Investigating Misuse of Public Resources “Let him who is without sin cast the first stone”
Posted on April 30th, 2017

By Tassie Seneviratne

There is much hype being generated about investigations against those who have misused public resources.

There are also allegations that investigations are being carried out selectively targeting political rivals.

In this context it behoves one to examine the bona fides of the Government and the investigating agencies.   An important aspect in such examination is to also examine the past history of the Key Government actors of today, and their present day dealings, in this same regard.

I have been in the forefront of the project aimed at the Protection and Prevention of Abuse of Public Property  initiated and directed by Attorney-at-Law J C Weliamuna, especially during election times since November 2001 – First with the Institute of Human Rights (PPP/IHR) and then with Transparency International/ Sri Lanka Chapter (PPPR/TISL), as Director Investigations.

The first major exercise was during the run up to the General Election held on 5/1/2001.Several Advertisements were published in the print media calling upon the general public and   public servants to cooperate with PPP/IHR.  The public and many public servants responded positively by providing valuable information revealing large scale misuse of public property causing colossal losses to the national revenue.  The information/complaints thus received were verified by a team of experienced investigators under my directions and the confirmed information was reported to the Commissioner of Elections, Auditor General, the Commission to Investigate allegations of Bribery or Corruption (CIABOC), Secretaries  to the relevant Ministries,  the Inspector General of Police and to the public through the media that gave wide publicity.

The main offenders as disclosed by the confirmed information were:-

( 1 and 2 are taken from Supreme Court Writ No. 2/2002 – details of which appear further below)

  1.  President Chandrika Kumaratunga, leads not only by the virtue of the position she held but also by the quantum of misuse of public revenue. Some of the glaring abuses were :-

Printing and distributing PA propaganda leaflets to the Armed Services and the Police, and also airlifting the leaflets at State cost with knowledge and direction of the Army Commander, in two flights, much to the chagrin of senior officers who were unhappy about involving the Army in unlawful election propaganda.

A satellite address by HE the President, Chandrika Kumaratunga at state cost :-

Three teams were sent to Jaffna by a special flight with equipment and three stations were set up for this purpose – one each at Palali (Wasawillan Camp), Jaffna (Headquarters 51st Division) and Kankesanturai (Naval Base).  Thus HE the President made apolitical speech canvassing votes for the PA and the speech was telecast several times totally facilitated by public resources.

 

  1. Cabinet Minister Maithripala Sirisena
  • In the PPP/IHR Report dated 27.11.2001, it was reported as follows :-

5. Mahaweli Authority – The under mentioned 14 employees selected by Minister Maithripala Sirisena have been sent to Aralaganwila by letter No. MA/ADM/12 dated 16.11.2001 of the Director Administration of the Mahaweli Authority, Miss Daya Mediwela, purportedly for a training course from 17.11.2001 to 2.12.2001.  These employees are presently engaged in the election campaign of Minister Sirisena who is a PA candidate for Polonnaruwa District.”  (list of 14 employees was attached).

  • 3.1 On 4.12.2001. The Resident Commercial Manager, Mahaweli Authority ‘C’ Zone, has paid the following monies out of Mahaweli funds to be utilized for welfare expenses of party workers at polling booths.
  1. Rs 5,000/= by Voucher No. 4773 to K L Chandrawardana, Development Officer Weragala Division, purported to be for a non-existent Youth Training Programme
  2. Rs 5,000/= by Voucher No. 4774 to Saman Pilapitiya, Unit Manager, Nuwaragala Division, purported reason being another non-existent Training Programme.
  • Rs 6,500/= by Voucher No. 4772 to R M Dissanayake, Unit Manager, Siripura Division, purported reason being an agricultural programme.
  • In addition to vehicles already mentioned in earlier reports the following vehicles have been noted on 3.12.2001 campaigning for Mr Maithripala Sirisena, PA candidate for Polonnaruwa District, in Araganwila area with Mahaveli Security personnel carrying T 56 rifles. (list of eight vehicles was attached)
  • 2 –Vehicles. 16 vehicles belonging to Sri Lanka Mahaweli Authority have been noted carrying persons armed with weapons intimidating political opponents in Dimbulagala area.”

