24 September, 2023


People Vs The Swamp: Let’s Take A Stand

By Kumar David

Prof. Kumar David

President; Untried criminals; Electricity chaos; PM & bonds; Budget

Open any newspaper, enter any conversation, pause for a chat between sips at the bar, it’s always the same; grumble, grumble, bitch and mumble. People with contrary views converse freely tearing into the GMOA, yahapalana, or the Opposition using similar words but meaning opposites. “SAITM, what a mess” moan those who oppose private medical education and those who know the GMOA is a greedy bunch of closed-shop brigands. “The duo at the top has no spine” exclaim citizens who want political murderers prosecuted and billion-rupee thieves thrown into prison; but others who wish the blackguards would away scot-free echo the same refrain. In this piece, for better for worse, I will take an unambiguous stand on some of these issues and perhaps inspire others to state what they mean without six-of-this and half-a-dozen-of-that ambiguity.

The chameleon president

The Supreme Court has ruled that the term of office of President Sirisena is five years. That’s it, full stop, matter closed.  Speaking for the UNP, Lakshman Kiriella said the President should have consulted the UNP before approaching Court. Rubbish, why does he need UNP blessing to clarify his term limits? A second issue: Is Sirisena morally obliged not to seek a second term in view of the pledges he gave? Yes. Is he legally debarred from backpedalling? Of course not. What if the public disapproves of a second term? Well, it will declare its verdict at the polling booth. That’s it; cut and dry. I hope you are with me thus far.

But Sirisena is also a peddler of bogus religiosity. Who gave him the right to decide whether adult female persons can buy a bottle or have a shot, unaccompanied, at a bar? Humbug, vote catching, outdated, cultural hypocrisy! Sirisena is intent on forcing his bigotry down other people’s throats. If my mother, aunts, wife or daughter want to buy a bottle or have a shot, it’s nobody else’s business, the President of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka included. My formidable grandmother in Jaffna gulped two-fingers of ‘Old Stuff’ every Sunday after a gingili oil rub and well-side head-bath. She would purchase the bottle herself; nobody dared obstruct her. And which nincompoop issued the 20-10-17 Gazette notice prohibiting the tapping of coconut trees for toddy w.e.f. 5-1-18?

We have watched bigotry inflicted as policy by Sirisena for three years. It’s time to say “We’re Fed Up!” Hope Mangala keeps up the fight, parochial male chauvinism must be castrated. Sirisena hopes to syndicate patriarchy with Sinhala-Buddhist chauvinism in his bulath-kole versus poroppaya battle, but that’s his problem. Let the rest of us be forthright and not soft peddle criticism of obscurantism; this country needs to move forward. Oh, for a Ceylonese Kemal Ataturk!

To give credit where credit is due, despite the odd rumour or two, I have no reason, to the best of my knowledge, to doubt that the President, in contrast to some predecessors, is honourable in financial/monetary matters. When he bares a sword to decapitate the corrupt, I support and only ask: “What took you so long?”

Criminality and corruption

Murders, indictable rights violations and mega-scale corruption under the previous regime. Let there be no ambiguity; the perception on all sides is that no action is taken because the top does not want to. The Lasantha murder inquiry could not have stalled unless President or Prime Minister, or both, wanted it that way. No intelligent person buys “the Attorney General’s Department is slow”, “unavoidable delays” and such poppycock. There is no way so many murder and graft prosecutions against top Rajapaksas could be so long delayed, or stalled, without explicit, obviously verbal, instructions from the top. The public is fed up and will not be duped any longer.

A telling example is DBS Jeyaraj in the Daily Mirror of 13 Jan 2018 where he makes a damning indictment. He says, briefly; the murders are known to the police and have been questioned; the telephone from which the order to kill went has been identified; the chain of command is known; the hit squad operated out of Manning Market; the commanding officer has been questioned. Hence Jeyaraj argues that Lasantha’s murder could not have happened without orders from top; the then top triumvirate in defence-military was Mahinda-Gota-Fonseka. Now Gota “enjoys a special relationship” with Sirisena and Fonseka is a minister in the government. Jeyaraj leaves nothing to the imagination.

