23 September, 2017

Politicians Beware! No Bureaucrat Will Carry Out Your Illegal Orders

By Vishwamithra

“There comes a point where a man must refuse to answer to his leader if he is also to answer to his conscience.” ~ Ann Tusa, The Nuremberg Trial

On Thursday, September, 2017, the High Court of Colombo issued a chilling verdict on one of the most anticipated cases filed by the Financial Crimes Investigation Division (FCID): Lalith Weeratunga, former Presidential Secretary and Anusha Palpita, former Director General of the Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (TRC), were sentenced to three years rigorous imprisonment after being found guilty to the charge of misappropriating Rs.600 million belonging to the TRC and using it to distribute ‘Sil Redi’ during the 2015 presidential election campaign. Colombo High Court Judge Gihan Kulatunga also imposed a fine of Rs.2 million on each of the convicts and ordered to pay Rs.50 million to the TRC as compensation. They allegedly carried out an ‘order’ given to them by politicians who happened to be their masters. Lalith Weeratunga was the Secretary to former President Mahinda Rajapaksa. He was also the Chairman of the TRC.

According to reports in the print media, a brief descripting of the alleged crime and the subsequent judgment is thus:The Attorney General had filed indictments against former Secretary to the President Lalith Weeratunga and former Telecommunications Regulatory Commission (TRC) Director General Anusha Palpita under three counts, in connection with a criminal misappropriation of Rs.600 million belonging to the TRC funds during the 2015-Presidential Election campaign. They were found guilty of all charges.

The Attorney General had filed indictments against the two accused on three counts of committing a criminal misappropriation funds amounting to Rs.600 million at TRC while spending for a ‘Sil Redi’ distribution program in contravention of the Telecommunication Act, No. 25 of 1991 Act during the period of October 30, 2014 to January 5, 2015. The prosecutors alleged that the funds referred to had been remitted to a bank account maintained by Secretary to the President. 

‘In his judgment, the High Court Judge observed that on December 5, 2014 a sum of Rs.600 million had been remitted to a bank account maintained by former Secretary to the President through the intervention of Anusha Palpita.

‘Evidence given by a secretary attached to the TRC had proved that the Board of Directors’ approval was not obtained for this transaction. It was revealed that this transaction had been done through a method called ‘circulation’ in which no written approval was given to remit concerned funds, the High Court judge added.

‘While observing that he cannot agree with the defense contention that the Sil Redi distribution program was a long-time process, the High Court Judge maintained that this program had been initiated with the intention of gaining undue advantage to a particular candidate in an urgent manner.

‘According to the defense contention, distribution of Sil Redi comes under the expenditure of President. The defense was of the view that due to insufficient funds at the President’s expenditure, they sought financial assistance from the TRC. The court is of the view that they should have sought funds through a supplementary estimate to meet financial requirements without following irregular and illegal process.

The findings of the Court are damning. Would the convicted, Weeratunga and Palpita now think more carefully and wisely about the orders they carried out at the behest of their political masters? Would they have not done what they did, had it dawned on them that power is so temporary and the powerful positions they once held did not grant them license to carry out illegal orders issued to them by their masters. Rs. 600 million is, as they say in street corners, no chicken feed. Allow me to substantiate my argument:

As per the judgment ordered ‘in the case of Ossen v Ponniah, 34 New Law Report page 50, an Excise Inspector had spread a frame of iron spikes on a highway to stop a car. He argued that the placing of spikes in that way had been sanctioned by the Excise Commissioner. The Excise Officer was charged and convicted of the offence of obstruction and criminal restraint. In that case, the Supreme Court also warned the Excise Department not to use such methods in their work since innocent users of the highway will be seriously injured by such method’. (Source: The Law Governing Public Administration in Sri Lanka by Dr. Wickrema Weerasooria, page 188)

Dr. Weerasooria’s book on the sub heading ‘Superior Officers’ liability for acts of Subordinate Officers’, page 188’, further adds thus: ‘However, if a subordinate official acts directly under the orders of his superior, both officials may be sued: See Brainbridge v Postmaster General. (1906) 1KB 178’. The fundamental principle of law that an illegal order carried out by a subordinate officer cannot argue that he or she acted under orders of a superior. The famous Nuremberg Law established that fundamental principle of law without any dispute. Hitler’s henchmen couldn’t invoke that defense.

