MAITHRI: “PM IS A TOTAL FAILURE, TIME FOR CHANGE”

“AG is probably angling for Supreme Court appointment”

“They have completely lost control of corruption”

“A club runs the country”

“The IGP: meditating in the morning and merrymaking in the evening”

In a devastating and brutally frank observation, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe was described as being an ‘utter failure’. The time, it was said, had come for a change of the Prime Minister.

Maithri Gunaratne the former provincial councillor from Galle who has formed himself into a new political party, speaking to Shameer Rasooldeen the veteran journalist on TV1’s current affairs and political commentary programme ‘Newsline’ minced no words in his description of the current governance scenario. He said that the government have completely lost control of corruption and said that although he was removed from Lanka Coal where he was Chairman, he was removed only after he fought the establishment when it became clear that there was a huge additional cost in the procurement which he highlighted – where the cost per ton was more by USD 15. The Supreme Court said at the time that “the conduct of public officials had shocked the conscience of the Court”.

Maithri Gunaratne said that the rule of law though had improved slightly but that what is happening now was strange and he could not state whether this was a change for the better although under Chief Justice Sripavan there was an improvement – Gunaratne said it was interesting to ‘see’ whether the rule of law had taken a dip currently (after Sripavan J).

Maithri Gunaratne who is a practising Attorney at Law and is constantly inter-acting with the Attorney General, described the current Attorney General as ‘an absolute disappointment’ and that the conduct of some senior people at the AG’s department was poor and that if at their level they (the seniors) were intellectually dishonest, then Gunaratne questioned “what can the people do”. Later in the interview – which drew thousands of hits from around the world – Maithri Gunaratne charged that the current AG was probably angling for a posting to the Supreme Court in the next step of his career.

The entire corruption aspect was taken over by the PM according to Maithri Gunaratne which unit was then closed and that the FCID was a ‘joke’. He charged that the PM was adopting a ‘you scratch my back I will scratch yours’. When asked to clarify who was scratching whose back, Gunaratne said that it was clear Mahinda Rajapaksa was being indulged in by Wickremesinghe. Officers of various investigative agencies Gunaratne charged were having a ‘free for all. Enjoy the whole process of foreign travel and investigations’. The basic of filing a “B” report was a simple matter that is not taking place.

President Sirisena had asked him to complain to the Police about the coal transaction. Gunaratne said that he also complained to the Bribery Commission. A year later it appeared the Bribery department had gone to sleep charged Gunaratne.

Mr Gunaratne said he part of a dwindling minority who were trying to fight the corruption and deliver the goods including saving Lanka Mineral Sands over Rs 1 billion since he took over. He assured however that he was fighting the matter tooth and nail and aid that he had even filed action against the Ministry Secretary to prevent him from interfering. After getting the restraining orders was he able to sell their product which had been interfered with by the Ministry Secretary. Checks and balance were not an issue by the Ministry Secretary but there was no way Gunaratne would accept the Secretary interfering in the running of the business.

Rasooldeen suggested that this government only knew “I don’t know’. Gunaratne responded by saying that members of this government were acting as though there was no tomorrow and that the entire matter started not with Ravi Karunanayake and Sujeeva Senasinghe but with the Prime Minister himself. He berated the PM for inaction against Arjuna Mahendran and Gunaratne added it was fortunate that Mahendran’s temporary contract (filling in for Nivard Cabraal) came to an end – otherwise he may still be the Governor!

Maithri Gunaratne spoke nostalgically about the past when the Attorney General department was held in high esteem. The current situation now he felt was because the present AG due to retire shortly was angling for the Supreme Court and that he was therefore ‘playing ball’ and reminded the public that he deals with them professionally and he expected to pay for his outspokenness ‘hellishly’.

Gunaratne said at least under the Rajapaksas the Police were frightened of Rajapaksa. Now the Police were frightened of no one. He asked the people to consider the actions of the current IGP who was facing a revolt by his senior officers. Gunaratne said, ‘in the morning the IGP is meditating and that in the evening he was merry making’. Gunaratne blamed the lack of the ‘hire and fire’ culture which was very much evident in Singapore.

He finished off by saying that the time was right for President Sirisena to change the Prime Minister otherwise the President himself would become a victim.

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