6 February, 2023


New York Times Exposé & UNP Duplicity

By Amrit Muttukumaru

Amrit Muttukumaru

The brazen duplicity of our politicians unleashed on the people of this country with impunity makes one wonder whether we even deserve a vote. Under no circumstances is the writer advocating even a little bit of totalitarianism. What is amazing is that most of our present day politicians better known for their brawn are doing this to us on a regular basis. What does this say of us?

An excellent current example of such duplicity is the reaction of the UNP led yahapalana government to the ‘New York Times’ exposé alleging that one of China’s prominent government owned entities – ‘China Harbor Engineering Company(CHEC) had funded the 2015  re-election presidential campaign of former President Mahinda Rajapaksa to the tune of “at least $7.6 million”. 

NYT Exposé 

1) UNP parliamentarian Ajith P Perera – State Minister of Power and Renewable Energy states:

“We have reason to believe that Mr. Rajapaksa’s election campaign was funded by the Chinese company” 

The company referred to is ‘China Harbor Engineering Company’ (CHEC). (‘Daily Mirror’ 3 July 2018)  

2) In the context of the article alleging “The payments were confirmed by documents and cash checks detailed in a government investigation seen by The New York Times” why did the government have to wait for the NYT exposé when it had the information necessary to go public? 

3) Why did UNP minister Ajith P Perera reportedly inform the ‘Daily Mirror’ that the authorities concerned “could not disclose information on their investigations to the public” when it is  obvious that the main source of the NYT article were government documents?

4) Despite having “reason to believe” that CHEC had at least partly funded the 2015 presidential campaign of Mahinda Rajapaksa, why did the yahapalana government continue to have CHEC as the source of funding and main partner in so-called flagship ‘development’ projects which include the Hambantota Port and ‘Colombo Port City’ now renamed ‘Colombo International Financial City’?

5) UNP minister Ajith P Perera is not the only person to have misgivings on the integrity of CHEC. 

6) Dr. Harsha De Silva – Deputy Minister, National Policies and Economic Affairs whose minister is no less a person than Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe when in opposition while describing the ‘Colombo Port City’ (now renamed) as “Colombo’s largest land scam” alleged that CHEC was “banned by the World Bank” from 2009 to 2017 “after being caught in a string of corruption scandals involving the Philippines, Malaysia, Bangladesh, Jamaica, Guyana, Papua New Guinea and Uganda.”

He is now a major proponent of the renamed ‘Colombo Port City’. Why is no one demanding that De Silva explain himself?  When an ‘educated’ person such as Dr. Harsha De Silva is on record on this matter, what can be expected from the majority of our politicians?

Dual Citizenship

An acid test to determine whether the people of this country – particularly its leaders – political, corporate, professional, NGO and media are serious about combating corruption is whether they will make a clarion call to forthwith stop the practice of issuing dual citizenship at least until the country reaches an acceptable level of equitable development. This must be applicable to those holding (i) all elected political office (ii) senior bureaucrats at least at Secretary & Deputy Secretary level (iii) Chairpersons & CEOs of Corporations & statutory bodies (iv) Chairpersons & CEOs of regulatory agencies (v) Heads of entities responsible for law & order (vi)Directors of quoted public companies (vii) Sri Lankan Diplomats. It must also include immediate family members of such persons. Any deviation will disqualify those concerned from holding office.

This writer believes that a fountainhead of egregious corruption are divided loyalties and ability to evade accountability. When Sri Lanka is the ONLY COUNTRY of which we can be citizens, would we not nurture the country with love? 

The writer will appreciate having the views of others in the larger interest of the country. Howls of protest and castigation from vested interests is anticipated! 


An issue that needs to be addressed is the whole gamut of campaign finance and accountability. For starters, will the authorities concerned in government forthwith release to the public domain the documents which allegedly were the source of the NYT exposé? 

