04 September 2017
Culture v Common Law
["JHU stated that General (Rtd) Jayasuriya did not carry out a private duty, but he carried out a collective responsibility as an Army Officer of the Sri Lanka Army belonging to the legally and democratically elected government.
The government should intervene in the case filed against the former Army Commander. He performed a duty of the Army. The government has a responsibility to represent on behalf of this government servant. The duty he performed as the Vanni Commander is legal and conforms to local and international laws. He carried out a collective responsibility to protect the President, Cabinet and the people in the country. He contributed to bring in peace to the country".] Ceylon Today article – Crossfire Between Military Top brass over War Crimes will put President Maithri in a political mess – at: http://www.ceylontoday.lk/columns20170401CT20180430.php?id=956
Most of us Australians did not give much weight to Section 44 Constitutional restriction which bans Dual Citizens from being part of the Government. But Racial Discrimination Act 1975 effectively confirms the same message – that one who pays allegiance to one leadership is not entitled to hold office in another independent structure. This is also the principle underpinning the Doctrine of Separation of Powers. In essence, one who participates is not able to observe and v.v.
To identify with the difficulty of the Army to stay within the law – known or otherwise – we have a recent manifestation of members of the Sri Lankan Armed Forces pulling a Hindu chariot in Northern Sri Lanka. A retired army officer who sent me the published report wrote in response to my article ‘Buddhism Foremost Law Breached by Sri Lankan Army’:
[The point here is these soldiers did a good deed irrespective of cast or creed.]
The question that came to my mind is whether these very same men would have done this at a Buddhist ceremony in a Southern Sri Lankan village where junior castes were in majority? Since that was not a manifested ‘fact’ I asked the following question:
[Are you saying that it is a good deed to take over someone else’s opportunity?]
The conversation continued as follows:
Retired Army Officer: no. an opotuinity was not taken over. there were no takers and thees chaps performed this.
Gaja: To my mind, the duty of an officer is as per the law. Are you saying that they acted in accord with Article 9 of the Constitution? As officers the law is their authority and not their individual thinking. You are saying that you also would have acted like them and therefore acted in breach of Article 9. There were takers but there was fight to take the opportunity. That was not an orphan for you to say there were no takers. Where the matter was not concluded within the law – the Truth ought to have been allowed to flow. If that was the case they would have learnt the lesson not to bring their internal fights out in the open. The Army have confirmed that they were ‘waiting’ to declare the chariot an orphan.
Retired Army Officer: Gaja, WHAT AM TRYING TO SAY IS THESE CHAPS PERFORMED A GOOD DEED.THAT’S ALL TO IT. EVEN IF HINDUS OR ANY RELIGEON FOLLWERS GO TO ANY PLACE OF WORSHIP IT’S OK. WILL CLOSE THE CORRESPONDENCE/.
Gaja: If you thought it was good deed and if you believe that I think it was unlawful deed – then I am a more law abiding citizen than you in Sri Lanka. Hence the conversation is closed when I say so.
To my mind, the army officers who ‘took’ orders from the then Government – subjectively – are limited to his authority and not the authority of the Sri Lankan Public in Common. The law is taken as the word of authority of the Sri Lankan People in Common. In the above example therefore I had higher authority as Sri Lankan than the retired Army Officer whose expressions certifying the goodness of the Armed Forces did not show connection to the Law. Due processes are like the uniforms we wear in certain positions. Those Uniforms / Due Processes confirm that we are bound by Common principles and that both sides have duties as per the respective position in the relationship. That relationship starts from Commonness and ends again with Commonness.
Even if it were true that the armed officers were pulling the Hindu chariot out of goodness – they did not have the authority to manifest their goodness publicly at that place at that time. They did not have jurisdiction to do so.
Hence if Retired General Jayasuriya acted not as per the law and his uniform but as per the orders of his leader – he has no recourse to assistance from the common pool of Government resources. If the JHU feels for him – they need to raise the money from their own followers and not use public funds common to the Sri Lankan Public – including Tamils who were denied the protection of the law due to lack of commitment to Commonness. Had General Jayasuriya retired when his hero was dismissed by the People – he would have saved himself this disturbance and demotion in wider world.
The Karma of taking the LTTE problem to world stage is active especially in areas where Tamils have become important players.