Weeratunga and Palpita were not mere scapegoats. They apparently knew that they were carrying out illegal orders. What they did not know was the impermanence of power! Mahinda Rajapaksa and his corrupt clan headed by his siblings did not know the impermanence of power either. The malignancy of corruption and its inevitable spread across the body politic is now visible. An order from the High Court had to deliver that bitter and cruel truth. Those who sympathize with the two officers need to realize that the victims in this case were not Lalith Weeratunga and Anusha Palpita. On the contrary, Weeratunga and Palpita were the perpetrators of a white collar crime and there are six hundred million threads woven into that gross and unpardonable crime. ‘Sil Redi’ (meditation cloth) was not a donation with compliments of the President of the country. They were a bribe shrouded in cloth.

The Joint Opposition is now trying to portray the two convicts as heroes and victims. The whole country knows who would pay their fine of Rs.52 million each.  An Officer in the ‘Allied Control Commission’ at the groundbreaking Nuremberg Trials, which was held to pay homage to six million Jews and others and issue a warning to future would-be-offenders, characterized the accused at the trials thus:, “So grotesque and preposterous are the principle characters in this galaxy of clowns and crooks that none but a thrice double ass could have taken them for rulers.”

The white collar crimes so committed, as per the judgment of High Court Judge Kulatunga, belong in the arena of yet-untold stories of our innocent men and women who had immense faith and trust in the past regime that the so-called ‘pious’ acts were piloted by the then rulers were in the genuine interests of the suffering masses. It is far from the truth. With the impending elections in 2015 in mind, a group of ruthless rulers abused and pilfered the government coffers to enlist the support of millions of pious men and women living in the most rural hamlets. The effort failed. Success of such ill-conceived thoughts and objects of politicians are far from assured. Those who willingly carried out these orders never ever doubted the outcome of the elections.

A ten-year-rule from 2005 to 2015 seemed too short for them. The passage and enactment of the Eighteenth Amendment removed the term-limit imposed on individuals from contesting for the highest office of the land for more than twice. Enjoying a two-thirds majority in the House of Parliament- this majority was not received at the elections but ensured via many an improper and unethical political deal- the Rajapaksas resorted to illegal, unethical and undemocratic means to ensure an extension of their immoral political life. By controlling the power of Presidency, Premiership and other major portfolios, they controlled the lives of millions of Sri Lankans.         

A culture, which produced one bookie-owner presiding over the affairs of All Ceylon Buddhist Congress and another controlling the destinies of our beloved game of cricket, also produced civil servants of the caliber of ‘servants’ who did not have the guts or daring to say ‘no’ to their political masters and that is pathetic and grossly unfortunate to say the least. One would realize that changing the political heads of the country is not enough. A culture of corruption, a culture of warped human values, and a culture of abundant avarice has destroyed our national character. What is even more demeaning is the ‘culture of apathy’ on the part of the masses. No meaningful outcome is possible after the Kulatunga-ruling if the country at large decides to move on without making the essential ethical and moral adjustments. A willingness and determination on the part of the masses not to disregard such corrupt practices, but to seek justice and punish the perpetrators, whether they come from the highest ranks of government or of civil life, with a view to enhancing the character and soul of a nation is a prerequisite for the country to go forward.

The writer can be contacted at vishwamithra1984@gmail.com        

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Latest comments

  • 7
    0

    Nonsense!!

    99% of state sector employees will fall in line with politicians and less than 1% will resist and do the right thing. This is reality. You can get away with murder and that is the truth.

    Our judicial system and prosecution mechanism is so weak that it will be impossible to prosecute all wrong doers within a reasonable period of time and everyone knows it.

    There are 25+ institutions who are looking at fraud and corruption today. None of them have required experts such as bankers, IT experts, accountants etc but full of lower level staff and constables and sergeants who have no clue about white collar crime.

