1 December, 2021

Blog

Sri Lanka Should Take The Australian Example: Basil Rajapaksa Should Step Down!

By Laksiri Fernando

Dr. Laksiri Fernando

It might not be the case in America. However in Australia, if the image of a politician is tarnished with corruption allegations, business deals or any other abuses, that person should not be appointed as a Minister, or he/she should resign when those are pointed out or investigated. Australia is undoubtedly a more mature and a reliable democracy than America. Especially in the case of public funds or money earned through dubious means, even in the private sector, democracy should be shielded from those who are involved in corruption and misdeeds.

Sri Lanka had relatively strong democratic traditions in 1950s and even in 1960s. When the Thalagodapitiya Commission (1959) revealed some corruption allegations against M. P. deZoysa and D. B. Monnekulame they resigned from their ministries and from Parliament. Of course there were others who were more adamant, and they had to be punished/censured through by-partisan procedures in Parliament. The Left and the minority parties were most principled at that time on corruption issues. More than the Parliament, independent anti-corruption commissions might be best like in Australia.

In Sri Lanka, those anti-corruption traditions have become pathetically eroded thereafter due to various reasons such as (1) the instability in the constitutional/legal system, (2) establishment of a dubious economic system in the name of an ‘open economy,’ (3) ambiguous business deals nationally and internationally, (4) erosion of political party discipline, (5) emergence of opportunistic parties and interest groups, and (6) the decline of ethics and values in the education system in general. (7) Religious leaders and organizations also may be responsible for this deteriorating situation.

Australian Example

Previously, I have written on the Australian example (‘A Bottle of Wine Throws a Premier Out!’). It was a simple failure to declare a bottle of wine received by the New South Wales Premier, Barry O’Farrell, in 2011 from a business person. When it became revealed to the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) in 2014, the Premier gracefully resigned from the position. It was just a potential issue of corruption and not even corruption per se.

Of course there are persons in Australia who are adamant and deny any wrong doing and they are eventually punished through the revelations before the independent commission/s. That is possible because the commissions are truly independent and adhered to high standards. This is apparently not the case in Sri Lanka or unfortunately even in the Attorney General’s Department. Eddie Obeid and Ian Macdonald are two recent cases in NSW. ‘A List of Australian politicians convicted of crimes’ can be obtained from Wikipedia.

Even last month the NSW Premier, Ms. Gladys Berejiklian, had to resign from her position, when ICAC started investigating whether she had breached ‘public trust’ when she awarded special grants to the electorate, Waga Waga, represented by her undeclared ‘secret lover.’ Previously, the person in question, MP Daryl Maguire, had to admit and resign involved in some business deals and ‘seeking’ payment over a property deal.

Even in Australia, there are grants to electorates and community organizations. However, those should not be distributed based on party preferences or political favoritism, whoever in power. It is quite doubtful whether this is the case in Sri Lanka. Leading to elections, those who are in power usually misuse public funds to win those elections and to favor their constituencies in order obtain votes. This is in addition to various business deals, favoritism, and other corrupt practices. These are terrible distortions in democracy.

Basil Rajapaksa Case  

There have been allegations and counter allegations between political parties and governments on various fraud and corruption issues in Sri Lanka. There are over a dozen of people who are allegedly involved in corruption who are in the present government and in the opposition. The allegations against the present Minister of Finance, Basil Rajapaksa, is highlighted in this article because the whole country’s economic policies, financial management, public administration, international relations and future of the country would be affected by his alleged misdeeds and lack of integrity. Even he is ‘innocent’ his image will encourage the others to involve in corruption and fraud.

It is true that most of the allegations of corruption of Basil Rajapaksa emerged under the UNP/SLFP government between 2015 and 2019. However the indictments were filed under the authority of the Attorney General’s Department and the actions or arrests by the Financial Crimes Investigation Division (FCID).

One of the first scandals was the Malwana house and property deal. It was alleged that the property was purchased in November 2010 under undeclared and laundered money for Rs. 64 million, but worth Rs. 208 million. The name of Thirakumar Nadesan also was propped up as the actual purchaser as from the Pandora’s Box. However, they refused to accept the ownership of the property, an implicit acceptance of some guilt. By this time, Basil Rajapaksa was the Minister of Economic Development!

