Weerawansa, sheep and goats
Posted on January 14th, 2017

Editorial Courtesy The Island

It is not for us to judge whether former Minister Wimal Weerawansa is guilty or not of flagrant abuse of public property, as alleged in charges filed against him by investigatory authorities of the State in ongoing court proceedings. He has been remanded on these charges and will probably be bailed out as the long drawn legal procedure drags on as they always do in this country. The business of determining guilt or otherwise is not the task of the media or of public opinion. That is the job of the courts. But everybody in this country knows all too well that politicians of all hues, from the dawn of Independence up to the present day, have abused public property. This was not a problem that had assumed today’s gigantic proportions in the early post-Independence years when most politicians had a sense of right and wrong and public servants did their jobs without fear or favour. We need hardly labour the fact that this is no longer the case. Abuse of State-owned vehicles, particularly, by politicians as well as officials has grown unbelievably with each administration outdoing its predecessor.

It has been alleged that Weerawansa had caused a loss of Rs. 90 million to the State by hiring and releasing about 40 vehicles to various persons including his close relatives during the tenure of the previous regime. In its editorial yesterday, The Island commented that if the very serious charges preferred against the former minister are proved at a fair trial, deterrent punishment should certainly be imposed. Ninety million rupees is certainly not peanuts and the vast majority of Lankans will not see that kind of money in their lifetimes even though the rupee is no longer what it was and anybody who owns a motorbike is a laxapathiya. But compared to the alleged bond scam that ran into billions of rupees and profited a company controlled by the son-in-law of the then Governor of the Central Bank on a scale unseen in the commercial history of this country, the former minister’s vehicle abuse cost would be a mere bagatelle. While statements have been recorded over the bond matter, there have been no high profile arrests as in the case of Weerawansa. His party had last week tossed out the names two other vehicle beneficiaries serving as deputy minister in his ministry and the chairman of a corporation under it and dared the powers that are to probe them as well. Those worthies have now switched allegiance, like many others we might add, with one even securing admission to Parliament on the UNP National List! They now belong to the protected species.

While Wimal Weerawansa is being hauled over the coals, rampant vehicle abuse continues unchecked by those in political and official authority. It would be no exaggeration to say that many highways and even another Hambantota port could have been built with the price that the taxpayer have paid over the years on abused official transport. Instead of doing something about that, we are treated to hearing our leaders both in government and opposition justifying the duty free vehicle permits worth millions being issued to MPs. These are often flogged at mind-boggling prices no sooner they are issued and such brazen actions defended on the basis that the present system of elections require massive expenditure and costs incurred must be recouped. This implies, as we have said before in this space, that the taxpayers owe their lawmakers a living – not an ordinary living but lavish one with all the trimmings. When no less than the prime minister says that MPs must be paid a monthly allowance of Rs. 100,000 as they would otherwise have to find ‘sponsors’ to run their electoral offices, we can only resort to the pithy Sinhala idiom to ask karta kiyanneda?

It was reported that in the course of the investigation of the Weerawansa case it has been stated that officials must know their jobs. That suggests that political functionaries held to account for wrongdoing are taking recourse in the age old strategy of passing the buck. They may have ordered the release of a vehicle to so and so appears to have been the excuse, but the allocation is made by an official on whom it is incumbent to do only what is proper and legitimate. So the buck must lie at the official’s door. Given that one Ministry Secretary who recently held back on doing what he believed was illegal was told to “sign or resign,” what are hapless officials expected to do? Unfortunately the fact is that many bureaucrats are anointed in high office by political patronage. Meritocracy has long flown out of the window and seniority too is not always respected. Patronage appointees bend over backwards to please their patrons and there are few with the backbone of the late IGP Cyril Herath to tender their resignation rather that fall in line with improper political demands. To his credit, Herath also declined a compensatory diplomatic appointment sop thrown in his direction. But most officials are compliant and do as bidden with a supplicatory ehei hamaduruwaney.

It is a long time since the late President J.R. Jayewardene pledged a dharmishta government. Yahapalanaya today is attracting as much derision as dharmishta did then. The present government was elected to office to change everything that was wrong in the way the previous administration conducted business. Progress of bringing the guilty to book is painfully slow and the foreign minister has spoken in London about special courts in the offing. There must be no selectivity between sheep and goats on who is being held to account. It was recently reported that a minister’s son without a Sri Lankan driving licence met with an accident and the matter was settled on a payment. That may be well and good if normal process regarding speeding or reckless driving is followed. But importantly, the minister also must be held to account for his son driving an official vehicle. That is what is expected of real yahaplanaya than the spurious product on offer today.

10 Responses to “Weerawansa, sheep and goats”

  1. Dilrook Says:

    Misusing state vehicles is practiced by almost all the ministers. Singling out Wimal is clearly a worse form of political victimisation. This government has lowered its own lows in political victimisation. First they harassed family members of politicians which was never done before. Now they arrest opposition MPs on petty allegations selectively.

    They must not forget they will be arrested and remanded when they are in the opposition for the same charge. Almost all UNP ministers are guilty of this offence.

