19 September, 2018

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President Sirisena’s 195 Million Dollar Russian Roulette With Maharaja

By Muhammed Fazl

Muhammed Fazl

“The lobby is the army of the plutocracy.” ― William Graham Sumner

The last time when warnings of icebergs ahead went unheeded, the iconic ‘Titanic’ ran aground with 2/3 of its passengers in chilly waters off the Atlantic Ocean. And more than a century later, the ‘Captain of the Sri Lankan Ship’ seems to be wanting to navigate in similar conditions in the Indian Ocean…, and that which could have far more serious consequences with all of its ‘passengers sinking a lot deeper’.

Ever since the war with LTTE ended 8 years ago, we as a nation have never been threatened by external forces or by separatist elements within. During that same period, the only threat the ordinary masses ever faced, originated from none other than the private militia aligned to the Rajapaksas themselves. In spite of all that, under the false pretext of protecting the shores of our island and acting as a ‘middleman’ in the procurement of a warship for double the price of its actual value, The Capitol Maharaja Organization Limited (TCMOL) seems to be on an unholy mission in forcing President Sirisena into signing a 195 million Dollar agreement with Russia’s war machinery, JSC Rosoboronexport!

Having written about the illegal occupation of a prime land in Colombo by this same TCMOL in 2015, I was indeed surprised seeing a vast improvement in their modus operandi in the last 2 plus years. Only this time, they seem to have adopted a ‘one shot, one kill’ technique. But then, having the need to be compensated for airtime allocated through TCMOL-owned Sirasa TV to promote the agenda of President Sirisena while attacking that of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremasinghe, I really did not find fault as such with the ‘movers and shakers team’ led by the elusive Mr. Raja Mahendran, the owner of TCMOL and its CEO/Director, Mr. Chevaan Devavarathan Daniel for their attempts in making an ‘extra and quick buck’.

Chevaan Daniel and Sirisena

That was all well and fine…, I mean at least until such time I was made to understand that this ‘extra and quick buck’ was actually 80 million in US Dollar terms! In addition, when it became apparent that this money has to be paid for by my meagre income and with future earnings of my 5 year-old son and that of 22 plus million other lesser mortals, what was at stake did not seem to be of any small measure either. And even by my generous allowance standards, the ‘stench’ emanating from this corrupt deal was such, I even envisaged the Presidency being impeached over a direct involvement. And that was something this country could ill-afford at this point of time.

They say ‘politicians and businessmen make strange bedfellows’. Having seen ‘influential figures’ such as construction powerhouse Mr. Sumal Perera of Access International exploiting his connections to the Rajapaksa regime at that time and straying from his usual line of business to import Heifers (cows) from Australia in a multi-million Dollar government deal, and hardware industry related manufacturer Mr. Aelian Gunawardene of JAT Holdings using his clout with the current Minister of Agriculture, and also straying from his usual line of business to import and supply fertilizers worth hundreds of millions to the State, I was least surprised when it transpired that TCMOL too venturing out in ‘unfamiliar territory’ by being the sole and invincible force behind the Russian ship deal.

During one of those conversations with my good friend, Mr. Chevaan Daniel, the Group Director and the live wire of the same TCMOL, though he initially denied of any involvement, it is only fair that I share the following official position maintained by him and just as it appeared on the Whatsapp message that he sent me;

“Absolutely NO truth to this. Reporting without even a shred of evidence is easy. And is usually the reaction to fact-based reporting on massive corruption, such as the bond scam and the Central Highway scam. Amazing how a series of web reports including a mud-slinging and smear campaign appears on a few websites almost as soon as we begin to highlight the Central Highway scam. This sort of knife flaying is expected when you take a firm position against corruption and we are aware of those behind it.  If one would like to fully understand the veracity of these reports and those behind it, one should ask the Interpol. Regardless of these attacks, and perhaps even more that will continue in the future, rest assured, we will continue to relentlessly expose corruption come what may.”

