26 January, 2020

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Time Wasting, Corrupting Practices & Irregular Appointments

By Rajeewa Jayaweera

Rajeewa Jayaweera

The customary 21-gun salute associated with the ceremonial inauguration of Parliament was done away on January 3, 2020, on the instructions of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa. He also arrived sans the customary ceremonial horse-mounted cavalry escorts. 

The country’s first non-political Head of State elected six weeks ago is taking simplicity to a new level. The Presidential decision to cancel the gun salute seems to have upset some, including Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka. This writer believes several of his decisions since assuming office has struck a positive chord with many in this country. The bloated Presidential Secretariat has been reduced. The use of a smaller armed escort when traveling and banning the free use of the VIP lounge at the Airport by politicians and senior bureaucrats including himself, are some of them.  

President Rajapaksa has also set another commendable trend in discarding the tie and jacket work attire seen in abundance during the last several years to a simpler and more comfortable short-sleeved bush-shirt. I state this not for misguided nationalistic reasons but for practical purposes. A tie and jacket work attire in temperatures exceeding 90 degrees F, and over 85% humidity is absolute lunacy. That said, I wish to state, a bush-shirt is not the desired attire for an official welcome ceremony during state visits, which includes the inspection of a guard of honor. Lack of decorum and etiquette when necessary reflects poorly on the whole country.

One hopes, the President’s simplicity will be emulated by new appointees to the various vacant positions. It is time to do away with long drawn ridiculous ceremonies, including religious chanting’s followed by milk rice. The new appointee’s spouse and children besides battalions of staff being present for the occasion should be done away. Other Ministers and politicians too should not waste time attending such events but engage in more productive work. In the developed and civilized west, a new Minister arrives without his kith and kin and is received by the Principal Private Secretary and Permanent Secretary. The former will acclimatize the new appointee with his office and its equipment. The latter will provide an initial briefing to be followed by a meeting with Departmental Heads of the establishment. Routine work begins immediately after that. There is no coffee and cakes to go around. Besides, the public is not inconvenienced by officials missing from their workplace attending welcome ceremonies. 

Let there be a total ban in the state sector of ceremonies of assuming duties. Let it apply to cabinet ministers, state and deputy minister, Secretaries, and Chairmen of Corporations.    

The Head of State has made surprise visits to the RMV’s office in Werehara and the National Hospital recently. It no doubt must be sending shivers down the spines of many. Notwithstanding his busy schedule, it would be desirable if he was to make one or two surprise visits to state institutions each month. It is bound to improve productivity and discourage staff from reporting late for work or going about their private business after marking attendance.  

It is necessary to bring back the work culture and ethics once in practice in Ministries under Prime Minister Ranasinghe Premadasa in the 1977/89 period. Upon entering his ministries, visitors would be politely received by uniformed Public Relations staff. Upon ascertaining the purpose of the visit, visitors would be directed to the relevant section. KKSs were attired in uniforms worn as they should. Front line staff, too, were smartly attired and discharged their duties speedily and efficiently. Necessary files appeared when required without bribes.

This writer visited the Colombo Municipal Council (CMC) on December 6, 2019, to pay Rates for 2020. Having another appointment at 9.45 am, I arrived early at 8.45 am. I stood in the queue in one of the many Payment Counters. The cashiers due at 9 am did not arrive till 9.40 am and told the angry Ratepayers, they had been “at a meeting.” I missed my 9.45 appointment. Having settled Rates for 2020 by cheque, I was informed a formal receipt would be sent by mail within two weeks once the cheque was realized. After waiting for a month, I visited the CMC on January 7, 2020, around 9.15 am. The third person I enquired directed me to a female staff seated behind the Payment Counters. She said she had no computer and directed me to the Central Finance Dept. They would verify cheque realization and endorse the temporary acknowledgment, after which she would check if the Receipt had been issued.