Then there were two other instances where Basil Rajapaksa, with officials under him, allegedly utilized public funds to support the election campaign leading to the Presidential elections in January 2015. This pattern of public funds being utilized for election purposes under different administrations, perhaps have a long history which have not properly been investigated.

Of course it was the newly formed FCID which questioned and arrested him for the misuse of public funds. But it was the Attorney General who filed the indictments against him and his officials in the Colombo High Court. The role of the FCID then and thereafter was questionable as the efforts had some apparent political motives. However, could we say the same to the AG or AG’s Department? Then AG is in fact the present Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.

Divineguma Funds

The first case was about Divineguma funds being utilized for housing grants for political purposes under a dubious program (Isurumath Nivahana). The amount utilized was Rs. 2,992 million. It is now and then said that the disbursement of funds were stopped by the Election Commissioner after the official start of the election campaign. That itself proves the allegation.

The funds were obviously utilized for election campaign purposes. Just because one is a Minister, he or she should not have the authority to transfer or utilize funds arbitrarily. These are the questions, the dates included, and to whom any funds were given, that should have been investigated by an independent commission like the ICAC in Australia, not just legal questions in a high court. These are moral and ethical matters that politicians should abide by in a working democracy.

The second case was about again Divineguma funds allegedly being utilized to purchase GI pipes to be distributed to Provincial Councils, and to the people through them before the Presidential elections in January 2015 again obviously for political purposes. The amount involved was Rs. 36.5 million. There were other allegations and cases but the above three are sufficient to raised the issue that the politicians and ministers should be free from corruption and dubious financial matters, if Sri Lanka’s democracy to be sustained and serve the people without discrimination to political party, ethnicity or any other distinction.

Acquittal of Rajapaksa?

In a bizarre twist to these cases in November 2020, the Attorney General’s Department withdrew the first case on ‘Isurumath Nivahana’ agreeing with the defense that Divineguma funds might not be considered as public funds as they belong to the 1.2 million Divineguma beneficiaries. This was like the well-known ‘Sathasivam’ case! The argument itself admits the culpability of the misuse of funds, public or otherwise, without proper approval of the Treasury.

It is on the same premise, having referred to the previous case, that the AG’s Department has withdrawn the case of GI pipes this month (Rs. 36.5 million at stake) without any proper hearing. It is not the High Court that has acquitted Basil Rajapaksa, but the Attorney General! Can the Ministers or Finance Ministers arbitrarily use or transfer funds from one purpose to the other without a transparent procedure or treasury approval? The purpose was obviously election and political. If that is the case, Sri Lanka undoubtedly is a bizarre democracy.

What is the definition of public funds? It appears that the AG Department’s legal pundits do not have a proper idea or definition. The following is what given in Australia by the Taxation Office.

“Public funds fall under two types: (a) funds established and controlled by government or government authorities and (b) funds to which the public is invited to contribute and in fact contribute. A Public fund may be established as a separate entity, for example under an instrument of trust, or as part of a sponsoring organization.”

Under this definition, particularly under (b), Divineguma funds are definitely public funds. Those funds are not Basil Rajapaksa’s private funds. Some may refuse the definition by saying it is an Australian definition, and not a Sri Lankan one! But this is a common definition, and we are living in on the same planet inheriting hopefully a common democratic tradition.

Conclusion

Like Barry O’Farrell and now Gladys Berejiklian in Australia, Basil Rajapaksa should resign. His image is tarnished using public funds for political purposes. He is particularly not suitable for the position of the Minister of Finance. If he is the Minister in charge of the whole country’s financial and economic matters, what justice that people could expect? He is also in charge of various financial transactions and trade deals with foreign companies and countries. What transparency people could expect from him?