The point is that sleuths and prosecutors have the evidence they need and ready to prosecute but cannot get a green light from the top. This is all known to journalists but no one has made such an explicit indictment and exposé of the highest levels. Neither President nor Prime Minister have denied the story though it is obvious where the finger points.

I have devoted two paras to this not only because it is a heinous crime and an example of state collaboration in the perversion of justice, but also because it is the story of other criminal and corrupt acts the government is unwilling to pursue – Ekneligoda, Podddala, Trinco-5, 17 ACF aid workers and the killing of Jaffna journalists. The operative word is unwilling, not unable or lacking evidence. The blockage is not in the CID, nor the Commercial Crimes Division, nor the AG, not even in a lack of political will; rather a decision has been taken not to pursue these cases. Three reasons; political leaders protect each other and their families, prosecuting criminals in uniform will create a Sinhala backlash, and thirdly, other heads in Cabinet will be loped-off when the tumbrils begin to roll.

Chaos in the electricity sector

I am tired of explaining that dumping Sampur was a blunder that will drive us into darkness and billions (not millions) in losses. Pandemonium has reached Cabinet; darkness may strike in 2018 and worsen in 2019-23. Two panicky Ministers have abruptly proposed 1200 MW of coal power in lieu of 500 MW of coal power at Sampur which was dismissed as too polluting! Sampur could have been made as “clean” as any “clean-coal” alternative. And there is also a push to rush 300 MW of immensely expensive oil-fired power. I warned over and over that the Sampur cancellation will lead to a Rs 220 billion cost overrun. I was conservative, it’s going to be more.

A panic-stricken government is flustering like a headless chicken, if the front pages of the Sunday Times of 14 Jan and Ceylon Today of 15 Jan, are believed. The two Ministers somersaulted and changed tack to 1000MW of gas-fired power and a liquified natural gas (LNG) terminal of one million tons capacity. The floating LNG terminal, when all gets done, will cost about $600 million. A 1 GW (1000 MW) gas-fired power plant will be another $1000 million ($1 billion). Yes, the capital cost of coal is higher than gas, but fuel is cheaper so overall electricity is cheaper.  Having thrown away a fully designed and financed option at Sampur, it will take 5 to 6 years to conclude a $1.6 billion financial agreement, and design, award tenders and build. And then, a floating regassification facility is only a stop gap, a fixed LNG harbour-terminal is essential if we are serious about gas.

Ms Namini Wijedasa and Ms Niranjala Ariyawansha, authors of the stories, say Cabinet has approved and the line Ministry instructed CEB to use a strange, rarely used mechanism called Swiss Challenge. This is where a favoured vendor puts up a proposal and competitors have to bid to lower the price of that plant and design. In-house CEB led designs and alternative proposals are locked out. You can buy any colour of petticoat, provided it is orange! But this is not the worst. The CEB will be locked into a one-million tons per year take or pay gas purchase contract at seller’s (project counter-partner and financer) price, the stories say. LNG prices fluctuate but if we use prevailing rates the CEB will be locked into a (say) $500 million per annum take or pay contract. That is, take the full quota, a part, or none at all, but always cough up the full amount.

Another term of this is ‘sucker’s contract foisted on a mutt who has been taken for ride once before on an oil hedge’. Why oh why can’t the government make use of competent expertise and transparent technical and economic processes? We are in for another cock-up, perhaps unintended (I am not alleging corruption), that will make the bond scam look like seenibola.

PM and bond scam

So much has been said in the media and so many heads broken in parliament that I have little to add. I will repeat my pet refrain in three sentences. I do not believe the Prime Minister is corrupt. I do believe that he has shown lousy judgement in appointing and defending Mahendran. And third, how would the UNP and Sirisena-supporters have found the money for a presidential election to match Rajapaksa’s golden horde of loot? Would you rather have had Rajapaksa for a third term? No thanks, not this correspondent. Sometimes Lenin got the Bolsheviks to break banks. Debts have to be repaid; I promised to be frank and am keeping my word.