    Look at the crimes for which people have been indicted over the last two years.

    1 minister held responsible for hiring an employee without a cadre position
    2 minister held responsible for misusing a vehicle
    3 minister held responsible for a fraudelent duplicate passport
    4 minister held responsible for misappropriation of roofing sheets
    5 etc etc

    No minister or official held responsible for Airbus deal for approx Rs 100 bn
    No minister or official held responsible for for Uma Oya cost going up from USD 300 m to USD 500 m
    No minister or official held responsible for bond scam
    No minister or official held responsible for Norochcholai disaster
    No minister or official held responsible for expressways cost escalation
    No minister or official held responsible for coal purchase contract
    etc etc

    The only exception is Lalith Weeratunge case and matter of time before it is sorted out at a higher court.

    • 5
      0

      Jagath Fernando has written a mouthful here. The truth is, that our judicial system and prosecuting mechanism are both disgustingly weak, and no one wants to fix it.

      From all accounts the country is going backwards at the rate of knots. And it is very clear to me, that the Prime Minister is not concerned about any of these administrative issues but is on a mission of his own on improving economics.

      The first step towards any improvement is to have an equitable Legal system and ensure its implementation. At this rate no one will respect us since the implementation is so absurd.

      • 5
        0

        Justice and Fairplay:

        Almost everyone is telling that, bu tnothing seems to be occuring interms of bringing new law reforms to the prevailing ones.
        Why ?
        Why the people even if they are lawyers stay so lethagic or blocked being unable to make any changes over the years. They just talk, and talk and talk.

        EU parliament get passed reforms to the prevailing paragraghs almost everyday. No many weeks or months they spend talking… they just want things to go forward.
        But our country down with higher corruption and perhaps not having HONESTY to the issues, even if they are lawyers or law professors, all march together, but talking and talking and talking.. Why would they need months to bring some smaller amendments to the constitituions ?
        It is the gentics of our SOUTH ASIANS I believe is the problems. They make issues out of nothing, but they themselves even after robbing or cheating the votes of the poor vulnerable folks, behave so lethargic no second to ETHIOPIANS. lATTER folks are punished by nature, but ours even if they have enough resources to react.. do nothing … I dont know what more to expect from these folks.

      • 1
        1

        Jagath Fernando

        Accepting and thinking that there is nothing we could do to correct the corrupt system shows weakness.

        I am glad that there is at least 1% who follow government rules and regulations and protect the Public Service from being corrupted entirely.

        Even though it is only 1% in the Public Service who have backbones, the general public could standby them and give their utmost support, so that the story of 1% will spread everywhere and encourage others to be brave and stand for what is right which will eventually become 2%, 5%, 15%, 25%, 50%, 100%. —

        This 1% can make a big difference with unwavering support of the general public.

      • 0
        0

        If I may add to the foregoing, all what one needs to see in order to be convinced how bad the situation is, is to watch a replay of Harsha de Silva, lamenting recently on TV on the dishonesty of the public service. Adroitly, he left out mentioning politicians but anybody with a modicum of knowledge would say our Pollies come right on top of the list. A more disgusting set of politicians we are yet to come across in our chequered history.

        If the Prime Minister was keen to make this place another Singapore, the first thing he should do is to set an example by distancing himself from those who have question marks attached to their reputation. No chance of that happening in our lifetime as the Island newspaper showed us very illustratively, in its front page photograph on the 13th of September.

        As mentioned several times before, there are no leaders here in this country. “Leaders” are being led by their subordinates. They haven’t the character to think right and stand on their own. Everything is a fix, as the Sil Redi horas have shown us.