His appointment as the Minister of Finance was utterly wrong. If not by a brother, who would comfortably appoint him for this position? If he remains as the Minister of Finance, he would again and again would commit similar evils during the future elections or even otherwise. As far as he remains as a Minister, of course among others, democracy in Sri Lanka would be in peril.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Latest comments

  • 32
    0

    MR Laksiri, you are insluting Australia and please dont do so. This man Basil is not legally eligible to sit anywhere in the parliamant. He is another Magic man came from the US with the wand to make milk and honey flow all over SL. Do you remember the stupid clowns celeberating this guys arrival and even kiribath and kokis. This man is a fraud, many cases are against him and he was brought in by the family to launder all his sins. Now we have forgotten Nadesan and his poula and the billions loot and this One Land, One idiots kathawa is to divert Nadesans loot. After Ganana what next, only the KINK will know.

    • 16
      0

      Time for US citizens, Basil and Goat Rajapakse, to step down! Also all the other foreign citizens in the Foreign Minsitry.
      The US citizen Rajapassa brothers are following the CIA Cold War project – weaponizing religion in Sri Lanka to cause a Buddhist-Islam Clash of Civilizations so the US can set up its military bases under the guise of fighting ISIS in Indian Ocean region in Sri Lanka
      Dr.Laksiri, Please read the book “Cold War Monks: Buddhism and America’s Secret Strategy in Southeast Asia (Yale UP: 2017)
      and “ISIS is US; The Shocking truth behind the Army of Terror” by Wayne Madson et al.
      During the Cold War the CIA weaponised religion- Islam and Buddhism – to fight Communist and socialist independence and national liberation movements in Asia and Africa. This history of the Cold War in Sri Lanka including the Assassination of SWRD Band for nationalizing the Port and Airport from Britain by a so called Buddhist monk needs to be written.

      • 12
        1

        The Sinhala Buddhist Diaspora has been Weaponized by the West against the interests of the people of Sri Lanka.

    • 1
      0

      “”””The name of Thirakumar Nadesan also was propped up as the actual purchaser as from the Pandora’s Box. However, they refused to accept the ownership of the property, an implicit acceptance of some guilt. By this time, Basil Rajapaksa was the Minister of Economic Development”””””
      .
      Even little children would raise the question if they are not the owners of that Idama who? And the case investigations suspended? But srilanken judiciary would never serve the justice so long Rajapakses would not stop their various kind of mlechcha deals for their corrupted political survival 😉😉😉😉😉😉😉Bora diye Mali marana mlechcha criminals. In our hell like country, if crime potentials would be measured by a scale from 1 (lower) o 10 (highest., Rajapakshes would be topped as “10”. 😉😉😉😉😐😐😐this is a curse

  • 15
    0

    I entirely agree with the author.
    Basil should step down.

    • 25
      0

      Sunil,
      What about other Rajapaksas and Ranil?
      Just think about Tsunami fund misuse?
      What about MiG deal?
      What about Bond Scam?
      What about other Crimes such as murders?
      Do we still know who murdered Lasantha?
      What about the murder of Bharatha Lakshman Premachandra?
      What about the murder of the Rugby leader Thajudeen?

      • 21
        1

        Ajith

        Dr. Laksiri Fernando will get very angry if and when you question his intellectual honesty and political neutrality.

        I don’t understand why he is targeting just Basil and not rest of the clan, and why now?

      • 14
        0

        Ajith,
        True!
        The entire political class stinks!
        There is no hope of accountability
        The digital generation should wake up and at some point the politicians should be held accountable.

        • 6
          0

          Sunil A,
          “The digital generation should wake up and at some point the politicians should be held accountable.”
          I have my doubts that the digital generation is any different from their parents. The parents were quite capable of consulting astrologers while working as scientists. Since their offspring attended the same schools and daham pasalas, I don’t believe their thinking processes have changed. Only an overhaul of the education system can change anything. The author himself is a good example of muddled thinking when he carefully avoids Nandasena’s utter mismanagement while askiy Basil to resign.

          • 5
            0

            OC,
            My exposure to the young (the digital generation) is limited and hence I am unable to come to any definitive conclusions. A generalisation based on limited observations is a mistake I like to avoid.
            Interactions with those who have immigrated (some stay after completing postgraduate or undergraduate studies) suggest that they are politically aware and are totally disgusted with corruption and nepotism in Sri Lanka.
            I would imagine that their views represent the current thinking of the young in Sri Lanka, particularly the educated.
            I erroneously associated military training with no nonsense management. Now I can understand why Ceylon Civil Service (CCS) officers were selected from the best graduates who also succeeded in a competitive examination. So was Ceylon Overseas Service.
            Gota obviously does not have the skills to run the country.

