Zero commitment Maximum Corruption

Faraz Shauketaly

January 2015 marked the start of heady days ahead for Sri Lanka that tropical isle where a war of terror raged for thirty plus years and that came to a resounding end in 2009.

In spite of the various promises made by the incoming President and his prime minister, the duo have managed to steer away from real development and either by design commission or omission, performed poorly in terms of transparency accountability and good governance. Their fiscal management has been an unmitigated disaster whilst their BONDGATE scam took corruption, graft and sleaze in Sri Lanka to a different height all together.

The past three years since the last parliamentary poll can be regarded safely as being a period of wholesale betrayal of those promises by the government. The country as a whole expected nay demanded change for the better on several fronts. The economy was one. Freedom was another and perhaps the more compelling especially for those in the former conflict areas.

In spite or perhaps despite the several promises on reconciliation, accountability and a transparent investigatory process in terms of the claims of unfettered killings in the war zone, other than a great fudge nothing of any real consequence with lasting changes has been achieved. To comply with international demands the Office of Missing Persons was hurried through. This government has sought to showcase the Right to Information Act – we in the media have never needed any such RTI to seek and report the truth but acknowledge that the RTI is a necessary and welcome implement in the fight to restore real and lasting and sustainable democracy. However the RTI needs tweaking before it can play a dynamic role in our country.

The most remarkable aspect of this government’s governance has been an extensive departure from due process and an alarming impunity for those connected to the corridors of power.

In any democratic country in the world, the Bond scam would have resulted in the resignations of those nearest to the scandal. Ranil Wickremesinghe, Malik Samarawickrama, Kabeer Hashim and Ravi Karunanayake would have been political toast. Instead we witnessed the ruination of Ravi Karunanayake.

The Prime Ministers’ friend and nominee for the post of Governor Arjuna Mahendran enjoys freedom today reportedly in Singapore. For a Oxford, Balliol College man, Arjuna Mahendran’s integrity and honor must be questioned. He appears to have abandoned his daughter, his son in law is in remand prison and his grand children are perhaps suffering from confusion.

The Perpetual kid issued over 30,000 cheques that have been cashed by various persons and or their proxies in a shocking display of impunity undoubtedly fueled by political patronage. Some Members of parliament have come forward and admitted to having received monies to support their political cause.

President Sirisena appointed a Commission of Inquiry and that report became available in December 2017. The report calls for a forensic audit of the activities of Perpetual in order that the full extent of the loss to our country can be established.

Sadly Dr Indrajit Coomaraswamy the Governor of the Central Bank, appears to be trading on his own integrity and standing that he enjoys with all of us. He is yet to appoint a company willing and able to carry out that forensic analysis a full 8 months after the original Bond report was delivered to the President. That is inaction and in our eyes barely forgivable however well meaning the Governors reasoning may be.

The Governor’s defence of officials at the Central Bank who have been criticized in the Bond Report is simply unforgivable. One was permitted to retire with his pension in tact when it would have been all too easy to have interdicted him and investigated his role in this sad, sordid and sorry affair.

The media has exposed wholesale corruption while the government make a show of trying to prove that their claims of corruption in the Rajapaksa camp.

What is clear and that is virtually beyond challenge is that the government have failed abysmally to deliver the very promises that they made.

The country is spluttering along whilst the people are doing what they can. Businessmen have been forced into adaptation in order to survive the challenges brought about by a spluttering economy and a complete and utter disregard for the truth.

Sri Lanka, our Sri Lanka: let us place faith in God and God alone. We are bound to survive.