    • 5
      0

      Since the govt in current context are squeezed by all the debts volunatarily, stupidily made by former Leader Mr Megalo, they can NOT provide any public servants learning good and bad whatever the field it is.
      As a lanken living on the west for decades, but looking at lankens issues as no go, I feel, even octagenarians of Prof Carlo Fonseka nature should see it right, learning good and bad accordingly. He day before yday added that Mr WEERATUNGA the one who is now being jailed he believes is not a wrong person. How can he dare to say that ? If so, those lawyers and judeges have made a real mistake ????????????ß
      I believe almost everything and the decisions being made by lanken average are wrong. Media men make it even worst. They just profit by their head lines. Dherana and Hiru make every effort to rewirte that in favour of Meeharaka Rajapakshe who ruined the nation – no need any further proofs.
      Just Airlanka and other few he has made bankrupt are good enough to make an assement of the man s brain.
      I believe, from the Kindergarten on, they have to teach pupils to learn the good and bad. Just because he was the leader, how dare the bugger forced Airlanka men to buy those unaffordable aircrafts ?
      over 40% of the population live under poverty, being faced by destructions being done by wild elephants and not having proper water for drink are over 30%. But colombo and other area men have been living a life not thinking about the other. Politicians, just behave forgetting almost the long awaiting things.
      I believe, this country need real good leaders that should be imported from WEST.
      Had the country been under UK, we would have achieved a lot. No doubt about that.

    • 1
      0

      The examples Jagath Fernando has cited for crimes and the ones for grievous omissions are very telling.

      They have a parallel to the sort of decisions quoted in Parkinson’s Law, decades back. A cycle shed for employees costing $ 1,000 takes one hour’s discussion for approval…. An atomic plant estimated at $ 100 million is approved in 5 minutes.

      Mattala Airport comes to mind. Cost-benefit ratio is perfect.

  • 3
    0

    It is high time that both Asgiriya and Malwatte play their music related to the doings of Senior Civil Servants, Ministers, & MPs ( triplets) in harmony or consonance. It is their duty to save the country at this critical time. Lord Budha said ” Sathya Usas Dhammaya” or some thing to that effect.
    The Venerable 2 can not be used as mere instruments by the triplets , they have to take the lead roles as Vocalists.

  • 6
    2

    It is the media which spreads the sympathy for the two convicted clowns , Alle Gunawansa is yet another Saffron robed individual who should have disrobed many moons ago.almost all the print, electronic media still work tireless;y for the deposed tyrant;furthermore, so called artists desperately want their king back in power Derana , Hiru, Sirasa , Swaranavahini (may be not as much as used to be
    though) bidding for Maha Raja .
    does anybody know where Gamini Senarath , PB Jayasundara , Ajith Nivad C , Luxman Hulugalla et al ? don’t they deserve lengthy jail terms much more than these two ?

    • 2
      1

      You are dead right my dear. Greetings from Switzerland for this day.

      I WISH SOME MEDIA MEN THAT SUPPORT FORMER ILL FATED GODS BE PUNISHED ACCORDINGLY.

      Please join CT on a regular basis. Your thoughts were valuable.

      • 3
        0

        Dear Sirimal ,

        Thanks Sirimal. Well , we all are waiting anxiously to witness the climax of the show , which means the whole Mafia family and their cohorts ending up in jail , for various reasons justice has been delayed ., at least two plonkers have been sentenced for three years , that is good news though. as for the media coolies , i don’t know whether there are any clauses in our penal code to punish such opportunistic characters.

        PS. i don’t see your comments either , have you left CT ? Please don’t .

        Cheers.

        • 3
          0

          Brother, I will come back. No worries. It is just my job life is very stressful with travels as no times before. Anyways, We will make it. Truth will succeed.

          We must, no other options left. Only real voice beloved Sobitha Thero is gone. I really miss him today.

          We have to react as we had been prior to 8th Jan 2015.

          Now they have been making every effort Sangaya to do the job for their escape, rabble rousing media men have been doing the usual job.

          I hate to see Dherana, Hiru and Sirasa, they have only been one sided.
          Sure bond scam was one big issues, but there are also other issues deliberately mastered by MAFIA king to be focused. Letting them to abuse current freedom is no okay.

    • 3
      0

      Sirasa is only attacking Ranil..

      They are not interested in Gamini Senarath , PB Jayasundara , Ajith Nivad C , Luxman Hulugalla et al ?

