31 October, 2020

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Sources Of Funding For Election Campaigns: Transparency & Accountability 

By Anushka Kahandagama –

Anushka Kahandagama

The piece evoked by the  political program 3600 which was telecasted on 11th June 2018 in Derana television channel. The program was conducted by two journalists, Dilka Samanmali and Chapa Bandara. The interviewee was State Minister of International Trade, Sujeewa Senasinghe, The discussion was based on the ‘report filed in Court by the Attorney General’s Department about the bond scam revealed that State Minister Sujeewa Senasinghe had received three cheques of Rs.1 million each in 2015 and 2016 from W.M. Mendis & Company Ltd., a subsidiary of Perpetual Treasuries Ltd‘. Two journalists and the Minister were arguing for the entire airtime leading to many comments on social media regarding both media ethics as well as ethics of a politician.  

However, I am not interested in the ‘proper manner’ of conducting an interview or subjected to an interview, rather interested in the content of the discussion. Unfortunately, the content of the conversation has drowned in the shallow entertaining value of media which grasped much of the attention of the public. 

As per the Minister, the particular cheques were received as a donation for his election campaign in the years of 2015 and 2016. However, as per his statements in the programmed, he was unaware of the fact that these cheques were from the Mendis & Company. Further, according to him, he has not received these cheques personally, but one of his election campaign teams have earned the cheques and he was unaware about this reception. As per the question, whether he has any records of election campaign budget, Minister answered saying that, there are no records of the funding or expenditure of the election campaign budgets it is the usual practice of any politician.  

Receiving financial support from donors have benefits of recruiting political leaders from different economic and social backgrounds and giving the opportunity to new ideas. However using of money from donors should not interrupt the democratic process of the country. The financial support may corrupt the representative Governments. When lawmakers represent or appear to represent economic interests of donors rather than the voters, the voters lose trust in representative government, and the base of democracy collapses. Benefitting political donors will often include breaking laws by civil servants, thus undermining the integrity of public administration. 

As per the Minister, he was unaware of the funds he or his election team received from the various donors. Most importantly, this ‘unawareness’ and lack of transparency is ‘normal’ according to the Minister. Minister further stated that, the Perpetual Treasuries Ltd was not under any investigation during the period when his team received the money. 

Any politician or political party should be aware of the funds they receive for the election campaigns. It is a primary and a simple fact which, one can not  ignore stating that, he/she was not informed of the sources of funds they received for the election campaigns and thus not accountable. As per the Minister, he lacks the knowledge about the sources of funds he or his team received for the election campaigns and the particular company, Mendis & Company was not an illegal source of funding at that time. But, as per this logic, if the Minister was unaware of any source of funding he or his team received, how he or his team knows whether they are using black money or not.  As per the Minister, no politician in Sri Lanka from 1948 had known the sources of their funding for the election campaigns. And the Minister further stated, it is important for him to know about the funding he gets if it is receiving from a illegal source. But if you do not know about the source of money receiving for the election campaigns, how would you know whether the money you or your team receive is illegal or not. How can one justify the unawareness about sources of funding for the election campaigns? It might be true that he was unaware about the origin of funding. But one can not justify the unawareness stating that, as the budget reports of the election campaigns were not requested by the Parliament he/she was not informed about the origins of funds received for the election campaigns.  Ministers argument was that,  it is not necessary for him to provide a clear detail report of the budget of the election campaign as it is not requested by the Parliament. As required by the Parliament,  Minister has declared assets and liabilities. According to the Minister, while Parliament is requesting a declaration of Assets and Liabilities, it is not a requirement for him to maintain transparency of the funds he or his team receive for the election campaigns.  As implied by the Minister, there is no any link between the election campaign and declaration of assets and liabilities.

The concepts of transparency and accountability should not be solely confined to the laws and regulations rather should be understood in the wider background of democracy. 

