19 September, 2020

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Exit Of An Other “Chandi Sharma”

By Keerthi Tennakoon

Rajith Keerthi Tennakoon

Rajith Keerthi Tennakoon

There was a time when we believed that history had entrusted two Sri Lankans, Maithripala Sirisena and Dilrukshi Dias Wickramasinghe, with important roles.

One symbolized the aspirations for good governance while the other represented our desire to rid the nation of bribery and corruption.

But now,it seems that one incident has diminished them both and there are those who wish to see one or both relegated as relics of our political history.

The forces which stood behind both Sirisena and Wickremesinghe are now uneasy on where they stand. After the election of Sirisena, which was a surprise to some although not to us, there arose the need for a figurehead for the battle against corruption. And Wickramasinghe was entrusted with the job and we stood with her and ACF and CaFFE were two of the first few organizations which worked with Wickramasinghe’s bribery commission. I told her once that Sri Lankans think of her as Chandi Shyama, a character in a Sinhala cinema that symbolized toughness against injustice. An ardent fan of old school Sinhala movies, Wickramasinghe knew who Chandi Shyama was.dilrukshi-wickramasinghe

Now Chandi Shyama has sent her resignation letter to the President.

A few minutes after President Sirisena made the controversial speech at the Foundation Institute, criticizing the commissions appointed by the 19th amendment, I forwarded her a link to the video and told her that she is right in the middle of this controversy. Wickramasinghe was out of the country and she was slow to realize the gravity of the situation. After two lengthy phone conversations on 13 October, she texted me ‘I just realized what you said only now. OMG’.

What has led us all here is a complicated story of political maneuvering and intrigue, which needs to be told.

The President believes that Wickramasinghe is a part of a campaign to undermine his authority. My personal opinion is that Wickramasinghe became the victim of political manipulation, who used her working style to their advantage.

After President made his controversial speech, there were moves, explicit and implicit, pushing her towards handing over her resignation. Although I advised her not to, I was also keenly aware that, by the time she handed over her resignation, she felt as if she had no other option. The biggest and main allegation against her is that the Bribery Commission charged those alleged of irregularities at Avant Garde Maritime Company with ‘attempts of bribery’ instead of charging them using the firearms ordinance.

The second allegation is that she has failed to properly investigate the two treasury bond scams, the biggest alleged financial irregularity under the UNFGG government.

Meeting between President and Prime Minister

During the meeting between President Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe last week, a number of issues including the unsystematic and random corruption investigations, perplexing choices and the lack of transparency was discussed. It was obvious that the lack of a process and procedure has created a serious crisis. When the power of selecting what cases should be investigated is given to a single person, there is a possibility that he or she would lose sight of the political sensitivity of the decisions taken.

As I have mentioned earlier I don’t think the President should have openly criticized the commissions. That was a mistake on his part. My attempt here is only to illustrate the events which led to this outcome.

ACF has lodged 225 complaints with the Bribery Commission. This is the highest number of complaints lodged by one organization. On December 28, 2015 we were informed of the progress made on 94 of those cases. However in the last 10 months, we were only informed the progress of three cases only. Baffled by this development, we wrote to the Commission on three separate occasions, 23 March 2016, 2 June 2016 and 20 July 2016 to find the latest on the complaints we lodged. Our letters were unanswered.

We were also angered by what happened to one of the key witnesses to the case against former presidential aid Gamini Senarath. This important witness was tortured by the police and ACF had to intervene to assure his safety. ACF has filed 225 cases and there are hundreds of witnesses to these cases. How were we to assure the safety of these men and women who were shaken by what happened? We then had to turn, once again, to the people and hope that they would shield us. But not everyone could do that.

Investigations with a process or procedure

The fact that there were no processes or procedures when it came to determining what complaints should be given priority to, allowed some to handpick cases and ignore others. It was obvious for most that some of the most politically sensitive cases were handled with a certain bias. None of the cases we considered important were even considered worthy of preliminary investigations. Thus ACF did not submit a single complaint from 1 march to 23 September 2015. (On 23 September we submitted 14 cases along with the irregularities regarding the purchase of coal. I never expected the coal case to be ven considered.