Having located the relevant department with some difficulty, I found the entire section with over a dozen work stations empty. I was asked to wait as they were “at a meeting.” I returned to the original location and marched into an office occupied by an elderly lady. I explained my predicament. Before she could tell me she “had no computer,” I fired a broadside. I stated, “Janadhipathtuma RMV giya wage methentath enne one mewa hadenna.” (the President must visit this location similar to his visit to RMV to put this place right). She then escorted me to another officer with a computer seated directly opposite the first staffer. She ascertained if my cheque had been realized and directed the original staffer to issue my Receipt. She was requested to give a written directive.  The Receipt was found in an old filing cabinet, which the staffer could not open and needed a male staffer to pull open. I walked out with my Receipt shortly after 10 am, wondering how long a person not gifted with a sharp tongue would have spent that day. 

There are thousands of members of the public inconvenienced in this manner. This ‘meeting’ culture during public business hours must stop. Such meetings must be held between 3 pm and 4.30 pm after the end of public hours. Over to you, Mr. President.    

The country is currently up in arms over contents in several voice clips. They contain recorded telephone conversations between Actor / Politician Ranjan Ramanayake and former CID chief, several judges, and a female MP once involved in a kidnapping case. Corruption in this country is endemic. A corruption-free Presidency, Legislature, and Judiciary are but a myth.  

There is much hope and expectations, the President, newly minted on November 18, 2019, would be different. Only time will tell.

Meanwhile, an interesting notice from the Parliament High Posts Committee appeared in the media a couple of days ago. A retired lady Supreme Court Judge once overlooked for the post of Chief Justice during the Yahapalana regime, has been nominated as the next Ambassador to France. Some time ago, she had granted Gotabhaya Rajapaksa an interim order preventing his arrest in connection with several high-profile cases. She had subsequently recused herself from hearing his petition. 

It sets a bad precedent. To the best of this writer’s knowledge, only two Supreme Court Judges have been appointed as envoys in the past. They are retired Justice Dr. HW Thambiah (a Sirimavo Bandaranaike appointee) in 1975 to Canada and Justice Nihal Jayasinghe (a Rohitha Bogallagama appointee) in 2008 to the UK.  

Retiring Chief Justices and Supreme Court judges must permanently be left alone once they retire at 65 years of age.

Initially, the unhealthy practice of appointing retiring public servants after holding sensitive positions commenced with Election Commissioners. Felix Dias Abeysinghe was appointed High Commissioner to Australia in 1984. One or two other Election Commissioners followed. 

It was followed by the appointment of retiring Forces Commanders and Inspector Generals of Police.

Such trends will invariably encourage officials, including judges, to execute their duties in a manner biased to the powers that be, in anticipation of post-retirement ambassadorial appointments. 

That is when the rot sets in.

Another name in the High Posts Committee list of proposed envoys is that of a Los Angeles County Inspector (Linkedin) as Ambassador to the UAE. He was a former Quantity Surveyor in Oman of Shanfari fame and a Pre-School Manager in Los Angeles.   

Has meritocracy begun to lose its shine?

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Latest comments

  • 8
    3

    “President Rajapaksa has also set another commendable trend in discarding the tie and jacket work attire seen in abundance during the last several years to a simpler and more comfortable short-sleeved bush-shirt. “

    Perhaps another President Rodrigo Duterte is in the making with proven track records in forced disappearances.

    Good luck to him and the 52.25 % voters who voted to elect a Sinhala/Buddhist president with all the necessary qualifications.

    How about clown suits for president?

    • 9
      2

      NV – Thanks to Ranilpaksha, Gotler escaped wearing “prison suits”.

    • 2
      4

      Native Vedda,
      Why don’t you suggest your own traditional costume : the birthday suit covered with lemon grass?
      Let the president be another Duterte when he deals with drug traffickers.
      Let him be a Nelson Madela in front of the West.
      Let him be an Obama when he plans Sri Lanka for the future.
      And let him be himself when it comes to executive decision making!
      In the meantime you can be yourself to continue your negative remarks unless you have given a call to Ranjan R during the last few years.

    • 1
      5

      The Clown Suit would best suit you Native due to the role you play in the CT forum. Apply to GR’s four-man committee. They might seriously consider you for the post of Court Jester!!!

    • 0
      2

      Dear Native,

      I don’t think those 7 Million need your Good Luck wishes although I appreciate your kindness.