Interestingly, instead of helping me to delve deeper on the same matter, being an anti-graft activist and columnist, what raised my suspicions was his attempt to deflect my attention towards the ‘Treasury Bond Scam’ investigation and the Central Highway construction project. And when the TCMOL-owned Sirasa TV ‘goes to town’ on a daily basis admonishing any and all multi-billion Rupee infrastructure projects associated with Ministries overlooked by UNP MPs, what got me even more thinking was their absolute silence on the 30 billion-Rupee Russian procurement. Furthermore, when the right-thinking, the Civil Society and most of the ex-Navy Chiefs have all voiced their opposition to it, do they not give their game away with their ‘pin drop silence’ on the same story by the usual set of  loud-mouthed presenters of the same ‘holier-than-thou’ Sirasa TV?

And now that Russians are in town to seal the deal, in the event President Sirisena stands his ground in going ahead with it, I am hoping the public awareness created by this article would help me make my case more effectively and at the same time, save me time and money from being spent on invoking the Right To Information Act (RTI) or by challenging the legality of the agreement by way of a Writ Petition at the Court of Appeal.

1 – Offshore Patrol Ship (OPS) – Gepard 5.1 / Cheetah 5.1

  • Designed by Zelenodolsk Design Bureau on the platform of the frigate Gepard 3.9 sold to Vietnam.
  • Instead of the missile complex Kalibr-M, it is equipped with artillery weapons and a landing platform with a hangar for a helicopter
  • Length: 102.14 m (335.1 ft.)
  • Speed: 28 knots (52 kmph)
  • Range: 4,000 Nautical Miles (7,000 km) at 10 knots (19 kmph)
  • Takes 2 years to build.
  • Total quoted value of the ship being US$ 158.5 million, supposed to be inclusive of costs of onboard spares and ammunitions.

2 – Final Cost

  • Cost of the ship = US$ 158,500,000/-
  • Upfront fee for State credit = US$     1,000,000/-
  • Interest component @ 4% per annum (payable in equal instalments within 10 years & semi-annually) = US$   28,560,000/-
  • Cost of the training package = US$     7,000,000/-

TOTAL COST = US$ 195,060,000/-

3 – Competition

  • Advanced Offshore Patrol Vessel (AOPV) — R 623 Sayurala (”Sea waves”)
  • Built by Goa Shipyard Limited, India and sold to the Sri Lankan Navy (SLN) for US$ 74,000,000/-

While I do not wish to dispute the immediate requirements of the SLN or question the increased budgetary allocations made for Defense expenditure during peace times by our Finance Minister Mr. Mangala Samaraweera, considering all circumstances, past incidents and analyzing available facts and figures, raise does it not the following questions:-

1. Was his opposition to the purchase of the Russian ship that expedited the premature retirement of Mr. Travis Sinniah from the Navy, and just one month after being appointed as its Chief? Not to mention every other Navy Commander getting service extensions.

2. Lacking resources and the fire power to confront militarily regional threats such as the US forces based in Diego Garcia, Navies of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh etc., does it really make sense to acquire a warship costing a fortune when our requirements are to curb poaching and smuggling of narcotics etc., and that which can be easily met with Fast Attack Crafts (FACs) which cost much cheaper?

3. Based on my investigations, of the three different committees that were appointed and respectively headed by Rear Admiral Wattewa, Vice Admiral Ranasinghe and Rear Admiral Rosairo at different stages to look into the procurement, none of them seems to have given the approval to go ahead with the Russian ship deal. Even though I was unable to have access to the reports, in the event the matter ends up in court, I sure hope the MOD will not come up with lame excuses not to table it in the open. And when Chief of Defense Staff, Rear Admiral Ravindra Wijegunaratne took it upon himself to be the lone voice in favour of the procurement and his reason being, the requirement to protect foreign naval ships when they make a port of call in Colombo (a case of a ‘small fry’ trying to protect a shark), could there have been a more idiotic justification from someone of his stature and rank who may or may not have a ‘personal interest’ in the deal?

4. The Russian signatory JSC Rosoboroexport being a Joint Stock Company with different private manufacturers and being ‘controlled’ but not ‘owned’ by the Russian government as claimed earlier, could it have been a genuine oversight on the part of the government spokesman, Minister Dayasiri Jayasekara when he stated in parliament recently about this ship deal being a ‘government to government’ one? Or could it have been a deliberate lie to mislead the masses while possibly shielding his masters who may or may not be sustaining him financially?

