Former sports minister Dayasiri Jayasekara has run into a storm of controversy after it was revealed in court last week that he accepted a cash cheque of Rs.1 million from a company linked to Perpetual Treasuries Ltd. (PTL), which is implicated in the Central Bank bond scam.
He admitted that he had received the money and that it was meant to be used for his campaign at the 2015 general election. Dayasiri, who was one of the 16 parliamentarians to quit the government recently after voting in favour of the no-confidence motion against Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, says the disclosure is nothing but a witch-hunt by the government.
The former minister argued that though he had received the money prior to the elections, he had in no way acted to defend the interests of the company.
“During our election campaigns, various people extended support. I admit, that this company also gave me some money for my campaign, but I never represented their interest at any time. It is a known fact that some businessmen extend support not only to parliamentarians but also to some pradeshiya sabha members during election campaigns,” Dayasiri had told a newspaper.
His arguments seem cosmetically sound and can vindicate them by pointing out that he had even voted in favour of the no-confidence motion against the Prime Minister in the bond scandal. But the only hitch is that he had received the money from Walt and Row Associates affiliated to primary treasury bond dealer PTL after the bond scam was revealed. Didn’t he know at the time of the donation that PTL had been accused of one of the largest scandals in the country’s history? Yet, the timing of the disclosure with regard to his dealings with the PTL subsidiary gives some credence to his claim that it was a witch-hunt.
Why? Are the businessmen so generous to toss off millions without expecting any returns?
Dayasiri is the second politician whom those investigating the bond scandal had identified as having obtained cash from PTL. The other one was former minister Ravi Karunanayake who was compelled to resign from his portfolio following the revelation of his financial dealings with PTL owner Arjun Aloysius.
While we leave him to defend himself, it is pertinent to note a point he had made on election funding he had stated in his defence. “It is a known fact that some businessmen extend support not only to parliamentarians but also to pradeshiya sabha members during election campaigns,” he said. When former minister S.B. Dissanayake was accused of building a mansion in Hanguranketha by spending more than Rs.40 million, in the wake of his defection from the Chandrika Bandaranaike government in 2001, he too said it was his businessmen friends who had helped him to build the house. Once a politician from the Matara District had accused one of his rivals of having spent more than Rs.10 million for an election campaign. They all are said to be supported by businessmen.
Why? Are the businessmen so generous to toss off millions without expecting any returns? What might have been the rationale behind the donation of a million rupees by a company located in Colombo to a politician contesting from the Kurunegala District? On the other hand, do not these politicians who obtain financial support from businessmen during election have a sense of obligation towards the latter? The funding by businessmen during elections is not an isolated phenomenon where only a certain politician has been supported by a certain businessman. As Jayasekara states it is a widely prevalent practice.
So, the apparent bottom-line is that businessmen support politicians to come to power and the latter runs the affairs of the administration, at the local level or national level, according to the whims and fancies of the former, while gaining more and more economic benefits from him. The communist theory on the capitalist State is thus proved.
This clearly shows that the entire system is fraught with fraud and corruption and in urgent need for a mechanism to monitor election funding. It may not eradicate corruption completely, but is likely to be curtailed to some extent.
For the past several years, the election monitors have been stressing the need for such a mechanism, but ludicrously it has to be expected from the same politicians, majority of whom seem to be hand in glove with corrupt officials and businessmen.