|MOON REPORT IS ILLEGAL
is an irony in a country with a history of over 100 years of
Trade Unionism and with 95% literacy, outsiders continue to
manipulate the destinies of the workers. These self
appointed protagonists are either politicians or followers
of come decadent ideology and use Trade Unionism to maintain
to climb to power to preserve the positions they already
Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe, the lone ranger of Sri Lankan
politics who earlier dared to defy the UPFA as a Minister in
President Mahinda Rajapaksaís first term when he wanted
certain doubtful transactions of the state banks probed and
was outspoken on many other issues, has now in a patriotic
zeal has literally grabbed the UN Secretary General by his
shirt collar pointing out with in depth research into UN
where Ban Ki-moon had gone wrong with his advisory panel on
Sri Lanka. We spoke to the outspoken parliamentarian now
representing the UNP on the issue. Following are excerpts:
By Rohan Abeywardena
Q: When you take a bold step like this, the enemies will
sling mud at you and already one web site has insinuated
that you took this stand because there is a CID
investigation into your unpaid taxes personally directed by
the President. What was your reason for going out of your
way to take on the UN Secretary General in defence of the
This is an allegation made by Rajitha Senaratne in 1999 when
I appeared against him in a case where the court expelled
him from parliament. I know that according to the Inland
Revenue Department rating, I am one of the best tax payers
since 1984. I never had any problem with the Tax Department,
but in a particular year, prior to 1998 there was a delayed
payment of Rs. 60,000. That is what he had highlighted.
There is nothing. If I had that kind of thing when I crossed
over there was ample time, about three years, to drag it
out. I donít think the President will come down to that
level knowing my past conduct.
Q: There is also the allegation that you recently met
President Rajapaksa after informing your Leader Ranil
Wickremesinghe and then on April 25 morning when you
informed him of your decision to make the special statement
regarding the report of the advisory panel of the UN
Secretary General, Wickremesinghe had wanted to see it
first, but without showing it you had gone public with it.
I never said I am going to make a statement. I did this in a
professional way. It is not a statement. I wrote a letter
explaining the legal provisions in the UN Charter and the
international law. I kept him informed. That is all. I also
informed him that I am not entangling in political issues
and it has nothing to do with party policies and purely a
legal document. In fact the letter refers only to legal
matters and nothing else.
Q: Could it be an immediate reaction to your letter that
Ranil Wickremesinghe appointed a party team headed by
retired civil servant Bradman Weerakoon to study the panel
report, knowing very well that Weerakoon was an ardent fan
of the controversial CFA?
I cannot exactly say it is the reason, but that is possible.
I of course wrote as a lawyer. Ten years ago I was made a
Presidentís Counsel and in that sense one of the most senior
lawyers and the oath I took as a PC in the Supreme Court
said whenever there is a problem, jeopardy or a predicament
faced by Sri Lanka, then without even charging a fee, when
the state requests my services I am prepared to do it. That
is my oath.
In Parliament at present I am the one and only Presidentís
Counsel. Therefore I was really concentrated from day one
when Ban Ki-moon first expressed his idea to appoint a
committee in March 2010 in the heat of the election campaign
here. I was the one and only politician who spoke against
that to the media. There was nobody either from the
government or the opposition to speak out against it.
Prominent publicity was given to it by Swarnavahini. On that
day also my stance was the same. In the last five to six
months I got down the relevant materials and books, some
from the UN itself and from America. Then I studied for
couple of months before preparing this letter. I must have
spent several lakhs of rupees buying material to study the
Q: So it was purely for the sake of the country.
Certainly. I donít know whatever the quarter from which
the allegations are coming, but even earlier on so many
occasions the President has invited me. I donít want to do
any conspiracy or underhand work if I want to join the
government or to get a portfolio. In fact the President
earlier gave me a portfolio and Mrs. Bandaranaike also gave
me, but I did not want to take at that time. I am sure if I
wanted he might accommodate me.
Q: Are you interested?
Absolutely not. In fact the President called me. He
thanked me for doing this kind of thing for the country
despite being an opposition member. Nothing is expected by
me in return.
Q: What was the reaction of Ranil Wickremesinghe?
I kept him informed. On the same day I sent a copy to
the President simultaneously a copy was also sent to Ranil
Wickremesinghe. So far there has been no comment by anybody.
Q: Even when you were in the UPFA you spoke out without
fear or favourÖ.
That is I know in Sri Lankan politics when you speak out
without fear or favour, it is disadvantageous to that person
whoever it is. It doesnít matter because I am not here to
win over anybody. I only want to convince my conscience that
I am doing the correct thing.
Q: Like any good lawyer you seem to have studied your brief
thoroughly, but the world order is such that it is weighted
in favour of the powerful nations where they even get away
with mass murder, while preaching to the world about human
rights and good governance. Now various people are
proffering all sorts of opinion to the government on this
issue, but what is your advice?
