30 November, 2020

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The Good, The Bad & Ugly

By Malinda Seneviratne

Malinda Seneviratne

Malinda Seneviratne

Financial irregularity was one of the many charges leveled at the Mahinda Rajapaksa regime. The ‘rot’ so to speak began at the top, according to critics. It was and still is argued that this state of affairs is a direct or indirect product of a system of governance marked by centralization of power following the dictum ‘power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely’.

Maithripala Sirisena’s campaign theme, naturally, was good governance. Promises were made to correct institutional flaws, bring to book miscreants and ensure things like transparency and accountability. Professionalism would replace political patronage, the people were told.

Today, with President Sirisena in effect having transferred his mandate to Ranil Wickremesinghe and conceded (in effect) executive powers to a party with minority representation in Parliament, the political equation is marked by instability. The Sri Lanka Freedom Party has more MPs than the United National Party. The reform project is at odds with the prerogatives of political expedience with the two major parties engaged in intense brinkmanship.

It is in this context that stability, professionalism and squeaky clean operations at the high temples of financial management are imperative. Politicians will quibble; that’s a given. The economy must be on a strong footing with robust rules and regulations to eliminate irregularities of the kind the current dispensation accused its predecessors of indulging and indulging in.

It was hoped that the ‘bad’ were not only swept out, the ‘good’ replaced them. Today, there are questions about ‘the good’.

The Governor of the Central Bank Arjuna Mahendran made a promise. He said that the Government would offer a detailed response to allegations that a firm connected to him through his son-in-law Arjun Aloysius may have used ‘advanced knowledge’ to profit from the bond issue. The Government, however, did not respond.

The Deputy Minister of Policy Planning and Economic Development offered an elaborate ‘explanation’ drawing from theories regarding interest rates, but studiously avoided the issue of insider trading, an issue which his party had routinely charged the previous government of encouraging.

The issue here is that controversial deals were made over the past week by Perpetual Treasuries, a firm connected Aloysius. Perpetual Treasuries is a fully owned subsidiary of Perpetual Asset Management whose parent company is Perpetual Capital Pvt Ltd, a family run company with Arjun Aloysius functioning as its Chief Executive Office/Director.

Mahendran claimed that Aloysius had resigned from Perpetual before he, Mahendran, took up the post. But why speak of resignation and appointment in the same breath? After all, Perpetual is a legal entity and there’s no legal requirement for Aloysius to give up a lucrative business just because a relative got a job, surely?

Mahendran, had information which in the hands of a ‘dealer’ would be extremely valuable and moreover ‘convertible’ into billions of rupees. That conversion was made. Among the beneficiaries was a company that stands accused of involvement in controversial stock market deals with the Employees Provident Fund (EPF) during the previous regime, deals which were heavily criticized by several individuals who are now ministers and deputy ministers.

The question that arises then is not whether Aloysius should have resigned but whether Mahendran should have been appointed in the first place. The Government ought to have known that appointing as Governor the father-in-law of a man involved in what was deemed ‘irregular’ was bound to stir controversy. Well, it has certainly hit the fan, as they say.

The new Government doesn’t have it easy what with deadlines set and lots of things on its to-do list yet to be done. It cannot afford this kind of distraction. It can score in terms of commitment if swift action is taken in this matter.

Harsha De Silva has promised an investigation. This is a welcome move. Mahendran can help in giving credence to such an investigation by stepping down.

That will not only clear all doubt about the Government’s good intentions, it will considerably boost the UNP’s stocks among the voters. Ranil Wickremesinghe doesn’t hold all the political aces, but that does not stop him from sorting this issue. In fact it might get him the extra trumps he desperately needs at this point.

As things stand, inaction, pooh-poohing and/or artfully dodging the issue will only give credence to the view that wrongdoing continues to thrive even after the ‘wrongdoers’ were ‘sent home’.

*Malinda Seneviratne is the Chief Editor of ‘The Nation’ and his articles can be found at www.malindawords.blogspot.com

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Latest comments

  • 6
    5

    The Good, Bad & Ugly – Did you have the ‘kurakkan satakayas’ in mind when you wrote this ?

    Where was your conscience in the last ten years or when you accepted free laptops ?

  • 6
    0

    There was news that the UNP government had already appointed an independent person to inquire into the whole transaction and report.
    RW must act on the findings promptly as possible (no explanations in case of delay),
    Remove anyone in fault even including CB governor. He has to act firmly and report same in parliament to clear minds of everyone and show he is strictly following good governance.