 

  • 4.2 – Mahaweli Centre situated at Ananda Coomaraswamy Mawatha, Colombo 7, was basically used as a collection and distribution centre for PA election propaganda material.  Large stocks of posters, handbills etc. (printed elsewhere with state funds) were collected and approximately ten lorry loads of poster boxes were sent out daily from this point…………………… …..  From 12th November 2001, observing PPP/IHR surveillance, police protection was added to this place, when usually it was security of the Mahaweli Authority that was deployed to provide security and secrecy for the operation.  ………………

Mr Maithripala Sirisena, the General Secretary of the SLFP, the main party of the PA coalition was the Minister in Charge of Mahaweli who directed operations.”

 

  1. 3. Cabinet Minister Mr Mangala Samaraweera

(From the final report on Abuse of Public Resources during the Presidential Election 2005- Published by TISL)

  • 4.1 – SriLanka Ports Authority (SLPA) (Coming under Minister Mangala Samaraweera) The SLPA has been observed expending large amounts of state resources for the Presidential Election campaign of the UPFA candidate with no concern whatsoever for the financial regulations or other regulations governing state resources as revealed in our periodic reports.”
  • From Report No 2 November 2005

02 – Sri LankaPorts Authority (SLPA).  The Programme for Protection of Public Resources (PPPR/TISL) has reliable information about the ‘hiring’ of 10 vehicles for the use in the Presidential Election campaign of the P.A.Candidae.  This information is supported with documentary evidence.

Confidential inquiries made by PPPR/TISL investigators have revealed the following facts:

A Quotation has been called and a decision taken to hire 10 vehicles on monthly basis with fuel and drivers from M/S Wiranga Travels and tours at the rate of Rs 70,000/= per month for 3000 km and Rs20/- for every additional km, and to release the advance of 50%  (Rs 350,000/=).  All this has taken place on 21.10.205 and a cheque drawn in favour of WiorangaTravels & Tours also on the same day pending SLPA Board approval,on the orders of the newly appointed Chairman SLPA through  a Management Committee appointed by him.  As there was no current account in the name of Wiranga Travels & Tour, a cheque has been drawn in favour of its proprietor MASC Ranaweera on 24-10-2005.

Although the payment is for the hire of ten vehicles on a monthly rental basis, confidential inquiries made by PPPR revealed that the 10 vehicles in fact have not been supplied by Mr Ranaweera to the SLPA.”( He has had nothing to do in this matter other than signing the cheque). High secrecy is maintained in connection with this transaction for no bona fide reasons, giving credence to the information that this is an exercise to utilize State Resources for the PA election campaign by devious means.”

06 – From Report No 3.  Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA)  House No. 380/83 Sarana Road off Baudhaloka Mawatha Colombo 8, belonging to SLPA is being used to house a group of PA supporters engaged in the PA election campaign.  This group includes two Rupavahini Cameramen with TV cameras.  A printing machine has also been set up and election propaganda materials are being printed here.”

 

 

 

 

 

  1. Cabinet Minister S B Dissanayake

(From the Final Report on Abuses of Public Resources – General Election April 2004 – published by TISL)

31st March 2004

Press Release and Report No. 04

  1. Ministries of Agriculture, Samurdhi and Youth Affairs, and Provincial Councils.

The following vehicles belonging to the above mentioned Ministries are seen very actively campaigning for the UNF and its Nuwera Eliya candidate, Minister S.B. Dissanayake at the places indicated against the vehicle numbers.

  • 32-4670. Pajero belonging to Agriculture Research Institute was seen distributing election propaganda material.
  • 252-6521 Double cab belonging to Ministry of Provincial Councils and Local Government was seen campaigning along Ragala-Walapone Road.
  • 56-6245, WPGA9968, 250-8827 Double cabs belonging to Samurdhi Ministry were seen campaigning in Rikillagaskade.
  • 65-1577 Trooper belonging to Ministry of Agriculture was seen campaigning in Rikillagaskade.
  • 64-3224 Pajero belonging to Ministry of Youth Affairs was seen campaigning in Hanguranketha area.
  • Hh-7263 Bolero belonging to Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock was seen campaigning in Hanguranketha area.”

In spite of a spate of allegations of corruption against him, he was given nomination by the PA in the last General Election of August 2015, and although rejected by the people, was taken in under the national list and also given a cabinet portfolio!  He now sings for his supper.

  1.    Incumbent Prime Minister Mr. Ranil Wickramasinghe 

Though trying to keep a profile as ‘Mr Clean’, he is perceived as resorting to nepotism and protecting his cronies in large scale frauds such as the Central Bank bond Scam.

We read more reports about secret deals of his cronies of the like of his ‘Super Minister’ Malick Samarawickrama, carelessly squandering public money by entering into secret deals without consultation – and who knows how much greased whose palms?