Below are the complaints, that everyone considered important, except the commission.

1. The complaint lodged by Minister Mahinda Amaraweera against the former Governor of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka
2. Four complaints pertaining to the Minister of Finance
3. Complaints against Gotabaya Rajapaksa concerning the MIG deal, Avant Garde and the D.A. Rajapaksa Foundation
4. Complaints against Gamini Senarath

Let me illustrate the the unsystematic nature of the investigations with one example. ACF has lodged complaints of irregularities at Lak Sathosa on 28 December 2015 and 10 April 2015. The complaints hinted, and our allegations were later proven by investigations by Auditor General, that irregularities amounting to Rs 18 billion has taken place at the institution. However without taking these complaints, the commission charged former Chairman of Lak Sathosa Nalin Fernando over non payment of Rs 19 200 for a vehicle he had hired. The complete loss for the institution by the actions of Fernnado was Rs 31 000. He was arrested and remanded for a week. But the cases that allege that Rs 18 billion has been misused have not been taken up.

Political sensitivity – Mahindananda example

There are a number of allegations against former presidential aid Gamini Senarath and former minister Mahindananda Aluthgamage regarding their assets. If the main criteria for selecting what cases should be investigated first, is the scale of the irregularity allegations against Senarath should have been taken up first. But he has not been subjected to such inspection. A senior SLFPer told me that a case against Aluthgamage was only filed after he held discussions with a group that are linked to the President. I am not sure whether its a coincidence or not, but anyone can see that its easy to give apolitical spin to what transpired. (Note – I have no objection of filing a case on the carom boards as it should have been done).

Arrest of Thiru Nadesan

On 17 October, the Police Financial Crimes Investigation Division arrested Nadeshan. Except for the ACF no other organization continuously agitated for such. The media maintained a policy of silence on even his name. Yet, within hours of his arrest, he was granted bail. We had previously uncovered that a critical factor in this crisis involved Nadeshan and we were surprised that he was not questioned with regard to the land in Malwana.

Before the President made his contraversial, and unnecessary, speech, he has not once attempted to intervene in the affairs of the Bribery Commission. It is also true that she never kept the President upto date on the work they are doing as she considered that was how an ‘independant’ commission shoudl eb have. However she maintained a dialogue about thier investigations with the Prime Minister’s camp (note – not with Ranil Wickremesinghe personally).

On the other hand, the gap between the CIABOC and the media expanded. No one knew what she was up to and there was no means of providing information to the media.

Social expectations have collapsed with the resignation of Dias Wickramasinghe, a figure much loved by a majority of the people in this country and upon the institution which she represented, upon which much hopes were hinged on. In particular, there is much disillusion among the employees of the CIABOC. They served out of their own volition and accord and they liked working there. They were committed and dedicated. They were satisfied working there. On the other hand, the investments made regarding their future were immense. The preparation of school syllabuses, working with Provincial Government bodies, and work towards the prevention of bribery taking place, were some of the main such investments. All of this will definitely be undermined at least temporarily.

The President possesses no powers to intervene in independent commissions. Such should never be the case. But is is also not an exaggeration to say that the bribery commission acted sitting on an ivory tower, ignoring the political realities on the ground. Unfortunately that is how the police and public service commissions behave as well.

Yet, it is a responsibility of the independent commissions to prepare procedures, processes and systems to prevent such allegations from being leveled by the Executive or from any other faction of the Executive.

However, if such does not take place, and as long as officials are allowed free reign to select investigations as per one’s whim and fancy, the political leadership will have room to revolt against such.

*Keerthi Tennakoon – Advisor, Anti-Corrption Front 

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Latest comments

  • 5
    1

    Rajith Keerthi Tennakoon,

    I see a problem with your piece here. If Dilrukshi was selective in choosing what matters to prosecute, and as you say extremely Spartan in that, then there is only two conclusions to arrive at. Either she herself is corrupt or she was easily influenced by stronger forces. Based on what you have stated here, the recent outburst by the President clearly says that she is not selective enough in protecting the rich and the powerful.

