A senior Government Minister has advised President Nandasena Gotabaya Rajapaksa to “kill a crow and hang up a feather” in order to silence dissent that was hampering state development projects.
Johnston Fernando, Minister of Highways and Chief Government Whip of Parliament made these remarks at a meeting in Kurunegala about progress on the Construction of the Maha Ela project. Different arms of the same government were at odds with each other, Minister Fernando said.
“The Tissamaharama tank is a government project. Who opposes it? The Archaeology Department which is also part of the Government. Once the Government approves a project, all ministries and government departments have to fall in line,” he charged.
Minister Fernando then remarked: “The whole problem here is that this President and the Government is being too lenient. That’s the problem. You just need to kill one crow and hang a feather up for everyone to see. Then everything will get cleaned up.
The Tissamaharama tank controversy erupted when Chinese workers wearing uniforms that resembled military fatigues were caught and exposed on camera. It was subsequently found that the Chinese Joint Venture Company had not obtained permission from the Department of Archaeology to dredge the historic irrigation tank believed to be built in the 3rd Century BC.
Watch Minister Johnston Fernando’s remarks:
The Minister’s remarks are particularly chilling because bodies routinely turned up on the streets the last time the Rajapaksa Family ruled Sri Lanka between 2005-2015. Journalists, activists and political opponents were found dead or brutally assaulted in ditches following abduction by terror-inducing White Vans when the current President, Gotabaya Rajapaksa held office as Secretary of Defence during his brother’s presidency.
Last week consumer rights activist Asela Sampath narrowly escaped an abduction by white van after his daughter posted a video on her Facebook moments after her father was forcibly removed from their home. Sampath, who was arrested previously for criticizing Minister Bandula Gunewardane, was dragged out of his house by 20 men in civil clothing and bundled into a waiting van. Soon after news broke of his abduction, the Police Spokesman claimed he had been “arrested” by the CID over a post criticising the Government on social media. The CID was then forced to produce the activist in court, where a magistrate immediately granted him bail. Outside the court room, Sampath said his life had probably been saved because of his daughter’s forethought to raise the alarm about his abduction. No warrant was produced when the 20 CID officers purportedly “arrested” Asela Sampath at his residence.