      Your Yahapalana mates in the previous Govt have already brought them Good Luck in Bucket Loads thanks to your Buddy who is as good or better than you, when it comes to bashing Buddhist Monks and Sinhala Buddhists,
      He has recorded all the Activities of Dr Rani’s Yahapalana Justice and Good Governance for posterity.

      It is not even two months since Nandasena got elected .
      He has done enough good already without even spending one cent from our Tax Payers Kitty.
      What a contrast from the Yahapalana Mob who splashed out LKR 34 Million each to their mates in Kotte, in the first 100 days of their rule , courtesy of our poor Maids in the Middle East.

      Just putting that Rocket up the asses of Motor registration Officials in Narahenpita alone is some thing even your Elite mates in Colombo will appreciate and thankful .
      That is if they are nice people like you.

      Talking about them , Ranajan Aiyyaa who always call their Girls, Babe has also revolutionized their 50 year old DS party’s protocols.

      There were Two Media Briefings from the UNP at the same time .
      One in Srikotha and One in Slave Islands.

      While the UNP Muslim heavy Abdul was defending the Gonja Tapes and trying to rubbish Nandasean’s achievements. the new SB Faction leaders were promising High Positions to Champaka Rananawa in their Faction.

      Wonder what Keselwatta Kid is going to offer Ranjan Ramanayaka and Dr Rajitha?..
      -.
      Will Abdul give Ranjan a Gig in their Faction, alongside Rajitha Junior…

    • 0
      0

      This is the president going to change the thinking of Sri Lankan society. He needs team dedicated and trustworthy as well as can understand his vision with proval managerial capabilities. Having a higher degree does not means someone understood the vision of this president. Instead of bashing him, everyone should understand what is trying to do and be open to change. Focus on positives rather than spreading negativity!

  • 1
    4

    Native Vedda,
    Why don’t you suggest your own traditional costume : the birthday suit covered with lemon grass?
    Let the president be another Duterte when he deals with drug traffickers.
    Let him be a Nelson Madela in front of the West.
    Let him be an Obama when he plans Sri Lanka for the future.
    And let him be himself when it comes to executive decision making!
    In the meantime you can be yourself to continue your negative remarks unless you have given a call to Ranjan R during the last few years.

    • 1
      0

      Tamil lover

      Oh please!!

      In a few strokes you have insulted not only Nelson, Barak …. and yourself too.

  • 7
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    Dear Rajeewa, your statement that justice Nihal Jayasinghe was appointed High Commissioner to UK by Rohiitha Bogollagama is wrong and is an attempt to cover up the truth. Did you ever care to think whether a foreign minister could make appointments to head foreign missions without the consent of President. You say correctly that Justice HW Thambiah was appointed by the head of government, but in the latter case that it was made by the foreign minister. In the 70s, there was a murder charge against Mahinda Rajapakse in Tangalla courts. At that time the judge who heard this case was Nihal Jayasinghe, who helped Mahinda to escape, despite enough evidence to convict him. When Mahinda became President he wanted to pay back the debt and asked Justice Nihal Jayasinghe what he wants. First request was to be appointed as Chief justice, but since Justice Sarath Silva was already in the post, Mahinda said he cannot remove him, and instead offered the post of High Commissioner to UK, which Justice Nihal Jayasinghe accepted.

  • 0
    8

    In the developed and civilized west, a new Minister arrives without his kith and kin and is received by the Principal Private Secretary and Permanent Secretary.

    Mr. Jayaweera believes that the west is developed and civilized. Does that mean whole Sri Lanks is not developed and uncivilized or the parliamentarians are not developed and uncivilized ?

    • 6
      1

      JD. Sri LaNKA is uncivilizes lives in cave age worshipping sex demons, the safron wearing thugs.No policman will restrain them See Ampitiya thug in action. For safety’s sake wear a metal girdle when you visit the safron clad next time.

