7 April, 2020

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Sri Lanka Is Becoming The New Myammar Of Asia

By Mangala Samaraweera

Mangala Samaraweera MP

Mr. Speaker,

Nearly four years ago, when the LTTE was conclusively defeated, many Sri Lankans, even those who did not agree with the government on the way the war was conducted in the final stages, were optimistic and hopeful that our country could, at last achieve the economic prosperity which has eluded our people since independence. A window of opportunity presented itself to our war ravaged nation to leave the mistakes of the past behind us and move forward to harness the bright and prosperous future our people have been demanding for generations.

However, as we debate the fourth budget of the Rajapaksa regime since the end of the war, Sri Lanka is a country in crisis; an unprecedented economic crisis looming in the horizon as a result of the rampant corruption and economic mismanagement; the systematic dismantling of the rule of law while trying to subjugate the independence of our institutions from Hulftsdorf to Welikada to suit the agenda of the executive and the international isolation because of the government’s refusal to honour its commitments by the international community has turned Sri Lanka into a virtual time bomb.

The peace dividend anticipated by our people has yet to materialize for 99.9% of our population while a small group of family members, political cronies and a handpicked group of ‘tenderpreneurs’ are reaping the benefits of the peace dividends making virtual paupers into Dollar Millionaires overnight.. Advertising executives with limited incomes are now boasting that they are ‘billionaires’ while Naval officers with the right family connections along with their siblings are listed as top shareholders in various companies.

(I would like to refer to these documents tabled in this house last week).

The chosen place of play for this .1% is the stock market and the chosen sphere of Business for this select group is land speculation – government land speculation. Their chosen mode of travel are, of course flashy racing cars like Lamborghinis, Ferraris and Aston Martins. In a classic Marie Antoinette gesture, the Finance Minister was audacious enough to grant a duty waiver to luxury racing cars while increasing the duty of normal vehicles.

In the face of such ostentation the billion dollar question asked by many people is: where is all this money coming from?

Mr. Speaker,

As I said on the floor of this house last week, during the adjournment debate on KP Pathmanathan there are reasonable grounds to believe that part of the black money which has flooded into the stock market in Colombo as well as some of the FDI in Colombo is LTTE blood money.

In fact, it was after the arrest of KP, the only surviving member of the inner circle of Prabhakaran and therefore the only living person privy to the assets of the multibillion dollar empire of the LTTE, that black money flowing into Sri Lanka became a deluge. Today Sri Lanka has earned the dubious distinction of being one of the principal centers for money laundering east of Suez.

The other source of the black money, according to informed sources are the commissions from the Chinese loans. In the web site called Chinese loan conditions: www. china-powercontractor. cn/government-finance.html) it is claimed that “you as agent can earn million US$ commissions as others have achieved during the past.” It also says that suitable agents ” should have high profile connection with Government officials such as National President, Minister of Finance or related Minister to the projects.”

(Quote and table document.)

Rajeev Sharma, a New Delhi based journalist and a strategic analyst, claims that US $ 1.2 – 1.8 Billion have been given as commissions for Chinese projects since 2005 and also says that the first family stands to receive in commissions anywhere between US$1.2 billion – 1.8 billion during 2005 – 2015. It also says that an intricate web of front companies is in place to receive and disburse the commissions.

(1. Quote and table)

While opening our doors to the robber barons of the world the robber kings of our own country are laundering their own Ill gotten wealth within our own country. Unlike kleptocrats of the past who hid their wealth in Swiss Accounts, the new robber kings feel that their money invested within their own countries is safer; The stringent anti laundering laws In the west as well as the recent experiences during the Arab spring when billions of dollars worth of assets belonging to Mubarak and Gadaffi were frozen and seized , have made many corrupt leaders in Africa and elsewhere to launder their wealth within their own countries.

Mr. Speaker,

Money laundering at its simplest, is the act of making money that come from Source A look like it comes from source B. In practice, criminals are trying to disguise the origins of money through illegal activities so it looks like it was obtained through legal sources. There are many methods of money laundering but the most commonly used method by the robber barons and kings of Sri Lanka is called ‘Round-tripping’.

