The question really needing an answer is how it is that all those coming into power or authority or procuring some form of influence, manage to sustain that. The answer is quite simple: all have to ensure that the ‘leader’ is kept in the highest place possible. In today’s Sri Lanka dynamics, that means that those around Ranil Wickremesinghe – his wider close cozy circle – will do everything to keep him where he is and propel him upwards only, simply because they have a collateral purpose.
Let us examine a few things in detail: start with the infamous and now disgraceful BOND scam. Why is it that Arjuna Mahendran is travelling the world – sighted in Europe – lording it around in up market hotels and apartment complexes, without a seeming care in the world, as though he is on permanent luxury high-end holiday?
It is because he was very finely permitted, to gracefully and quietly exit the scene of crime. A regular attendee at the Commission of Inquiry Mahendran was quite a feature complete with his crumpled, ill-fitting suit a credit to some back room tailoring outfit and a million bucks away from the purported high-end jacket he had purchased as Governor. He presented a picture of austerity arriving in a tuk, a small car, his old Volvo and pointedly never in any of his son-in-law procured smart SUV’s or anything like that.
Yet no sooner he gave his evidence before the CoI Mahendran was permitted to quietly slip away. The Bribery Commission had mysteriously almost removed the travel restriction originally in place and he was permitted to go – on whose intervention if any indeed, was the Bribery Commission acting – one is forced into the wonderment zone for a coherent answer.
The fact is that Arjuna Mahendran had been held liable by two serving members of Sri Lanka’s apex court as having acted mala fide in the interest of a company – Perpetual Treasuries Ltd. – his son-in-law had an interest in, and which company went on to make whirlwind profits never ever before emulated by any primary dealer in the country, was somehow permitted to leave by the simple expediency of not having any travel restriction imposed on him.
The Prime Minister’s words continues to haunt the public: said he several times and at different fora, “there is no evidence of wrong doing”. The Prime Minister went more than the proverbial extra mile to protect and afford his close buddy a wonderful cloak of respectability. So much so that even after the President refused to appoint him to the Central Bank with a contract of his own, Wickremesinghe kept him on as some sort of defacto adviser to the government. Although evidence was proffered at the time, Mahendran’s presence within government was never formally acknowledged indeed to the contrary a Finance Ministry official officially confirmed that he was not employed in any way by that Ministry. No such confirmations emanated from the PM’s office or any of the Ministries listed under the PM.
Of course today Arjun Aloysius and Kasun Palisena ostensibly have their respective partners to thank for their freedom from the ten month stay at the Colombo remand Prison. Although we have sympathy for anyone’s family when the sole breadwinner is incarcerated even temporarily there are scores of women out there in the mass of the population, who have to fend for themselves and their children because hubby is in remand. Many are not from a Colombo 7 address. We often wonder if the law is the law. We have many political greats like Barack Obama, who insist in and out of office that ‘the law is the law’.
The law is the law – if the law is the law for everyone, without fear or favour irrespective of one’s station in life.
There are several persons who owe their current station to the Prime Minister. Malik Samarawikrama is an unelected official. Lakshman Kiriella is not a homebred UNP member and neither for that matter is Ravi Karunanayake. Dr Rajith Senaratne is also a parachutist. However nice a person Sagala Ratnayake may well be in private, does anyone worth his analytical salt envisage a high political office for Sagala Ratnayake – other than with the backing of the Prime Minister and leader of the United National Party?
If this country is to move forward we must all focus together on the one main aspect of this malaise in government. That focus must necessarily mean Ranil Wickremesinghe. It is his maneuvering and planning that has seen the UNP membership unable to elect a new and more electable leader thanks to the way the working committee is appointed by the leader and how the same committee elects the leader!
The greatest swindle in the history of this nation has been the Central Bank bond scam. Nothing – we mean NOTHING – is more sacrosanct than the trusteeship of the peoples’ monies. It is unforgivable that Wickremesinghe rode slipshod over that vital aspect of democracy – all because of a few officials around him.
Sri Lanka has progressed from its heavenly smile and its cultural triangle and its golden beaches. In fact it has progressed to the world capital of the Cover-up. Nowhere in the world have we found a government covering up for the fraud perpetrated within its own Central Bank.
And nowhere in the democratic world have we found such hypocrisy in political leadership.