Exploitation of government funds and national resources for their personal wealth and political power, is permitted
watched with absolute disgust and frustration a video of a media briefing sent to me where Prof. G.L. Peiris, assisted by tutor-turned politician Bandula Gunawardena accusing the Premier Ranil Wickremesinghe that he is solely responsible as an accomplice for the serious crimes allegedly committed by the former CBSL Governor Arjuna Mahendran. The duo while attempting to white-wash their past sins of the previous regime, decried that a perpetrator of an enormous financial crime, very serious in nature, is being protected by the Premier under the present regime. They argued that the country had suffered a loss, which exceeded Rs.125 billion due to the infamous Bond scam. The duo demanded PM should resign to pave the way to hold an impartial investigation into it.
However, the two persuasive speakers became thunderstruck finally at the media briefing. Why? Because, they couldn’t invalidate the arguments put forward by journalists, who were present. The journalists, in other words, demanded that all those others similarly placed should also follow suit. They also queried whether there had been a single politician who had resigned in their government on similar circumstances.
"As citizens, shouldn’t we show our displeasure and disrespect towards the politicians in Sri Lanka whatever party they belong to because they are the two sides of the same coin. They are all wolves in sheep’s clothing "
It is however heartening that those two courageous journalists repetitively raised blistering questions whether the former higher-ups, other Cabinet colleagues too had been accessories, persons who had assisted to commit grave financial crimes, corruption, fraud etc., done by every single politician in the last government.
The two veteran journalists alleged that there had been massive corruption during the MR regime too. One of them had also pointed out that a good number of COPE reports etc had been swept under the carpet. He further said that the Supreme Court rulings too had been disregarded. It appeared that the two journalists determinedly attempted to convince the two parliamentarians that they too had robbed people’s money and deceitfully crafted destruction to the countrymen. Let me add that the two, GL and Bandula (both had defected from the UNP and joined the UPFA, became Cabinet Ministers, in the previous regime, which became the largest in the world!) looked as if they were at a loss for words. They were nearly dumb-founded.
They all had collectively weaved a tangled web. They also gave undue protection to fraudsters, corrupt politicians, mavericks, sycophants and, particularly those who had misused public money in billions extravagantly. Amusingly, Bandula opined that Bond fraud had taken the country backwards and destroyed the state economy having wrecked the investor confidence! Sadly, the duo made a valiant effort to trade falsehood.
As responsible and dutiful citizens, we should congratulate the relevant journalists, who made use of the favourable environment that exists at present, thanks to the present government, to raise these issues boldly. They also acknowledged that they could not have done so under the previous regime. They therefore, confronted the two former Cabinet ministers in an open debate in a democratic society by promoting coherent monitoring systems. Shouldn’t we be proud that they were trying to expose corruption using investigative journalism to dig out inequities, and violations and reinforce social values to reduce incidence of corruption in governments.
"Achieving increased performance, efficiency and ensuring accountability subject to ethical behaviour and professional integrity are not their major goals. These areas need innovation and reform. Such imperatives have become increasingly urgent"
In my view, both journalists made a heroic shot to stress that it was highly immoral and unethical for them to be partisan, crafty and manipulative. They have however been just that in the past few decades. The two storytellers too said the untruth because they now live in fear of losing control further. They know that they have also been equally at fault having aided and abetted to cover up corruption.
The dutiful media men were fulfilling a social obligation to satisfy the peoples’ thirst for information. They pointed out that nothing substantial had been done to bring the perpetrators to book by all governments. As citizens, shouldn’t we show our displeasure and disrespect towards the politicians in Sri Lanka whatever party they belong to because they are the two sides of the same coin. They are all wolves in sheep’s clothing.
I do not think that the duo succeeded in defending themselves and their cronies at the press briefing. They created a mess - an apologetic impasse in front of the media personnel. They must now be made aware that the time has come to recognise the importance of open governance. Why do all politicians act in a devious manner and fail to be truthful, responsive and transparent? Shouldn’t they understand transparency, accountability and participation are essential tools in promoting open governance?
The duo seemed to be unhappy, uncomfortable and yet unapologetic going by their body-language. As a critical strategy, an effective media is an urgent need in our path to curb corruption because it helps to educate people about the types of corruption, within their social, political, economic and other areas. Empowering media is a dynamic strategy to hold politicians accountable and educate people in the anti-corruption activities for the benefit of the people.
This was somewhat new to the country. Serious corruption allegations against several politicians with big names began appearing before the Commission. This was the first-time the sharks were taken up first having given sprats lesser important priority. Corrupt politicians knew it was harmful to them. Did they work overtime to stop corruption investigations? Our elected representatives abuse political power for personal gains. Parliament is therefore far behind times, awfully wasteful, corrupt and needs vast improvements – bureaucratically engineered “white – elephant”. Achieving increased performance, efficiency and ensuring accountability subject to ethical behaviour and professional integrity are not their major goals. These areas need innovation and reform. Such imperatives have become increasingly urgent.
"It is the media personnel who are now responsible to keep the citizens informed whether there had been irregularities, how government funds had been disbursed and more particularly whether the funds had not been properly used for the benefit of the people"
It is therefore imperative that we should hold the elected representatives to account through the media by denouncing instances of malfeasance to fight corruption. The media personnel should be encouraged to question corrupt politicos on behalf of the people. The media in a democratic society act as a neutral and impartial watchdog. It is the media personnel who are now responsible to keep the citizens informed whether there had been irregularities, how government funds had been disbursed and more particularly whether the funds had not been properly used for the benefit of the people. Ours is a kleptocracy; literally ‘rule by thieves’, which permits exploitation of government funds and national resources to extend their personal wealth and political power.
Former and present parliamentarians accused the earlier regime on issues of huge corruptions running into pages and pages in the Hansards. They had alluded on the floor of the House that issues pertaining to corruption had not been investigated and all that had been swept under the carpet. Bandula Gunawardena himself had accused that leaders in the previous regime were even worse than Marcos in Philippines. Sadly, this kind of rhetoric does not however appeal to the voters now. They cannot be fooled any more!
Victory of Donald Trump should be an eye-opener for this country and to our “dirty politicians”.
Conclusively, “We are poor because our politicians and bureaucrats waste our resources”.