Mangala’s budget

My refrain on the correct economic direction for Lanka has been: A state directed strategy, with foreign state-assistance, private-public partnerships, and ample space for domestic and foreign private capital. That’s a generalisation; the short sharp question in line with the style of this piece is “What do I make of Mangala’s budget”. The, constraint that this government can only offer a liberal bourgeois road-map is taken as given. Then Mangala’s budget is forward looking and sensible; in the context of this characterisation of the government, the budget should be supported. Ranil hallucinates neoliberalism, Mangala envisions private enterprise led expansion. Poppycock, the state is running the show (Colombo Harbour City, Hambantota Economic Zone, Indian, Japanese and Korean state-financed power plants, proposed ECTA and Trinco economic zone, highway and rail modernisation, an LNG terminal). FDI, what FDI! Where is it? Hotels and luxury apartments! Ranil and Mangala, in their imagination, court free enterprise; in real life they have no option but to walk the plank. Dream on, just stick with a dirigisme strategy in practice; you have no choice anyway.

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Latest comments

  • 6

    Sir. you for Thajudeen murder.All the evidence are there.The murder vehicle.Telefoon calls all traced.Nobody is arrestesd yet.
    Why .why.why.

    • 5

      President must drain the swamp in SLFP and take stern action against the former regime and put them also in jail along with those involved in Bond Scam.
      Sri Lanka is very badly in need of a leader who could clean the swamp and get rid of all thugs and uneducated and undisciplined MPs and look for those who are genuinely honest and those who love the country first.

    • 0

      Ravin Daniel ~ “……..Why .why.why”?
      Answer: Because .because.because.

  • 2

    WIf what you say is correct Prop, what is the use of having a National Procurement Commission with a former CEB General Manager who was corrupt to the brim, paying millions in poor mans money. The present Ministry Secretary a well trained person by Former Tresury Secretary Jayasundara how to create Corruption May be behind all this Tender manufilation as his knowledge is very little in corruption free Procurement systems. What is Siyabalapitiya and Ajith Perera up to in these corrupt activities.

    • 2

      What amazes me in this piffle from a Yahapalana apologist is that he justifies the bond scam to quote his own words as “how would the UNP and Sirisena supporters have found the money for a Presidential election to match Rajapakses”. So according to this man it is OK to rob the people . Why don’t you mention that in the UNP manifesto? This is immoral near scurrilous logic coming from someone who should be arraigned before a Court forsupporting the looting of public funds. Shameless, disgusting, idiot!

  • 4

    David should be hailed as a pioneer in the logic reform movement. His reasoning that it is OK to rob the Central Bank as the UNP needs,money to fight elections is as convoluted as Ravi K saying that living in a penthouse rent free is OK as long as you don’t know who the owner is!! This is code word for “brazen robbery”, Where is the morality of the country heading with public commentators like this?. God help Sri Lanka!

    • 2

      Percy the dated pathetic.

      “His reasoning that it is OK to rob the Central Bank as the UNP needs,money to fight elections is as convoluted as Ravi K saying that living in a penthouse rent free is OK as long as you don’t know who the owner is!!”

      Was it okay for the clan to rob the entire country including the cash and gold of people of the North East?

      You can repeated slogan, where is the proof?
      Don’t you think the clan is worth every cents it stole from the people for teaching the Demelas a lesson the will never forget?

      Are you preparing yourself for a riots which is long over due ?

      What would be your strategic role in the forthcoming riots, maybe mother of all riots. How much are you planning to raise from the riots?

      • 0

        Stupid Tamil Vedda
        Are you expecting this mother of all riots?
        Para demalas will never learn and want to grovel.What is the gold you are talking about.? Is it the stuff pawned at the People’s Bank? The buggerS have pawned brass saying it is gold and now claiming that they have been robbed. One aged woman claimed that her brass spittoon was in fact made of gold!! Channel 4 is coming over to do a doco on the great spittoon robbery. No self respecting southerner will touch a Tamil spittoon even if it was made of 24 K gold and studded with stolen diamonds.

