Demand for uninhibited restoration of law and order
Fr. Augustine Fernando, Diocese of Badulla (Island)
The need for a thorough clean-up of the politico-economic situation of the country has been felt for a long time. The abuse and misuse of power and influence, indifference to law and order with the powerful overriding every norm was what prevailed. It was democracy gone to the dogs. The people had had enough of it and wanted a drastic change.
The people took a decisive step on 8th January 2015. In spite of having elected a new parliament, the people continue to see the politicians as a strange and unprincipled lot. Perks and privileges that come with power, blind them and distort their understanding of what is fair by the people and what is gross favouritism to their friends. Though they sit on opposing sides of the house some of them are indeed thick as thieves displaying who they actually are: shameless double dealers. Such accommodation is not at all conducive to the common good. Right and wrong, social acceptability and public disdain should be made clear to them. When those ensconced in power do not seem to understand that unequivocally, the people are not only very disappointed, the elected representatives provoke the people to rise anew to drive civic sense and basic civility into them.
(Cartoon added by TW from internet)
System of Justice
To bring about the lost balance in Sri Lanka the system of justice should be restored to its pristine pre-eminence. The re-establishment of a good system of justice does not come about by mere declarations that law is supreme, and the judiciary is free and independent. The judiciary itself will regain its lost prestige through judges who act honourably without fear or favour.
National issues that were unattended to and unresolved by those in power brought about bloodshed and a protracted war, causing deaths of hundreds of thousands and damages amounting to trillions. The objectives of investigation of these and other deadly viruses that have infected the Nation, carried out for example by the LLRC, should be pursued and recommendations implemented.
Corruption of politics, law, trade, finance, insurance, public administration especially since 2005 leading to social chaos, should be objectively reviewed and radically eliminated, by law. This also needs political courage and wisdom. Leaders who stand by truth and promote justice and let the law prevail as justice demands, and are ready to do what needs doing, should not appear wavering.
The ethics of every profession demand that personal attachments, friendships, interests do not overflow into any part of the practice of a profession, injurious to the norms of truth, justice and fairness. No professional should be overtaken by covetousness for money, which becomes sordid for anyone when it is unfairly earned, often by subterfuge. Those who are unconcerned about professional ethics bring disgrace to their profession and become uncivil and anti-social morons.
The system of justice that has evolved in society should get purified in the process. The President, the Minister of Justice, the Attorney General and his department, the judiciary, the legal fraternity, the police and all connected in any way to matters relating to justice, law and order are expected to collaborate as far as it is humanly possible, in meting justice, ethically, impartially and fairly to all the people according to long established norms. The supremacy of the law is to be held so sacred that all those who are in any way connected to upholding should be righteous and blameless; to be aspects of embodiments of what is lawful, legal and right in human conduct. It is the authorities of law that ensure the good health of society by letting the body politic breathe pure air of a clean social environment and run good blood in its veins.
The primary function and duty of the system of justice is to expedite justice without delay in a collaborative manner, that lets untrammeled justice prevail in society. If and when there appears to the people evident collusion and complicity in the very system to pervert justice, letting criminal wrong-doers go free, a poisoning is injected to the body politic to begin degeneration and ultimate ruin of society. Perversion of justice has taken place in Sri Lanka. It should never happen again.
Focus on home & school
Multiplication of laws does not necessarily create, uplift and refine a people even as a nation. A virtuous people are a product of a civilization of metta, muditha, karuna, upeksha, trust, goodness, compassion, mercy, forgiveness and love. These values cannot be compelled by statutory laws, but instilled as a primordial law in man’s heart, cultivated to become mature and robust. In today’s commercialized society, laws tend to fix a money value to everything, every service, even voluntary, friendly and spontaneous ones. Is that just and fair? Is it possible? Don’t they distort human relationships? The reconstruction of society has to begin with proper upbringing of children in the homes and the long-term reconstitution and an honest reformation of the whole system of education in the country. Wrote Edwin Markham (1852–1940): We all are blind until we see That in the human plan, Nothing is worth the making, if It does not make the man. Why build these cities glorious If man unbuilded goes? In vain we build the world, unless The builder also grows.
The education system that prevails tends to produce a hoard of unthinking, a critical, amoral anti-social reactionaries with a frog-in-the-well vision, ignorant of themselves and what life is all about. Just think of all those in public service paid by revenues of the people who have been through the existing education system. How many of them do an honest eight-hour job, conscientiously attending to their work? Haven’t there been a president, prime minister, chief justice, ministers, MPs, secretaries of ministries, judges, jurists, court registrars, armed forces personnel, inspectors general, DIGs and policemen; down the line, customs officials, revenue department officials, bankers, provincial councilors, national school principals and even clergy, and a horde of others right down to peons, surely a few hundred thousand, who, in the opinion of the people, have been corrupt, irresponsible, unaccountable of the trust of the people and unworthy to hold the positions they held? Is this not due to the low quality by-product of the system of education, well exemplified in the uncivilized conduct of some parliamentarians themselves?
Persons who have been badly brought up in supposedly respectable homes and defectively educated and trained in school, university, medical and law colleges and other centres of training, do not automatically become good rulers, ministers of justice, judges, academics, professionals, principals of schools and teachers, even good policemen by the mere fact of their being elevated to such positions; because they may not have caught the notions and demarcations of good and evil, truth and falsehood, partiality and impartiality, fair and unfair, right and wrong, during their childhood, adolescence and youthful years.
(Cartoon added by TW from internet)
In Sri Lanka, like in India, respectability is disproportionately attributed to those with money and property, also giving big crooks and people with disreputable backgrounds a chance to call themselves respectable. The rulers, judges, administrators of the law, ministers inclusive of education, and religious leaders, and the enlightened but passive and unconcerned citizens are directly responsible and accountable for this unacceptable, uncivil, ungracious state of affairs in our land. This unacceptable situation should not be allowed to persist. It has to be set right, now. The onus is on the Government to take the initiative in integral national reconstruction.