            • 3
              0

              Sunil
              Your comments remind us Anurudda Padeniya making comments on soil and chemicals

              • 1
                0

                Sisira and OC,
                Thank you for reminding me to stay within my professional area when making comments although my comments also noted that generalisations based on limited observations could be mistakes.
                In this instance, it is entirely possible that what I stated is based on tenuous grounds and hence invalid.
                The resignation of the Chairman of the Paddy Marketing Board (he and I were in the same year at the Faculty of Engineering), a person who returned from the USA to serve Sri Lanka, rings alarm bells that Sri Lanka is not on the right path.

                • 0
                  0

                  Sunil
                  You need not be “namedropping”

            • 3
              0

              Sunil,
              The young ones who migrate , on experiencing life abroad, eventually become quite different to what they were here. For example, I haven’t seen anyone with the hang-ups of Seetha Arambepola or Channa Jayasumana among expats. Not that they are all that young.

            • 1
              0

              SA@
              .
              This is common knowledge to anyone with a bird brain. Unfortunately srilaNKEN average is far from fact checks. The situation is worst than appeared to be, I have o hope that the nation would ever see it in upcoming years. It is more less like the existence of a Kunukanda(garbage dumps) 😥😥😥😥😥😥😥😥😥🐃🐕🐃🐃🐕

    • 15
      2

      I disagree with the author. Basil should only step down if there is a landmine for him to step on.

    • 1
      0

      Who stepped down in this govt even if high damages are deliberately made by their unethical actions ?.
      .
      Mahindabananda patta hora.
      .
      Bandula Gunawardhana bp.
      .
      Mahinda Polburuwa Rajapakse.
      .
      😡😡😡😡😡😡😡

  • 13
    1

    If we can elect a person with allegations of murder, corruptions and frauds as the President, what is wrong if he appoints his brother who has allegation of corruptions and frauds only, as a Minister

    • 10
      0

      Eratne


      “If we can elect a person with allegations of murder, corruptions and frauds as the President, what is wrong if he appoints his brother who has allegation of corruptions and frauds only, as a Minister”

      Gota and rest of his clan is well known for murders, large scale killing, corruption, ….. looting, helping murderers escape justice, ballot rigging in North East, …..
      Why don’t the politicians of all sides demand the Clan to submit their domestic and overseas bank account details, asset schedules, their proxies, their benamies, all asset transfers between 2002 and now. ……………………………….. ?

      Is it because they were elected by the (6.9 Million) smart patriotic voters?

  • 13
    0

    Resign? Mr Laksiri, you should know better to expect resignation from anybody for wrong doing in SL.

    It is ‘gather ye rose buds while ye can’ philosophy in SL. To quote Gordon Gekko, although a fictitious character, ‘greed is good’, this is the 21 st century & capitalising opportunities is the norm. The independent media will hold politicians to account in developed countries but in SL, that is not the case. Our politicians have no shame. Is Basil an economist or does he have any experience in finance (apart from laundering)? Similarly, Cabral, a slimy crony with a bad track record, continues to influence the Central Bank. The list goes on but the question is why knowing appoint such people?

  • 11
    0

    Why demand Basil step down? As things are seen and acted upon, there is NO Government (Legislature and Cabinet) excepting a “RULE” (One Man Show) by the President. How many “Task Forces” he has appointed to virtually replace the functions of the Cabinet? Now even “Basil,” says: “The President has the “Power” to appoint any number of such “Task Forces” and is “Free” to act upon recommendations submitted to him. The other day a “Veteran” Parliamentarian, Susi Premajayantha said: “There are outsiders to frame Legislations and we are here to raise our hands and approve those. We even don’t get enough time to speak on those Legislations submitted for approval”. Now take this “One Country One Law” “Task Force”. That “Task Force” is to “Draft” an “Act”. Where is the Minister of Justice and “WHY” we have such a Ministry? Yesterday the Minister of Agriculture asked for the “Permission” of the President to import some “Weedicides”. What does that indicate?