When I wrote a letter I know that should have had a great
effect than the entire government or the entire Cabinet
writing to the UN. The allegations are thrown basically
against the government. When an opposition member holds this
kind of opinion and writes directly and also state I am
willing to take the challenge to discuss face to face with
almost the first citizen of the world, the UN Secretary
General, they will take serious note. And there is a message
given to the powerful countries and the organisation as far
as the issue is concerned that the Sri Lankan community as a
whole taking this as a threat and in addition to that
irrespective of party politics the opposition is willing to
stand with the government and fight on this issue. That is
the clear message that has gone to the world.
Q: What is the next step? Has the government asked you to
take part in the fight against the advisory panel report?
Whatever the government, if I am asked to fight against this
unfair report - my position is this is illegal - I will
certainly do it. Whatever the assistance the government
needs from me, forget about politics, but as a lawyer and as
a citizen certainly I will extend it. It doesnít mean I will
have to go and join the government and get a ministerial
portfolio. That is the thinking pattern. I donít want to
come down to that level, but I am willing to support.
Q: What really drove you to take this trail blazing action
in literally grabbing the UN by its throat while not even
being in the government?
In the first place I studied the case for months and months.
There was something which was really disturbing my mind. We
know that a majority of the people are not educated on
political issues the world over, not only in Sri Lanka and
sometimes most of the people act on emotions. Knowing the
history of Sri Lanka I have a fear that due to some reasons
based upon this report if they want to fix Sri Lanka or some
leaders here, there can be another calamity. The people
might be provoked into venting their emotions. Even in the
last couple of days we saw that some unwarranted protests
are going on. A slight spark just might ignite Sri Lanka as
happened in 1983. Then that would mean we will never become
a peaceful country during the lifetime of the present
I think to avoid such a repetition it is the duty of
everybody. We cannot face such type of bloodbath or
commotion in future. We cannot come down to that barbarous
level. If it happened during the rule of a so called
versatile leader like J.R. Jayewardene, it can happen under
the leadership of anyone else. That is my concern. I wrote
this letter to prevent such a situation. For that I am not
expecting any certificates or awards, but that is what
pushed my feelings to do it and to take any risk on that
Q: Has there been any reply from the UN?
Not yet. But we get information from lots of Sri Lankans
working there. We have got the information that they have
seriously considered this letter and after the release of
the report early this week the Secretary General dealt with
two matters that is to concede that it is not within his
authority. Those two grounds referred to in his reasoning
are the two reasons I have given in my letter.
Number one we are not a signatory to the Rome Convention. Of
course that credit must go to Ranil Wickremesinghe. That is
the first ground. If you have to have this kind of
investigation against Sri Lanka since we are a
non-signatory, they have to get consent in writing from the
Sri Lankan government. Only then they can start it.
The number two I have pointed out that what he had done was
to arrogate the powers of the Security Council. If there was
a Security Council resolution he could have acted upon it.
Instead he had done it on his own. He has conceded that on
these first two grounds he has no authority. In addition to
these two there are four other grounds, but he has conceded
Q: On the deliberate failure of the UNP leadership to get
its previous interim Working Committee to appoint its
National Organiser, a group of lawyers, including you had
given the opinion that it was not a violation of the party
constitution. Do you still believe in that opinion?
Whoever the lawyer who drafted that constitution should have
had that provision. This constitution has not mentioned
anything with regard to the appointment of office bearers at
the first round. This is a continuation. Unless the
constitution is amended, even for hundred years these are
the operational provisions. It is the basic rudimentary
principle of law, irrespective of any vacancy, in a working
body or a decision making body, the decisions are valid.
That cardinal principle is embodied in our constitution.
Irrespective of the fact that there are vacancies in
parliament, you cannot say an act or a bill passed by
parliament is invalid. That was the rudimentary principle
that was considered by everybody in the Working Committee.
It was discussed for days and weeks and all agreed because
it was the constitution that had been adopted, but as you
suggested you can put that question in a different way. If
you ask me whether it is legal? It is definitely legal.
There is no question about that, but if you ask from me
whether it is ethical? Then there is an issue. As a lawyer
when I am called upon to give a legal opinion I am not
supposed to go through the ethical part. Even in cases there
are so many unethical things, but when a judge has to look
into those matters, he cannot look into ethical parts.
Q: Natural justice demands that goal posts should not be
moved to suit certain interests, but such things are
happening in the UNP even under the new constitution.
It is not a question of constitution. Four months had been
given to elect the office bearers. I had no authority to
appoint office bearers. If they had not done it, it is the
fault of the office bearers who did not do it. It cannot be
attributed to the person who drafted the constitution.
Certainly on a question of ethics I think you are sound. You
can ask what did you do for four months. It is a question
that has to be answered by them, the persons who are