Appointment of ministerial secretaries and their functions – the Island


by Rohana R. Wasala

Addressing a gathering of Sinhala-speaking jurists at a ceremony in Colombo, Justice Minister Ali Sabry said (12): “For me as Minister of Justice, and for all of us as citizens of this country, the people are the most important factor. It is thanks to them that this (legal) profession exists; judges sit because of them. At the end of the day, the best interests of the people must come first (the rest). I don’t think I (Ali Sabry laughed as he said this) will seek to go to parliament again…. I affirm it without fear… I will return to my favorite occupation, that of accompanying the magistracy…. We know that some laws in this country have not been updated for over a hundred years. This task (of modernizing obsolete laws) is our priority… About thirty commissions are engaged in this work (currently)… .. Then the Minister evoked the eternal problem of the delays of the law. He claimed that even Mahanayake Thera, when he called him, asked him to do something to ensure that the monks go to the courts frequently (due to the length of court proceedings): “We are going to introduce a small claims court as found in other countries; cases involving less than (Rs) 2 million do not need a lengthy evidence review, except in special cases. A method of resolving these cases through an affidavit system will be put in place. This is to alleviate the pressure on the district courts ”. (The explanations in parentheses are mine. Hope I correctly interpreted the meaning of Minister. COOL in title is a revamped acronym for One Country One Law)

The current ruling alliance, the SLPP, led by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, has sought the election on the main platform of the One Country One Law. However sincerely both reached out to Tamil and Muslim minorities, and had never discriminated against them in the past, the level of support expected from them has not been met. This was due to the influence that certain Tamil politicians and Muslim communitarians exert on these minorities. It is a fact that the two brothers came to power mainly thanks to Sinhala votes inspired by the ideology of the SLPP. But, as might be expected, they assured minorities that their interests would not be ignored in any way; they invited them all to participate in nation building with the majority community. Steps have been taken to ensure that Tamils ​​and Muslims are fully represented in the administration. The key justice ministry has been entrusted by the president to national list deputy Ali Sabry. No cabinet minister has more to do with implementing the concept of a country’s law than Ali Sabry.

Surprisingly, he now speaks as if he has forgotten this very important (at least allegedly) government goal, for which he received the strongest electoral mandate of all time. We can think that Ali Sabry has the last word! He suggests that even the monks, the most vehement supporters of One country, one law, now only complain about the chronic problem of court delays, which, of course, is not a political problem! the One country, one law the ideal involves politics, for it is opposed by a minority of communal and religious extremists.

The appointment of a whistleblower Buddhist monk, who had gained a bad reputation due to his own lack of self-control and discipline (although his cause is genuinely justifiable), to lead a group presidential work is as questionable and as irrational as the subsequent appointment by the president of a trade union leader monk to the post of vice-chancellor of the University of Colombo; but that is another matter. Putting Ali Sabry on hold with the controversial monk couldn’t be accidental. Although the two deal with closely related topics, they are diametrically opposed in their upbringing, religious beliefs, and personal attributes. They were probably paired up to neutralize each other, or just to make fun of them. One country, one law project.

But extremists are a dying tribe these days, as there are signs that these communitarians will disappear by the next election, replaced by the emerging progressive young generation of Tamil and Muslim politicians, just like politicians. of the old guard of the two great national parties will be ousted by an alliance of small patriotic parties and groups led by a renovated JVP further strengthened by the return to its fold of its old pillars, and also accompanied by a rejuvenation of its leadership. The last paragraph of one of my articles titled JVP at the crossroads Posted in Midweek Island Review March 7, 2018 read: “The JVP must take a long look at its wasteful past and submit to serious reform as a party. It must get rid of its outdated ideologies and outdated leaders. He should not condemn voters as fools for not voting for them. Most importantly, the JVPers must find political allies with whom they can coexist and serve the nation.

(I would now use the term “save” for “serve” in the last sentence.)

I imagine that such a broad alliance will absorb young emerging political activists from all communities, including Uvindu Wijeweera (son of JVP founder Rohana Wijeweera), Amith Weerasinghe, Dan Priyasad, Arun Siddhartan et al, and an ordinary Muslim youth. non-extremist, and ex- Muslims like Rishvin Ismarh (who appeared fearlessly on national television channels, speaking out against Islamists, risking his life for the good of the country). Such a winning alliance must have the last word. the One country, one law we must leave them the ideal to achieve.

It was a sort of digression in anticipation. Let me come back to the Ali Sabry factor that is the subject of this article. A retrospective investigation is necessary at this stage. About a year ago

Media Secretary Viraj Abeysinghe of the Ministry of Health issued a press release warning against the dissemination of false information allegedly concocted by some politicians and websites regarding the subject of burying or burning the bodies of people who have succumbed to COVID-19 infection (lankacnews- Sinhala / December 28, 2020). He said the ministry was turning its attention to certain “politically motivated fake news” featuring powerful politicians with ties to the government. The press release further stated that for the time being (daenata) cremation alone was carried out on the instructions of all expert reports received by the ministry to date. Much the same news was reported in Hiru TV news (9:55 p.m. / December 27, 2020). We felt that this, despite the provisional nature expressed by “daenata”, marked the end of needlessly prolonged procrastination by the authorities on an issue where evidence-based science should have had the final say.

Interviewed by two You Tube channels (Hari TV/ Lahiru Mudalige / December 16 and Konara Vlogs / Avishka Konara / December 23, 2020) Ali Sabry PC, Minister of Justice, stressed that his fight was to build bridges rather than walls between communities. He had been advocating the burial of the bodies of Muslims who died of Covid-19 for more than eight months, ignoring the decree of the competent authority, the DGHS (Director General of Health Services). The DGHS acted on the advice of local experts who knew best what suited our country in the then existing context, that is to say cremation. The well-known lawyer served as legal adviser to (the current president) Gotabaya Rajapaksa for at least 15 years from his time as defense secretary; he had successfully defended the latter against false accusations of all kinds fabricated by political opponents. Sabry’s goal of establishing inter-communal harmony had been laudable, and he was perhaps sincere in his efforts in that direction, but his sincerity remained to be demonstrated. This was because it was surprising that he had repeatedly warned that young Muslims risked being pushed into extremism by what they would perceive as a denial of their right to freedom of religion if the authorities sanitary facilities did not authorize the burial of the bodies of claimed Muslims. by the Covid-19. His utterly absurd position on the sensitive issue (which had to be left to science, but not religion, to resolve) was likely to give a boost to extremists and other disbelievers opposed to the government to create unrest.

To conclude

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