By H. L. D. Mahindapala –
Sri Lankans are now living in the very early days of the promised “ideal country” which, according to the Manifesto of Maithripala Sirisena – Ranil Wickremesinghe – Champika Ranawaka government, will be created within six years.
The attention of the readers is drawn to the following two edited news items to indicate the early trends of this path-breaking political journey. Please note the date “January 29” which is most relevant to both news items.
News Item 1: The Daily Mirror (January 13, 2015) : “The Mini-Budget of the new Government’s 100-day programme will be presented in Parliament on January 29 with a relief package for the people as promised in the run-up to the presidential election, Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake said today.
“After assuming duties at his office at the Government Treasury complex yesterday, the minister said the mini budget would also contain proposals to reduce prices on 10 essential commodities including fuel.
“The people gave a mandate to this government to bring about a palpable change in the system of governance and for a stable economic which was drifting aimlessly. ….
The minister said the Maithripala administration was not looking at minimising corruption but at eliminating it fully.
“Therefore, acts such bribery, obtaining huge commissions between 20% and 50% and other forms of corruption will not be tolerated under any circumstance. Corrupt officials will be severely dealt with irrespective of their political affiliation and status. Officials need not be subservient to anyone under this administration,” he said.
“We criticised the Rajapaksa regime while in the opposition and now it is our turn to practice what we preached,” the minister said.
News Item 2: Ceylon Today (November 14, 2014): “It was alleged in the Colombo High Court yesterday (13) that United National Party (UNP) MP Ravi Karunanayake had actively facilitated the transfer of Rs 390 million to Sri Lanka,…
by infamous Sri Lankan American and former hedge fund manager and billionaire, Raj Rajaratnam. It was alleged that Karunanayake was directly involved in this fraud and the exchange controller had questioned him on three occasions about it.
The former Additional Exchange Controller revealed that three million US dollars were received by a local private bank and Ravi Karunanayake intervened to collect the funds.
This came to light during cross examination of the former Central Bank Additional Exchange Controller, Kumara Perera, by Senior State Counsel Dileepa Peiris.
The case was taken up before the Colombo High Court Judge Devika Livera De Tennekoon.
The case was postponed until 29 January 2015, on which date the accused were ordered to be present in Court.
As stated earlier, what is important is the date, January 29, 2015. Obviously, the Finance Minister, Karunanayake, can’t be present in Parliament to present his mini-budget on January 29 and simultaneously be at the High Court to face the charges against him.
The fixing of one date for two events raises a few questions:
Q 1: Why was January 29 fixed as the date to present the mini-budget in Parliament when Karunanayake knew that he was due to appear in Court to face charges on that very day?
Q2: What is so special about January 29? Why not January 28? Or 30?
Q 3: Is this a ruse to get a postponement of the trial?
Q4: Is the inevitable postponement a sign of things to come?
Q5: Is this a crafty tactic to interfere with the course of justice?
Q6: Will there be attempts to cover-up the case?
Q7: As some of the key departments handling this case (example: Exchange Control) come under the Finance Ministry will there be pressure brought to manipulate/cook the evidence in courts? Remember, some of the files related to the administration of the CWE under Karunanayake went up in smoke?
Q8: Is this going to be the first of many cases that are likely to recur in due course to undermine the independence of the judiciary?
Q9: More importantly, why was Karunanayake facing serious financial irregularities in the High Court appointed as Finance Minister of the promised “ideal country” of My-3-pala-naya?
Q10: In appointing Karunanayake as Finance Minister – the epicenter of corruption and mismanagement – was due consideration given to his known record in the private and public sectors?
Q11: As one of the Vice-Presidents of IDU can Ranil Wickremesinghe justify his nomination of Karunanayake to be the finance minister by giving another example of an accused facing serious financial irregularities in courts appointed as finance minister?
Q12: Last but not the least, why did President Maithripala Sirisena appoint Karunanayake as his finance minister when it was public knowledge that he was facing charges in courts? Is this a good start for his six-year journey to build the “ideal country”?