To Mr. Prime Minister, with love…
To Mr. Prime Minister, with love…
By Lahiru Fernando
08 Aug, 2017 | 11:48 am
Sunday, 6 August 2017 – Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe stated in Hatton that Sirasa (News 1st) “always criticises him.”
“I have never gone and set it ablaze. They wrote me a letter and asked me whether I could increase the number of hours per day by one so they can criticise me even more. I am planning on sending a letter after i refer this to the ministry of home affairs. We have such freedom in this country.” he said.
News 1st’s response
Dear Mr. Prime Minister,
We do not need 24 hours as you claim. Our 22 minute Prime Time News bulletins, website and social media platforms are enough for us to divulge the truth.
1. CBSL Bond Scam
The premier is pointing fingers at the media, but the entire nation is now aware of the losses caused to Sri Lanka through the Central Bank Bond Scam.
A loss of 1.6 billion rupees was caused to Sri Lanka and her people within a matter of minutes by our dear Prime Minister and his friends Arjuna Mahendran (former Governor of the Central Bank) and Arjun Aloysius, the son-in-law of Arjuna Mahendran.
The EPF (Employees Provident Fund) is supposed to be a boon for the working people of Sri Lanka, upon their retirement. But according to the Auditor General’s report, the scam made the EPF lose Rs.12.5 billion.
Thanks to this scam, the people will lose billions of rupees over thirty years. Billions of their hard earned money.
When the scam was first brought to light, PM Wickremesinghe appointed a committee with three party lawyers.
Taking a step further, he even sought to justify the scam in Parliament
while protecting his friend and letting him stay at the helm of CBSL.
What about the other parties? Minister Ravi Karunanayake’s daughter questioned on social media recently, asking why it is her father who is being singled out in a large government.
Anti corruption organisations and political parties have consistently maintained that other individuals, who were part of the initial meeting that led to this scam, must be investigated.
While the main focus is only on Arjuna Mahendran, Ravi Karunanayake and Arjun Aloysius, there are several powerful government ministers who have been accused of involvement in the scam.
Among them are Ministers Malik Samarawickrema and Kabir Hashim.
2. ICTA and its run of failed projects
Taking a step further from thieving the people’s funds, they are attempting to collect the people’s private electronic data through friends appointed to the Information and Communication Technology Agency (ICTA).
But before we get to that, here is the list of failed major projects undertaken by ICTA;
- Project Loon – FAILED
- Total Pay national payment platform project – FAILED
- E-NIC project – STALLED
Who are the people running ICTA, you ask? – Well, ICTA’s Board of Directors comprise of the following;
- Chairman – Chithranganee Mubarak
- CEO – Muhunthan Canagey (only required to report to work 3 days a week and draws a salary of Rs. 755,000/-).
- Directors – Attorney-at-Law Rakitha Rajapakshe, Dumindra Ratnayake, Dr. Ajith Madurapperuma, Aziz Hilmy and Dinesh Jayewardane.
3. Colombo Outer Circular Expressway and Central Expressway
Accusations have been leveled against the former Investment Promotion and Highways Minister Kabir Hashim and current Higher Education and Highways Minister Lakshman Kiriella over irregularities in this project.
In a stunning development, the Central Expressway project was granted to a Chinese company, without a proper tender procedure being followed.
The fact that the agreement was signed on a Sunday and submitted to cabinet for approval on Monday, is a serious cause for concern.
How was the agreement signed without cabinet approval?
4. The coal scam
The Supreme Court noted that the transactions pertaining to the procurement of coal had shocked the conscience of the court and determined that the Lanka Coal company could terminate the agreement with Swiss Singapore Limited within a sufficiently long grace period.
Disregarding this, coal procurement continued as per usual with the intervention of the Ministry of Power and Energy Secretary Dr. Suren Batagoda.
Then Chairman of Lanka Coal Attorney-at-Law Maithri Gunaratne, who stood against this scam, was removed from his position.
5. The Volkswagen Factory
The deception of the people over the commencement of a factory in Kuliyapitiya. Shouldn’t the Minister of Development Strategies & International Trade Malik Samarawickrama be held accountable for this?
6. The Panama land grab
While the former regime forcefully acquired ancestral lands of the agrarian community in Panama, the cabinet had decided to return these lands to the people.
However, an accusation has been leveled that Minister Daya Gamage is currently using these lands for a tourism project.
While even the courts had determined that the land belongs to the people, has the law been enforced to put a stop to Minister Daya Gamage’s actions?
7. The Avant Garde floating armory
Then Minister of Law and Order Tilak Marapana resigned over the infamous Avant Garde incident, due to a clear conflict of interest. However, on May 22, he was re-appointed to the cabinet as the Minister of Development Assignments.
Home Affairs Minister Vajira Abeywardena and Justice Minister Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe have also been accused of involvement in the Avant Garde scandal.
Attempts to censor the media
Revelations on corruption continue and as we, the media, was on top of it every time, a scheme was hatched to censor us. They attempted, and failed, to censor the media under the guise of the 19th amendment to the constitution. This was prevented by timely action in courts.
Following that failure, they came up with a fresh ploy in the form of ‘Independent News Media Standards Council Bill’. They are hoping to present this bill in Parliament.
The real victims…
Friends and henchmen are being used to rob this beautiful country blind, at a time where her people are overwhelmed with poverty and natural disasters.
The merciless drought has prevented the farmers who feed Sri Lanka from growing crops for four seasons.
We ask this simple question – Couldn’t the money stolen through the bond scam have been used to provide relief for them?
Also in the 2017 budget, only Rs. 500 million was allocated for developing infrastructure of schools, and another Rs. 77 billion for education.
The students of Kandakuliyamunai Public School and the Sindrathri Matha School, Kalpitiya do not have a building to study in. It would cost less than Rs.10 million to construct buildings for these schools.
If the funds stolen through the bond scam were still available, how many such students would have had a roof over their heads in school?
Then there is the problem with not having clean drinking water.
Over 70, 000 Sri Lankans are suffering from chronic kidney disease. Just imagine the amount of water purification projects which could have been initiated, giving clean drinking water to hundreds of villages.
But hey, why give the people clean water and a roof over the heads of our future generation to study, while you can allow those behind the bond scam to build liquor distilleries, right?
Adding insult to injury: The rice that should have been used to feed the hungry, was instead used to distill alcohol. That too at a time where farmers are suffering owing to ongoing, unforgiving, dry weather.
The National Audit Bill
While corruption is seemingly institutionalised, the promised National Audit Bill is gathering dust in the Prime Minister’s Office.
It is interesting because, if this bill is presented in parliament and adopted, the Auditor General will have to power to recover the money stolen from this nation, from the people who committed the crime: in this case, the bond scammers.
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe had said on Monday (August 7) that the party would not protect thieves.
So the question is: Who is being protected through the continued delay in adopting the National Audit Bill? What happens to all the scandals and scams listed above? What action will be taken against those responsible?
As the extent of corruption in the country is being exposed, the Prime Minister’s gripe with the media seems to be growing.
And the people’s opinion of the dear Prime Minister? Well, his 29 election defeats bear testimony to that.
So, dear Mr. Prime Minister…
We will not hesitate for a moment, to lay before the people, information on corruption that is brought to our notice by people who stand against corruption and fraud.
We remind you once again, that the people of this country are not fools.
THE TRUTH IS A BITTER PILL TO SWALLOW
We will not cower in fear as it is our duty to lay this bitter truth before the people.