*****************

Official Complaint to the Commission to Investigate Bribery or Corruption (CIABOC)

On 6.11.2001, Director PPP/IHR JC Weliamuna and I met the Chairman CIABOC, Justice Ananda Coomaraswamy and requested that the CIABOC take action on abuse of public resources by politicians and State officers during the general election scheduled for 5.12.2001.  The chairman CIABOC agreed that these abuses fall within the offence of corruption and that action has to be taken appropriately.

Six periodic reports of confirmed information were submitted to CIABOC and its attention was drawn for appropriate action under the Bribery Amendment Act.

By letter dated 13.12.2001 CIABOC informed PPP/IHR that The material submitted in the said reports do not come within the purview of the Act of Bribery or Corruption” thereby failing to act under the Bribery Amendment Act.  Such failure was unlawful, unfair, arbitrary and ultra vires the provisions of the Act.

In January 2002 I petitioned the Supreme Court applying for writs of Certiorari and Mandamus – (a) to quash the decision of the CIABOC and (b) to issue a mandate in the nature of writ of Mandamus compelling the CIABOC to conduct investigations into the communications submitted by PPP/IHR in terms of the provisions of the Act. (Supreme Court Writ No. 2/2002 refers)

On 18.3.2002 my application was taken up for hearing before Chief Justice (CJ) SN Silva presiding and Justices Gunasekera and Ismail.  After hearing submissions from my Counsel Manohara de Silva and Senior State Counsel (SSC) S Rajaratnam for the Attorney General, the CJ indicated to the SSC that the allegations fell within the purview of CIABOC.

The CJ however, without proceeding to make the appropriate order granting relief by way of the writs applied for, pushed for a settlement – the SSC submitting that Wherever information disclosed warrants any action in terms of the Bribery Act, necessary steps would be taken and the petitioner would be informed of the result”.  I was not happy with the non sequitur order but due to the intimidating attitude of the CJ my counsel acquiesced. No action was taken by CIABOC and I had no intimation whatsoever of any result.

Relevant extracts from Section 70 of the Bribery (Amendment) Act No. 20 of 1994, as applicable to this case in point reads :-  Any person who, with intent to ——- , or to confer a wrongful or unlawful benefit, favour or advantage on himself or any person, or with knowledge that any wrongful or unlawful loss will be caused to any person or the Government, or that any wrongful or unlawful benefit, favour or advantage will be conferred on any person, does or forebears to do, any act which he is empowered to do by virtue of his office as a public servant, ——– shall be guilty of the offence of corruption.”

(The meaning of public servant” applicable to the Bribery or Corruption Act, includes Judicial officers – Sec. 14 of the Bribery Act refers)

It is quite clear that those misusing public resources, the Secretaries to the relevant Ministries, the Police, CIABOC and the Supreme Court are all culpable of corruption as defined in the Bribery Amendment Act. Only the media exposures before the light of human conscience and the bar of public opinion” had public interest in mind.

This was the state of affairs in the country when Mr. Maithripala Sirisena and several key Government actors of today were in power earlier.  Mala fides are perceived when the pot calls the kettle black.

Bribing of opposition members of Parliament with Cabinet Portfolios for supporting the government, irrespective of their reputation for corruption, with a view to increase its majority in Parliament, and thereby incurring a colossal drain on the dwindling State coffers and thus adding to the already unbearable burdens on the people, amounts to huge misuse of State resources for political gain.

All this gives substance to the allegations that the present investigations into corruption related offences are carried out selectively against political rivals.

(The writer is a Retired Senior Superintendent of Police)

2 Responses to “Investigating Misuse of Public Resources “Let him who is without sin cast the first stone””

  1. Nimal Says:

    It seems all the recent past regimes have been misusing the public funds.

  2. Cerberus Says:

    Well said, Sir! There are many cases against Rogue queen which are all documented in the book by Victor Ivan. Ranil was indicted by the Batalanda commission who recommended withdrawing his civil rights for his role in the torture and killing of at least 15,000 people at Batalanda torture house. CBK ignored the Batalanda commission inquiry in return for his ignoring her uncle’s bribery charges on arms imports. Both CBK and Ranil seem to hate Sinhala Buddhists. CBK probably because her father and husband were killed by the Sinhalese. Ranil probably because he has been mocked by the Sinhalese for his gay tendencies as with Gonawela Sunil and others. Gonawela Sunil was apparently called Ranil’s husband in Biyagama, Kelaniya.

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