Government Leaders Insult Intelligence of Sri Lankan Public
Posted on February 3rd, 2018

by Tassie Seneviratne Courtesy The Island

These days we hear ad nauseam, ‘holier than thou’ preaching by President Maithripala Sirisena (MS) and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe (RW). The virtues of honesty and integrity claimed by these two Government leaders are an insult to the intelligence of the average Sri Lankan whose literacy is high and has eyes to see, ears to hear, and a brain to think for him/herself and understand.

Illustrations to demolish their claims are too vast to enumerate here. For a start I will confine myself to some glaring case studies, not only of corruption by deceiving others, but even attempts at self-deception as a means to cover up.

Let us take the penthouse episode of former Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake (RK). It came to light that the monthly rent of Rs 1.45 million for a penthouse at Monarch residencies in Kollupitiya that was occupied by RK was paid by Arjun Aloysius of Perpetual Treasuries who is a prime suspect in the bond scam investigation. Although a conflict of interest was obvious even to a grade five student, the explanation given by RW to the Presidential Commission of inquiry was that he asked RK if there was a conflict of interest, and on RK replying “No”, he accepted his word!

Similarly with the whole world seeing not only a conflict of interest but also a major fraud involving Central Bank Governor Arjuna Mahendran and his son-in- law Arjun Aloysius, RW tells the commission that when questioned by him, Mahendran told him there was no conflict of interest and he accepted Mahendran’s word. Strangely very pertinent questions that arise had not been put to RW either by the Commission or by the Attorney General – talk of equality before the law!

This feigned self-deception on the part of RW reminds me of an interesting story told me by a Muslim gem merchant who also ran a bookie and was such a lavish entertainer that he was given the sobriquet of ‘Lord’ before his name. When bargaining on his gems he would swear on the Koran when quoting his price stating that he had an offer for the quoted figure that morning but refused it. Observing this happen all too often, I asked him if he was swearing on the truth. His story went like this: When a Muslim gem merchant leaves his home in the morning with prices marked for the gems, his wife makes an offer on the marked prices and he refuses to sell it to her at that price. He then ‘truthfully’ swears on the Koran and tells the prospective buyers that he had refused such offers that morning!

The involvement of RW and his brazen explanations reveal moral turpitude of the worst order. It is high time we call this bluff lest we all be taken to be fools all the time.

(The writer is a Human Rights activist, advocate of People-Power,

former Director Transparency International (Sri Lanka) and directed

the Program for Protection of Public Resources (PPPR) 2005 – 2010.)

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