A Perpetual Problem
Posted on July 13th, 2018

Editorial Courtesy The Island

A revelation that Perpetual Treasuries (Pvt.) Ltd. (PTL) sponsored an event conducted by the Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL) has made the legal fraternity squirm. We reported yesterday that the PTL was among the companies which sponsored the three-day Law Asia 2016 Golden Jubilee Conference in August, 2016. The second bond scam had been committed by that time and the PTL was already under a cloud. Besides, the media had given wide publicity to its illegal operations. The BASL, being at the forefront of a campaign to combat corruption and so forth, should have known better.

The image of Parliament, or what remains thereof, has been sullied due to lawmakers benefiting from the PTL largess. Sadly, lawyers have also failed to be different. It looks as if only the judicial officers had not benefited from PTL’s fraudulently acquired funds.

Crooks and other anti-social elements such as drug dealers, in most cases, are not known for what they really are; they masquerade as successful businessmen and even philanthropists. They generously give away part of their illegal gains. It may be recalled that a drug czar, currently behind bars, had a palatial house at Ward Place, where he entertained business tycoons and political leaders in the early Noughties. His guests may not have been aware of his underworld connections. A massive heroin haul weighing as much as 20 kilos, was detected at his house, and he threatened to sue this newspaper out of existence when we reported the drug detection. He was sentenced to death and his wife to life imprisonment.

In 2004, this newspaper revealed that food and beverages, served at a judicial officers’ function, had been provided by Kudu Nauffer, a drug lord, who was later found guilty of ordering the assassination of High Court Judge Sarath Ambepitiya. In 2003, we revealed that the then IGP had attended the birthday party of a drug dealer’s daughter, as a special guest, at a five-star hotel in Colombo. Our expose cost the police chief an extension in service. In 2013, the then Prime Minister D. M. Jayaratne issued a letter to the Customs requesting priority clearance for a container, which was subsequently found to have a huge stock of heroin. A minister of the previous government helped a drug kingpin, known as Kudu Lal, flee the country; the former escorted the latter all the way to the airport.

No less a person than President Maithripala Sirisena has revealed that the tobacco industry tried to bribe him when he was the Minister of Health. He may not have made that claim without evidence to back it though it has been denied by the fag Mafia. There have been instances where the tobacco industry provided funds for constructing police stations. The Big Pharma, notorious for fleecing the sick, lavish funds on the medical fraternity by way of sponsorships.

The BASL has reportedly undertaken to set guidelines as regards sponsorships. (If only it had cared to heed the media reports on the PTL, in 2016.) However, better late than never. It is hoped that other professional organisations and state institutions will follow suit.

There is nothing called a free lunch. The PTL, obviously, did not loosen its purse strings for nothing. We have seen how some lawmakers made spectacles of themselves, trying as they did to defend the PTL. It will be interesting to know who else has been in the pay of the bond racketeers. Only a list of the recipients of PTL cheques will reveal how far the racketeers’ tentacles have reached. Will President Sirisena honour his much-touted commitment to transparency by taking steps to have the List of Shame disclosed? He never misses an opportunity to wax eloquent on the virtues of good governance, of which transparency is an integral part. Let him be urged to fish or cut bait.

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