Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Tales of public buildings in Sri Lanka

"Great nations write their autobiographies in three manuscripts—the book of their deeds, the book of their words, and the book of their art. Not one of these books can be understood unless we read the two others; but of the three, the only quite trustworthy one is the last. The acts of a nation may be triumphant by its good fortune; and its words mighty by the genius of a few of its children: but its art, only by the general gifts and common sympathies of the race.

Again, the policy of a nation may be compelled, and, therefore, not indicative of its true character. Its words may be false, while yet the race remain unconscious of their falsehood; and no historian can assuredly detect the hypocrisy. But art is always instinctive ; and the honesty or pretence of it are therefore open to the day."

John Ruskin (from St. Mark's Rest: The History of Venice)

Old Parliament Building , Colombo 

New Parliament, Kotte

 Old Law Courts Complex, Hulftsdorp

New Supreme Court Building

Take a look at the pictures above. The new Parliament building was constructed during 1979-1982, shortly after the second republican constitution of 1978 sounded the death-knell for democracy in the country.

The Supreme Court was established by the constitution of 1972. That constitution abolished the right of appeal to the Privy Council in the UK, leaving the Supreme  Court as the  highest court of appeal.

The decline of the judiciary was a slower, less sharply defined process than the decline of Parliament but the rise of the new courts complex reflected the erosion of the independence of the court.

These buildings serve now only as tombstones, unwitting monuments to the dead institutions they house.

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