5. Just as JSC Rosoboronexport’s policy of restricting exports only to national agencies of partner countries, is the Ministry of Defense (MOD) in Sri Lanka or the Sri Lankan Navy (SLN) legally empowered to procure military hardware from semi-government entities abroad or from privately owned ones such as the same JSC Rosoboronexport who may or may not have been funded by a State line of credit or by being subcontracted by their respective governments?

6. Does the deafening silence of the Rajapaksa clan on this matter have anything to do with war-profiteering allegations involving the initial part of the loan amounting to US$ 165 Million? If that was the case, could it have been possible for Mr. Udayanga Weeratunga, their close relative and ex-ambassador to Russia to have ‘played a key role’ in earlier military procurements? 

7. As a compromise to rescinding the ban on tea exports to Russia, just as the government reversed the ban imposed on the importation of cancer-causing raw materials used for the manufacture of asbestos, would President Sirisena-led MOD or SLN use the same pretext to sign the agreement for the warship?

8. If the purchase of the Russian ship at US$ 195 million is a foregone conclusion, and if selling the Mattala Airport at around US$ 200 million is what it takes to pay for the ship, would the future generation be kind enough when judging President Sirisena’s handling of the economy?

9. If silence on this matter is the price that members of the United National Party (UNP) have to pay for being part of a coalition government, would it still be wise for the UNP to remain in such a government on principle?

10. Was it the exposé of the Russian ship deal that led to the banning of the London-based lankaenews.com in Sri Lanka?

11. We have survived for decades with 2 of Russia’s most famous exports – cancer causing Asbestos material and STD-infected prostitutes. Hence, should their ‘good intentions’ be still up for debate when they offer us unwanted military hardware at twice the original cost and funded by a line of credit carrying a commercial rate of interest of 4% per annum?

Thanks to manipulative media institutions and corrupt advisors surrounding him, President Maithripala Sirisena whom I metaphorically referred to as the ‘Captain of the Sri Lankan Ship’ above, is no doubt a man caught between the devil and the deep blue sea. While I am hopeful of his good judgments prevailing, I am also optimistic that he would eventually steer the country to safety and prosperity by fighting off saboteurs trying to hold him to ransom. And if a line of credit is what it takes to pawn the entire population and a future generation, I far rather opt for being invaded by a foreign power having far bigger naval ships than being enslaved by debt!

*The writer is an Independent Social/Political Activist and can be contacted at muhammedfazl@msn.com and through Facebook (Fazl Muhammed Nizar)

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Latest comments

  • 19
    0

    When you have the spoon dish out the way you want !!

    All politicians are the same. No difference between MARA, Ranil and Sirisena.

    How many are aware that Hyatt in Colombo is going to cost USD 200 million for a 500 room hotel. That is Rs 60 million for one room !! Well done Rajapakse.

    Hedging deal by Rajapakse also cost us billions of Rupees and credit to Rajapakse. Don’t even think of analysing the leakages on expressways and Hambantota ghost assets.

    Bond scam is yet to be quantified and yahapalanaya has done well with billions of Rupees filling the pockets.

    Sirisena is late in joining the bandwagon and he better hurry up.

    Cannot find five politicians who are honest out of the 225 morons in parliament.

    • 6
      0

      “195 million Dollar agreement”

      The sad truth about all these crappy deals …….. is, the country has to spend $195 Million – on other people’s discarded garbage – for someone to pocket a few millions in commissions/underhand-payments.

      It would be much better for the country ……… to just pay Sirisena and his cohorts $10 million and for the country/citizens to save the rest of $185 million. No one ever evaluates how much more money needs to be spend to maintain these rust buckets. Like the coal-fired power plant somewhere near Chilaw (Nocchiyakale?) the cost of maintenance has already surpassed the initial price of purchase.

      That’s the sad truth about all these third-world leaders’ deals out of the country’s dosh

      Come to think of it, I am not too sure of any country, third-world or not ………… We are in era of The Art of The Deal ……..