For a plethora of reasons which include ‘insurance’ in the context of egregious corruption perpetrated by all sections of the political divide, it is obvious that successive governments will only make stifled noises now and then to give a veneer of hope for the people. For example, where is the opposition outrage in the aftermath of the egregious bond scam whose mastermind has still not been identified? Why is there no concerted demand to hold PM Ranil Wickremesinghe responsible for former CBSL Governor Arjuna Mahendran being able to leave the country and thus evade due process for his alleged role in the bond scam? Was it not the PM who hand-picked Arjuna Mahendran a foreign national to be CBSL Governor and was it not the PM despite the widespread demand not to give Mahendran a second term due to his perceived role in the bond scam who robustly endorsed him for a second term?

Just consider the ‘games’ being played even to release to the public domain all the documents relating to the Presidential Commission of Inquiry which probed the Central Bank Bond scam. In this connection, the Attorney General is reported to have stated that “certain secret documents submitted to the Commission of Inquiry by the Central Bank of Sri Lanka and the Monetary Board, recommendations should be sought from these institutions prior to releasing the documents”. Should not CBSL Governor Dr. Indrajit Coomaraswamy clarify this? 

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Latest comments

  • 3

    Why cannot the government show the public the same documents that they released to the NYT? Perhaps because average Sri Lankan is capable of separating the grain from the chaff while the average NYT reader is plain dumb and always love to hop on the proverbial bandwagon.

    • 1

      Amrit Muttukumaru,

      RE:New York Times Exposé & UNP Duplicity

      “The brazen duplicity of our politicians unleashed on the people of this country with impunity makes one wonder whether we even deserve a vote. “

      “What is amazing is that most of our present day politicians better known for their brawn are doing this to us on a regular basis. What does this say of us?”

      Suckers, low IQ, mean IQ 79, suckers. Our present day politicians, as well as the politicians since Independence may have known this.

      Have you heard the saying “Sinhalaya Modaya….” Sinhalese are fools? Paras are fools?

      Welcome to the Land of Native Veddah Aethho illegally occupied by the Paras from Bharat, Damba-Diva, India.

      Original Article | Published: 07 November 2013

      Mitochondrial DNA history of Sri Lankan ethnic people: their relations within the island and with the Indian subcontinental populations.


      Through a comparison with the mtDNA HVS-1 and part of HVS-2 of Indian database, both Tamils and Sinhalese clusters were affiliated with Indian subcontinent populations than Vedda people who are believed to be the native population of the island of Sri Lanka.

  • 5

    The Daily News of Wednesday July 22, 2015 ran a front page article about this issue. Not sure why everyone is shocked by it now, almost 3 years later.

    This is all politics. The Yahapalanaya grandees see an opportunity make some political capital since they are down the dumpster.

    This is no different than going to the toilet. Sit down, ponder, make a lot of noise and finally, drop the matter.

    Eventually, nothing will happen as always.

    • 4

      Mr. Muttukumaru,
      ” When Sri Lanka is the ONLY COUNTRY of which we can be citizens, would we not nurture the country with love? “
      While it is true that some corrupt individuals are dual citizens, the vast majority are not. Even M.R is not a dual citizen ,or so we are told.
      The problem is in our culture, which condones corruption while maintaining a sil-redhi clad exterior.
      Almost certainly, nothing will happen. Nor will anything happen about ongoing yahapalanaya corruption if the Rajapakasa come back. That’s how the system works.
      “He is now a major proponent of the renamed ‘Colombo Port City’. Why is no one demanding that De Silva explain himself?”
      Harsha is not the only person to do this. Killi Maharajah and his media, once vociferous opponents of Port City, changed sides and took to the streets around the country collecting bricks to build some sort of monument inside Port City.
      Maybe it will actually be a good thing if the country is sold off in bits and pieces. The Chinese /Indian buyers will make sure their investment is run efficiently.

  • 2

    right now MR, chinese embassy and upfa gen secretary deny these campaign donations. why arent these contributors asking nyt to submit more evidence? Why is the sudda always correct on face value? how funny!

    In anycase that article has gross inaccuracies. It states at one point that sri lankas debt repayment for 2018 is 12 bn usd when the actual figure is 25% of that. if they can make such a gross mistake i have serious questions about the rest of the article.