“Round tripping: Money is deposited in a controlled foreign corporation offshore, preferably in a tax haven where minimal records are kept and then shipped back as a Foreign Direct investment, exempt from taxation.” According to the STAR initiative (Stolen Assets Recovery Initiative) of the world bank forming Shell Companies are a common method used by money launderers. She’ll Companies are defined by the OECD in ‘Behind the corporate veil’ (2001) as:

” ……companies which are entities established not to pursue any legitimate business activity but solely to obscure the identity of their beneficial owners and controllers.”

In fact, I must take this opportunity to all members of this house to read the world bank publication , ” The Puppet Masters: How the corrupt use legal structures to hide stolen assets and what to do about it.”

As well known multi nationals are reluctant to invest in Sri Lanka because of serious human rights/ war crimes allegations, most of the FDIs which have come into Sri Lanka over the past few years have been from such ‘shell companies’. In fact, as Rajeev Sharma writes, the Mitchell Consortium of Australia which was given the contract to set up a heavy industry zone in Sampur could be also a paper company.

All Chinese funded projects are handled by 5 companies and the shell companies behind them are all linked to the very top. In fact Dilshan Wickramesinghe, son of the Chairman Sri Lankan Airlines of Rolex fame is a key player in some of these companies along with Prabath Nannayakkara, whose “meteoric rise ran parallel to President Rajapakse’s ascent to power.”

(Table article)

In fact, Sri Lanka is now becoming the destination of choice for some Indian robber barons who are finding it more and more difficult to operate in India because of its anti corruption laws and the freedom of information act. The Krissh Square deal is good case in point where Indian investors (in India they are called racketeers) with a dubious record has been allocated prime Colombo land. One of the front men for this project is a man called D.R. Kaytal from Bhivadhi in Rajasthan. He used his close links with the Chief Minister of Hariyana Bhopindha Singh Hoodha to do a condominium development project in Gurgoman in New Delhi. However, he left many of those who paid advances for the apartments in the lurch when he decided to resell the land at a huge profit.

In fact the reputation of Lord Billimoria is even worse. (Quote)

It is also reported that Salman Khan flew to Sri Lanka in his private jet to discuss details with the father son duo before the Krissh deal was finalized and sources in Bombay claim that Bollywood and Medamulana are now working hand in glove in this money laundering scam.

Mr. Speaker,

This new Rajapaksa economy, based on black money has deprived the people to prosper in life within a level playing field. In fact, as the UNPs radical statement, to be presented to the UNP convention on 1st December says, rejects “the Colombo Stock Market Capitalism based on the primacy of markets. We have again reiterated our belief in a highly competitive social market economy………..Therefore, the radical statement upholds the primacy of politics where the principles relating to the market economy is determined by the political process which is committed to providing opportunity for all.”

Today, under the new crony capitalist economy of this regime, the universal values of fairness has been sacrificed to the greed of a few. Joseph Stiglitz’s famous caption, “of the 1%, for the 1%, by the 1%” describes the situation in Sri Lanka today where 0.1% of racketeers, tenderpreneurs and corrupt politicians have hijacked our economy to become dollar billionaires overnight while 99.9% of the population ( including the legitimate private sector) are facing hardships as never before and most of our citizens are seeing their Standard of living erode.

As the Rajapakse government stands condemned and isolated (other than for a few like minded megalomaniacs from Africa and elsewhere) courting economic ruin for our country, the UNP believes that it is time to reposition our policies and values and start investing in our people.

Mr. Speaker,

Sri Lanka, today, is not only a country in crisis, but also rapidly becoming the new Myammar of Asia. The UN report released a few days ago refocuses on the alleged human rights violations and possible war crimes during the concluding days of the war while the recent massacre of prisoners at Welikada again highlighted the break-down of the rule of law in the country. The constitutional witch hunt initiated by the executive against the Chief Justice has further eroded Sri Lanka’s credentials as a civilized, functioning democracy.

UN as well as many other members of the International community have expressed their deep concern about the impeachment motion against the CJ.

