Intoning Banal Platitudes Chung Lampoons Sri Lanka’s Judiciary
Posted on March 22nd, 2023

By Citizen Perera

Feigning grief at ‘Laws–Delays’ and making snide comments about Sri Lanka’s judiciary was Julie Chung, the yankee ambassador, an embodiment of diplomatic impropriety.

Chung made a spectacle of herself whilst addressing a gathering of lawyers, at an event organised by that branch of the Bar Association which is funded by the US State Department and which tends to act almost like Washington’s mouthpiece.

Chung intoned some trite comments about Sri Lanka’s judicial system in dispensing justice while casting blanket aspersions on the members of the judiciary, insinuating that they were not independent.

Embarrassed, but yet compelled to look on benignly was Sri Lanka’s Chief Justice, an invitee to the event.

In a normal self-respecting country, Chung would have been summoned to the Foreign Ministry and summarily warned for overstepping the mark, as a mere ambassador in a country; continued flagrancy would result in her being declared persona-non grata.

It is ironic that Jung’s allocution was made in the backdrop of the American intervention of Sri Lanka; 144 + layers of the country’s sovereignty is being stripped off with the mandatory conditions of compliance demanded by the IMF. Serious in-roads are being made into the country’s constitution, legislature and the Judiciary.

A question posed is, Was Chung putting her money to where her mouth was when she went on that hubristic outburst?”

One of the main American players in the Sri Lankan geo-political scene is Sri Lanka’s High Commissioner in Delhi, Milinda Moragoda. This high-profile businessman, politician and alleged racketeer, was a key economic advisor to the Nandasena Government and contributed in a big way to the destruction of the country’s economy.

Jung’s eruption adds a complexity to what is said about Moragoda in the Wikipedia; the relevant extracts about Moragoda in the Wikipedia, are given below for greater clarity 

In 2007 Moragoda’s party was in the opposition having lost the 2005 elections to the UPFA. As the UPFA Government sought to expose corruption during the UNP regime the Parliamentary Committee on Public Enterprises (COPE) released a report accusing Moragoda of widespread corruption and abuse of power.

Mercantile Credit Ltd, a subsidiary of Mercantile Merchant Bank, founded by Moragoda was found to defaulted on loans of 4.7 Billion Rupees (which had been obtained by providing false information) while Moragoda was Minister for Economic Reform. COPE conducted three inquiries into these loans and their defaulting but on each occasion the investigations were never allowed to reach the final stages due to political pressure.

In 2002 Lanka Marine Service (Pvt) Limited owned by state-owned Ceylon Petroleum Corporation which sat on an 8.5-acre plot in the Colombo harbour was sold to the Sri Lankan conglomerate John Keells Holdings. The Supreme Court ruled that as then PERC chairman, Dr. P.B. Jayasundera and Executive Director of JKH Susantha Ratnayake had acted with dishonest intent in the sale of LMSL shares. The Bribery Commission also began investigations into criminal charges against Dr. Jayasundera, former Ministers Milinda Moragoda (PERC was under him) and Karu Jayasuriya (CPC was under him) on the charge of abusing public property in connection with this deal.

Before the investigation could reach conclude both Moragoda and Jayasuriya crossed over to the government. Reporting on the privatization of Lanka Marine Service COPE stated that by his actions Moragoda had at the very least incurred a loss of 1.7 Bn rupees for the government.

The COPE report also alleged severe irregularities in the privatization of Sri Lanka Insurance which happened under the tenure of Moragoda. The report stated that Moragoda created a loss of over 3 Bn Rupees for the government solely through non-compliance with the 4th term of the contract. These investigations too were not concluded before Moragoda crossed over to the government”.

It is coincidental perhaps that Moragoda’s bother-in-law, Krishan Balendran, is the current Chairperson of John Keells Holdings PLC. He joined JKH in 2002.

In Sep 2021, when Moragoda was in Delhi, a controversial agreement was signed between the Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA), Adani Group and John Keells Holdings to jointly develop the Colombo West International Container Terminal (CWICT) of the Port of Colombo (POC).

The   Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT) agreement, is worth more than USD 700 million.

Judging by his past performance, Moragoda is not a person to be trusted, at least not until he is investigated and given a clean bill of health. 

Moragoda holds a sensitive geo-political appointment and given his alleged record of  financial misconduct, he would be easy meat for corrupt operators, or if not, for geopolitical blackmail. 

It certainly would help Jung’s credibility if she lends her voice for a public and transparent inquiry into all of Moragoda’s activities, including the $700 Million Port deal.

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