  • 0

    Dear Mr. M,
    “Howls of protest and castigation from vested interests is anticipated! “
    Well, you could’t resist a poke at the alleged “bond scam”, could you?
    “For example, where is the opposition outrage in the aftermath of the egregious bond scam whose mastermind has still not been identified? “
    Well the reason is that there was no such bond scam, and it cannot stand up in courts. The JO knows this, even if you don’t.
    You have not been able to provide hard figures on this “scam”. My challenge to you still stands.

    • 3

      LAC3 (rtd) Buddhadasa you must be a special kind of moron.

      • 0

        So YOU are an expert on the bond scam? Well then, go ahead and provide clear figures. If not, go look in the mirror for a braiwashed moron..

  • 2

    This comment was removed by edwin rodrigo because it abides by CT Comment policy. For more detail see our Comment policy https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/comments-policy-2/

    • 0

      Ha ha ha very funny FH.

  • 0

    Wolves are very loyal to their packs and compromising, no matter how many are there ,once a Wolf Omega asserts himself ,all respond to the howl

    And the change of Omega positions are always bloodless.

    Always remember ,if you become sheep the wolves (From all packs),will eat you .


  • 3

    The hue & cry raised by the Media and echoed by the Yahapalanaya politicians regarding the NYT article is a well-planned ‘red-herring’ meant to distract the attention of the voting public from the uncomfortable questions raised about the disbursement of funds by PTL.

    The imminent identification of the recipients of such largesse and the acute embarrassment it would have caused to the ruling party obviously contributed to this course of action.

    The big question is as to who leaked the story to the NYT ? And why not to a local Newspaper since all the necessary evidence seems to be available ?

    • 0

      Kemo Sabey,

      The Daily News of Wednesday July 22, 2015 ran a front page article about this issue.

      So, the NYT was almost 3 years behind.

      • 0

        Thanks, Rajiv, for that lead. This certainly offers a fresh perspective to this story, which suggested the sudden discovery by the investigative journalists at the NYT of some ‘jilmart’ on the part of MR. However, Newspapers thrive on publishing the latest news. The fact that the NYT chose to publish news that was nearly 3 years old indicates that they were motivated to do so not due to some altruistic desire on their part to serve the Sri Lankan reading public, but may have been persuaded to do so by certain politicians and their hangers-on (in SL and in the USA) who are anti-MR and anti-China, to further their own personal agendas.

  • 6

    Srilanka is now a colonial slavery nation to the Great China. Srilanka could not win the war with the LTTE with its resources and Mahinda family used the opportunity to get into power by made a slavery agreement with China. China used that opportunity to invest billions, gave weapons and immunitions to massacre Tamils and billions as a gift or donations to Mahinda Family to establish their kingdom permanently. The country and the wealth are now under the control of China. Whether it is UNP or SLFP or any other party who comes to power cannot escape from the debt trap put by China. This country lost its indepenence and it is the China who is going to decide who can govern the Nation. UNP has no power to take action against Mahinda for corruption as long as we depend on China. This is the reality.

  • 1

    Amrit Muttukumaru
    The New York Times Exposé did not have much of an impact. Attracted a few comments.
    The CT article “Sampanthan Laments Lack Of Political Will To Enact New Constitution” which appeared just a few hours back has already attracted quite a few comments and may reach 100 by days end.
    Our minds have become desensitised to stories of corruption/nepotism/impunity.

  • 1

    Me too

    Not Just Mahinda ,all politicians have received. Donations ,what about Trump ,what about Bin Yamin ,?,

    So what ,as if the present politicians are saints ,at-least Mahinda is Smart he brought money from out ,while today the present politicians ,their families and even distantly connected people are soloing out and the worse is robbing of the natural resources are done mercilessly .

    (Edwin bro, don’t edit this out too, am not anti crusader , I don’t carry a Sword mine is a pen )

    Mahinda must become the next leader ,he has proven, he is the best out of the entire worst .

  • 1

    New York Times Editorial 3rd July Part 1

    Angered by a New York Times detailing China seized ownership of a seaport in Sri Lanka, a group of Sri Lankan lawmakers denounced the newspaper on Monday, focusing their ire on two local journalists.

