The Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) report which gives its final findings of the Easter Sunday Bombings is viewed with raised eyebrows. This is because the PSC consists of a member in Rauff Hakeem who is at present bombarded with allegations that he had links with the extremist terror organisation which carried out the bombings.
The reason for Hakeem coming under fire is a video that went viral showing the minister in the company of hate preacher Zaharan Hashim. The latter masterminded the series of bomb attacks which claimed the lives of 258 people. Hakeem squashes public opinion that he had close dealings with the late Hashim; the minister defending his presence in the company of this suicide bomber and remarking that it was natural for a lawmaker to mingle with members of the public.
But the video and some photographs confirming the meeting between the two has stirred a hornet’s nest in the run up to the presidential elections. Hakeem is said to be backing presidential hopeful Sajith Premadasa. In this context it is important that Hakeem clears himself of these allegations before the Presidential Elections, which are around the corner.
When one studies the fresh development associated with Hakeem it must be first viewed from a national interest perspective and not from a political angle. The PSC has in the report blamed the State Intelligence Services for failing to prevent the disaster, stating that prior warnings were ignored.
But secondarily Hakeem’s credibility is now at stake unless he clears himself of the allegations levelled against him. This video and pictures suffice for the opposition to start agitating. UPFA MP Dinesh Gunawardena has taken the matter up in parliament and called for a debate regarding the PSC report.
The PSC also comprises a controversial figure in Minister Ravi Karunanayake. If citizens in this country want all members of the PSC to be clean as snow then there are question marks associated with Karunanayake being in the committee. We can remember how Karunanayake, the present Minister of Power, Energy and Business Development, being forced to resign as Foreign Minister following the allegations levelled against him. This was regarding a controversial Penthouse issue with which his name was associated. The latest regarding Karunanayake is that he has been ordered by the Colombo Court to appear before the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) to provide a full statement over the alleged false evidence given before the Presidential Commission of Inquiry into the Central Bank Bond Scam.
This is a nation where even the present Prime Minister was summoned before the PSC to give evidence regarding the Easter Sunday bombings. For the record, the PSC report on the Easter Sunday bombings issue has also named President Maithripala Sirisena and Premier Wickremesinghe among others who failed to discharge their duties to some extent. In this sense one sees a breakdown of a chain that takes responsibility from top to bottom in this present government. Coming back to Hakeem, he is one politician who the Muslims have banked on to make the voice of this minority heard in parliament. It would be hard for him to clear his name within a such a short span before the presidential elections date. Hakeem has responded by saying that this video and pictures tarnishing his image are part of a mud slinging campaign, which is politically motivated. It’s rare that unethical things can be done in this era without being exposed. This is because of the vigil with which the mainstream and social media work today. This is a good lesson for all politicians not to keep company with individuals whom the media wishes to take to the cleaners!