The Government of Sri Lanka is struggling to find three persons of integrity and general fitness with respect to the requirements of representing civil society (non-politician members) in the Constitutional Council. Already one of the nominees, Dr Radhika Coomaraswamy, has come under flak for dubious positions taken on Sri Lanka. The ‘Daily Mirror’ in an editorial outlining the qualities that CC members ought to have has also urged that people with certain track records shouldn’t be entertained. Some of the traits flagged are reminiscent of Coomaraswamy’s track record.
Meanwhile the credentials of another nominee, 84 years old, Sarvodaya leader Dr A.T. Ariyaratne, are as suspect given overwhelming evidence of family bandyism within the movement. This is at odds with the zero tolerance of corruption and favoritism promised by President Maithripala Sirisena in his election campaign which unleashed scathing attacks on his predecessor Mahinda Rajapaksa for favors granted to family members.
Colombo Telegraph reveals the following pertinent information on Dr Ariyaratne.
1. President Premadasa filed charges against A.T. Ariyaratne and established a Commission that found he had siphoned donor funds to his family bank accounts.
2. A.T.Ariyaratne is the life President of Sarvodaya.
3. His son Dr Vinya Ariyaratne is the Gen. Secretary of Sarvodaya and was its former CEO.
4. His wife Neetha Ariyaratne is the General Secretary of Sarvodaya Suwasetha Sewa Society Ltd. and the Secretary of Siva Setha.
5. Dr Vinya Ariyaratne is also a Director of D.D.F.C Finance (Deshodaya Development Finance Company Limited ) as well as Sarvodaya Economic Enterprise Development Services (Gte) Ltd (SEEDS).
The third nominee Justice A.W.A Salam is not tainted in this manner. While he has a reputation for being a fair and competent judge without any known political affiliations or biases, neither is he known for any extraordinary skills or capacities.
The question being asked in political circles is, if this was the best the Government could come up with, if they had to nominate seven persons they would be in a severe crisis!