“The money spent for Sri Lankan airlines is very large. If we are looking at it comparatively, it will come to more than the salaries of three Supreme Court Judges for an entire year.” a judge told Colombo Telegraph.
The first government-commissioned inquiry into the previous government’s corruption and malpractices, the Weliamuna inquiry has cost taxpayers Rs 3.5 million.
“What is the exact use for which this amount of money was spent? It is just a report as a propaganda exercise. From what I can see after reading this so called committee report or Weliamuna report, it merely repeats a lot of what had already been said. Nothing flows in law from it. To do anything from the legal viewpoint which will pass the test of the law, criminal investigations need to done all over again, using state funds again. The government must stop engaging in these trivial and political exercises. This is quite apart from Weliamuna or whoever who had agreed to engage in these inquiries. This sum of money is very large. If we are looking at it comparatively, it will come to more than the combined salaries of three Supreme Court judges for an entire year. What is the character of the work done by them and what is the kind of work done here? Also I do not agree about this talk that, as a professional, it is justified that he is paid such a big sum of money. He is supposed to be a human rights lawyer, right? Then he must be known as just another lawyer doing work for big bucks, like these commercial lawyers” said the Judge, who requested anonymity.
The judge also said “a SC judge’s monthly salary is Rs. 130,000 and this so called investigation costs 3 SC judges annual salaries.”
As reported, Weliamuna speaking to Colombo Telegraph confirmed that he along with his team comprising three other members U.H. Palihakkara, B.A.W. Abeywardane and M.K. Bandara were paid Rs 3.5 million. At that time Colombo Telegraph did request for a breakdown from the chairman of Transparency International Sri Lanka, Weliamuna but he was not in a position to do so. A subsequent email was sent to him seeking this information. Weliamuna has not responded to that question as yet. We asked Weliamuna once again and requested him to furnish at least the amount he did receive as his fee but he is yet to respond to that question as well.
A rural human rights activist, Gunasena Lukuge said; “As a leftist activist who has been voluntarily participating in street protests against the Rajapaksa government to bring that corruption to an end, I am shocked at this disclosure. It was only through Colombo Telegraph that I realized that J.C. Weliamuna and the others with him had been paid such a sum of money. Why is CT being blamed for this. It is a matter of public interest as public funds are spent. Who are these others? He should give the breakdown as he is the Chairman of Transparency International Sri Lanka. If they preach transparency, then, they must also practice it. Any simple person should understand that. The government must also, reveal all these details. They cannot simply talk of the corruption of the previous government and leave it that. It is this lack of responsibility that we saw in the Central Bank bond issue also. If this government is fighting corruption as they say, they must be transparent about the way they do it. Otherwise, we do not believe them.”
“I’ve read Chandra Jayaratne‘s and Professor Rohan Samarajiva‘s responses to this Weliamuna controversy. Both Jayaratne and Samarajiva are corporate types who would probably be appalled at doing anything for free! But civil society does not – or SHOULD NOT – operate like that. I’m sorry but I feel very strongly about this.” Lokuge further said.
When contacted the secretary to the ministry of Aviation L. P. Jayampathy said he was not working their now, and we should contact the new secretary Swaranapala. Colombo Telegraph has been unable to reach the new secretary for a comment.
Meanwhile yesterday, the Asian Human Right Commission said; “People have a right to expect that the government will be accountable and transparent and that such committees and commissions will act within a framework of law. All expenditures into such activities should be made available to the people through lawful channels. It is the right of the citizens as well as the media to expect such transparency. Dealing with corruption in the Sri Lankan context is a colossal task. Such task also requires to be carried out with absolute transparency.”