    Do you all realize how “GOTA” has established “ONE RULES THE COUNTRY” and that is “I AM”. All others are there to “Raise” the hand and say “YES, SIR”.

    • 2
      0

      LF is Rajapakshe supporter as no others. During 52 day Fake govt saga in 2018, the manner Laksiri reacted was beyond ethics and morals. For some unknown reasons, many have forgotten it today. Very same LF was in committee which dressed uneducated Rajapakshes in doctoral cloaks. These men are distrustful and not trustful so as Wimal Buruwanse, Wasidewa and the like ill-fated buggers
      .
      Regardless of the prof titles many join hand to protect garbage of Medamulana rascals. The naivity and total ignorance of innocient masses are heartlessly focused by Rajapakse for their selfish gains. People are made blind. 😥😥😥😥😥😥😥🐃🐕🐃🐕🐃🐕🐃🐕

      • 2
        0

        Disgusting and we never know what LF s motive behind this article.
        .
        😥😥😥😥🥰

        • 0
          0

          LM, as you say, although we too agree that Basil is doing little good, and ought to go, we will never know why LF wrote this article.
          .
          Nor do I know why I’m making this comment. Habit. Just because we have the ability to do something, we keep performing. Bad habits.
          .
          That’s what I’ve been saying about Sepal Amarsinghe. He’s got the habit of talking, got aimless millions in the habit of listening.
          .
          How to stop them listening is a real issue.
          .
          Don’t ever take him seriously. However, you’re performing a valuable service monitoring the dangerous things he says.
          .
          Does this make sense? Yes, let’s resolve to get all to focus on important issues only.

  • 9
    1

    Basil should step down? Pigs might fly. Have a look at this picture https://island.lk/while-the-country-is-burning/
    If scum like this are not fired what chance is there of Basil stepping down?

    • 9
      1

      Paul

      Long time no see.
      Good to hear from you.
      Thanks for the link.
      Dr. Laksiri Fernando strictly adheres to a policy of “see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil” as far as the clan is concerned.

      • 7
        1

        Hello Native, I see nothing much has changed in the resplendent isle!

  • 12
    1

    Only honorable and self respecting leaders will do the right thing and step down when they fail the country. From what we can see Sri Lankan leaders, especially the Rajapaksa’s, have no self respect, and neither are they honorable. Forget it.

  • 11
    1

    Why single out only Basil?
    Not just by Australian standards even by Srilankan standards THEN [ A few decades after Independence ] the entire Rajapakse clan should be banished from Public life in this country.
    Their corruption is well known in the Public domain. But still……………
    As for the AG; Poor guy; The Rajapakses use him like a door mat…………

  • 8
    5

    Laksiri Fernando is laundering himself publicly. When Badiyudeen brought the standardization, Lankawe Universities should have been closed and free licenses should have been issued to Western higher educational institutions to take care of the higher education of Ceylon. If that had happened would the War criminals have got DSc? Laksiri Fernando would have been removed from the University council Senate, immediately, for proposing Doctorate for War Crimes. It is not me, even he accepted his guilt. How did the father, Old King and the Son Prince, Playboy minister get admission to law college while all qualified students left the country or ploughing the fields?
    Lankawe sovereignty was pawned to China by selling the Colombo Pong Cing to China. Billions of dollars poured into it and for centuries, Lankawe will not be able to pay back the Pong Cing loans, its ownership is another issue . Even the Law- the act that is supposed to govern the Pong Cing is not finalized. In that condition, the Afghani Donkey Playboy Minister was racing on the dirt, like the family backyard’s swing. One day Wikipedia will have a section of “Abuse of power” and citing Lankawe as the prime example of it; International Law books will have this family’s crimes, like history books are having Hitler’s story.

    • 1
      2

      Mallaiyuran,
      “When Badiyudeen brought the standardization, Lankawe Universities should have been closed and free licenses should have been issued to Western higher educational institutions to take care of the higher education of Ceylon.”
      —-
      So that 2% of the population from North can occupy more than 60% of the places in Medical, Engineering and Science Faculties.

