Those words were said by Justice Fernando a member of our very own judiciary not from some outpost of a wider global democracy. Those words, within a judgement delivered years ago, rings poignantly true today. Especially so when we digest the Presidential Commission report on the issuance of bonds by the Central Bank since February 2015.
The report is a devastating blow to the leader of the United National Party Ranil Wickremesinghe. It was RW – as he is popularly known – who propelled forward Arjuna Mahendran’s name for the position of Governor Central Bank in the new Yahapalana government. He did so in spite and despite the serious and genuine concerns that President Sirisena had, that Patali Ranawaka had and that Rajitha Senaratne had. DEW Gunasekera recently stated that President Kumaratunga too had her own reservations. In her tenure Mahendran faced some controversies whilst heading the Board of Investment – he quietly exited to Singapore soon after RW lost the subsequent general election. That Mahendran has quietly exited this time too is not lost on the people of the country.
We aver that Ranil Wickremesinghe who for long defended his friend should be morally responsible for ensuring that Mahendran returns to this island and face the full force of the law. We wonder what sort of lopsided answer the first amongst equals will have for that question. Whatever the answer it will cause the public to revolt at the ghastliness of it all.
RW addressed the nation late on Thursday last and when he finished it appeared that he was in fact addressing the Attorney General’s department. His alluding to the possibility of the losses being made good by Perpetual Treasuries Limited without loss to the state smacked of a further attempt to leave his friend and confidante Arjuna Mahendran well alone.
The PM’s speech also confirmed almost, what the outspoken critic Hemantha Warnakulasuriya claimed this week – that the Commission Report was being handed to a section dealing with civil matters at the department as opposed to the original team that led evidence at the Commission of Inquiry.
The PM has a way with his words. He has conveniently ignored the fact that the Commissioners have recommended legal action against several persons and that includes Arjuna Mahendran, Arjun Aloysious and Perpetual Treasuries. The potential fine for Mahendran alone would amount to Rs 1.3 Billion. The fines for Perpetual may well amount to Rs 18.3 billion. The total that may well accrue to the state in fines could well be Rs 19.6 billion. These facts appear to have gone over the head of the Prime Minister. Is it because he is no good at math or no good at understanding the law? He of course is a legal man himself. He who has served 40 years uninterrupted in parliament appears to be doing a ‘thottha baba” routine.
The people are not too easily fooled in these heady days of smart phones, tabs and what have you technologically speaking. In fact it was some of these devices that provided intense detail on the treacherous calls made between the kingpins of the greatest fraud to hit out country. Ravi Karunanayake who poses off as a paragon of virtue exchanged over 700 telephone calls with the Aloysious family but described his contact with them as ‘occasional’. Really. He ended up with Rs 165 million in cash in a safe in a business that he was once associated with.
The PM is desperately trying his best to whitewash the entire matter, to bring closure to the bond matter in order that he may save his political career. Unfortunately for him this time round – unlike Batalanda – the media are gunning for good governance, accountability and responsibility.
The PM is shirking on each and every one of these serious matters. Why on earth the UNP are getting excited over the Commission report is beyond the comprehension of most. They stand – purportedly – for good governance and sound democratic ideals. Except of course that it appears to us at this rag that they are merely providing strictly soundbites and zero action.
The people of the war affected areas, those who were wiped out by the tsunami and those who were caught up in floods, landslides and an arms depot blowing up, are still waiting on homes to live in – however simple they may well be. Yet, the PM and his merry boys continue their ways whilst Joe public continues to suffer mostly in silence.
Frustration being bottled up is of no use or good to the system. That is what we have been taught. However the people of Sri Lanka continue to be lied to they are cheated at every turn and they have to suffer the indignity of being described as hailing from a ‘robber nation’.
Sri Lanka deserves better. We the people will do so – Wickremesinghe’s days are numbered and we say ‘cheers’ to that.