Hoodwinking the People and Supressing Democracy
Dr Dasarath Jayasuriya, President SPUR Australia
Treating the people with disrespect and disdain is fast becoming the trademark of the Yahapalana government. However, history reminds us that they are not the first. There are other examples but what sticks in my mind from the past is the SLFP taking citizens to be mugs in the 1960’s promising rice from the moon before an election. But the Yahapalan leadership including the Prime Minister and the Finance Minister has made this into an art form. Important public discourse is often trivialised with verbal diarrhoea coloured with tasteless and inappropriate jokes evidenced by the PMs recent ‘ Buddang Saranag Gachchami’ news cut after meeting the Asgiriya and Malwaththa nayaka theros.
The Yahapalana team which came to power parading a ‘cleaner than Cleanex’ image has been compromised with an unending list of corruption accusations. Leading amongst them are the billion rupee Central Bank Bond fiasco and the mega million coal procurement annulled by a Supreme Court determination. Many attempts at supressing the ‘truth’ related to the Central Bank Bond fiasco have been made including dissolving the parliament in 2015 as well as giving stepmotherly treatment to the Hadunhetti chaired Committee of Public Enterprise (COPE) report on the Bond scam. After a long wait and many attempts by the Yahapalana bigwigs to scuttle the process, the COPE report was scheduled on 24 January to be discussed in Parliament. The good citizens of the nation were looking forward not only to the details of how this scam was planned and orchestrated but also to the detailed defence (if any) provided by the Prime Minister and the Finance Minister of their mate, the former Central Bank governor Arjuna Mahendra. Alas! a spanner has been thrown in the last minute to thwart exposure and debate.
It was reported widely over the weekend that a Buddhist monk appointed by the Finance Ministry to the Lanka Hospital Board of Directors had filed a fundamental rights (FR) application challenging the COPE report claiming inconsistencies, contradictions and misrepresentations. Although a majority of parliamentarians would welcome tomorrow’s debate on the Central Bank Bond scam, there could be attempts made to scuttle the debate by sighting the monk’s FR case is yet to be heard by the Supreme Court. One wonders firstly, what the monk’s interest is on the Bond scam and secondly, why he left until the last moment before the Parliamentary debate to lodge he FR case? Further questions amongst others include:
- A monk’s ability to forensically examine a finance centric COPE report;
- The source of financial resources to commission Paul Rathnayake Associates, a leading law firm in Sri Lanka; and
- The overall outcome sought by the monk that the auction process reigns supreme over the direct or private placement process.
After berating the Rajapaksa government and accusing them of nepotism and favouritism, ditching its pre-election norms, a not so Yahapalana government appointed a Buddhist monk to the Board of the Lanka Hospital. Putting aside the lack of professional expertise required to be a member of a Board governing a large hospital, what I found most interesting is the total lack of any previous record of this particular monk showing interest or providing public discourse on the Central Bank Bond scam. The obvious question is whether the monk is being the La Fontaine fable ‘cat’s paw’ of the Yahapalana masters. All evidence at least associated with the Central Bank Bond fiasco seems to point in that direction.