    • 0
      2

      Mallaiyuran,
      International Law books will have this family’s crimes, like history books are having Hitler’s story.”
      —-
      International writers who are much more intelligent than you think will write about Prabhakaran as they write Hitler’s or Pol Pot’s stories and Rajapakshes who liberated people in Sinhale/Sri Lanka from megalomaniac Prabhakaran as Churchill’s story who liberated Germans from Hitler.

  • 4
    0

    What happened to Basil’s magic lamp

  • 2
    0

    Basils magic lamp is given to Gnana Acca of A Pura to be recharged. How can people with such brain run a country and how the entire family took over the throne. Synthetic LOWER Baby’s holy trip to vanthanawa is already riddled with corruption and there is dispute among the yellow robed men. Nver ending joke. These guys enmasse must get out.

    • 3
      1

      A CORRECTION to “correction”
      My apologies to Laksiri
      “MPde Z and DBM were not holding any ministries before, while..”, they held posts in 1959.
      MPde Z was a Deputy Minster from 1956 -1959 and a Minister in 1959 Dahanayake caretaker cabinet.
      DBM (may) have been deputy minister of Nationalized Services from late 1858 -1959.

      https://www.wikizero.com/en/Parliamentary_Bribery_Commission

      In this link too, there is a mistake: “Monnekulame and Kariapper resigned soon….” shall read as “Monnekulame and MP de Zoysa resigned soon…”
      Kariapper was not in parliament in 1960 July to 65 but elected in 1965 but unseated in 1968 by an Act of Parliament
      https://www.lawnet.gov.lk/imposition-of-civic-disabilities-special-provisions-3/

  • 3
    0

    Looking back on the history of MR politics, who consistently on the side of criminals and seems that they run the country as the head of criminals, as well as those who engage in daylight corruption giving a cut for them.

    While the MR family is in active politics, as a ruling party or in the opposition, it’s hard to change the destructive trend to which country move, as they will be the source of destruction and corruption.

  • 5
    0

    I have not even seen the Leader of the Opposition or any MP asking the Government to produce Nirupama Rajapakse in court. Why? They all are commenting about Thirukumar Nadesan, but the money is also in the name of Nirupama. Why not issue a Red Notice to bring her back to the country? What about Avonguard Senathipathi? Why not he brought before the courts or locked up by the CID? One country one law?

    Did Sarath Weerasekera get a share of the bribe? Is that the reason why no red notice has been issued?

  • 0
    0

    The same idiots Vasudeva, Gammanpilla alias Game-Pilla, Wimal Weerawana et al who are now attacking Basil are the same idiots who raised their hands for 20A. No one should forget about it and appropriately be remembered by the voters at the next election voting time.

  • 0
    1

    Why should he step down?
    The R Family were elected in multiple elections by majority Sinhala Buddhist and Catholic Voters.
    They have a clear mandate to rule, irrespective of past performance.
    So, why are the Sinhala Biddhists and the Catholics breaking their heads?

  • 0
    0

    “Sri Lanka Should Take The Australian Example:”

    anglosaxons are not asians.If the asians outnumber one day the anglosaxons in australia then no one is going to resign over anything.maybe it is the culture,maybe it is the character,i don’t know.

  • 0
    1

    Min.ALI Sabry is not a decision maker.

    He is a professional Lawyer and one of the best among the young in the Island, no matter what my opinion of differnces may be with him.

    He prepares whatever the
    government requires his subject Ministry to and he does it not only as a Minister but as a Lawyer too and his responsibilty ends there.

    ===
    The PM has recognised the most crucial crisis using his wast experience and wisdom where others have not

    1)The Youth are preparing to leave, the biggest loss.

    2) The peoples frustration

    3) Giving due respect to the goverment allies who had worked hard achieve its victory.

    This is someone you call A wise and seasoned politician.
    =========
    Coalition governments will only collide and dismantle whenever anyone or a group becomes egostic and treats the coalition members as they and themselves as WE.

    In Coalition government there is reading only from one page and it should begin with WE and us , not they or them.

    This why Yahapalana failed .

    The members must understand the plight of the common man today and shun their political trifles.

Leave A Comment

Comments should not exceed 200 words. Embedding external links and writing in capital letters are discouraged. Commenting is automatically disabled after 5 days and approval may take up to 24 hours. Please read our Comments Policy for further details. Your email address will not be published.