    • 2
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      JD
      *
      I believe you are an intelligent man. Do not take the contents out of context.
      *
      In the west, newly appointed Ministers and Officials do not turn up with half their brood in tow. Neither does half the staff in the relevant Ministry/Dept. etc turn up to welcome the new appointee. They do not observe religious rites on such occasions. They do not pass around cakes and other sweets. The State does not pay for such ridiculous excesses.
      *
      That is to be developed and civilized in the context referred to.

  • 3
    0

    Every 8-10 years the world changers dramatically. Especially in technology. The people in power in civil society viz politicans, policy makers and burucreats are very much a producds of The 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s. When competition both individual and economic was rudimentary. This group has Little concept of collectivist action. Always stuck in caste, race and religion. We, the generation that grew up in 1990’s will fix this mess. Unfortunately we have wait for these yobs to either die or retire.

  • 4
    0

    Aha, young Rajeewa is playing a game of tongue in cheek “win and place” of stroking the ego of Gota and making him out to be a Premadasa efficiency clone, while also seeming to exercise bravado by commenting on the lunacy of appointing ex-supreme jesters (did she not function like one rather than as a respected judge) like Eva W as an ambassador.

    He knows bloody well that the Rajapakses will do as the Rajapakses choose and Sri Lanka be damned.

    When will the madness of mismanagement and looting stop?

  • 3
    0

    Mr.Jayaweera
    you may perhaps wish to write a sequel after noting the appointments since made at Civil Aviation Authority
    as well !!!

  • 5
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    Shevan and JC, this is typical Rajeewa,s way of spin. The only reason I glanced because of the title, thinking this guy has had a brain transplant. Alas, not at all. until the last para it is all about boosting GR,s ego and then a few lines related to the actual title. In my opinion , that too he had mentioned only because of personal disappointment. Like many other journos , this fraud has been singing hosannas for the Rajapaksa family expecting favors in return. Except for few, most of the appointments made up to now are political favors. Typical Rajapksa style( I call it SARC style of politics, because it is not commonly seen outside of SARC countries) is to promise or say BIG things but end up deceiving and doing the worse . This time around (last time they did not even bother to hide) they have added few more to their play book. Today the news paper says Gotha is travelling to Singapore at his own expense which is enough for the public to remember and keep repeating. The same guy brought a puppy in a special flight few years ago. But the Lankans will justify by saying it was years ago but he is now a changed man. Gotha came with a bang saying there will be a selection board who will decide appointments and our public went insane. Obviously the board it self is just a rubber stamp to continue nepotism.

  • 6
    0

    In a country like Sorry Lanka, not having appointment ceremonies and pictures of head will have loads of sound byte and leaves a lasting impression in public mind. Dose not cost a penny to ruling family. I remember well, MS with no such past records like Rajapaksas ,got elected claiming him self ,as a honest, humble, village guy , in the first few weeks in power, walked to Viharamahadevi Park for a morning exercise and public , including my 90 year old mom was in awe. Later the same guy turned out to be an arrogant, pathological liar, constitutional abuser , when not involved in such nefarious activities flew to various countries almost on a weekly basis and still insisting he is innocent as a child and wanting to come back to power. The guy who told public he will be returning home to take up on farming,after retirement, today claims him self “a political animal”, to press.(see interview) , These are the faces of our Lankan politicians who are propped up, by a hypocritical public.

  • 0
    0

    obama director of abc, won the election due to google. google got their president. privacy went out of the window.

  • 4
    0

    Mr. Jayaweera: These types of appointments will continue whatever the Government comes to power. But as a Journalist you have either “Forgotten” or completely “Overlooked” the appointment of the “Personal Assistant” to the Attorney General, (while holding the same position) as an “Additional Secretary ” to the President. Do you NOT see any “Danger” in the offing ? These are the matters that must receive the close scrutiny of the Journalists and other Social Groups. Do you also KNOW the composition of that “Special Committee” that has been appointed by the President to scrutinize and assess the “Competence” and “Suitability” of the candidates to “High Positions” in Govt. Institutions? Just to make you “Inquisitive”, here are two names: Mr. Lalith Weeratunga and Mr. Nalaka Godahewa. One has been a “CONVICT” by courts, while the other is “CHARGED” and a case is pending. The other two remaining, please make a “SEARCH” and see for yourself. These are more important matters to discuss, because that is the “FOUNDATION” that has been laid to move towards all manner of corruptions and nepotism.

