Minister Of Justice, Rajapakshe – Trojan Horse Or Presidential Hopeful?

“A nation can survive its fools, and even the ambitious. But it cannot survive treason from within...” - Marcus Tullius Cicero

Had it not been for the malicious prosecution of ex-Finance and ex-Foreign Minister, Mr. Ravi Karunanayake and his eventual resignation, I believe the Justice Minister, Mr. Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe would have never found himself at the center of the current storm in the United National Party (UNP). The ‘Ravi-Bond’ saga seems to have turned out to be a can of worms after all.

Soft-spoken and composed, Mr. Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe (WR) is a great lawyer, a family man and known to be a devout Buddhist as well. Having strived for the interest of the state on many occasions, the country is indeed indebted to him for all his positive efforts. In addition to fighting off wheeler-dealer Ravi Weththasinghe over the purchase of LATEC and CTB, Mr. Rajapakshe has stood his ground in recovering the Shell Gas Company and prevented the sale of Sri Lanka Insurance Corporation for a pittance among others. Not to forget his contribution towards bringing the ‘Yaha Palanaya’ (Good Governance) government into power, I believe this man is an asset to any side he chooses to be on.

Fallen from grace and under the spotlight, WR faces an acid test and that which could spell doom for his Ministry portfolio and possibly for his continuation with the Good Governance government as well. Stemming from charges such as shielding criminal elements from the long arm of the law, inefficiency in discharging his duties and aiding the enemy and anti-state elements in bringing down the current government among others, WR’s days in the government seems to be finally numbered now. 

Having spoken to him over the phone a couple of days ago, but failing to secure an appointment to get his side of the story on record, I hope WR prepares himself to address the following points of contention in time before he is taken to task by powers that be:

1. WR claims he cannot influence the judiciary…., yet he is on record stating his firm commitment to prevent the arrest of ex-Secretary to the Ministry of Defense, Mr. Gotabaya Rajapaksa (GR) over charges of abuse of power and instances of corruption.

2. Obstruction to a positive outcome to the investigation into the targeted massacre of over two dozen detainees at Welikada Prison that took place allegedly on the instructions of GR and during the regime of Mahinda Rajapaksa (MR).

3. WR claims he cannot speed up the judicial process where cases are generally called once in few months. But, recollecting the case of Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka where the case was taken up for hearing on a daily basis, would it be safe to assume that WR was feigning ignorance of such a possibility when the need arose to try cases committed by associates of the MR regime? 

4. When WR was on record stating that he cannot set up special courts to address large scale fraud cases and abuses of power without the assistance of the Cabinet and the Attorney General’s (AG) office, did he realize this need two and half years AFTER he was appointed the Minister of Justice or he had realized it long before, but for reasons best known to him, chose to let the snail’s pace continue? For those with a short memory, let us also not forget the existence of special courts in the ‘70s to try foreign exchange violators and a similar one set up in the late ’80s to try JVP activists.

5. The AG’s Department under WR having failed to bring about an end to cases related to crimes of hatred against religious minorities let alone convict the guilty, could it be possible that his possible connivance with ‘faces of terror’ is what prompted criminal elements wearing robes and who falsely claim to be ‘flag-bearers’ of Buddhism to go on a drivel on over-drive mode in defense of WR?

6. As exposed on an article published a couple of years ago on Colombo Telegraph where WR’s credibility was tarnished overnight, did his relationship with the likes of Nissanka Senadipathi of Avant Garde fame while being the Minister of Justice help shield criminal elements associated with the MR’s regime?

7. Could it be possible that the decision to include only a couple or so trial lawyers aligned to the UNP in the list presented to President Sirisena by WR for the appointment of President's Counsels was as a result of his possible hidden alliances with the remnants of the MR regime?

8. When the topic of a ‘No-Confidence Motion’ was widely discussed, what could have been the reason for the likes of MR and Wimal Weerawangsas from the opposition camp to spring into action in defense of WR and for them to publicly affirm their commitment to defeat it should such a Motion be tabled in the parliament? I mean could there be a missing link between crimes committed by MRs and Wimal Weerawangsas and the failure of the AG’s Department to successfully prosecute?

9. What could have been the reason behind ‘planting’ his son Mr. Rakitha Rajapakshe within the inner circle of the leader of the rival Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP), Mr. Maithripala Sirisena? And for Rakitha to be appointed as the Media Secretary under President Sirisena’s Ministry of Defense and as a Director at Information & Communication Technologies Authority (ICTA) at the same time? And could it be possible that Rakitha was the mole inside and who ‘helped’ in the removal of its UNP-loyalist CEO, Mr. Muhunthan Canagey? And is Rakitha’s presence in the SLFP fort while his father camps within the UNP, a carefully devised plot to a preemptive strike at the heart of the Good Governance government in the near future?

10. As the Minister of Justice, could his actions to appease the chauvinistic and racist segment of the Sinhalese/Buddhist population resulted in the denial of justice and closure to thousands of Tamil victims of the 27-year brutal war between the Sinhalese and the LTTE?

11. If the Judiciary and the related Department of Prisons and its conditions have improved only marginally in the last seven decades, shouldn’t the Minister of Justice be held somewhat responsible for maintaining the status quo and for his failure to bring about a radical change where inmates are held in detention for years even for the simplest of crimes?

12. Does it not the the failure of WR in repealing the much dreaded Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) and his failure to rewrite the Constitution to suit the times reflect poorly on his level of competence?

God forbid, in a hypothetical context, should President Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremasinghe be no more amongst the living or if he thinks neither of them are suitable to be a leader of this country, it would be quite alright for WR to entertain thoughts of him being the ‘crown prince’ and as the natural ‘heir’ to the ‘throne’. But in order to reach such heights, if scuttling the sincere efforts of the present government is the first thing that comes to his mind, would it not be an utter waste of his talents and his life on earth?

It is no secret that the majority of the UNP are against and up in arms over WR continuing as the Minister of Justice. The turn-coat that he is, crossing over from one party to another is nothing new to him…, and sleeping with the enemy when scorned should not come as a surprise either. But having judged him and his capabilities, I still believe there is hope for a compromise should WR’s past conduct be questioned.

Personally, in most cases, I consider Mr. Wijeyadasa Rajapaksa to be a man with a good conduct. Unfortunately the influences of MR & Co has got the better of him and as a result, I believe he was misled and was made to take decisions which are contrary to good governance. While it is possible he would have acted in ‘the best interest’ of the country as per HIS conscience…, I believe compromise he should and absolve himself he must of his ‘past sins’ in the face of the majority of those who propelled him to power in the first place.

Therefore, in the same vein Mr. Ravi Karunanayake was stripped of the Ministry of Finance portfolio and assigned the Foreign Ministry, I believe Mr. Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe should be stripped of the vital Ministry of Justice portfolio as well and assigned a suitable one as a compromise. And to fill the void in such a scenario, I believe the names of the politically experienced MP Mr. Sujeewa Senasinghe or the competent and respected lawyer MP Mr. Ajith Perera should be proposed as a replacement.

Moving forward, times are such where it becomes imperative to maintain political stability, and where and when none amongst the legislators are ‘holier-than-thou’ enough to ‘cast the first stone’, it would be only wise for one to be rehabilitated than to be rejected when he/she falls short of expectations and or make errors in judgment. After all, is this not the land of the Compassionate Buddha?

- Fazl Muhammed Nizar
The writer is an independent social/political rights activist and can be contacted at or through Facebook (FB ID – Fazl Muhammed Nizar)

No comments:

Powered by Blogger.