    Basically we now understand that she was not doing her job. Nagananda Kodituwakku even initiated action against her. With all our just criticism of the President for his recent hysterical outburst which is abhorrent to all law abiding citizens, we must also conclude that Dilrukshi was not doing her job and was either corrupt or was a puppet to the political hierarchies, and as per My3 she favoured puppet master Ranil over puppet master My3.

    • 1
      1

      Dr. Deepika Udagama should be made head of Bribery Commission immediately.
      She will do a better job and an honest job, unlike Wickramasinghe, who as dancing to Ranil’s corrupt tunes, delaying charges against corrupt politicians who Ranil thinks have parliamentary privileges!

      My ass should have more privileges that the corrupt morons of the Diyawenna Parliament!

    • 1
      1

      The Bribery Commission and Madam Wickramsinghe was fighting an up hill battle because the so called Minister of Justice is corrupt to the core and so too the judicial system.

      The Colombo Magistrate is also corrupt and like Wijedasa Jarapassa he too is Gota the goon’s pocket..

      Welcome to Jarapalanaya, Ranil-Sira style, in the Miracle of Modayas!

  • 9
    1

    President Maithripala Sirisena is a senior politician. He above all others should know when to speak and what to speak. His direct attack on the Bribery Commission officials was unwarranted. In the first place he has no authority to speak. The Bribery Commission is an independent organization and not under the control of the President or Prime Minister. That is what the 19th Amendment says.

    The National Unity government came to power on the promise it will root out corruption that was rampant during the tenure of former President Mahinda Rajapaksa. Many now feel this government has not lived up to the expectation of those who voted this government to power. The morale of the story is that it takes years to build a favourable image about oneself, but it takes only minutes to destroy. President Sirisena is a good example.

  • 1
    1

    I don’t know whether, the write is not aware of it or he is purposely covering up, here you say that Ranil Wickramsinghe did not know it is all a lie.

    It is like When bill Clinton said, I did not sleep with that woman or when Hilary Clinton says, It is all lies, I did not have a illegal server or did not erase any confidential email.

    It is Ranil wickrmasinghe’s style to stay hand away distance but he he is the controller there. He likes to micromanage things. That is why he is known as a dictator in UNP.

    Anyway, What Ranil Wickramasinghe doing was dividing SLFP by prosecuting only the Rajapakse affailites. While doing that, CIABOC avoided many reported corruptions by UNP MPs. It says, CIABOC chairman wanted to avoid jailing UNP MPs related to the Cental Bank Scandle that is why she quit. Maithripala Sirisena was upset that his close friends were being procesecuted, one being the AHM Fousie (probably Maithri is scared of he himself being prosecuted). His talk of prosecuting war heroes is BS. Because, if Airforce commanders and even gotabaya Rajapakse involved in MIG-scandle to make money, any of those guilty of should be prosecuted. Because, during Mahinda Rajapakse times, One air force commander built a luxury cottage or a Resort in a Primary forect of Namunukula.

  • 0
    1

    She is like chandi shyama, get lost and know how to speak first, better rest at home now.Enough is enough by showing ur power when u were seated on a chair

  • 3
    0

    Don’t the commissioners have a supervisory role to play? Has the DG been running the show single-handed? Both MS and RW have corrupt individuals close to them in their respective camps. MS would want to protect his associates who are corrupt while RW would want to shield his coterie of corrupt faithfuls. Therefore, if the CIABOC is to function efficiently- to serve the purpose which it has been estabashed for,its DG or any other high-up should not have any ‘dialogue’ with any political authority. Nor any political authority (the President included) should interfere with the functioning of the Commission in any form. Seeking information about any case under investigation is too tantamount to interference. It looks that the independent CIABOC established mainly to investigate the corruption of the high-ups of the Rajapaksa regime has become a monster to the NU government today.

  • 1
    0

    The crucial point is that the president or his camp was not informed about the investigations but the PM’s camp was informed and definitely through this he definitely new what was going on and would have given the commission instructions. To what extent was the commission independent?