  • 3
    0

    We need media and the vocal public to praise the good moves/actions/steps taken by our PRESIDENT and to point out when he does act wrongfully.
    That’s should NOT lead to taking actions to attack those who do so.
    That will take us to a Pariahs STATE

  • 4
    0

    Rajeeva,
    Yes Gota and Mahinda is doing very well to convince the people to get two third majority. Mahinda Family was ruling this country for a decade from 2005. Why couldn’t they do all this type of drama during that period? It is Mahinda who created cut out culture, giving ministerial posts to all MPs supplying abundance of vehicles, foreign trips, 15% commission for employing a poor Srilankan, and almost all the government servants enjoying bribe culture. Even in 2018, Mahinda gave bribe to buy Viyalenthiran MP.
    Gotabaya Rajapaksa was nominated by Rajapakse, not elected by Sinhala people. They need the two third majority in order to change the constitution to become a powerful Rajapakse family dictatorship. Mahinda wants to give this land to his son after him. Gota has already appointed Namal’s in laws as directors. They are planning for completely destroy this country.

  • 0
    1

    Rajeewa Jayaweera: I understand you complaint about the Colombo Municipality and it’s incompetency. Once new mayoress came her priorities were renovating her residence to suit the modern amenities and give some contracts to companies to which her husband and her had affiliation. But as soon as new President came within days Colombo became a clean some what attractive place. Rosi Senanayake complained that she could clean Colombo or can not t remove bug file of garbage in Meethotamulla.
    Some how my question, why do not the govt bring legislation to fire the such Mayors or allow citizens to apply for Recall, then the govt fire the Mayor.

  • 3
    0

    Rajeeva Jayaweera
    You hit the nail on the head when you said: “corruption in this country is endemic.” However, corruption cannot be eliminated by visiting corruption-ridden Department of Motor Vehicles, Hospitals etc. There are hundreds of Ministries, Departments, Corporations and Boards etc across the country. President Gotabaya cannot make surprise visits in person to all of them or even a fraction of them unless he works 24/7 around the clock.
    What he should know is the art of Management popularly defined as getting your work done by others. President Gotabaya should hold Ministry Secretaries, Departmental Heads, and Corporations Chairmen responsible for the efficient and proper functioning of these institutions.
    In Western countries, Ministers are not visible. They are hardly seen in public. Or waste time in various state functions like opening schools, bridges, commissioning a newly built railway station or attending sports events. They simply don’t fritter their valuable time on these ‘tamashas’.
    But the big question is how can President Rajapaksa fight corruption when he himself is ‘corrupt’?
    I have cited the case of Gotabaya Rajapaksa owing a sum of Rs.47.9 million to Sri Lanka Land Reclamation and Development Corporation (SLRDC) for the construction of the ‘D A Rajapaksa Mausoleum and Museum at Medamulana. This is a glaring case of using/misusing public resources for private purposes. Worse the project was approved by none other than Gotabaya Rajapaksa in his capacity as the Secretary of the Ministry of Urban Development. The original estimate was Rs. 33.9 million but during construction the cost ballooned to Rs.81.2 million. Only Rs.33.9 settled so far leaving a balance of Rs. 47.9 million.
    I am sure the old man must be turning in his grave seeing his sons constructing a Mausoleum and Museum at taxpayer’s expense! Is this not a disgrace for the Rajapaksa family?

  • 2
    0

    Both Mahinda Rajapaksa and Gotabaya Rajapaksa gifted a golden statue of Buddha to the Sandahiru Maha Saya in the presence of Maha Sanga in Anuradhapura. The statue was made out 8 kilos of confiscated gold by the Customs and handed over to the Rajapaksas.

    While the Rajapaksas have got away with the “theft” poor Director General of Sri Lanka Customs Jagath P. Wijeweera and former Customs Additional Director General Tharaka Seneviratne were arrested by the FCID and charged in courts by the previous government. It is very very likely the present government will withdraw the case.

    This story reminds me of a proverb in Tamil which says “Picking a coconut from the street and dashing it before God Pillayar!”

