statesmanship and wisdom saved S. Africa
Nilika de Silva
South Africa through wisdom and statesmanship displayed
there as well as through institutions that were devolved avoided
a blood bath and its example is therefore a worthy study for any
country, an eminent jurist said yesterday.
Chris Weeramantry, former judge of the International Court of Justice,
made this observation at a seminar on "Truth and Reconciliation
and the Peaceful Settlement of Disputes" conducted by the Weeramantry
International Centre for Peace Education and Research.
are easy to begin, but they become increasingly difficult to resolve
the longer they continue, and it is even more difficult to remove
their lasting effects of bitterness, anger and hatred," Mr.
He said he
had been able to see South Africa as few people had seen it, "from
the highest centres of privilege to the lowest depths of despair".
as he saw it in 1979, Mr. Weeramantry said, "The air was thick
with tension, fear and anger. And so heavy was the atmosphere that
you felt you could almost cut through it and the result of this
was that we all thought that South Africa was destined for a blood
bath some day. But wise statesmanship saved it."
was Professor Winston Nagan, an anti-apartheid activist who had
been expelled from South Africa. He outlined the work of the Truth
and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) and the lessons it generated
for other cultures.
concerns raised over new state drug company
by the Consumer Affairs & Commerce ministry to set up a new
state company for the parallel import of drugs at lower prices is
causing concern in medical circles largely on matters of ethics.
for the ethics committee of the Sri Lanka Medical Association said
they would fully support any move to provide safe and good quality
medicinal drugs to patients at cost effective prices.
But they were
deeply concerned that some practising medical specialists or professors
teaching medical students had been called upon by minister Ravi
Karunanayake to set up the new State Trading Company (Medical) Ltd.
The Sunday Times learns that among the prominent medical figures
who have been called upon by the minister to help set up the company
are Prof. Saman Goonatilleke, (Associate Professor of Medicine,
University, Kelaniya), Prof. Rizwie Sheriff, (Professor of Medicine,
University of Colombo) Prof. Lal Chandrasena, Medical Director,
Nawaloka, Dr. Sanath Amarasekera, Consultant , Obst. & Gyno,
Private sector, & Dr. Asitha de Silva, (Head of dept. of Pharmacology,
Kelaniya University) . The spokesperson said they had information
that a well known cardiologist had also been asked to help form
the company but he had declined saying drug imports should be made
through proper channels. The spokesperson also said their concern
was whether practising specialists who had a stake in the new company
might be exposed to any temptation to prescribe the drugs that their
company was importing.
Karunanayake in recent months has been playing a frontline role
in efforts to bring down prices of drugs and the cost of living.
One such step is the setting up of 24 hour pharmacies at major CWE
outlets to sell good quality drugs at affordable prices. The SLMA
in a statement issued last week said it believed the State Pharmaceuticals
corporation which has some 30 years experience and expertise in
drug imports should be called upon to make the parallel imports
in line with WHO guidelines. The WHO definition of parallel imports
is as follows. " If a manufacturer has patented a product in
several countries, he may for a number of reasons decide to sell
it at a different price in different countries. If the price in
country A is substantially lower than in country B, an importer
in country B may buy the product at a cheaper price in country A
and sell it in country B at a price which is lower than the price
set by the patent holder. This is called "parallel importation."
Times learns that one of the major areas of concern for the SLMA
is that a doctor linked to a leading private hospital is playing
a big role in the formation of the new company and the hospital
is known to be interested in promoting its own drug importing business.
This hospital was also involved recently in the offer of an alleged
inducement to cardiologists who refer patients for open heart surgery.
The Sri Lanka Medical Council, the official body responsible for
maintaining medical ethics wrote to medical professional associations
warning against the acceptance of any such inducements though they
were described as "special allowances."
More than a dry joke
By Faraza Farook
The unit handling socially transmitted diseases
including AIDS moved recently to a big four storey building financed
by the World Bank. But an essential facility has been neglected
and VD tests have not yet been conducted in the new building.
All tests have
been held up for three weeks while authorities are yet to take steps
to get water facilities, for the new building at De Saram Place,
an official said. Though the building has a water tank, the lab
reportedly does not have a tap connection.
The unit was
earlier housed in a different premises on the same road.
The Sunday Times
learns that tests have not been carried out since July 8. The building
also lacks plug points.
said the lab might not be ready for tests even by next week.
of the Bar: the devil quoteth scripture
This seems to be a time in society in which almost everything
is valued except integrity, uprightness and moral rectitude. If
that's verbose, then how about saying plainly that "all kinds
of people are in demand these days except good people.''
of lawyers needs people who are efficient, and there is no doubt
about that. There need to be brave lawyers who uphold the tenets
of the independence of the judiciary etc about which Sri Lankans
seem to be barely aware these days.
But if we see
at the barricades, a horde that seeks to subvert all that is proper
and honest and respectable in the legal profession in the name of
efficiency and in the name of "standing up for the rights of
the members of the Bar" - please, let such hordes stand aside
for people who can keep the good name of the Bar Association alive
In fact, what's
at issue with regard to the furore over the independence of the
judiciary is the issue of integrity and nothing else. It is the
issue of integrity that is paramount in many of the concerns that
weigh on the minds of lawyers, and all right thinking men and women
who want to preserve the independence of the judiciary and legal
It goes without
saying then, that the integrity of the profession can only be maintained
by those who have proven records of integrity whether they are characterized
"as gentle dead wood''(sic) or whatever.
What the legal
profession does not need at this juncture - and with emphasis on
the words "this juncture'' - is the devil quoting scriptures.
People may want to provide leadership for the Bar, but that leadership
must not be motivated by ulterior personal ambition. Incidentally,
those who say "the now much respected'' Shirani Bandarnayake's
appointment was opposed, seem to spike their own case.
What good was
it to oppose the appointment of Justice Shirani Bandarnayake, if
it was only to say at this juncture that she is "now much respected.''
All it shows is that those who did not oppose her appointment certainly
weren't wrong. Can there be shallower reasoning therefore in advocating
an aggressive "leadership of the bar,'' at the expense of those
vaguely defined elements referred to as the "gentle dead wood"
There is tremendous
moral hypocrisy in those who see that issues of independence of
the judiciary can be brought up at certain times, and ignored at
other times. Expediency and nothing else motivate those who think
in this way. How about the larger assaults on the independence of
the judiciary that have taken place in recent times? These pass
muster in the minds of a certain new hustler class of lawyers on
The Bar Association
may not have been what it set out to be in the past few years. If
it was not as effective a lobby group as it should have been, well,
it is time it became a good lobby group. But a good lobby group
first needs to be a credible one. Some good old boys of the bar
have credibility because their record is impeccable in terms of
clamour for such "gentle dead wood'' and if and when it comes
to so doing, vote with their feet for them - because the credibility
and the respectability of the Bar is its first and most important
asset. Any lawyer with a modicum of integrity would acknowledge