  • 4
    2

    This article clearly shows the way that place functioned was a madhouse.What can you expect when the PM appoints his own first cousin as head of a very important ‘independent’ commission.First of all the person appointed should have been selected by an independent committee consisting of retired eminent personnel.

  • 7
    1

    The. President was absolutely wrong in the manner he acted, the manner he spoke and where he spoke. He spoke like a political platform orator rather than a President.

    it is difficult to investigate and quantify a particular type of dirt in a municipal dump. The Sri Lankan poltical system is worse than a municipal. It is putrid, nauseating and infested with an assorted array of creepies and crawlers.

    I pity the so-called investigative agencies. Theirs is an unenviable task. Establishing priorities is an almost impossible exercise. Corruption cannot be weeded out through a selective process. From the peon to the cabinet and the presidency, corruption is ubiquitous. The process should start at all levels simultaneously. It is like sorting out a unraveled ball of thread! The independence of the anti-corruption Commissions is in name only, as the reins are yet in the hands of creepies and crawlies riddled in the system. Even the President does not understand what ‘Indeoebdence’ means and the need for utmost secrecy, until the cases go to the courts.

    The President has confirmed he is product of a rotten system. He cannot pretend otherwise now. The cat has been belled by this incident. This is indeed a tragedy. Our hopes for a better Sri Lankan have been ruthlessly and brainlessly, trampled by Maithripala Sirisena.

    Dr.Rajasingham Narendran

  • 4
    5

    Mrs. Dilrukshi Wickramasinghe was only playing a drama, nobody was Prosecuted because Ranil was playing a game. Now that she is gone, the President can appoint a right person. Mrs. Anoma Fonseka is the best person for this post. As the wife of former Army chief, she will do a very good job in prosecuting the criminals.

    • 1
      0

      enough of political appointees and friends and relatives etc.A truly independent person should be appointed as done in the case of the CB governor.as usual just as in the case of the CB governor sirisena will first go to daham to show his love and then sangakkara to show his respect which is traditional rural sinhalese values and when they both decline he will appoint the correct person.

    • 0
      0

      Will that include prosecuting her former son in law too for making 800 million through father in law in weapons deals?

  • 12
    0

    With Profound Sorrow we announce the death of
    Yahapalanaya
    Tuesday, the eleventh of October two thousand and sixteen

    May Almighty give rest & peace to the departed soul

    Sorrowing Family:
    Lasantha Wickrematunga –
    Pradeeep Ekneligoda
    Wasim Thajudeen
    Nadarajah Raviraj
    Joseph Pararajasingam
    Lalith Kugan
    Roshen chanaka
    Avant Garde
    Carlton sports Network
    Siriliya Saviya
    Krrish
    Hellocorp.

    The funeral will be held on Year 2020 January 8th.
    P.S. WILL BE BURIED EIGHT FEET UNDER THE GROUND.

    • 0
      2

      Richard de Zoysa
      Rohana Wijeweera

      seems to be missing in the list

      • 0
        0

        If you are going back to an earlier regime then there are so many more names to include.

  • 8
    0

    FCID, CID, Bribery commission must be independent entities and these institutions should be able to go on their business without any political pressure. What is the objective of letting you know? If these institutions engage in some substandard practices that contravene the law, that brings injustice, those who have been subject to such injustice could seek redress from court of law. All these institutions are subjected to be sued by any person. We have a strong feeling that you work overtime with Dudely Sirisena to stop Gotabaya being arrested. This is what we called hypocritic Yahapalana.

    As Deal Dasa has commented above Yahapalanaya has died a natural death.

    • 1
      0

      But I am compelled to believe FCID was not that independent when looking at the manner they reacted with the forgery of identification documents of samenspender -Wimal Buurwanse and several other case ended up so diluted but bailing out all these mnoths.

      Even day before yesterday that brutal man Nadeshan or Basil to be bailed out…. are no means fair.. but occured.