In a statement issued in GENEVA (14 November 2012) – The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers, Gabriela Knaul, today expressed serious concerns about reported intimidation and attacks against judges and judicial officers, and warned that they might form part of a pattern of attacks, threats, reprisals and interference in the independence of the justice system in Sri Lanka.”

“I urge the Sri Lanka Government to take immediate and adequate measures to ensure the physical and mental integrity of members of the judiciary and to allow them to perform their professional duties without any restrictions, improper influences, pressures, threats or interferences, in line with the country’s international human rights obligations,” Ms. Knaul said.

In fact, as she correctly points out, the misuse of disciplinary proceedings as a reprisal mechanism against independent judges is unacceptable. It is not a secret that the ruling powers perceive the Chief Justice and the judiciary as major stumbling block to their autocratic dynastic agenda and this is why this shoddy charge sheet full of factual errors has been rushed to Parliament with its docile and obliging majority. From this charge sheet, it is also obvious that the law of the jungle is also prevailing in the banking sector: some of the charges are based on information taken from banks in violation of banking secrecy laws. The officials of the NDB, who are accomplices to this constitutional witch hunt must be firmly dealt with by the law.

In proceeding with this motion, the onus is now on the Speaker, who is also the current chair of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Union to ensure that the proceedings are in line with the Latimer House Commonwealth Principles on the three branches of government.

However, the government has already violated some of the criteria agreed upon by all Commonwealth countries including Sri Lanka.

In the Lattimer House guidelines, it says ” In case where a judge is at risk of removal, the judge must have the right to be fully informed of the charges to be presented at the hearing, to make a full Defence by an independent and impartial tribunal.”

The tribunal appointed for the purpose of examining the motion is far from impartial and heavily loaded in governments favour: far from being independent and impartial, many of those appointed by the government are akin to the fanatical inquisitors of the dark ages.

As, Shaveen Bandaranayake, the son of the CJ wrote recently, the time has come for each and every one of us to take a stand: a stand not merely to support Shiranee Bandaranayake, the person but a stand for the independence of the judiciary and a democratic society.

In conclusion, I would like to quote from this article – excellent for someone so young – and I table the full article to be included in the Hansard.

“An individual can live his/her life seeing the injustice around them, show a blind eye and die a forgotten entity or you can stand up against tyranny and make a stand. The Chief Justice of Sri Lanka is taking a stand. Which side, you the citizens take defines who we are as Sri Lankans.”

*Speech made by Mangala Samaraweera M.P. in Parliament on 17th November 2012.

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Latest comments

  • 0
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    A turncoat’s opinion. Can it be read, seriously?

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      Selwyn – “opinions” may be questionable, but “facts” speak for themselves regardless of who presents them. The “serious” part of it is the corruption and ripping off of the country that is being disclosed. Try being objective.

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        To be objective of the facts, can be emphasized or accepted, if written by a proper person. Not a guy whose reputation has been to be in charge of the ‘Dirty Tricks Department’ of all sides he is in. Wake up, Corruption is not something new to SL. No purpose it wasting our time in debating on this matter.

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          Selwyn – My comment was not to side with MS (I agree with your assessment of him), but to remind readers to focus on the substance of his speech and not on the character of the speaker. Even hard-nosed liars do speak the truth occasionally!!

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          Selwyn:
          “No purpose it wasting our time in debating on this matter.” Is that so? Monumental corruption is not worthy of debate? Which planet were you born on and which planet do you live on,man? Or is it that YOU ARE ONE OF THE BENEFICIARIES of the racketeering that is so obvious?!

    • 0
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      Selwyn, Please pay attention to substance in his speech.

      Learn to play the ball, not the player.

      Funny, MS goes Mr. Speaker all the time. But, the Speaker himself is one of those corrupt ruling siblings.

      • 0
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        Ben H,
        If a similar speech was attributed to the other notorious MS, will you be paying attention to its substance and ‘play ball’?
        My comments in this forum concludes.

        • 0
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          Sselwyn,

          I see your point and understand your frustration.

          The other notorious MS never says anything of substance ever. We don’t need to worry about that guy.

          This MS is tainted by his assocaition with corrupt CBK. Yet, his speech cotains facts all Sri Lanks should be aware of. That is my point.