    There are accusations that RW is wavering on many other cases and he must disprove same.

  • 3
    4

    Malinda Seneviratne, aka Mahnida Rajapaksa Shill and White-Waher,

    RE:The Good, The Bad & Ugly

    I like the Title.

    What about the title, Crooks, Robbers, and Criminals, CRCs, to describe your pay-masters?

    “It was hoped that the ‘bad’ were not only swept out, the ‘good’ replaced them. Today, there are questions about ‘the good’.”

    “Financial irregularity was one of the many charges leveled at the Mahinda Rajapaksa regime. The ‘rot’ so to speak began at the top, according to critics. It was and still is argued that this state of affairs is a direct or indirect product of a system of governance marked by centralization of power following the dictum ‘power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely’”

    Looks like free laptops and other perks go a long way!

    Still, many ugly criminals, like Coup leaders Medamulana Mahinda Rajapaksa anf his criminal brother Gatabaya Rajapaksa are at large. Why? What about all the other ugly crooks?

  • 4
    1

    Malinda – absolutely correct.

    Mahendran should resign. This is not the time for the PM and the Government to be clearing up such messes. Is this a record for the speed in which such an irregularity was done?

  • 3
    2

    Malinda,

    I have no problems when you highlight conflict of interest or financial wrongdoing. However, I do have a problem with your selective journalism, i.e. how you selectively highlight potential wrongdoing of the current regime and said little or nothing when the country was plundered by the previous regime. In fact, didn’t the previous regime give you a free laptop and did you ever consider how it could compromise you?

    It’s a shame we have the likes of you masquerading as independent journalists when the country needs such independence at this critical juncture.

  • 0
    0

    India’s Modi made a big fudd saying he would solve the corruption problem in India. Some cases have even Video eveidence. Yety, Only Jayalalitha was convicted.

    It will be the same thing in Sri lanka.

    Since the Sri Oliver Gunathilak’s time, Sri lankan politics made rich families and rich extended families out of every politician. there is no politician in Sri lanka who did not steal from the public. They will never be prosecuted or there won’t be attempts to get back what they stole.

    If they want to do that, govt has to bring legislation to open u[p political donation. govt has to bring legislation to control gift taking of politicians from any source. govt has to bring laws to stop politicians sending govt properties to the politicians home or their construction sites setc.,

    Similarly, there should be strict regulation to prohibit any govt servant engaging in politics or taking decisions with political biases. See the Sri lankan police, for decades, top bureaucrats of the Police take politically biased decisions. So, the govt is losing lot of money correcting the error did by the previous govt. that is also corruption. Even this govt do that.

  • 1
    0

    Why did the appointed PM who didn’t win an election, put his own close relative to replace Gota on the Lanka Hospitals(previously Apollo) board ? That cousin of his stopped practicing medicine long ago. Why is the media not picking up on the very close blood relation being appointed like Ruwan W as a State Minister too? all on family blood lines no?

  • 0
    0

    Good point ‘Point of View’.

    When Malinda says, ‘Good, Bad and the Ugly’ what comes to my mind is the ‘Good’ Money bought with MR’s unlimited supply of ‘Bad’ money to pay his ‘Ugly’ foreign donors and supporters including jounalists.

    MR believed that anything can be bought with money including power, popularity, stability, good control and illusory development not to mention the honour and integrity of the people.

    The pity is that the ‘proletariat’ of this unfortunate land have to go on paying their ‘good’ money for his ‘bad’ money for generations to come.

  • 2
    0

    Arjuna Mahendran and his son-in-law are probably bad and ugly, and should be prosecuted and punished pronto if they are found guilty after a proper inquiry conducted by independent and respectable adjudicators.

    These guys are very clever operators and may have covered their tracks in such a way as to escape being brought to book. Hence we need savvy financial as well as criminal investigators to determine the “behind the screen” manoeuvres which led to this dastardly case of unconscionable enrichment.

    As for Malinda, he is really bad and ugly! Where was his conscience when the previous first Family and cohorts were manipulating the Money and Stock markets with Cabraal’s connivance and support? Was Malinda’s throat choked with one of those cheap pearls (like laptops) thrown at political swine when all that blatant abuse was talking place?

    Malinda, even if you didn’t write about this, the honest people in this country will never allow theft and corruption to thrive any more. We don’t need you to suck up to the honest people of this country.

    Somebody, please sack this maverick journalist who is pretending to have had a sudden epiphany and now protesting in righteous indignation!

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