    On Monday night, the lawmakers, who are allies of the former president Mahinda Rajapaksa, held a televised news conference in which they claimed that the journalists, Dharisha Bastians and Arthur Wamanan, were working on behalf of the current government to malign Mr. Rajapaksa. One lawmaker displayed a close-up photo of Ms. Bastians’s face for the cameras.
    The news conference came after a days-long campaign on social media to discredit the journalists, who provided logistical help for the article, and to attack their families.
    The campaign on Twitter and Facebook received the support of Mr. Rajapaksa’s family, including his son Namal Rajapaksa, a member of Parliament, who reposted claims that Ms. Bastians and the main author of the ports investigation, the Times correspondent Maria Abi-Habib, had been paid to write the piece by Sri Lanka’s current government.
    Michael Slackman, the international editor for The Times, called those claims false. In a statement, he said the Times article was rigorously reported and accurate, and criticized the lawmakers’ news conference.
    “It is unacceptable for journalists to be intimidated in this way,” he said. “This action appears intended to silence critics and curb press freedoms, and ultimately deprive Sri Lankans of information in the public interest.”
    He added: “The Times expects the Sri Lankan authorities to ensure the safety of journalists working for our — or any — news organization.”
    The Times detailed how Mr. Rajapaksa had taken on more than $1 billion in loans from China’s government to build a seaport in his hometown of Hambantota, southern Sri Lanka, despite feasibility studies concluded project not viable

  • 0

    Part 2
    The article also cited an ongoing government investigation into payments from China Harbor Engineering Co., a major, Chinese state-owned enterprise, to aides in Mr. Rajapaksa’s campaign before the 2015 elections. China Harbor built the Hambantota port.
    Unable to pay off the debt, Sri Lanka’s current government handed over Hambantota port last year to China Merchants Port in a 99-year lease. China Merchants is another large, state-owned Chinese company.
    Sri Lanka is one of the most dangerous places for journalists, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists. During Mr. Rajapaksa’s 10-year presidency, journalists were routinely beaten and jailed, and 11 reporters were killed, their murders remaining unsolved to this day.
    When Sri Lanka’s new government came to power, it promised more press freedoms, but physical attacks have continued, although none have resulted in death.
    “This naming and attempt to shame publicly these two Sri Lankan journalists is most alarming and worrying, because it is being done by the same people who did it earlier while they were in power,” said Lakshman Gunasekera, president of the Sri Lankan chapter of the South Asia Free Media Association. “During their regime, we journalists lived through a time where such direct naming and targeting of journalists could end with physical attacks, grenades thrown at houses and disappearances and killings, assassinations.”
    Before the article was published in The Times, Mr. Rajapaksa and his aides did not respond to multiple requests to comment on the article, including detailed lists of questions and assertions made by other officials.
    On July 1, Mr. Rajapaksa wrote an open letter to editors at The Times in response to the article, rejecting statements that his electoral campaign had received any payments from China Harbor

  • 0

    Didnt I say, it only takes nano seconds for the retarded Lankans to discard facts as trash. This is not your Daily News,Island and Virakesari which are only good for grocery stores and eateries to pack parcels .NYT is governed by media regulation. monitored by independent bodies and if anyone disagrees may very well sue them for compensation.There has been incidents where facts were not verified enough or cross checked and the responsible staff/editor were fired. Even well known journalist Fareed Zacharia was suspended for plagiarism.We all know what happened to good old Rupert in U.K. few years ago (for all the wealth and influence he had). We also know about Water Gate Saga.In Lanka the journalist may be murdered but nothing of what is mentioned is possible.DO NOT SHOOT THE MESSENGER.

  • 0

    Our country has become the Singapore , and worse so,when it was drug and crime ridden society. When will the Phoenix be reborn here. Lee Kuan Yew took the reigns into his hands and slashed and burnt to get rid of the vermin and brought the nation to what it is today. No doubt , this borders on inhuman approach, but the solution is never coming and the decease is becoming worse and spreading out of control. Those responsible for prevention, control and eradication, are the promoters of such crime, and there is ample evidence.

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