    During the 2015 Sri Lanka presidential elections, large payments from the Chinese port construction fund flowed directly to campaign aides and activities for Mahinda Rajapaksa. This is the same company that built white elephants in Hambantota, including the Harbour. The payments were confirmed by documents and cash checks detailed in a government investigation. The New York Times reported that with 10 days to go before polls opened, around $3.7 million was distributed in cheques: $678,000 to print campaign T-shirts and other promotional material and $297,000 to buy supporters gifts, including women’s saris.

    The article claims that another $38,000 was paid to a popular Buddhist monk who was supporting Rajapaksa’s electoral bid, while two cheques totalling $1.7 million were delivered by volunteers to Temple Trees, the official residence of then-President Rajapaksa. The total disbursement was $7.6 million (Rs.1368 million). Such massive and shameful corruptions can be multiplied many times!

  • 0
    0

    Since Rajeeva has narrated his ordeal with the Colombo Municipal Council in which I once worked, I am tempted to disclose how the Foreign Pensions Unit of the Department of Pensions, Maligawatta is giving me the run around for the last 9 years!

    The FPU is inventing one excuse after another to deny my 6 digit arrears of pension.
    They stopped my monthly pension for 14 months from 2009 January up-to 2010 April to recalculate my arrears! However, the arrears of pension have not been paid despite prolonged correspondence, telephone calls etc. for almost a decade!

    In May last year, the FPU wanted me to swear an affidavit to the effect that I was not paid the arrears, and in case it is found that I have been paid I should refund the amount!

    This requirement duly complied and an affidavit attested by a Barrister, Solicitor and Notary Public was forwarded to the FPU. This was in May 2018.

    Now the FPU wants me to submit copies of bank statements for the period (they don’t tell me what period) covering my pension arrears. Prior to June 2018, I was receiving my pension to the credit of my Online Chequing A/c in Toronto via the Toronto Consular Generals Office. From July 2018 my monthly pension is credited to my Online Savings A/c with BOC Metropolitan Branch. There are stringent rules for withdrawals from this A/c.

    Since it is a Chequing A/c the bank in Toronto does not issue paper statements. Added is the factor they don’t keep records for more than 90 days!

    I explained to this to the FPU bureaucrats with no avail. They are observing stony silence. Like Shylock in the play Merchant of Venice, they are insisting their pound of flesh.

    Over to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa!

  • 4
    0

    Hello Gotha Lover

    Behind the Gloss put on by theKing Of the Jungl he has turned out to be a “Prisinor Of Zenda” unbale to do anythnig except arrest those who defy him. Internationally he is a Lame Duck President who cant even ” Quack”. Look at the evidence

    1) Soon afer victory summoned to Delhi
    2) On return cancelled all the major Projects called “Austerirty “
    3) Planned to go to Beiging with a “Pichai Pathiram” and on the instructions of India it was cancelled.
    4) Foreign Minister was summoned to Delhi to be told what to bring back from China.
    5) On return of the Foreign Minister the Chinese Foreign Minister arrives for Bilateral Talks.

    5 Year ” Vanavasm ” has begun still defiant at Home and rounding up opponents

  • 1
    0

    Once again the incredible naivete of the people of Sri Lanka is on full display! I would have expected better from an intelligent man like Rajeewa.
    *
    You’ve already seen what a Rajapakse government looks like – yet you expect things to somehow be different this time! Why?
    *
    Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result is Einstein’s definition of Insanity!
    *
    You are going to end up as Gardeners/Drivers/Tea Boys dressed in rags while your Politicians, their family, their cronies and their Criminal Associates live the life of luxury with your money that they stole from you!
    *
    All that will be left are the ashes of a once beautiful land.
    *
    Your President will be living in the US (you don’t really believe he gave up his US citizenship do you?)
    *
    79 IQ Sri Lankans have the government they voted for and deserve. Enjoy!

  • 0
    0

    After a long pause I returned to see Thangas comments which will make any writer , awkward and embarrassed , but not Rajeewa. This fraud will soon come up with another spin with new theme and made up facts.

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