10 December, 2018

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RTI Commission Orders President’s Office To Disclose Ranil Wickremesinghe’s Assets Declaration

Politicians are subjected to higher levels of public scrutiny and the public interest mandates the disclosure of the asset declaration of a high ranking elected official such as the Prime Minister, said the Right to Information (RTI) Commission today in ordering the Office of the President to submit the Assets Declaration of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe for the years 2015 and 2016.    

Ranil

If Parliament had intended to keep asset declarations of politicians out of the RTI regime, it could have explicitly mentioned it in the RTI Act. That was not so and accordingly, the Commission stated that it is duty bound to take into due account the legislative intention in that regard. 

The Commission also refused to accept the argument put forward by law officers of the Attorney General justifying the decision of the President’s Office that a 1970’s Declaration of Assets and Liabilities Law would be enough to curb corruption and that the RTI Act need not be used for this purpose. 

It was stated that existing laws, such as the old Assets Law would only come into play only upon complaints being received on corrupt acts of individuals or when the same is discovered inadvertently. As practice indicates, this occurs only in selected instances. On the other hand, use of the RTI Act enables a powerful check to be exercised on even potential corruption as this would deter those otherwise enticed to amass public wealth for themselves. It was concluded that the regime of transparency in the RTI Act prevails over the secrecy clause in the Assets Law requiring those who obtain declarations of assets, not to make them publicly available.      

The Commission ruled that a 27th February decision of the Speaker last year that information pertaining to asset declarations of parliamentarians can only be released through the Declaration of Assets and Liabilities Law was not applicable to the factual situation before the Commission. That decision had been referred to by the President’s Office in refusing the information to the appellant, Transparency Internatoinal, Sri Lanka who then came before the RTI Commission in appeal.

The argument that the Secretary to the President stands in a fiduciary relationship to the President and therefore must hold information such as assets declarations confidentially was also dismissed. The Commission emphasized that, if so, then the RTI Act would be rendered a dead letter in the public service as this ground could be, for example, pleaded by a Secretary to a line Ministry vis a vis the relevant Minister.

On a related question regarding the assets declarations of Presidents, it was observed that even though legally, the President of Sri Lanka was not required to submit a declaration of assets (unless at the point of contesting for elections) and therefore, the same could not be ordered to be released, the law should be amended to make this a compulsory requirement.   

   

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Latest comments

  • 63
    1

    Then 99% Mps will have to pay back all looted funds.
    Many mps came to parliament empty handed ..
    Now they are so rich with many assets..where did all come .
    Think for instance; Mahinda family prior 2005….now they some of rich in the country?
    Where did money come ?
    Tsunami money?
    Chinese money?
    Public money ?
    Shame on all these people who loot poor Sri Lankans money ???.

    • 42
      0

      RTI Comission,

      Very good. Establish the baseline for the PM, President, Ministers and MPs. That way they get to keep what was earned legitimately only.

      • 10
        7

        Bondscam Ranil should have been impeached when the PCOI Report into the Bondscam of Central Bank came out by Sira. Better late than never!
        The Culture of impunity and immunity for financial crimes and hate by corrupt politicians, led by Bondscam Ranil and his partner in crime Mahinda Jarapassa and family and cronies must end.
        PCOI Bondscam report with all the names of those who benefited from scam must be released
        RTI also needs to ask Central bank of Sri Lanka to release the info. on the international sovereign bond traders who hold 55% of Lanka’s External debt that is crashing the rupee.
        Bond scams – internal and external are the cause of Lanka’s debt trap and crashing economy and how IMF-WB puts small countries into their so-called Middle Income Country Debt trap. 55% of Laka’s foreign debt is owned by US links soveriegn bond traders who are crashing the rupee The precise information on this should be revealed as they want to loot and asset strip Lanka with the help of Bondscam Ranil and his Royal maffia who looted the central bank.
        Culture of impunity and immunity for financial

    • 2
      0

      It may be interesting to know the assets of all MP’s prior to there election and after.

    • 3
      0

      does this include the President’s asset list as well?

    • 3
      1

      Critical Thinking:
      In case of Mahinda Rapuksa, it is worth asking:

      Tsunami Money:
      800 million US dollars through Helping Hambantota

      Chinese money:
      19 billion US dollars as commissions and kickbacks for white elephant projects like harbours without ships and airports without planes

      Public money: Road development, poverty alleviation programs, sil redi etc.

  • 10
    5

    RTI commission is a world first. No where else in the world, there is RTI commission. Besides, RTI was brought by Mangala Samraweera and his head ioffice of MCC. So, why TRI is also ordering the PResident. IT looks PResident is not so executive and reporting to every one.

