By Shyamon Jayasinghe –
Yesterday’s (24/1/17) Daily Mirror reported Professor GL Peiris (GLP) making a comically self-righteous and tragically outrageous statement that former Central Bank Governor, Arjuna Mahendran, should not be allowed to attend any official state delegations, official meetings and take part in any official discussions. “Otherwise people get the notion that he is not guilty and that is why he is still engaged in State decision-making.”
I was one of the many who welcomed GL’s entry into politics in Sri Lanka- many decades back. Here, I thought, is a highly educated man-a Rhodes Scholar and a former Professor of Law in our Universities. I think it was Chandrika (CBK) who had invited him and, despite my reservations about CBK as an amoral non-doer, I had cast aside that reservation for a moment. My predictions went wrong before long. GLP evinced repeated signs of being a failure as a Minister of government and he didn’t impress at all. Did he jump on board with Ranil Wickremesinghe’s short-lived government? Ranil has been a early detector of people’s abilities and so he had little patience with GLP. The Professor left the Ranil -fold before long. He joined the UPFA government of Mahinda Rajapaksa and was party to the most corrupt, oppressive and abusive regime that my country ever had. I do not know about the times of our Kings. GL was first Minister of Foreign Affairs and later Minister of Export Development & Trade under that totalitarian system of misrule. Can he count any one bit of significant policy outcome for which he could claim authorship under that regime?
This absence of any policy outcomes was common among almost all Ministers in the Rajapaksa Regime. For policy formulation became the territory of the siblings in an operation that was unashamedly a family affair. Bandula Gunawardane was no good in education, for instance. Johnny was useless in Trade & Cooperatives except to feather his nest. So with the rest of the incompetent bunch. Ministers were left to do their own personal harvesting and be prepared with their hands to vote for family proposals. And so we have patriot Wimal Weerawansa now languishing in jail-under arrest.
To do justice, GLP did not resort to looting. He lives a bit in the corner of my softness because of that. GLP is a man with his own means and accreditation. My worry of late, however, is not about GLP’s incompetence but of his passion to back the High King at all unconscionable cost. In the process, GLP has almost unconsciously been dragged into the lying breed of pollies that my country now boasts of. Our brand of tea has been surpassed in the international consciousness! The old cliche says, “if one lies with the dogs, one awakes with ticks.” GLP is getting ticks all over-it seems!
I have deliberately employed the adjectives “self -righteous,’ and ‘outrageous,’ at the opening paragraph. In addressing the Press (reported in the Daily Mirror above) GLP talks with an unreal sense of self-righteousness in attacking Arjuna Mahendran and the general charge of public corruption. Was GLP sleeping like Rip Van Winkle during the ten year period of the government of which he had been Minister? Suddenly waken up to ‘see’ corruption in our Central Bank? An example from the CB of his time were the Greek Bonds where our country lost millions. The CB then conducted business with Arjuna’s son-in-law’s very same Perpetual Treasuries. Bonds were, then, given on private placements where chosen cronies got the deals. GLP had been silent at this fraudulent practice of fattening cronies. Furthermore, Perpetual Treasuries had at that time unloaded bonds on the ETF. The next of a legion of deals was the infamous hedging exercise where we lost billions. GLP had been silent then because he was asleep.
It is “outrageous,” I say, because GLP, who is an acknowledged pundit in the law has declared Arjun as someone “guilty” of a criminal act of fraud. He must not be allowed,GLP asserts, to take part in state discussions even though Arjuna would have the expertise to contribute. Doesn’t GLP not know that a person can be declared “guilty” of criminal conduct only after pursuance of a judicial enquiry? Such an enquiry can only be done by a court of law or by an agency that has the status of such a court. The procedure that will be followed by such a body is a judicial one. COPE isn’t such a body; it is a group of politicians. Besides, the reigning UNP had the decency to let COPE be chaired by the Opposition JVPer, Handunneththi. GLP’s government had its own party man, DEW, in the chair. Even under DEW, 32 COPE reports that were adverse to government had been ignored by MR. In what planet was GLP at that time?
Besides, the Finance Ministry flatly denies Arjuna’s inclusion in the Ministry in any capacity. It also denies Arjuna’s inclusion in the PM’s delegation to Davos, as suggested by GLP. Isn’t it clear the Professor is attempting to mislead his audience into believing what cannot with any validity be believed? GLP knows he is lying when he ignores the truth, when he selects his focus of attention and when he has the intent to mislead his audience.
*The writer can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org