Honour has departed Sri Lanka

From the bond scam in February 2015 to the Presidential Secretaries found counting proceeds of graft, sleaze and corruption in a hotel car park it has become abundantly clear that there is no Honour in Sri Lanka.

Well respected ladies and gentlemen hailing from illustrious families whose personal fortunes tell a different tale altogether, have found themselves propelled forward by corrupt politicians looking to hide their sins under the cloaks of the de facto nobility.

Take the sad case of the bond scam. Arjuna Mahendran was certainly not a man devoid of controversy. His previous service to the government when his mate Ranil Wickremesinghe was the PM for a short stint, was as Chairman of the BOI. He was engulfed in allegations at that period – enough to have members of the new yahapalanaya government to object to his ascension to the Governor’s post at the Central Bank.

Ranil Wickremesinghe himself from jolly good stock, instead of dropping Mahendran, assured his colleagues that all will be well. The rest is history.

It is the same Wickremesinghe who admitted that young Arjun Aloysius has assured him that he was concentrating on his ‘other’ businesses – meaning that he was not involved in the business of Perpetual Treasuries. How unfortunate for Sri Lanka that our prime minister chose not to independently verify the matter – his intransigence and his inaction has led to a colossal loss to the state and especially so to the pension fund of the populace.

If indeed we had plenty of Honour there would be no doubt: Wickremesinghe would have gone home to 5th lane. Instead he continues to shamelessly persuade his supporters that he is the best thing this side of sliced bread and that he is the savior of the democratic system in Sri Lanka.

Dear Prime Minister appears to suffer from bi-polar syndrome. On the one hand he says that everything would be ‘all right’ with Mahendran. Then when confronted with possibly a huge scandal (it turns out it was THE biggest scandal in Sri Lanka EVER) he maintains against growing evidence to the contrary that there was ‘no evidence of wrong doing’ on the part of his personal friend of several years standing, Arjuna Mahendran.

The Prime Minister now has the temerity or the gall to claim he does not know of the whereabouts of his mate for whom he extended every possible kudos – including having him as a de facto adviser even after the President had in effect thrown Mahendran out with the bathwater.

That is the point we labour to make: that all Honour has eroded. Which Prime Minister in which country will go out of his way to protect a man accused of significant departure from process? Which Prime Minister will escort a disgraced Minister into the well of parliament? Was that because the PM had enough evidence to realise that his own role in this sorry transaction was evident to many?

In as much as we called for the immediate removal of then governor Mahendran, we must also insist that the three seniors involved in this process must have the Honour to resign forthwith. For the sake of the record let us name them: Malik Samarawikrama, Kabeer Hashim and of course Ranil Wickremesinghe who was the Minister in charge of the Central Bank.

It is not acceptable and it is unpalatable to the public to hear the Minister of Finance admit that his knowledge does not extend to understanding the fuel price formula. He has the gall and the temerity (a la Prime Minister) to tell attendant journalists that should he disclose the formula they will be further confused.

If this statement had been made in any of our regional neighbours like in India, Bangladesh, Singapore, and Malaysia one can only imagine the fate of such a Minister: the removal would have been instantaneous.

Instead in Sri Lanka it is treated as a laughing matter and the public shrug it off as a matter of routine. Clearly the public have no respect or regard for such monumentally foolish remarks.

It cannot be helped that the Minister is a former fashion designer and perhaps his knowledge of economics and high finance may well be a notch or two below par by his own admission.

However if he had any Honour he will tender his resignation and go back home.

We fear however that Honour has fast disappeared from our land and is not even available for us to see on the horizon.



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