    • 6
      0

      Just because a person became Head of State doesn’t mean th eperson should not be under Check and hold accountable for all the illegitimate acts committed by his/her time.

    • 2
      4

      Idiot JD, that idiot Mangala had nothing to do with the RTI Act. Get your facts straight.

      He only ran around this year at RTI do’s because he was the media minister.

      Useless fellow and part of the reason why the Ranil Gvt became so unpopular.

  • 46
    9

    Sirisena is taking revenge from the very person who worked his guts out to make him the President – Ranil. What a dog is this Sirisena?

    • 50
      1

      Sirisena is not a dog. Dogs, without exception are grateful even more than humans. Sirisena is a snake whom Ranil has put inside his sarong.

      • 8
        6

        Ranil’s boys brigade and lansies who frequent CT comments look like ve…..ry ve…ry scared that their shit is frozen with fear that Ranil’s remaining amude is going to come off!

        [edited out]

      • 5
        0

        What an excellent depiction…. yes, he is a venomous snake in the political wilderness….

    • 10
      28

      shoi baba

      Sirisena taking revenge from Ranil?

      What for?

      Please make people aware of it.

      Why did Ranil worked so tirelessly to make MS the president instead of working himself to be the president?

      Answer – Ranil knew very well that he wasn’t able to win with MR so played the trick of making MS the president & become the PM with just 48 MP support in the parliament

      Then managed to win parliamentary election just to form minority govt. but managed to get MS faction support to be stable & tried to rule as if he was the head of the state.

      Managed to pass evil 19th amendment to the constitution to make MS handicapped & dominate him.

      Sirisena, What a dog is this Ranil?

    • 4
      0

      May be you want MS to join Ranil stripping national assets. Time all baskets are exposed as rogues. But I suspect that rogues hardly keep ill gotten money in their homes. RTI should be looking for assets maintained by proxies.

  • 14
    0

    Dear Shoi Baba,
    .
    There is nothing here to indicate that the RTI has acted here at the behest of Sirisena. Some of these Commissions have indeed been very Independent. the right to Information Commission has a lawyer member who has a column in the Sunday Times. What she has written last Sunday is typical of what she usually says in terms of not pandering to the government:
    .
    .http://www.sundaytimes.lk/181202/columns/sri-lankas-civil-resistance-awakens-like-the-phoenix-from-the-ashes-322965.html
    .
    Even more in the limelight at the moment is Prof. H.R.H. Hoole of the Elections Commission. Both these persons are clearly taking anti-Sirisena lines. Even if you are a Sirisena supporter you ought to tolerate this. If we applaud Independence only when the independent line being taken corresponds with our view-point, it all becomes meaningless, doesn’t it? We must disagree when we must, but defend to the death the right that people have to hold views different from ours.
    .
    Today we are all critical of Sirisena; but I think that we must recognise that he wasn’t always acting like a lunatic in all matters. Perhaps, even now I see some positives in the man. I thoroughly disapproved of his Sugathadasa Stadium speech today, but I feel that the man sincerely thinks that it is his duty to safeguard certain village values against the march of “Westernisation”. That part of it we might even find laudable.
    .
    The problem is that he doesn’t understand that it is an abuse of the trust placed by us in him when he aligns himself with Mahendra Rajapaksa. With so many persons knowingly making totally unjustified remarks about the “views of the majority of the voters”, I think it fair to say that well over 90% of those who voted for Sirisena were also strongly critical of Rajapaksa. I wonder how many are conscous of the fact that there were 19 candidates at the 2015 elections:

    • 1
      0

      Sensible Sinhala Man, your reference to Hoole, Kishali Pinto-Jayawardena who wrote her column in the same way when the Rajapaksas were in power even though the Raja bootlickers tried to intimidate is good. These are not people who are anti or pro anyone. I would add to that lot, also Commissioners of other bodies like the Human Rights Commission (Deepika Udagama)

      Let the Ranil fans not forget that the RTI Commission handed down an order in 2017 exposing AiyoSirisena as the one blocking news websites like Lanka E News. I heard that Aiyo Sirisena was very angry that his letter to the Telecommunications Authority ordering them to block Lanka E News had been released under RTI. That action was given maximum publicity in international media.

      RTI must operate without fear, President, Prime Minister, former President, whoever… we must be happy that in this land where nothing works, that RTI is working.

      But not, I fear, for very long, once the Rajas get their paws on the Commission.

