Of that bombshell
Posted on August 25th, 2016

Editorial Courtesy The Island

The government usually loses no time in denying reports it considers false or detrimental to its interests. But, it, for some reason, did not act promptly regards reports in the widely circulated Australian newspapers, The Sydney Morning Herald (SMH) and The Age, on a very serious allegation against President Maithripala Sirisena on Wednesday. The President’s Office took more than twenty four hours to issue a denial. The reports, based on the subject of an Australian Federal Police (AFP) probe involving Snowy Mountains Engineering Company (SMEC), could not have come at a worse time for the government, which has gone into overdrive to have its opponents arrested, hauled up before courts and remanded for months on end over unproven corruption charges.

The damning reports, quoting the findings of a Fairfax Media investigation, have gone viral on the Internet and reached the four corners of the earth. The SMEC has, however, told the AFP it hasn’t made any illegal payment in Sri Lanka. The government has threatened to sue anyone who levels bribery allegations against President Sirisena. It has gone so far as to claim that there has been a conspiracy behind the reports at issue.

Conspiracies galore!

At a time the government is desperate for foreign investment, nothing can be more inimical to the interests of this country than negative publicity from the international media and allegations of bribery and corruption against government leaders. On the other hand, the government has made fighting corruption its raison d’être and its leaders frequently wax eloquent on the virtues of good governance.

The allegation against the President has been a godsend for the Joint Opposition (JO), which has been looking for something to beat the government with. It is sure to gain a lot of political mileage out of this issue which can be flogged effectively for a long time. The JO has called for an investigation. This call should be heeded.

How would the government have reacted if the allegations in The Age/SMH reports had been against one of its political rivals? The state-controlled media would have torn that person to shreds and some of the Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery or Corruption officials would have been flown to Australia post-haste to conduct a special investigation.

One should keep an open mind as for the allegations in The Age and SMH reports until the conclusion of the ongoing AFP probe. But, there is no way the government can prevent social media trials, some of which have already been concluded and judgments given!

Those in power at present effectively used the web-based media to disseminate various allegations against its rivals and engineer the downfall of the previous administration last year. The boot is now on the other foot.

Never too late

Justice Minister Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe has flayed former Attorney General Mohan Peiris, who later became the Chief Justice, for his failure to have the illegal sale of Lanka Marine Services Ltd (LMSL) assets properly investigated. Rajapakshe as the Chairman of the Committee on Public Enterprises (COPE) exposed the illegal divestiture of two major state ventures, the LMSL and the Sri Lanka Insurance Corporation, under the UNP-led UNF government (2001-2004). Subsequently, the Supreme Court declared those deals null and void.

Minister Rajapakshe told Parliament on Wednesday that the Supreme Court had ordered the CID to probe the aforesaid deals and the latter had sought the opinion of AG Peiris after carrying out preliminary investigations, but no legal advice had been given to date. There has been a serious lapse on the part of the AG’s Department. But, if the then AG had asked the CID to arrest and prosecute those responsible for the aforesaid illegal sale of state ventures some prominent members of the government of which Minister Rajapakshe is currently a member would have been thrown behind bars.

Minister Rajapakshe is now in a position to have the AG’s Department rectify the lapse at issue so that the CID can reopen the investigation into the LMSL deal. The present government has taken a tough stand on the abuse and theft of public property. Those responsible for the illegal sale of state property under the UNF government must be severely dealt with according to the law. People have been arrested and prosecuted for lesser offences. Someone was arrested and remanded for keeping an elephant calf considered public property!

We bet our bottom dollar that Minister Rajapakshe won’t be able to call for reopening the LMSL investigation. For, those who benefited from that deal are currently at the levers of power!

2 Responses to “Of that bombshell”

  1. Lorenzo Says:

    It is common knowledge ALL foreign investors have to BRIBE many officials and politicians in SL. Otherwise their projects are blocked along the way. Only fools invest in SL today. SL people should be taking their deposits away and putting in foreign banks in hard currency.

  2. Kumari Says:

    Lorenzo, Are you refering to the period post Jan 8th (ie Yahapalanaya times)?

    During Rajapakse’s golden era, lot of Sri Lankans living and working abroad planned for their retirement in SL. I personally know a few of them. One such family sold off their Colombo property, last month as they lost all hope in the last 20 months.

    It was a known fact that Health minister Sirisena making foregin trips, was always in the company of Pharmaceutical reps in business class. Infact, Daham Sirisena’s girl friends family had links to pharmaceutical mafia.

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