Harpooning whales
Posted on May 4th, 2018

Editorial Courtesy The Island

The Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery or Corruption (CIABOC), which is often accused of steering clear of sharks, has harpooned two whales! It arrested President Maithripala Sirisena’s Chief of Staff H. K. Mahanama and Chairman of the State Timber Corporation P. Dissanayake for allegedly accepting a huge bribe to the tune of Rs. 100 mn, on Thursday in Colombo. Even the ranks of Tuscany could scarce forebear to cheer!

The CIABOC deserves public plaudits for the successful operation, which must have sent a chill down the spines of other corrupt officials in the public service.

Thursday’s arrests serve to prove how entrenched corruption is and that not even the panjandrums attached to the President’s Office have been vetted properly. The top presidential aide, currently being held on remand, held key positions in the public service previously, as we reported yesterday.

President Sirisena lost no time in ensuring that Mahanama was interdicted. This is in sharp contrast to the manner in which Central Bank Governor Arjuna Mahendran was treated when the first bond scam came to light in Feb. 2015. The UNP went hell for leather to shield him and vilify those who had blown the lid off the racket. Bogus committees were appointed as part of a campaign to protect the beleaguered Central Bank Governor.

The UNP saw to it that the allegations against Mahendran would not be probed. The Financial Crimes Investigation Division, which otherwise works with missionary zeal, looked the other way. Attempts to move the CIABOC against him were in vain. It became manifestly clear that the UNP was protecting Mahendran, for its own sake. We argued, in this space, that it was suicidal for the UNP to defend the bond racketeers and people were the best judges. People gave their verdict on Feb. 10; the UNP suffered an ignominious electoral defeat.

Some Opposition heavyweights have sought to use Thursday’s arrests to demonise the yahapalana dispensation. True, the self-proclaimed crusaders against bribery and corruption have failed to put their own house in order. But the fact remains that the CIABOC was not prevented from arresting the President’s Chief of Staff and the STC Chairman. The anti-graft commission sleuths would not have dared swoop on such a high ranking officer, under the previous government, which openly defended the corrupt within its ranks.

It may be recalled that the police could not raid even night clubs which were awash with drugs, from 2005 to 2015 when the ruling party politicians or their kith and kin were present in those dens of vice. The Police Narcotics Bureau officers were pistol-whipped by a minister’s son and other goons, during a hotel raid. A military intelligence officer also came under a goon attack in another hotel. He was relieved of his service revolver and gold chain. Persons, wanted in connection with serious offences, were seen in the exalted company of the grandees of the previous regime.

Now that the President has allowed the CIABOC to operate freely and interdicted his Chief of Staff, it is up to the UNP to ensure that its man, Mahendran, will come here to stand trial over the bond scams. It brought him in, made him the Central Bank Governor and helped him leave the country. Therefore, it is duty bound to bring him back.

Meanwhile, the CIABOC ought to implement the recommendations, made by the presidential commission which probed the mega bond scams. It should get cracking. It has to launch investigations if it is to refute the claim, being made in some quarters, that UNP ministers and others with links to them have been allowed to remain above the law.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.



Copyright © 2021 LankaWeb.com. All Rights Reserved. Powered by Wordpress