It was a historical first, and flew in the face of all that was elementary _ and nursery book simple _ which is that the separation of powers is sacrosanct in a democracy, and cannot be violated.

Therefore, it was so transparently absurd for the PC and his coterie, not only to advocate this whole fiasco and foist it on court, but to go further by trying to intimidate parliament into accepting it.

Can people of this calibre continue to hold posts such as the Press Council Chairman? Shouldn't they resign forthwith, if an iota of self-respect is to be retained and if any respect should be entertained for these institutions? If not, shouldn't they be made to resign? Is the press supposed to appear before this gross transgressor and intimidator of the constitution and of the law?

But, it is also a bit of comic relief to see the kind of depths of mediocrity that this country possesses in the ranks of its upcoming upper echelon. These are the very pits and bowels. Take the PC's book, purporting to be a discourse on something like media freedom and responsibility. It is riddled with such elementary errors of grammar, that it should not have rolled out of any press __a press that publishes self-published works or other__ 

It's not that we hold a brief for any notions of the untouchability of Queen's English, etc. But that such errors should be in a book, touted as a serious work, indicates a sloppiness and a gross sense of puerile intellectual paucity. It begs a retort in the lines of, "god forbid these men, for they know not what they do." If one does, how does one allow a book out of the presses without getting it past an editor?

It's either that, or an exaggerated sense of self-importance and an exaggerated sense of accomplishment. The cover flap blurb may be an indication. It says "TOYP award'' for accomplishment, awarded by the Lions or the Jaycees or whoever the do gooder may be. What are readers supposed to think? That it should bring out the Lion in him?

No, no, just being flippant really. Men stumble upon posts, they gather them by backing political horses, and those are perennial verities not exclusive to this age. They trace back to classical times, to the times of the gladiators and emperors of Rome.

But, this is a lesser age, but a more enlightened one. There are people of learning, who by virtue of a wider proliferation of knowledge, know a phony when they see one. So this is an embarrassment. We cannot have a two-piece lawyer who grabbed silk drumming the drum for a political party, trying to lay down the law, while writing and delivering embarrassing wrong judgements and dangerous tripe. More importantly, it's not good for the man either. Surely, he would like to be something worthier than that, in the eyes of his fellow lawyers and citizens, though this last suggestion may sound a tad like I got carried away? But, make it we must, by way of signing off, because heaping one blunder upon another upon another suggests, that, even if it's human to err, it's downright oafish to err and err and err again. Or does he think you have to be so Raja-paksa (partial to the state) that you need to break every law about the place doing it?

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