Vajira denies President called BASL chief a political lawyer

Responding to the Bar Association of Sri Lanka’s (BASL) concerns over President Ranil Wickremesinghe’s reference to its President Saliya Peiris PC as a political lawyer United National Party (UNP) Chairman MP Vajira Abeywardena denies Wickremesinghe made any such reference. According to Abeywardena, Wickremesinghe was not stating his own opinion on the matter but was merely reflecting on the sentiments expressed to him by Members of Parliament. He said the President has on no occasion acted in a manner which undermines the Rule of Law or made a statement which would cause any hindrance to legal practitioners.

“As per the statement of the BASL, it is the fundamental right of any individual or body corporate to retain an Attorney-at-Law of their choice to represent their interests before a Court of Law or tribunal. However, there have been many instances where lawyers have refused to appear in cases filed against an Attorneys-at-Law, and lawyers of another Bar had to be retained to represent their interests. This is not a matter worthy of debate. Everyone must uphold and safeguard the Rule of Law,” Abeywardana said. 

He also said no person can be deemed as apolitical as a person belonging to somewhere or to a particular race, religion, caste or creed from birth. 

“It is my personal knowledge that certain political parties of Sri Lanka belong to particular organisations, either knowingly or unknowingly. They represent their interests and either wittingly or unwittingly take stands economically. No one can find fault with that,” Abeywardana said, adding that President Ranil Wickremesinghe has always stood for the country. 

The MP said Wickremesinghe always stood with the country both in victory and defeat. “President Ranil Wickremesinghe stands with the country at present, too. But certain individuals, organisations and political parties stand with different countries, intentionally or otherwise. They are slaves to various economic causes,” he noted. 

“If someone tells me their opinion regarding something it does not reflect my view on it but what was said to me. We must, therefore, act with extreme caution and not publicise misconceptions. We have the right of responding to an external opinion based on a statement made in Parliament. It is the people’s responsibility to reflect on the correctness or incorrectness of the said statement,” he added.