  • 14
    0

    Certainly a good initiative for RTI be used to examine and publicize wealth changes of Public officials during their years in public service.
    .
    Starting off with Ranil may or may not be appropriate, but certainly stinks of a personal avenging initiative rather than one of general public interest. Nevertheless it is O.K to start with Ranil, but make sure it does not stop there – follow up with investigating others with equal gusto, including the President and most importantly the Rajapaksa clan – each of the siblings and princelings. It will be fair for Ranil to insist on that condition.
    .
    Hope the country finds a way out of the grips of “mungkolla karayas” with this initiative.

  • 19
    0

    All the LOOTERS OF STATE should be exposed and booked and made to return all the Loots back to the country .
    From RW to MR, GR ,MS , NR, YoRa, BR, the whole Rajaballa clan, Modawansa, Peiris , The whole cabinet and MPs present and past. And few others.
    Fantastic we the people are for this exposure.

    • 1
      0

      See what Rajasingham says below, but try to reconcile that with Wallis Amma’s seeming refutation.
      .
      Think about Walli Amma’s final sentence. It doesn’t just seem fair; it is sincere, rational and impartial. All too often we get into a huddle with like-minded people and lambast an arbitrarily selected lot of people whom we hate. What do we achieve? Nothing!

  • 2
    0

    Why this RTI commission is not going behind the BOND scam report ?. IS it becasue MCC is involve din the bond scam . I heard MCC is saying we do not involve in Bank Heists. but, we told them that we are also cash strapped. So find your own money (God Natha).

  • 0
    0

    Do you think

  • 17
    0

    Do you think an asset declaration is sufficient. Even a kid knows that ill-gotten wealth could be hidden in different places and under different names. If Mahinda Rajapaksa’s asset declaration is examined, I am sure you will see a moderate amount of assets compared to his real net worth. So, what’s the purpose of this unless you have financial intelligence and examine the assets owned by family members, extended family and close buddies over the period he was in office right from the tsunami funds to Hambantota. Its a complex exercise as you must monitor all his activities like decisions on new projects and work in coordination with nations like the USA, UK, UAE, Switzerland,, Australia, Caribean and Canada. The best audit with available resources will be to examine how he acquired each asset and ask the source of funds to acquire those assets.

    For example, Gamini Dissanayake built a palatial residence in Alfred House Gardens during his tenure in the cabinet. Was this from sale of ancestral assets in the hill country, inherittance from dowry or professional income as a lawyer of Mrs. Dissanayake. If there is no satisfactory justification, then the fraud bureau must be brought in. This was just an example to illustrate my point and was no way to discredit late Mr Dissanayake or his family or Mr Mahinda Rajapaksa until it is proven in court.

  • 18
    2

    What about other politicians. According to Forbes Report Maithiripala Sirisena is the 3rd richest politician in Sri Lanka with US $ 14 million and Mahinda Rajapalse still remains the first richest politician with US $ 18 Billion. But Ranil Wickremasinghe since 1977 remains as the 9th richest politician with US $ 830,000 (not even One Million). But Karuna remains at 5th richest politician with US $ 1.7 million. Others are Fowzie, Athadulla, Chandrika Jumaranatunge, Arjuna Ranatunge, JVP leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake, Arumugam Thondaman. How did the above-named politicians became all of a sudden rich people. It is the Income Tax Department which should scrutinize these matters. One thing is clear – they have looted country’s assets. However, as first citizen of the country it is the assets of Maithiripala Sirisena that should be disclosed.

    • 3
      0

      Thanks, Rajasngham,
      .
      Yours is the sort of contribution that we need. Could you please give us more? A link to the Forbes Report, and expanding all this in Sinhalese and Tamil.
      .
      Other readers, especially those who have built up a reputation for honesty and impartiality should trumpet the difference between 18 Billion and 830,000. Also the difference between a US$ amount and the pathetic Sri Lanka Rupee.

      .
      Who are those who have credibility? Every one of us, who is known for sanity, rationality, and honesty. There should be no sparing of those whose side we normally take. Do not exaggerate, and do it imaginatively and everytime we are in relaxed places.
      .
      Let me stop; somebody else take over.

    • 3
      0

      Income Tax Department?? Ha! Ha! They are only chasing after the people who make an honest living!

      CBK, Rajapaksa? Perhaps the Transparency guys and gals should also make applications under RTI for those when they were Presidents. No point wailing and weeping for the RTI Commission to do anything in websites. The Commission can only act if an appeal comes to them after an information request has been filed. It seems to be acting very impartially so best of luck to them!