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Latest comments

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    YOur rticle is full of lies. YOu say he doe snot know where the money came from. there are people who know how sujeewa Senasinghe became a multi billionaire. Only thing is Sri lankan media organizations are wither Ranil favoured or Rajapakse/SLFP/SLPP favoured adn they do not write, Besides, they are waredn not to write any thing damaging. YOu had been fooled here. did you read, news paper reports that sujeewa Senasinghe and ajith Perera had been rewarded by Arjun alesius with two houses. What stupid business gives money annoymous. they want the politician to know that it is us who gave money. What stupid says I am getting money from unknown source. Everybody had got three million pakcages or multiples of that. Sarath fonseka says he got only RS 100,000. do you believe that ?
    these news are good for sri lanka because, the sri lankan constitution, the way it is modified, the parliament, The PM and the president support FRAUDS. Eventhough the rule book is there they do not followi it. Instead, the IGP and AG are bribed. so, the LAW enforcement doe snot work. some are complaining about Judiciary. IT looks if the Judiciary is not corrupt, that is a miracle in Sri lanka. Constituion had changed, so the minister can hire his son as the ministry secretary cum Accountaant. So, do you think none of them steal. There are how many ministries, Municiaplies the family ownerships. CHECK WHETHER ROSIE SENAYAKAE HAS HIRED HER SON, HUSBAND OR SOME SOME OTHER RELATIVE TO UNDER HER.

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      You have no idea about this LAL JD, just saying or blaming is not enough if someone could not prove. So do not say that this article is full of lies.

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        Sack D: what you are saying is that Ranil and his gang of bond thieves, 2nd COPE committee are trust worthy gang of Looters, swindlers, robbers, cheaters and Fraudsters.

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    Shows the business prowess of Perpetual Treasuries Ltd. They made sure that the Santhosams are traceable in the event of something going wrong but it did!

    The clever politician will exploit this and this is the next phase. Who is the clever boy?
    Anushka Kahandagama: Do you really really think that Transparency & Accountability
    of Sources Of Funding For Election Campaigns will really really help?

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    At the end of the day all Politicians are the same – it is MONEY. At the end of the day all Businessmen are the same – it is Money. So just don’t waste time.

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    In UK, election expenditure is capped & have to be disclosed. All donors & donations have to be listed for public scrutiny, as well as, for tax purposes. A few years ago, an elected Tory MP had to step down when it came to light that he had overspent but had not disclosed the expenses incurred when a bus load of volunteers came down to his constituency to canvass on his behalf. The MP’s excuse was that it was part of the National Tory campaign but though the ‘election bus’ toured the entire country, the volunteers distributed leaflets on his behalf, therefore, he was responsible for the expenses incurred by the volunteers during their stay in his constituency.

    SL politicians have a history of having amnesia or no knowledge when it comes to uncomfortable questions. Sujeeva Senasingha’s no knowledge of donations amounting Rs. 3m is a pathetic excuse from a self acclaimed product of a prestigious school, born to a wealthy family of high social standing, not to mention being a high flying lawyer, as well. I would expect even a less educated person but with reasonable intelligence to keep track of all donations (wouldn’t the Inland Revenue be interested of all those unaccountable funding?) & thank the donors personally (particularly when the donations are in millions) for their .generosity. It’s another laughable excuse as given by the ex Finance Minister when he said that it was the wife who was given the Penthouse to live but he didn’t know it was rent free although he lived there. Are these ‘educated’ politicians so dumb or do they think we all are?

    Whatever the answer, they have amply proved that they are not fit to hold a high public office in politics.

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    IT is not point of writing. Anushka Kahandagama knows it is work for money. Politicians are corrupt,the govt is corrupt, so the media. In Old sri lanka, writing was a noble duty. The pen was strongger than sword. Now it has become western journalistic ethics. Write for money. Writr fake news (see thushara in this web site). All OK to earn a buck.

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    That was no interview. One of the Media personnel at the interview behaved like a mad dog. He did not allow Sujeewa to speak. It is immaterial whether Sujjeva was a crook or not, what mattered was that he was invited for the discussion and he should have been allowed to present his case. After he presents his case the other participants can knock the bottom off. What happened was very unethical and calls for an identification of who a media man is who is party hack

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