  • 1
    0

    Well said Vishwamithra now public servants become servants of politicians I remember one incident in 70-77 period leading business magnate exported packaged tea without government approval it was monopoly of the government at that time, it was stopped by a senior civil servant subject minister also never interfered once the civil servant had to go abroad for some official matter this business magnate approached minister and gifted him a car and the ban was removed.
    on his return to the island this civil servant came to know that the ban was revoked he approached the prime minister told her he will going to resign unless the ban was reimposed and PM agreed and ban was reimposed.
    That was the quality of the government servants of that period.

    • 2
      1

      Kautilya

      What about those deals Dasa Muthalali made with ministers and civil servants? Did anyone took the matter up with the weeping widow? How about hosing ministers and civil servants allocating houses to their party supporters,…………………….. ?

      • 1
        2

        Native Vedda
        Do not accuse those people without proof
        Did they find guilty in court of law?
        As you are a expert of these matters pl. expose with evidence.

        • 0
          0

          Kautilya,

          EDUCATED Srilankans only need gossips to destroy each other !
          Why looking for evidence ? Mud is the most desired campaign
          material ! Look at this if you don’t want to believe ! MARA called
          Ranil & Co , “traiters.” And now In Ranil’s turn the whole of MARA
          has been awarded their new title “Horu .” Treachery was a lost
          mud campaign while Robbery is winning the day even with
          MARA is being made to admit in public ” yes I gave the order .”
          They have no place to hide now ! You only need one or two cases
          proven for the rest to be anyone’s guess ! God bless .

        • 2
          0

          Kautilya

          Its been nearly 40 years now. Did the weeping widow actually want to find corrupt dealings within her government when she was herself approving many transactions that didn’t comply with the laws of the land.

          Dasa Industries were granted special foreign exchange permits to import many items where others were denied the same privileges.

          “Do not accuse those people without proof
          Did they find guilty in court of law?”

          When powerful people were involved do you think the state functionaries were stupid enough to investigate and bring charges against ministers, and head of departments?

          “As you are a expert of these matters pl. expose with evidence.”
          Expose what? Good question and goo tactics to silence the concerned. Did you benefit from such deals? Is that why now you want us to keep our mouth shut?

          Probably you were sucking your thumb in a cradle while your mum was singing lullaby.

          • 0
            0

            Yes Dasa industries befefited from foreign exchange grant the reason Mrs.B. want to promote local industrialists, at that time textile industry dominated by Borah people.

  • 1
    0

    Srilal,

    Going a step ahead , disrobing should have started with Gnanasara to be
    honest to one’s self ! As for the eradication of fraud and corruption , My3
    Ranil don’t have a clue to start it SUCCESSFULLY . The whole country
    knows THIS IS GAME POLITICS , even if it is not , because of the way our
    country had been in politics for seven decades now ! Fraud and corruption
    had been in our blood for centuries because of our immense greed and
    jealousy , class and castes , religions and culture and knowledge and
    ignorance ! Can you change all these overnight by simply playing GAMES ?
    Whatever happening now could be better than nothing but for how long ?
    Right investigation into Lalith + Palpita case must lead to the arrest of all
    recipients of white cloth for taking the bribe ! Lalith , in his confession is
    reported to have taken full responsibility for his actions and said the former
    president had nothing to do with it but Mahinda publicly accepted
    responsibility of giving the order ! And now ? Lalith has lied under oath and
    MARA must be taken to task ! A challenge for the cause of justice ! Is it not
    unmanageable now in all honesty ? Justice becomes a joke at this rate .

    • 2
      0

      whywhy,

      Well executing all the elderly “Sil Redy” recipients is not practical , but definitely taking MR in to questioning is a must. Alle Gunawansa is known to be another racist element who had participated in the 83 riots . All these ultra racist monks have one thing in common , that is , they love Mafia king !
      Hope MY3 and Rail will allow justice to be served .

  • 2
    0

    How this Sec. owned three tea estates and two hotels? Where money fro that?

    • 1
      0

      Binoj ,

      Could you please shed some light on the above matter ! we would like to know more about his wealth .