    Their plan seems to be to frame Wimal for murder over the death of the young man at his place by removing him from the picture temporarily and harassing his family members to agree to the regime’s version of events. Sri Lanka is a full-fledged dictatorship today. The danger is governments are changed via elections only in democracies. In dictatorships, other means are used to change the regime. As people are convinced Sri Lanka is a dictatorship today, they will rely on means that are commonly used in dictatorships to topple this regime.

  2. Ananda-USA Says:

    Indeed, as Dilrook so aptly stated,

    “Sri Lanka is a full-fledged dictatorship today.”

    But, its more than that, it is a Yamapalana HYPOCRAZY, not a Yahapalana DEMOCRAZY!

  3. Ananda-USA Says:

    But compared to the alleged bond scam that ran into billions of rupees and profited a company controlled by the son-in-law of the then Governor of the Central Bank on a scale unseen in the commercial history of this country, the former minister’s vehicle abuse cost would be a mere bagatelle. While statements have been recorded over the bond matter, there have been no high profile arrests as in the case of Weerawansa.

  4. Ananda-USA Says:

    Instead of doing something about that, we are treated to hearing our leaders both in government and opposition justifying the duty free vehicle permits worth millions being issued to MPs. These are often flogged at mind-boggling prices no sooner they are issued and such brazen actions defended on the basis that the present system of elections require massive expenditure and costs incurred must be recouped.

  5. Ananda-USA Says:

    When no less than the prime minister says that MPs must be paid a monthly allowance of Rs. 100,000 as they would otherwise have to find ‘sponsors’ to run their electoral offices, we can only resort to the pithy Sinhala idiom to ask karta kiyanneda?

  6. Samanthi Says:

    A nice comment copied from LankaCnews regarding the arrest of Wimal W.
    —————————————————————————————-
    Sanjaya says:

    Wimal Weerawansha is a political charactor who never changed the ideology of his politics. I know him from as early as 1994. Even when he was in JVP he stood fearlessly for Nationalism and for uniqueness of the country. Even now he stand for the same political policies. Not like Champika Ranawaka and some others , he never changed his political ideology and the people who represent his camp. His politics is never contradict with his own acts and his own past. Some people said, We do not care who will be the prime minister of this country, at once as we can remember by supporting to the very same person who at once they themselves called as the ” Don Juwan Dharmapala “. Wimal is not such a guy. What he has said , What he has done in the past is not cotradict with his present moments. And that is significant thing which I identify of him. The path of the Matyres or Real heros is not on the bed of roses but through garrisons and prison cells. That is the lesson of the history. I admire you……..Brother…Go ahead !!!! We will be with you for ever….

  7. Samanthi Says:

    Another news item from the same website:

    මහා පරිමාන දුෂකයින් අල්ලා හිරේ දමන බවට පවසමින් වත්මන් ආණ්ඩුව බලයට පැමිණියත් දැන් අල්ලන ලොකුම දුෂණය වාහන අවභාවිතය යයි එක්සත් ජාතික පක්‍ෂයේ හිටපු මන්ත‍්‍රී මෛත‍්‍රී ගුණරත්න මහතා පවසයි.

    වත්මන් ආණ්ඩුව වාහන අවභාවිත කරන ආකාරය බැලූ විට ඊළග ආණ්ඩුවට මෙම පිරිස හිරේ දැමීමට හිරගෙවල් මදිවනු ඇතැයිද ඔහු කියා සිටියේය.

    මෛත‍්‍රී ගුණරත්න මහතා එජාප ඇමති සජිත් පේ‍්‍රමදාස මහතාට හිතවාදී පිලේ ප‍්‍රබල ක‍්‍රියාකාරිකයෙකි.

    http://lankacnews.com/%E0%B6%B8%E0%B7%99%E0%B6%9C%E0%B7%8F-%E0%B6%9E%E0%B7%93%E0%B6%BD%E0%B7%8A-%E0%B6%9A%E0%B7%92%E0%B6%BA%E0%B6%B1%E0%B7%8A%E0%B6%B1%E0%B7%9A-%E0%B7%80%E0%B7%8F%E0%B7%84%E0%B6%B1-%E0%B6%85%E0%B7%80/

  8. Ananda-USA Says:

    Samanthi,

    Thank you for posting this comment.

    Besides his exceptional ability to marshall all the facts and deliver them more precisely and eloquently than any other, this comment identifies why I love Wimal Weerawansa!

    A patriotic Sinhala Lion to the core!

  9. Dilrook Says:

    I agree with Samanthi. Wimal may have his shortcomings but his good surpasses those. I have no hesitation in admiring Wimal. My comparison is not against ideals but against the other 224 MPs.

    I hope Wimal will be released soon and continues his good work for the nation. This shameful witchhunt of opposition politicians and soldiers must stop.

  10. Christie Says:

    In the Indian colony we are in; he is probably the only one to tell us how we are being governed by India.

    So Indian Empire is after him and will get him.

    Even if he has caused the use of State vehicles for corrupt purposes how can some one blame the Minister in charge?

    I thought the vehicle fleet is looked after by a clerk.

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