      And no, Aiyo Sirisena is not ordered under law to file his assets. There is nothing the Commission can do from what I can understand from this CT report, except to say that the law must be changed which they have done.

  • 11
    3

    AyathurayYou say “According to Forbes Report Maithiripala Sirisena is the 3rd richest politician in Sri Lanka with US $ 14 million and Mahinda Rajapalse still remains the first richest politician with US $ 18 Billion”.

    BULLSHIT. Any intelligent Non-Tiger guy can CHECK Forbes list online. NOT A single sri lankan is in the top 100 Richest Asian list. Forbes does NOT have Richest politicians list. You are quoting the rag bullshit blog called Asian Tribune. Use your effing noodle man. Fact check. To enlighten you here is a partial list for Asia. Again I repeat , Forbes does NOT have a politicians list

    Who is the richest person in the Asia 2017?
    The 10 Richest Men In Asia – List of 10 Wealthiest Man In Asia
    Mukesh Ambani, India, Net Worth: $42.3 billion.
    Jack Ma, China, Net Worth: $40.9 billion.
    Li Ka-Shing, China, Net Worth: $33 billion.
    Lee Shau-kee, China, Net Worth: $29.2 billion.
    Wang Jianlin, China, Net Worth: $28.9 billion.
    Tadashi Yanai, Japan, Net Worth: $22.3 billion.
    Azim Premji, India, Net worth: $17.3 billion

    FORBES URL(that stands for uniform resource locator)
    https://www.forbes.com/asia-families/list/

    For Ganesh and Shiva and Hanuma’s sake CHECK FACTS. No doubt Sira and MR and RW are all corrupt butterflies or not but there is no such list.

    • 4
      0

      Forbes Report gives the list of people who earned their money legally. MS, MR belongs to the group who earned their money illegally like the drug lords.

    • 1
      0

      Walli Amma,

      I have seen other news sources, including Asian Tribune and some news sites based in East Asia, quoting Forbes Asia to give the info that Mr. Rajasingham lists here. I couldn’t find any direct link to Forbes Asia where it is mentioned.

      But these days, it could have happened this way: say, some of the sites that are automated, use machine-learning algorithms to search the internet and pick from speeches, etc. and somehow mis-attribute it to Forbes Asia. Some references to that $18 billion for Mahinda Rajapaksa could have come from Mangala Samaraweera’s accusations made publicly.

      Then others like Asian Tribune editor might have picked up the news and continue incorrect attribution. Regardless, given the corruption of his previous regime, MR would be super rich, even though that $18 billion number is probably highly exaggerated.

  • 8
    0

    Ranil was down the list of Sri Lanka’s wealthiest. Maha Raja was the wealthiest with billions of US dollars (ill gotten gains no doubt). Why are the making a fuss, get the one who is the most wealthiest, and then go down the list. It makes people wonder where the Raja’s have stashed their loot…hotels in Dubai, tax free shores, real estate in many parts of the world, perhaps.

  • 0
    1

    I had problem accessing CT over the last two days…
    ..any one else had the same issue

    • 0
      0

      Rajash,

      Are you on SLT fibre. Depending on the package sometimes you would have exhausted your quota towards the end of the month and at the beginning of the current month it would have reverted back. I have experienced the same when I come to the end of the quota by the end of the month the PC becomes very slow and can not access most sites and Webs.

      • 0
        0

        No
        I got a message “forbidden”

    • 0
      0

      Rajash, no, then again when there was a lot of talk about CT was blocked before 2015 January, I could still access CT.

  • 1
    1

    Good move…..
    RTI please ask Mahinda to do the same

  • 2
    0

    Why do we keep spreading uninformed an unverified propaganda? As Walli Amma has said about the Forbes list, all of us who comment on CT articles are intelligent and literate enough to verify these stories in the web without spreading them like village idiots. RTI is a very good initiative and every politicians asset declarations should be made public. If the current law doesn’t permit it, it should be changed to include the assets of near relatives as well. Besides RTI, it is also important to ask the question as to what Inland Revenue is doing and see what tax returns these politicians have submitted.

  • 2
    5

    Whatever his politics are one has to admit Ranil is a good looking guy, if I wasn’t happily married and was a Lepidopteran with Daddy issues, I would be tempted.

    • 2
      0

      hammi from the wanni: Its better to be a Lepidopteran than a rodent like you spreading leptospirosis. Nobody will be tempted to go near you.

