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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2614

Government Leaders Insult Intelligence of Sri Lankan Public

By Tassie Seneviratne

These days we hear ad nauseam, ‘holier than thou’ preaching by President Maithripala Sirisena (MS) and Prime Minister Ranil Wikramasinghe (RW). The virtues of honesty and integrity claimed by these two Government leaders are an insult to the intelligence of the average Sri Lankan whose literacy is high and has eyes to see, ears to hear, and a brain to think for oneself and understand.

Illustrations to demolish their claims are too vast to enumerate them here. For a start I will confine myself to some glaring case studies, not only of corruption by deceiving others, but even attempts at self- deception as a means to cover up.

Let us take the Pent House episode of former Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake (RK). It came to light that the monthly rent of Rs 1.45 million for ‘Pent House’ at Monarch residencies in Kollupitiya that was being occupied by RK, was paid by Arjun Aloysius of Perpetual Treasuries who was a prime suspect in the Central Bank Bomb Scam investigation. Although a conflict of interest was obvious even to a grade 5 student, the explanation given by RW to the Presidential Commission of inquiry was that he asked RK if there was a conflict of interest, and on RK replying “No”, he accepted his word !

Similarly with the whole world seeing, not only a conflict of interest, but a major fraud involving Central Bank Governor Arjuna Mahendran and his Son in law Arjun Aloysius, RW tells the Presidential Commission of inquiry that when questioned by him, Central Bank Governor Arjuna Mahendran told him there would be no conflict of interest and that he accepted his word. Strangely very pertinent questions that arise, had not been put to RW either by the Commission or by the Attorney General – talk of equality before the law !

This feigned self –deception on the part of RW reminds me of an interesting story told me by a Muslim gem merchant who also ran a bookie and was such a lavish entertainer that he was given the sobriquet of ‘Lord’ before his name. When bargaining on his gems he would swear on the Koran when quoting his price, stating that he had an offer for the quoted figure that morning but refused it.

Observing this happen all too often, I asked him if he was swearing on the truth.

His story went like this:- When a Muslim gem merchant leaves his home in the morning with prices marked for the gems, his wife makes an offer on the marked prices and he refuses to sell it to her at that price. He then ‘truthfully’ swears on the Koran and tells the prospective buyers that he had refused such offers that morning!

The involvement of RW and his brazen explanations reveal moral turpitude of the worst order. It is high time we call this bluff lest we all be taken to be fools all the time.

Tassie Seneviratne - The writer is a Human Rights activist, advocate of People-Power, former Director Transparency International (Sri Lanka) and directed the Program for Protection of Public Resources (PPPR) 2005 – 2010.

- Asian Tribune -

Government Leaders Insult Intelligence of Sri Lankan Public
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