Former President Chandrika Kumaratunga in an interview with the Sunday Observer claims that ‘extreme corruption reigns all across the country [and] across all segments of the population– the public service, the political authorities, and now it has seeped right down to the bottom.’
In responses liberally laced with her usual anti-Rajapaka rhetoric Kumaratunga laments that despite all her efforts to rid the country of corruption, beginning with the defeat of the Rajapaksa regime, she has not even succeeded in righting the wrongs pertaining to a project ‘concerning [her] village’.
The project referred to was one to supply water from the Basnagoda-Attanagalu Oya to three electorates and to parts of two other electorates in the Gampaha District. Kumaratunga cites inflated estimates of costs and numerous irregularities which have been confirmed by the Attorney General’s Department, and states that her complaints to the high-ups of the present Yahapalana Government have fallen on deaf years.
Kumaratunga boasts that she has ‘fought for transparency and honesty in this country at great cost’ and that she believed she could combat corruption in at least one project since she has ‘a good knowledge of how government works and I thought that with [her] commitment to honesty, the knowledge and acumen that [she has],’ this would be possible. She now admits that it appears to be an impossible task.
Kumaratunga’s track record when in power is also fraught with multiple misdeeds. In 2012, the Supreme Court ruled that Kumaratunga had abused her executive powers to facilitate a corrupt deal and was instrumental in illegally transferring state lands meant for a ‘public purpose’ to a private golf course — now known as Waters Edge.’
In a landmark judgment, Justice Shiranee Tilakawardane said Kumaratunga had failed to function in a manner consistent with the expectations of a public officer, much less an Executive President, and in doing so, had completely betrayed the position of trust bestowed upon her by the Constitution and by the people of Sri Lanka.
Kumaratunga was fined Rs. 3 million while the fifth respondent and Kumaratunga family friend Ronnie Peiris, who is said to have made a Rs. 57 million profit in the corrupt deal, was ordered to pay Rs. 2 million rupees.
In another development on corruption, Vasudeva Nanayakkara (MP) has written to the Inspector General of Police reiterating a request made to conduct investigations in relation to defrauding of government monies. Nanayakkara had reminded the IGP about this matter in early July, pointing out that in July 2017 the Secretary to the Ministry of Law and Order had forwarded to the Police a complaint that he, Nanayakkara, had made in October 2016.
He has referred to the Waters Edge Case as well as the Lanka Marine Service Case where the sale of the Colombo Port Oil Facility was found fraudulent with Kumaratunga being named among those involved. The complaint also cites Kumaratunga attempting to misappropriate public monies amounting to over 600 million rupees the day before the 2005 Presidential Election. Nanayakkara has pointed out that the Attorney General has neglected to take any action despite Supreme Court directives.