      ANd but not th elast Daizy Grannies all blatant lies to have given her that much of collosal sums allowing her ot buy the plot of land for her Grand child. FCID s internvene was no means sufficient. All these men stay even today without being subjected to any kind of conviction why ?

  • 1
    0

    Yahapalana was the biggest farce ever happened to Sri Lanka! It was a clever plan to hand over power to a politician who repeatedly lost elections and has no chance of ever becoming President through a democratic election. People of SL were fooled and we are paying a heavy price. Economy in shambles, open corruption, abuse of power and daily humiliation of the country by foreign masters who put this group in power.

    We should recognize the danger posed by the ‘NGO’ mafia that seems to manipulate the country under various slogans. The late Kadirgamar once said the country has become a carnival of NGOs (after the CFA was signed)! These organizations are the most opaque and undemocratic institutions that are funded by mysterious sources and have absolutely no accountability. They have strong connections to media and are manipulating the future of the country to please their sponsors. It is time we bring a strict code of conduct for these NGO parasites.

    As for the DG of CIABOC, why was she completely silent on the biggest fraud ever happened in SL – CB bond scam. The facts are open and clear. It seems some have a licence to rob the country!

  • 2
    0

    Keerti has missed or deliberately ignored the main reason for Sirisena’s out burst.
    Sirisena successfully achieved his main objective which is to drown Daham’s misadventure.
    Then,Dilrukshi was either sacrificed or she too wanted to go as bond scam gets hotter by the day.
    “Chandi shyama” was a celluloid heroine and so was Chandi shayama II.

    How can Keerti justify his advice to Dilrukshi to continue while he himself criticize her bias and inaction.

  • 0
    0

    Annichcha Watha Sankara; Uppada Vaya Dammino; Uppagithawa Nirujanthi; Thesanvupa Samo Suko. All the “High Priests” who pledged to bring up that “Baby” named “YAHAPALANAY” recited the above GATHA at the untimely DEATH and the BURIAL “CEREMONY”. The “HIGH PRIEST” delivered the “Last Dahamma Desana” and took off to India, while the “Deputy” left to Bruzales to get a quota on “Mathaka Vastha”. The 6.2 millions who fathered the “BABY” are still mourning in disbelief as to how the “Mother” to whom the Baby was entrusted to have utterly neglected the “Motherly Care” and caused that “Untimely” death. That 6.2 million “Mourners” have already declared a “Mourning Period” till 2020 at the end of which THEY would perhaps make another decision. Already the HELL has broken and the supposed to be DEAD MONSTER will probably rise up. Who can predict anything in Sri Lanka?

  • 2
    0

    Good Governance (GG1) has been overtaken by Gon Governance (GG2). As Politicians, they will find a way out, whether the Voters like it or not.

  • 1
    0

    If SL wants to do a genuine job of investigating and punishing all the culprits without being biased on party colour or the connection to the elite groups of SL, then, they should give it to some outside Investigation Company off shore. Even this I doubt, our guys are capable of bribing those off shore people too. In any case, this could be a better solution if they really wants these investigations to happen in a decent fashion.

  • 0
    0

    1. “There was a time when we believed that history had entrusted two Sri Lankans, Maithripala Sirisena and Dilrukshi Dias Wickramasinghe, with important roles. One symbolized the aspirations for good governance while the other represented our desire to rid the nation of bribery and corruption.”

    Who or what is this :”History” that according to you is empowered to “entrust” roles to our sinhalayas and demalas? Is it that foolish redneck bully named Sam? And according to this “history” of yours what does that other Wickremesinghe symbolize? You seem to have carefully hidden him away from view in your pocket.

    I have no issues aligning with civilization but I think that your favorite uncle is far from civilized.

    2. ACF has lodged 225 complaints with the Bribery Commission. This is the highest number of complaints lodged by one organization. On December 28, 2015 we were informed of the progress made on 94 of those cases. However in the last 10 months, we were only informed the progress of three cases only. Baffled by this development, we wrote to the Commission on three separate occasions, 23 March 2016, 2 June 2016 and 20 July 2016 to find the latest on the complaints we lodged. Our letters were unanswered.

