Sri Lanka is run by a ‘Ring of Thieves’ that is bleeding the country’s coffers dry and embezzling billions of rupees in kickbacks while thousands of rural schools around the island lack basic toilet facilities and citizens are killing themselves unable to repay predatory loans, opposition lawmaker Anura Kumara Dissanayake charged on Friday (23).
JVP Leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake’s 45-minute speech that rocked Parliament was splattered with references to large-scale corruption in the decade that Mahinda Rajapaksa ruled the country and the five years of Yahapalanaya rule.
The ring of thieves has made a profession and a livelihood out of fraud, corruption and misuse of state funds, Dissanayake charged, recalling the Greek bonds scandal, the Kapila Chandrasena airbus procurement kickbacks affair and the Central Bank’s 6.5 million dollar payment to a CIA agent using public funds. None of those responsible had been brought to justice for robbing the country, because they were all part of the ring of thieves, Dissanayake claimed.
“People in this country are starving. There are invalids unable to afford their medication, farmers losing their livelihoods and homes because of the human elephant conflict, people are paying with their lives because of predatory loan schemes. Meanwhile the people’s wealth is being embezzled and hoarded by this “ring of thieves,” said the JVP leader.
The JVP Leader was speaking during a debate on the Report of the Presidential Commission on Political Victimization. The Commission, led by disgraced Supreme Court Judge Upali Abeyratne, alias “Pissu Poosa” has recommended that Dissanayake and several leading opposition MPs be stripped of their civic rights for their role in an ‘anti-corruption committee’ established by former Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe to supervise action on high profile corruption cases in the 2005-2014 period.
Mocking the recommendation by the Abeyratne Commission that his civic rights should be stripped for his participation and “leadership” in the Anti-Corruption committee, Dissanayake said President Gotabaya Rajapaksa could “roll up the threat and shove it.”
“Me? If I had real power in that committee, I can guarantee you that most of these MPs sitting in the front rows of Parliament today would have been behind bars,” the firebrand JVP Leader charged. “If I had any power, I would have found out how they lived, how they obtained their property and their wealth,” he said.
Dissanayake said it was his responsibility and right to go to battle against these criminals and fraudsters and thieves. “
“Whether they appoint 8 or 9 commissions, throw me in any number of prisons or even kill me on the streets, I pledge before this House that I will never end my battle against this corruption,” he charged.
Dissanayake explained that he had been invited by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe to provide information before the Anti-Corruption Committee on three separate occasions. His admission raised a furore in the government benches. But Dissanayake persisted.
“Yes I did attend the meetings three times. Tomorrow if Gotabaya Rajapaksa asks me to come in, to explain to him how the sugar scam happened, what information we have on the MiG-deal I will certainly go and explain the facts to him, Honourable Speaker,” retorted Dissanayake. “I will fight this ring of thieves wherever, whenever and however I can,” the JVP Leader declared.
He explained that based on its mandate, the Commission to investigate political victimisation could only entertain complaints from public officials, armed forces and police personnel and personnel at state institutions.
“Who did they eventually entertain complaints from? The Avant Garde Mudalali, Udyanga Weeratunga, Jaliya Wickremasuriya, Rohitha Bogollagama – how are these people public officials?” Dissanayake charged.
Dissanayake said he took the Commission to court for investigating a complaint about a case that was an ongoing trial before the High Court. The JVP leader filed action in the Court of Appeal against the Commission for summoning him to testify in a complaint lodged by Avant Garde Chairman Nissanka Senadhipathi, a man the Attorney General of Sri Lanka has indicted for gun-running and corruption. Senadhipathi’s trial is ongoing before the High Court.
“I went to the Court of Appeal against the Commission to complain about its decision to entertain the complaint by Avant Garde Chairman. The Commission sent an official to the Court who provided an undertaking to the Court of Appeal that until the Avant Garde trial was concluded the Commission would not summon me for an inquiry based on the Avant Garde Mudalali’s complaint,” Dissanayake revealed.
But when the Commission issued its report, Dissanayake said his name had been listed as an accused in the Avant Garde complaint. Upholding Senadhipathi’s complaint, the Commission recommended that Dissanayake and a host of others, including Navy officers that the Avant Garde chairman has accused of victimizing him, be prosecuted and punished under the Penal Code of Sri Lanka.
See edited video here
See full speech here