Lasantha Wickremetunge paid for it with his life. Prageeth Ekneligoda is thought to be dead – with not even remnants of his teeth ever found – others fled the country forging a forced new life overseas, others simply succumbed to the lure of an easy living and lost their natural talent to seek a level playing field for all. The elusive item all of these and several others too, sought was nothing other than the truth.
Accountability transparency responsibility and democracy are all words that flow all too easily from our elected and appointed legislators.
Lasantha wrote quite literally till his head was torn open, he had been the victim along with his spouse, of vicious attacks with nails-ingested poles and dumped by the wayside by those connected to the highest in the land at that time, he was simply out in search of the truth. Months later Lasantha had the capacity to forgive the principal attackers because as he explained to a relative at the time, those doing the attacking were doing what their Boss wanted them to do.
A member of the European Union parliament questioned (privately) what indeed did Lasantha achieve, at the end of the day or better still between 1994 and 2009 when he finally met his Waterloo?
Perhaps the legacy that Lasantha left behind was to inspire even more journalists and broadcasters to instill in them the pride to call a spade a spade, no matter what the collateral damage either to person or to business or even both. Lasantha’s penultimate very public engagement was to visit the charred remains of the Maharaja Group’s main control room which had been bombed.
The question that needs to be posed is this: does what journalists do make an iota of difference? Is it worth the millions of minutes of airtime, even the printed pages and pages of copy? Does anything change?
Perhaps the greatest financial scam ever perpetrated upon the public purse was according to the Attorney General’s department, the BOND SCAM. Leading the way in attacking the huge scale use of sensitive information for personal and corporate benefit was NEWSFIRST. This saw the natural exit from the Governorship of the Central Bank of Arjuna Mahendran amidst a sea of allegations. Then Finance Minister Karunanayake was found to be a convenient scapegoat to hang the event on. Some of the alleged perpetrators spent time in remand whilst the authorities conducted their checks and counter checks.
Despite all of this, the forensic audits suggested by the CoI, remains incomplete almost two years after the CoI (Comm of Inquiry) delivered its report. The gentleman Governor Coomaraswamy indicates it will be done before he finally leaves a job that has been very much in the Hot Seat since March 2015 when the matter first was exposed.
No sane citizen of this country can now ignore the seeming progress that the new Attorney General is making. He has asked for several matters to be fast tracked via the Trial At Bar courts. The matters of interest to the public have included the Gothabya Rajapaksa matter, the 8 members of the so-called Avant Garde issue, the key figures from the Bondscam and so on.
No one denies that these are important steps in the right direction. And for effort Dappula De Livera must surely score full marks.
Sri Lanka has made only minor adjustments along the highways of corruption. Some who imported vehicles using a varied methodology inconsistent with the Customs Ordinance have been forced to pay financial recompense.
Fundamental systemic change has however and very sadly remained unchanged. The corruption and departures from due process levels have increased as has political patronage and nepotism.
As Sri Lanka trundles towards the inevitable elections, many are realising that a new combination remains the best option for the country.
Who will be the best combination for the people?