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          Selwyn, the truth is the truth, no matter who says it, or what opportunistic intentions they may have for saying it.

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          Selwyn:
          “My comments in this forum concludes.(sic)”
          Does this mean that you will cease to visit your monumental idiocies on those who read material on CT or is that too, too much to expect?

  • 0
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    T agree 100% with what he said.

  • 0
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    Ananda Sangari’s words coming out of a pig

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      Ananda Sangiri???? Pig????
      Colombo Telegraph Forum is not for the release of your Pent Up Emotions/Racism/etc/etc., i.e. if you understood same.

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    Mangala S has exposed the true story of the economic blackmarket of the Rajapakses. This is exactly what is happening in this country. This is how GDP is shooting up while ordinary people are becoming beggars and businesses are collapsing. The money and wealth belonging to the family is being invested by front companies and proxies.

    However having money cannot lead to the euthopia they imagine. Without hard work, wealth cannot be sustained. Surrounded by crooks, drug dealers and idiots is their undoing and very soon all this is going to come crashing down.

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    Wasn’t this the same man who supported Silva, the judicial frankenstein in Chandrika’s time and paved the way for the complete destruction of the Lankan judiciary? Now he holds forth!

    All these people have blood on their hands. We have long memories, Mr Mangala. We do not forget.

  • 0
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    and you are becoming the biggest joker of asia!!!

  • 0
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    I am no Mangala fan. I hate him. Yet the facts speak for themselves.What do companies like Environmental Resourses, Blue Diamonds, Citrus leisure worth. EPF/ETF and the Insurance Corporation have realised astounding capital lopsses through stock market pump and dump. Chinese loans. Yes. China is one country that has no transparency. Debacle of Asia

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    Mangala has blown the lid off the corruption that has permeated the nation. Those responsible wont like it,but they are safe as long a this regime lasts.
    Those who want the nation to prosper will criticise.
    The lackeys who catch the crumbs off the table will be silent.

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    Sri Lankan polticians have lost their credibility after 1978, they are more corrupted and no formal education of how to govern this country with dignity. Also it is questionable the framers of this constitution, had any vision for this contry’s future or they looked after their own interest.

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    I admire Mangala for bravely exposing the criminal activities of the Rajapaksa brothers, their relatives and their cronies. He is one of a few in the country who have the spine to challenge the brothers directly. Regardless of his past I think Mangala is on the siade of the voiceless majority.

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    He may be a turncoat but the fact remains that he has not sacrifice his soul for this despot.If your memory has not failed every one could remember how Managala campaigned for Rajapaksha at his first presidential election when most of those ministers now close to Rajaakshe avoiding him for the fear of reprisal from Chandrika.

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    There are a lot more helping hambantota bank accounts that will be exposed?

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    Mangala has committed many sins in the past and he is partly responsible for enthroning the despot.But he has made some shocking revelations. He knows how to hit where it hurts most! Thank you,Mangala for being so fearless. However, please remember that it is your spineless leader who has become the greatest source of strength to this regime.

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    We all know “man gala” did when he was at ministry… Free lease/land to Odel, more smuggling at ports… At the end president fired him for sheer corruption and incompetence

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      Watcher – That’s pretty rich (“At the end president fired him for sheer corruption and incompetence”) when talking about the president!!! Wonder where Hammer, Locksley, Brian de Guillibert and the rest of your ‘supporters’ are hiding?!! Time for another name you think?

  • 0
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    Great Speech. Thank You Mangala.
    Keep it up.

  • 0
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    Congratulations Mangala for a great Expose of the corruption and nepotism practised by this regime. I wonder how the Speaker being part of the brotherhood digested your speech. Wish more opposition politicians including your leader have the guts to let the people know the machinations of this undemocratic familial Dictatorship.

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    Mangala has matured into a senior politician and that is good for the political culture of the country. A responsible, well-researched speech outling the scourge of corruption that is destroying this country. LTTE money has not only come into the country via the backdoor but it is widely believed the black-money of some of our VVIPs is financing gold-jewellery shops, real estate mega-deeals in Western countries. So while the Rajapakses were fooling the Sinhala people scaring them to death about the deadly LTTE they are in fact, as it is alleged, business partners with them before and after 5/09.