      GWB’s war with Iran was for his Texas oil buddies to grab the Iranian oil ……………. the only “legal” way it could be done was for the country to spend trillions of dollars plus readily-available not-so-smart “patriots’ ” lives and limbs on war …………for them to make a few billions. ….It would have been much safer and cheaper to just handout the few billions to them and safe the trillions ……………… but there would have been a hue and cry for just handing out free money ………….

    • 1
      0

      JF, Honest politicians sold SAITM students and their parent’s money for benefit of businessmen who did an outright sale and not alms. Students got played out while others robbed their money, career and future wholesale, all the profits remaining at the top, a sizeable amount about which Prof. Carlo foretold. Students must receive compensation with job security. No end to corruption and morons not only sitting.

  • 19
    0

    Excellent article Mr Fazl . We need to expose the sanctimonious Sirasa hypocrites

    • 6
      0

      Trump and Sirisena, two Presidents caught with their pants down by the Russians !

    • 9
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      The selective way that Sirasa treats those whom they wish to destroy is utterly disgusting. A good portion of their “news” is devoted to their favourites like Marikkar, Buddhika Pathirana, Sajith Premadasa ,Susil Kindelpitiya, who are mostly former employees planted in politics.
      They conducted a filthy campaign to force Mr. Canagey, the ICTA Chairman, to resign because he opposed the sale of spectrum to the Maharajahs. Sajith is their favourite because his father gave them the first chance in media.
      Currently Mervin Silva features in their Christmas greetings, the very man who was accused of attacking their HQ. I wouldn’t be surprised if that drama was a charade.
      Shame on you, Chevaan Daniel.

    • 0
      0

      Fazal, good stuff but things are more complicated.
      Please remember Avant Guard Scam the long history of super power rivalry to control the SL Navy in the Indian Ocean – the world’s busiest sea lane.
      Avant Guard Scam conducted by Gota Rajapaksa, a US citizen accused of war crimes by US so that he would deliver the good and Tilak Marapona (- bi-partisan SLFP-UNP) whereby the SL Navy’s lucrative business of providing security for foreign vessels in Indian Ocean was “asset stripped” and privatized formed into Avant Guard run by Senadihpatti with help from Wijedasa Rajapaksa who went on holiday to Los Angeles with AG funds!. Gota’s avant guard was gun running from Israel to Ukraine so its wheels within wheels and the Farmer Sirisena is out of his depth here!

  • 4
    0

    Recently Lankan Navy arrested Burmese Rohingya refugees fleeing (to Australia?) in international waters and brought them. Of course here is permanent residence carrot waved by fascist OZ. For whom is Lankan Navy working?
    There is the remittances by Lankans slaving in the MidEast. Clearly the struggle for power is to squander it. The language/religion-divide was always a red herring.
    When we find it too expensive to maintain will Russia lease it back?

  • 3
    0

    Sri lanka should consider the business requests with russia. Instead of the Ship Sri lanka can get some other help for Sri lanka, not any kind of military aids, but other things related to development in sri lanka.

    • 4
      2

      Jim softy the Dimwit


      “Instead of the Ship Sri lanka can get some other help for Sri lanka, not any kind of military aids, but other things related to development in sri lanka.”

      How about urgent help for brain transplant for the Sinhala/Buddhist fascists, or gene editing, if at all possible secular DNA is being inserted, racist DNA is deleted or Fascist DNA is replaced in the genome of every Sinhala/Buddhist fascist, bigots, racists, stupid, ………………….. starting with you, then somaas, sach, Shenali, Dayan, …………………….

      • 0
        0

        NV mate, any chance that I can have my 50th celebrated on the said ship? Can you put in a good word etc..you will be the guest of honor!

        • 0
          1

          wannihami

          “NV mate, any chance that I can have my 50th celebrated on the said ship? Can you put in a good word etc..you will be the guest of honor!”

          Nopes. Its a very old ship, rust bucket, may not be seaworthy, ………………………. You know the Russians sold a very old Aircraft Carrier (Admiral Gorshkov) costing a billion dollars to Hindian Navy. Then the Hindians spent another billion or two to refit the entire carrier. Admiral Gorshkov was launched in 1982, commissioned in 1987 and decommissioned 1996 sold to Hindia in 2004. Hindian recommissioned it in 2013. Look at the timeline.

