While Sri Lankans were focusing on floods and relief efforts, the Yahapalanaya Government, appeared to have turned the disaster into an opportune moment for them, by appointing controversial ex-Director General of the Telecommunication Regulatory Authority (TRC), Anusha Palpita, to a top Government post.
Palpita who is embroiled in corruption charges, and is currently out on bail, was appointed as the Additional Secretary to the Ministry of Home Affairs on May 23, 2016.
However subject minister, Vajira Abeywardena defended the appointment insisting that the world order was ‘everybody is innocent, until proven guilty.’
“At this rate, all ministry secretaries must be guilty then. Even everyone who worked for Basil Rajapaksa has been produced in courts, but that doesn’t mean they are guilty. Yes, there are charges against him (Palpita), but nothing has been proven, and he has not been convicted, plus work wise he has never been suspended,” Abeywardena told the Colombo Telegraph.
Abeywardena also said that the appointment was not a personal decision, but it was made by the Public Service Commission and the Sri Lanka Administrative Service Division after he requested that steps be taken to fill in several existing vacancies at his ministry. “After the floods, it became critical that the shortage of 30 officials at the ministry be filled urgently. It was they who sent me the names and filled them. I have not done any personal favours to anyone,” Abeywardena claimed.
When asked what Palpita’s role will be at the ministry, the Minister said that it was only ‘just’ two days since he was appointed, nothing specific has been given over, but he was currently overseeing flood relief related work.
The appointment of Palpita is a blatant violation against what the Yahapalanaya pledged during the run up to both the Presidential and Parliamentary elections as a champion for a corruption free country, apart from it’s continuous rhetoric for good governance and accountability.
Palpita and Lalith Weeratunga, Secretary to former President Mahinda Rajapaksa are charged with criminal misappropriation of Rs. 620 million of TRC funds which was allegedly used in Rajapaksa’s presidential election campaign. Palpita and Weeratunga are both out on bail.
As Director General of the TRC, Palpita also played a major role in blocking news websites, which were critical against the Rajapaksa regime. (By Munza Mushtaq © Colombo Telegraph)