    I would like to know what this Anti Corruption Front is and where it gets its mandate from and why it remained silent about this development.
    If this is true then why is it that you “don’t think the President should have openly criticized the commissions” when you yourself are implicitly criticizing it?

    3. We were also angered by what happened to one of the key witnesses to the case against former presidential aid Gamini Senarath. This important witness was tortured by the police and ACF had to intervene to assure his safety. ACF has filed 225 cases and there are hundreds of witnesses to these cases. How were we to assure the safety of these men and women who were shaken by what happened? We then had to turn, once again, to the people and hope that they would shield us. But not everyone could do that.

    Again, I would like to know what this Anti Corruption Front is and where it gets its mandate from and why it remained silent about this development.
    What became of this torture. Has the ACF filed action against the police or is it playing “shape” in true Sinhala Buddhist Fashion.

    4. The President believes that Wickramasinghe is a part of a campaign to undermine his authority. My personal opinion is that Wickramasinghe became the victim of political manipulation, who used her working style to their advantage.

    Politics is manipulation so what is your complaint here?

    5. On 17 October, the Police Financial Crimes Investigation Division arrested Nadeshan. Except for the ACF no other organization continuously agitated for such. The media maintained a policy of silence on even his name. Yet, within hours of his arrest, he was granted bail. We had previously uncovered that a critical factor in this crisis involved Nadeshan and we were surprised that he was not questioned with regard to the land in Malwana.

    Why are you surprised?

    Baby Thirukumar has been badly treated by the royal party having been trapped in that camp by his love for his formless mother. He has been forced to use temple trust networks to move the loot of the royal robbers out of the country. He and his “your Sekera” have carefully Mossack Fonseca-ed the trillions out of the country BUT Thiru is a holy man and he was crushed by having to do this especially because the dirty work involved moving a few thousand kilos of gold looted from the north and east. So he went in tears to god almighty and spilled the beans. God almighty gave Thiru his blessings and promised protection in return for the information on the Mossack style accounts.

    So what the hell are you crying about now? Did god do the wrong thing?

    If this is what the brainless Chinese communist peasant is complaining about then it is best he be sent to that country.

    6. The biggest and main allegation against her is that the Bribery Commission charged those alleged of irregularities at Avant Garde Maritime Company with ‘attempts of bribery’ instead of charging them using the firearms ordinance.

    What the F… Ranjit. “Firearms would drag the military in because of the containers of arms that went to your uncles terrorists with their serials carefully filed off. “ This was the deal that spared us a military coupe after the elections!!! How deaf dumb and blind can you godayas be? Do you want us to become the launch pad for your uncles “rainbow Revolution” and “Asian Spring”?

    7. The second allegation is that she has failed to properly investigate the two treasury bond scams, the biggest alleged financial irregularity under the UNFGG government.

    There is no treasury bond “scam” unless you consider capitalism to be a scam. This “scam” story comes from the anti capitalists in the Joint opposition and the Bond traders who were benefiting from a collusive non market “rationing system” where they knew in advance what the central bank would do at the bond auctions.

    8. After President made his controversial speech, there were moves, explicit and implicit, pushing her towards handing over her resignation.

    If this is correct then god almighty had decided that this chandi was behaving very much like the other chandi and had to go.

    9. Whoever takes up her job will do well to make a list of complaints and discuss them with THE PRIME MINISTER before taking action.

  • 0
    0

    Please observe the new development in the Phillipines as reported by the CNN today:
    “America has lost now,” Duterte said at a business forum Thursday during a four-day state visit to Beijing. “I’ve realigned myself in your ideological flow and maybe I will also go to Russia to talk to Putin and tell him that there are three of us against the world — China, Philippines and Russia. It’s the only way.”
    All NGOs in Sri Lanka may have to re-align themselves too to face the emerging realities in Asia?????

  • 0
    0

    We are kept occupied with these distraction while politicians go to town, CB scam and similar loss selling of duty free car permits, but what went on unhindered Cabraal how much,MR’s Kids how much, Chandrika and friends, Premadasa’ small scale……….

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