  • 2
    2

    How do they disclose RW’s Bonds Scam money of US$ 2 Billion ? those are in Swiss Banks . It’s a billion dollar question

  • 3
    0

    RTI Commission Orders President’s Office To Disclose Ranil Wickremesinghe’s Assets Declaration

    Why only now it should be every one Ranil Mahinda ect it public funds, When he hate someone that’s when he start complaining. People don’t trike by chance, they trick by choice. Triks is going up not down no still no solution and shattered the Parliamentary principles

  • 2
    0

    Great let the people know how every politician amassed such a lot of money , has to be from corrupt deals. MR heads the list MS 3rd in the list RW 9th

  • 0
    0

    Colombo Telegraph,

    Recently you have often published news about RTI decisions. The cases have been important ones of major interest to the public. Why do you not also publish the decisions that have been made by RTIC? I have just taken a look at RTIC web page and did not find any of the new decisions there. In fact my impression is that the web page has not been updated during several months.

    I am considering appealing a decision myself but insecure about how to fill the form and what should be attached since in my case the public authority has not responded in any way. I am worried about what happens if and when the authority tells RTIC that they never received anything from me. My attempts to talk with somebody at RTIC have not been fruitful since the only number provided is out of order.

    The instructions available on line assume that the public authority is aware of RTI Act and follows it. It is unclear what to do when a public authority refuses to co-operate.

  • 0
    0

    @Sunil P. I access the Commission website and find decisions online easily, even if I am beyond fore score and then years! I think Transparency did a data base also with all these Commission decisions. Maybe something wrong with where you are looking. You must look under Appeals and then look at all the categories there. Even last week’s decision in respect of the Central Bank is online- http://www.rticommission.lk/web/images/pdf/rticappeal-25-26-2018/rtic-26-2018-en-30112018-order.pdf

    You maybe write to the Commission or its members on email if you have a question. Emails are on the site. No use calling. Phone lines are clogged, they are getting more than fifty appeals a week from what I have heard when I checked from office staff.

  • 0
    0

    I saw one sensible comment wrriten by Certified Fraud Examiner and Chartered Accountant. My appreciation.

    I think this exposing the assets is good step. But I hope these instances will increase as the people are getting educated on financial crimes. I am a bean counter and can say that the bond scam was mastermined by RW and his henchment to support financially the election campain in 2015. For that alleged crime, RW shoudl deserve a maximum punishment. He is not suitable to hold any public position in Sri Lanka. UNP boot lickers need to understand that. If this happened in the UK or Australia, any poilitician, what ever his position or capacity goes to jail for a life time.

  • 0
    0

    The demand “To Disclose Ranil Wickremesinghe’s Assets Declaration…….” is welcome. Instead of counter demands why not compel all MPs to disclose.
    Is this more important than getting to the bottom of the putsch?

  • 0
    0

    Some observations:

    The appellants I found on line include very few that belong to the minorities of the country.

    In the appeal against Central Bank the bank was represented by no less than 12 persons all Sinhalese.

    In the appeal against Presidential Secretariat they were defended by Department of Attorney General. Why?

    Any normal person especially from the minorities studying these appeals will be discouraged after reading what may happen at the hearing if he /she appeals.

  • 0
    0

    Rti ms education qualification?

  • 0
    0

    It is far too late .But better late than never. Never have I dreamt that RTIC would be so bold as ro come to a decision as the one as this.

    Our country cannot tolerate any more looting of public money and let go the rogues scot free. The public should demand full and thorough investigation into all top brass Politicians and public officials and if found guilty should be banned life time from holding public and political positions. The normal laws will let the thieves escape in broad day light under our very eyes and the country cannot be fooled that way.These cases should be treated under the PTA if our wishes are genuine.

    A meticulous search and seizure of the loot should be the ultimate objectives. All this seems to me a pipe dream. But let us dream first and work for our dreams come true.

  • 2
    0

    What about MR and Sirisenas assets look at Fobes published records Sirisena is a new rich reached his position in the last two years you know where he got the money from

  • 1
    0

    It’s time to change the pre requisites to contest Parliamentary & Presidential Election.
    —Declare their wealth in
    2005 ;2010 ;2015 & 2018
    — Educational Status
    — Declare the Judicial cases against them

  • 0
    0

    My congratulations to Director Obeyesekere for pursuing this lacuna in the Assets Law and advocating its amendment to enable the public to access the declarations of Ministers, including the “primus inter pares” (first among equals) , the PM. This is a major victory for the people, we must best advantage of this historic and bold ruling of the commission, to whom we owe a deep debt of gratitude.
    We know several Ministers were hiding behind the loop hole in the law. At last justice may yet be served.
    Harindra Dunuwille

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