Sri Lanka and the fight against corruption

Sri Lanka and the fight against corruption

Sri Lanka and the fight against corruption

Written by Ramesh Irugalbandara

12 May, 2018 | 8:09 pm

Colombo (News1st) – The fight against corruption is one which any politician would gladly and loudly champion. In Sri Lanka, there are even instances when those accused of corruption attempt to champion anti-corruption causes.

This occurs because of a lack of action on charges of corruption. However, the recent election of Mahathir Mohammad as the Prime Minister of Malaysia and his subsequent action to issue a travel ban against the former PM who is accused of corruption shows that action against corruption is possible if the willingness is present.

Around the world, there are plenty of instances where former world leaders were brought before the law due to their corrupt activities.
Among these leaders who fell from grace are people such as South Africa’s former President Jacob Zuma, Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak, Brazil’s former Presidents Lula da Silva and Dilma Rousseff. These are but a few names on a long list.

Over in Sri Lanka, there are many public representatives who have been charged with various acts of corruption. Similarly, there are plenty of former state officials who are wanted in connection with corruption charges. A few of the recent names to gain the spotlight include,

1) Arjuna Mahendran –
Former Governor of the Central bank,
Named as the chief suspect in the case filed over the Central Bank Treasury Bond Scam
Last known to be in Singapore, current whereabouts unknown.

2) Jaliya Wickramasuriya
Former Sri Lankan Ambassador to the USA.
Wanted by Court in relation to the alleged misappropriation of USD 132,000 of State funds in the process of purchasing a building for the Sri Lankan Embassy in Washington DC, USA.

3) Udayanga Weeratunge
Former Sri Lankan Ambassador to Russia.
Wanted by Sri Lankan Authorities in relation to investigations pertaining to alleged embezzlement of public funds to the tune of 7.833 million US dollars with regard to procurement of MiG aircraft and money laundering.

At the same time, there are other public servants – past and present – who were arrested in Sri Lanka and thereafter released on bail pending trial. There are also allegations of failure on the part of the government to apprehend and imprison strongmen from both the previous and current administration in relation to corruption, fraud, misappropriation and even murder.

Numerous civil rights activists have highlighted their anger towards the Government’s inaction on corruption. The leader of the National Unity Front Azath Salley says that everyone who comes into power wants to steal at least a bit more than their predecessors. He says that there are now claims that Gotabaya Rajapaksa cannot be arrested and this could lead to a situation where the Government could come out and say that Arjuna Mahendran too cannot be arrested.

JVP Uva Provincial Councilor Samantha Vidyaratne says that the only reason why Sri Lanka has not been able to root out corruption is because we get thieves to do this job.

Namal Karunaratne the Convenor of the All Ceylon Peasants federation highlighted alleged corruption surrounding the building of the Ministry of Agriculture which lay unoccupied for 16 months. Karunaratne claims that for each month the taxpayers of this country had to pay a sum of 14.5 million rupees as rent.

Ven. Galkande Dhammaloka Thero, the Executive Director of the Walpola Rahula Institute for Buddhist Studies remarked that Sri Lanka has become a country where the law is not enforced equally. He noted that in a country where there is no rule of law, statements made on peace are limited to words.


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