    To place the record in perspective, Mangala too did his share of what he is accusing the Rajapakses now with, during his hey days under CBK. He too came with nothing and made billions in questionable ways within a few years after he and his mother stood in a queue to get a modest NHDA house from Premadasa/Cooray. It is the people who got fooled and the country continued in its journey spiralling down the drain. As his one-time boss was to say with dubious pride “Politics is the business of my family” She is not alone in that claim.

    Senguttuvan

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    I cannot understand why some of the commentators criticise MS for the truthful nature of his well researched speech for what it is. By crisicing him for past political misgivings is to distract the substance of his speech of shredding the pure white image of MR.Such commentators may be those hired by MR’s dirty tricks department. Please accept the truth and rally round to get rid of these robber barrons.

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      SLC has forgotten Farveez Maharoof, i think it has deblierate has done some thing against to him, taking revenge or RACIAL discrimination against him? for limited over matches, players should be all rounders, can Dilhara bat, if top order collapse. so many chances has given to Kapugedara, what is he doing in the middle of the field. (0)

  • 0
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    The Kettle calling the Pot Black

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    I have nothing against homosexuals some of them I have met and know as writers, journalists or appearing in TV programs as political analysts are very intelligent, and speaks lot of sense.

    But Mangala Samaraweera is in another category among them. He is a wounded man still liking his wounds. We should sympathise with him, as this is the only way he can “assert” his existence.

    He is in politially dead, despised even by his new friends in the UNP if he has any that can be called a “friend”.

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    Corruption, corruption and corruption. Can anybody tell me which government was not corrupted? This is normal, make use of the situation and make money, but please feed the poor at least with one meal a day and see that they have some kind of shelter.

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    Who wrote this speech for you Donkey?? What happened to the Presidential Palace that you proposed in Parliament? Your Colombo House was given by Late President Premadasa When you were unemployed Late Wijepala gave you a job in Thuhiriya. How earned your money ?? POLITICS why talk now? Wake up Mangi

  • 0
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    Restrict your comments to the speech instead of wasting our time commenting on the speaker.

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    The Krissh multi-billion deal in the former Transworks House – adjacent to the Colombo Hilton – is suspected to be a massive racket where Finance Ministry officials are becoming wiser. The original
    conditions required Krissh to move 20% of the total value via an approved bank in Colombo from India or elsewhere. It is understood Cabinet approval has been rushed through on the basis 10% of the value has come in. Anything less than 20% will be a violation of the agreement. It is not known even if this 10% has been received. Like in most racket deals involving influential VVIP sources, it is learnt this Indian investor is moving heaven and earth to get the funds from several Sri Lankan banks – including the 2 State banks. While the entire project itself, on face value, appears to be useful one must ensure the country avoids the pitfalls likely to result from an investor of dubious reputation – as Mangala S claims. It is good to allow India also to have some large projects here but the Indian partner has to be one of established reputation. There have been many flybynights from India in recent years showing interest in Mega Projects via local VVIPs.

    Tatas have been here from the mid 1970s and have conducted their affairs honourably and legally to the benefit of the country. Why were not 1st rate Indian groups like the Tatas, Reliance, ITC considered for the project. Naturally, they will not have anything to do with racket deals involving massive below-the-table payments.

    Senguttuvan

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    Further to my comments on Nov 23, we are told by Minister Mahinda Yapa Abewardena 2 days ago the Krrish enterporise has pledged to bring the entire value of the project viz: US$450 million by Dec 15, 2012. Is this value of the total cost of 4 towers of 80 stories each. The public should be kept regularly informed of this mega project in the light of the many rackets in similar projects (Hilton etc)

    I welcome this Project. I wish to see it taking off the ground because it can add much value to the image of the Colommbo City skyline.
    I congratulte both GoSL and Krrish for this valuable project.
    I wish it all speedy and due success. But there is little harm in being on the lookout in an environment where local and overseas
    ambitious interests can take the country for a ride.

    Senguttuvan

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