  • 1
    0

    It is my opinion that Lalith Weeratunga and Anusha Palpita gave a very lukewarm defense. They both for some unknown reason sacrificed them for Mahinda Rajapakse.

    They had only to say “I merely carried out orders of the President (Rajapakse) and he was very scared to refuse. Then it was the jungle law that prevailed and we acted on duress and had if I refused to carry out I would have gone missing taken away in a white van or would have suffered the fate and humiliation of Shirani Bandaranayake the former chief justice.

    So this court cannot try me as under peaceful times when then only rule of the jungle that prevailed.”

    They should ask court as to why they are shooting the messenger and not the message. They should have insisted Mahinda Rajapakse been summoned. It is a gross miscarriage of justice but they both deserve it because they accepted the plight to suffer in place of the real culprit Rajapakse

  • 1
    1

    Vishvamithra, Tisaranee reincarnated! How disappointing!

  • 1
    0

    “The righteous God wisely considers the house of the wicked.
    Overthrowing the wicked for their wickedness”. Prov. 21:12.

    “Whoever shuts his ear to the cry of the poor
    Will also cry himself and not be heard” Prov. 21:13

    Sooner than later, we have to answer to our Maker for what we have done. We choose leaders based on their integrity, efficiency, and knowledge. We expect them to rule over us and provide adequacy in food and welfare, law and order, security etc. If these rulers fail in that, we feel utterly let down (as we all do right now). But there is a small minority whose incomes will sustain them but the vast majority are badly hurting.

    Giving “sil” cloths and other meritorious acts are a good thing BUT to do so at the expense of the tax payers is by no means meritorious as tax payers, specially the non-Buddhists will not subscribe to such expense. To gain merit, there must be a sacrifice to make but not at the expense of others.

  • 1
    0

    Vishwamithra ~ “Politicians Beware! No Bureaucrat Will Carry Out Your Illegal Orders”
    Vishwamithra, please take that tongue of yours out of the cheek of yours!
    Yes Kanthaiya Vaithianathan REFUSED access of confidential files to Sir John Kothalawala. But this will never ever happen again.
    One must not celebrate the sentences on Weeratunga and Palpita yet. The appeal process has just begun.
    Will the prosecuting team continue the diligence shown? It will be a sop if it stops with one.

  • 2
    0

    “Politicians Beware! No Bureaucrat Will Carry Out Your Illegal Orders” Headline!

    The Only Option for Bureaucrats is to Refuse and be ‘White Vanned’, or Flee the Country!

  • 0
    0

    It was said that these two officials who were sentenced buy court did not get any monetary benefit out of the matter they were involved in. This may be true, but what about the favours they got in the past and, the various undue benefits and privileges they would have got for carrying out unlawful orders, if their master came into power.

  • 0
    0

    Let me quote Ann Tusa again in her book, ” the Nuremberg Trial:, “Not only did few of them sense a moral responsibility for the part they had played, few of them thought to question whether they should.”
    ― Ann Tusa, The Nuremberg Trial

    There is no argument about the judicial verdict, but how some present and governmental politicians are trying to interpret it as they are master legislators who assume to be above the law.

    MR, who happened to stay “mum” during the entire trial, all of a sudden has made it a habit of making statements on his return from visiting Lalith W, and Anusha P in prison, in fact so has been every politician.

    To me this court verdict has been converted into a game of political tug-of-war which is really sad. Both the pr and anti government fragments are trying to get mileage out of this.

    The clear message here is that as Vishvamitra stated in his main article, any top level bureaucrat needs to be conscious about the integrity and (also the Constitutional compliance) of his/ her decisions.

    That to me is a compelling outcome of this case, that will have a cascading effect on the top bureaucrats serving the government.

  • 0
    0

    How many illegal orders or corrupt deals did you execute for your mentor the Mahaweli Minister?

  • 0
    0

    Rarityminds – please think ethiopia is a country which is going down the drain. they are one of the best economies of african continent and the living standards are improving with the vibrant development process. if you could check on internet about ethiopia, you will realise where they stand

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