        • 1


          I love watching converted Tamils/Buddhists kicking and screaming. You need to show your extreme loyalty in order to fit in with the rest of the Sinhala/Buddhists.
          Its alright old boy, you need the crumbs to survive don’t you?

  • 1

    First of all I must say that I do not agree with the justification that my Guru, Prof AKD, has given for the Bond scam. But I know that AKD is one of the genuine experts that we have on electrical power. It is sad that with such experts available, we have not used him to the best advantage of the country. The problem I think is that the power lobbies do not want him. Prof AKD does not belong to any lobbies. That seems to be his greatest disadvantage that outweighs all his advantages.

  • 2

    AKD’s points are:
    1) PM is not corrupt.
    2) Appointment and defense of Mahendran was only a matter of lousy judgment
    Then he says something that contradicts (1) and (2).
    3) UNP and Sirisena had to find money to defeat MR.
    Does this not suggest that the whole thing was purposely planned and executed by Ranil combo to get money necessary for the elections? AKD seems to consider defeating MR as the sacred duty of all citizens of Sri Lanka and any crime was worth it.
    This kind of logic is extremely dangerous and can be used to justify any act, even murder. If you take the Akusala Kammas as laid out by Buddha, first comes taking of life and the second stealing or taking by force things that belong to others. The bond scam falls nicely in to the category of 2nd Akusala Kamma.
    Then he goes on to justify his brand of flawed logic by saying that he does not want a 3rd term for MR and asks the question, ‘do we want that?’ I am sure there were many who would have loved to have MR and that is their democratic right. What right does Ranil or AKD have to decide for all of us?
    Then he goes on to buttress his argument by saying even Lenin got the Bolsheviks to rob banks. Why go that far? We have examples here too. JVP and LTTE did the same. Then he finally says, debts have to be paid. Very noble indeed! Apparently, his article too is an attempt to pay a debt that someone owes to someone else.

    • 0

      Both Edwin and Argon are too old. Is it AKD or KD.

  • 1

    Kumar David moans ~ “………..Oh for a Ceylonese Kemal Ataturk…………..”.
    AirCeylon is NM LSSP vintage. We are vibrant SriLankan Airlines now!
    Was it Colvin who made sure that there will be no Kemal Ataturk ever? Instead we have loads of Recep Tayyip Erdoğans.

  • 1

    Kumar David: You blame Sinhala buddhist Chauvanism. I say it is your Christian Tamil Tribalism and hatred against buddhists. Ranil is corrupt. Not only he is corrupt he is covering it up for three years. HE is spending money and wasting money to cover it up. that shows that he is not a leader. He appointed thieves,. Your justification suggests that both MY3 and Ranil knowingly did the Bank robbery. I also think the same. but, both of them did not think the extent of the robbery and how much country would pay for it. YOu di dnot discuss how bad country is bankrupt. If those women in the middle east are not sending money, Sri lanka is worse than Greece right now. You say the robbery is OK.
    Mangala Samarweera’s budget is for american companies. IMF, MCC approved it and Ranil OKEd it. Once what Mangala does completes, Trincomalee will be american and indian. American companies will build industrial parks and rent it backs to Sri lankan companies. So, they earn money at the expense of our lands. It is the same thing with other things Mangala did. LGBTQ is a disgrace to MATARa voters who voted him. We are not killing or beating gays as christians/Catholics/Westerners do. but, asking another set for them is ubfair,. Itis the same thing with Beer and liquor. why don’t you ask you daughter to get drunk and stay in a pub. does your wife get drunk. I know Tamil christians are different from Tamil Hindus.

    • 0

      I think KD had a problem in differentiation between the elephant in the woods and the PM’s Bond scam wooden elephant.

      But he is spot on about the right of females like his grandmother to buy and gulp down two fingers of the old stuff and DBSJ’s daming indictment in the Daily Mirror of 13th January 2018 about Lasantha W’s murder and the triumvirate conspiracy involved in it.

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