Marapana walks the plank
Posted on November 11th, 2015

The Island Editorial

The Avant Garde floating armoury issue has taken a dramatic turn with ministers going for one another’s jugular savagely. Law and Order Minister Tilak Marapana was made to walk the plank on Monday. Unable to defend himself against some of his vociferous Cabinet colleagues baying for his blood he threw in the towel.

But, politically, Marapana’s resignation has inflicted more damage on the government than his controversial defence of Avant Garde in Parliament. For, he insists that the arms ship operations at issue have been within the confines of law and there has been no wrongdoing. The impression he has given the people is that he has been hounded out of office for telling the truth! What logically follows from his argument is that the action of his ministerial colleagues who claim to espouse good governance, against him, is tantamount to a kangaroo trial.

Avant Garde directors and their associates should not be condemned to the stake simply because some ministers are out for their scalps. They must not be presumed guilty until proven innocent. Nor should they be cleared of wrongdoing without a proper investigation. Sadly, the ministerial potentates have not cared to keep an open mind.

Cabinet Spokesman and Health Minister Dr. Rajitha Senaratne has said an ordinary person caught with an unlicensed weapon is hauled up before courts and remanded but those who operated the Avant Garde floating armoury consisting of thousands of arms have gone scot free. One cannot but agree with him on the fate of ordinary people who happen to be on the wrong side of the law. However, it needs to be added that the political party leaders who received thousands of firearms besides ammunition and hand grenades in the late 1980s from the then UNP government on account of JVP terror never returned them; they have also got away with a serious offence. The LTTE terrorists who killed thousands of civilians and destroyed properties worth billions of rupees were treated like VVIPs during so-called peace talks. They enjoyed SLAF chopper rides, stayed in five star hotels and used the VVIP lounge at the BIA, which they had attacked. Worse, no action has been taken against those who gifted container loads of arms and ammunition to the LTTE. President Ranasinghe Premadasa is dead but others responsible for the arms donations are still there. The LTTE subsequently trained those weapons on the security forces, the police and civilians. It is little wonder that the country is awash with illegal weapons.

Justice Minister Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe also defended Avant Garde to the hilt in Parliament. Later, he told the media that the Attorney General would not take legal action against that company regardless of protests in some quarters. Strangely, his head remains intact in spite of having said almost the same thing as Marapana about the floating armoury. Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka tore into three ministers, Marapana, Rajapakshe and Vajira Abeywardene, the other day for shielding Avant Garde. It is not being argued that the other two ministers should also be jettisoned. But, one wonders why Marapana has been singled out for guillotining, so to speak.

Ironically, the UPFA top guns including former President Mahinda Rajapaksa have thrown their weight behind the Avant Garde backers within the Cabinet ranks. Marapana, Rajapakshe et al have unwittingly given the lie to one of the main campaign slogans of the UNP-led coalition which effectively used the floating armoury issue to bolster its claim that the Rajapaksa government had been involved in an international racket. Former President Rajapaksa is over the moon. He has praised Marapana to high heaven as a man of integrity. A water monitor (kabragoya) becomes a land monitor (thalagoya) when one feels like eating it, as they say. The consternation of the UNP heavyweights calling for action against Avant Garde is understandable.

The greatest service ministers can render to the public is to resign from the jumbo Cabinet and lessen the burden on the taxpayers. However, if the government thinks it can tackle the problem of mismanaging the Avant Garde issue by getting a minister to resign it is mistaken. Dysentery cannot be controlled with a diaper, can it?

One Response to “Marapana walks the plank”

  1. Lorenzo Says:

    All BS allegations during the election come crashing.

    NO Buckingham horses, planes, Lamboghinis, bank accounts, illegal weapons dealings, ships, hotels in Dubai, shark tanks, underground rugby stadiums, gold plated roads, rockets, satellites, etc., etc.

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