          I would advise you to avoid the trip as you haven’t got the bio data of the vessel. How much it would cost to refit and how long, no one chosen to tell the stupid people.

  • 3
    0

    Are there any sabotages at SLBC sinhala service which broacast buddhist sermons. I heard itis not functioning properly the reason is some people are upset that market is all for SLBC and not for the private broadcasters.

  • 4
    0

    Do you think MY3 did not collect any dough while he is the president. Some say he has collected enough dhal for children and the extended family. If you remember many things he has talked upto now. It tooks over five years for Mahinda Rajapakse. I think it took only one year for MY3 to under the taste of the positions that pays lucrative perks.

  • 5
    0

    if we don’t buy the crap vessel at inflated prices,what are we going to do with our tea,mr fazl?As for the asbestos i don’t think it is a problem at all.Every day i sleep looking at my roof w/o a ceiling with sturdy asbestos sheets.My sturdy —– is working quite perfectly with these pretty nurses that this nursing organisation sends to look after me at 98 years.I can manage without them easily if i wanted to but i like to have some company at this lonely stage of my life.Iam just trying to hold on for another 2 years to become a centenarian.The nurses have promised a grand party celebration.

    If i was the president i would say bugger the tea and bugger the vessel and bugger the asbestos too.however our Milo man is the president Nero fiddling while rome is burning,not me.Just tell the russians that the asbestos ban is off and whenever they find a beetle send it to HK where they eat everything that moves in that market i visited.As for the frigate put it up siri’s son inlaw’s arse.

    • 0
      0

      I would really, really, really, like to see these things happen!

  • 11
    0

    Brilliant News Fazl,

    When other Journalists are dead scared to expose this massive fraud you have come with excellent facts. Keep it up and be careful nothing should happen to you!
    Remember what happened to Lasantha for exposing the MIG fraud.

  • 7
    0

    These fellows operate on a very deep and “legalistic” way to rob the country.Generally top politicians and public servants, bureaucrats are bought to make the deal easy and fool proof.Even tender requirement are maid to suit the bidder.

    Recently Kelly Maharaja claimed that the Colombo Dutch Hospital in the heart of Colombo city was transferred to him by the UDA !. Nobody knew how this happened. If at all it must have been an unsolicited bid between UDA and Maharaja. Can such a thing be done in a civilized country ? Dutch Hospital was saved only because of a patriotic man like Gotabaya Rajapakse who told Maharaja where to go. This must be taken up before a presidential Commission and all the facts placed before the nation.

    Then a few years back a UNP businessman Cornel Perera claimed that Hilton Hotel in the most expensive part of Colombo city belonged to him. He waved some documents saying that certain Ministers and public servants agreed to a contract where he became the owner of about 10 acres in the middle of the city. Cornel Perera had not paid any money to buy this land but only acted as a broker for Hilton for which he earned commissions.

    The Hilton hotel was built with the money of the people of this country for which our government paid foreign banks. This being the truth how did Cornel Perera get a document which gives him some sort of a dubious claim to the country’s treasures ?This is dishonest and unjust enrichment with the connivance of corrupt politicians and bureaucrats .

    Cornel Perera was stopped only by the patriotic actions of people like PB Jayasundera and Sarath Silva when he was CJ.

    It is very important that the poor people of this country are informed by a fearless presidential Commission of the truth about the connections between rogue businessmen and the high and mighty in the government.These chaps influence and buy all public servants .

  • 0
    0

    President Srisena is the Captain of the Ship” SRILANKA. ” and not Travie Sinniah Further Travie cannot be trusted because he is 1/2 Tamil I understand.. So Captain of Srilanka Knows What additional ship to buy, where to buy how to buy and through whom to buy.Captain of Srilanka has treated China and India well by leasing the sea port and airport respectively. What about helping Russia? It has been done now. To keep China and India at bay Srilanka needs a Naval Vessel of the Russian Caliber. May be America need not wait for a formal invitation to take a share of a Srilanka. They may come Via Trinco port when the necessity arises and keep all three at bay. Don’t worry. Mahinda had his day, Ranil had his day but under investigation, why Not the Captain of Srilanka. Only thing be watchful of the Tamils- they may be more dangerous than all put together.

