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Taking the bull by the horns - EDITORIAL

26 March 2015 06:30 pm - 2     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}


Amid public criticism of the Government’s delay in taking action against former VIPs who were allegedly involved in large scale corruption, the Police announced on Wednesday they would seek a court order for former minister Basil Rajapaksa to return to the country for questioning. 

Mr. Rajapaksa, political strongman in the former regime of his brother Mahinda Rajapaksa, was the Minister of Economic Development, which ran the Divi Neguma Department – a subject of much controversy. Police Spokesman Ruwan Gunasekara told a media briefing they wanted to question Mr. Rajapaksa on charges relating to the spending of more than Rs.73 million for a national conference, printing 15,000 almanacs, using a huge amount from ministry funds for the January 8 presidential election and the Divi Neguma bonus fraud.

Mr. Rajapaksa who was also the National Organiser of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) left the country on January 11 in the aftermath of Mahinda Rajapaksa’s stunning defeat at the presidential election. Many critics and even supporters said what he did – deserting the party at a time of tribulation – raised many questions. He is also a dual citizen of Sri Lanka and the United States and many political parties are demanding laws to prevent dual citizens from contesting parliamentary or local council elections. 

It is a strange twist of fate that one of the Rajapaksa regime’s most criticised acts – the hurried impeachment of Chief Justice Shirani Bandaranayake in January 2013 – was widely believed to be linked with the creation of the powerful Divi Neguma Department. A few months before the impeachment, a Supreme Court Bench headed by Shirani Bandaranayake had ruled that the Divi Neguma bill must be passed by a two-thirds majority and at a referendum of the people. What we sow, we reap. If we sow the wind, we reap the whirlwind. The cause and effect principle is a reality. 

With the change of regime on January 8 and the installation of the National Unity Government headed by President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, the impeached Chief Justice Shirani Bandaranayake’s reputation was cleared and she was officially restored in office last month though she chose to gracefully retire the next day because of the political controversy over the issue. On the other hand it seems that the wheels of justice are turning on Basil Rajapaksa who would be compelled to return to Sri Lanka for questioning if he intends to clear his name.

In another connected allegation, President Sirisena has ordered that a controversial move to import as many as 22,500 milch cows from Australia be cancelled immediately. He had been concerned when he heard the details of this expenditure from the new Social Welfare and Livestock Development Minister P. Harrison. The minister said the former regime during its last days had hastily imported some 2,000 milch cows from Australia spending Rs.1 million for each of the animals with loans taken from state banks and had hurriedly placed another order for 2,500 just before the elections. This entire deal had now been fully cancelled. The government now seems to be taking the bull by the horns. 

  Comments - 2

  • sacre blieu Saturday, 28 March 2015 09:08 AM

    This mountainous heap of corruption and other crimes being investigated by a few competent people will take years to a successful prosecution and some may take a natural death, due for reasons that were seen in earlier cases. However for the dedication and participation of the investigators a ,at the least, fair reward and an incentive should be granted. This is an important situation as otherwise it would all end in a fiasco.

    Sameen Jan Friday, 27 March 2015 08:37 AM

    How much does a Australian milch cow cost with no horns- if that is cheaper?

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