    • 0
      0

      K.Anaga
      You suggest that Travie Sinniah cannot be trusted because he is only 1/2 Sinhalese! But the Captain of the ship ‘Sri Lanka’, the first officer and down the ranks is exclusively Sinhala.
      You say ~ “Only thing be watchful of the Tamils……….”.
      Are you suggesting that they be watched from a derelict ship anchored far far away?

      • 0
        0

        K. Pillai
        My comment is pregnant with sarcasm. It should not be taken as it is.
        Thank you.

  • 0
    0

    President Srisena is the Captain of the Ship” SRILANKA. ” and not Travie Sinniah Further Travie cannot be trusted because he is 1/2 Tamil I understand.. So Captain of Srilanka Knows What additional ship to buy, where to buy how to buy and through whom to buy.Captain of Srilanka has treated China and India well by leasing the sea port and airport respectively. What about helping Russia? It has been done now. To keep China and India at bay Srilanka needs a Naval Vessel of the Russian Caliber. May be America need not wait for a formal invitation to take a share of a Srilanka. They may come Via Trinco port when the necessity arises and keep all three at bay. Don’t worry. Mahinda had his day, Ranil had his day but under investigation, why Not the Captain of Srilanka. Only thing be watchful of the Tamils- they may be more dangerous than all put together.( Not Duplicate)

  • 4
    0

    The Thamil Shakthi Channel is blatantly attacking Ranil Wickramasinghe, Sampanthan and Sumenthiran and plugs in Premachandran , Gajan Ponnambalam, Sivajilingam and other non-entities in the Yaalpaanam scene.Their news reporting is heavily biased and unconventional in that straight news is ignored and direct commentaries take the better slot One of the woman news reader is hardly audible and runs her script like Yaaldevi that nobody understands what she says.. There is the key anchorman and another follow the same pattern.. On the other hand there e are others who read their news bulletins quite satisfactorily. One suspects that there must be some reason why they are one sided in pursuing character demeaning..

    • 5
      0

      Mr. Sivakumaran,
      You are quite correct. The agenda of the Maharajahs is to plant their favourites and employees in ALL political parties, showing them as paragons of corruption-fighting virtue.

      • 0
        0

        Yes Mr Raman

        This channel members go around the country doing services for the rural people.This is something good for the country. This is welcome , But there is a hidden agenda convincing the people and converting the innocent politically uneducated people to believe that what they are saying about certain politicians that they are against is nothing but the truth. This is particularly so when you see on TV some Thamil women in the North are brainwashed to demean such politicians.

  • 1
    0

    Reading the articles above it is obvious that News First is very lopsided in its News Presentation.
    I wonder how much is Fake News?
    Lanka E News did publish an article regarding the purchase of the Russian warship about two months ago and subsequently this site has been banned.
    Corruption is rampant and which party can put a stop to this is anyone’s guess.

  • 3
    1

    If and when this country is formally taken over by the Security Forces/ Buddhist Clergy combine, the Cabal of Sirasa/Shakthi combine of Maharajah will still live to fight another day!
    Money, Money, Money that is the name of the game!
    They only know too well that people like Premadasa and now Sirisena both of low stock could be manipulated for a few Dollars more!

  • 1
    0

    Everybody seem to be counting. Counting what? Will wait and see.

  • 2
    0

    Most of today’s politicians are crap. Rascals and lowest form of individuals in this world. Today the newsmakers are these daylight robbers who are getting away with all their adventures.
    This Country will soon come to the lowest depths when peace will not prevail and poverty will turn brother against brother.
    I hope the Tri Forces Chiefs of this Country take stock of the precarious situation we are heading into and take over ggr reins to run this Country in a righteous way.
    In my daily prayers , I ask the good lord to seethe his wrath on every [edited out] who has robbed this Country.
    Our future generations are at stake if this is not arrested.

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