Harin's lament | Daily News

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Harin's lament

The Yahapalnaya government is hoist with its own petard. At least that is what minister Harin Fernando is convinced of. All guns are being trained on the government instead of the other way around targeting the Rajapaksas, their cronies and kith and kin. The Joint Opposition is rubbing its hands with glee. Earlier it was the JO members who were being paraded before various investigative bodies. Now tables are turned, with ministers of the Yahapalanaya government made to stand in the dock before a Special Presidential Commission. At least the JO members who were hauled before the FCID and courts were not humiliated. At worst, they were bundled into prison vans and taken away amidst the cheers of their supporters. But in the present scenario a government minister has not only come under incisive questioning by the government's own legal team, read the Attorney General's Department. He is also faced with the grim prospect of losing his portfolio, and that too after only two years in office. No wonder Minister Fernando is bitter.

Addressing a media conference at the Government Information Department Harin Fernando said he would be requesting President Maithripala Sirisena to set up a similar commission, on the lines of the Special Presidential Commission probing the Bond scam, to probe the mega corruption indulged in by members of the Rajapaksa regime, who, he said, were today posing as paragons of virtue and has the gumption to point the finger at Yahapalanaya functionaries. A highly dejected and demoralized Fernando said that, today, those who had engaged in large scale corruption had taken the moral high ground and were gunning for members of the Yahapalanaya government as a result of the mechanism set in motion by the President to probe corruption under the present regime. These elements, he said, who should have been behind bars two years ago were today roaming free, assuming the role of crusaders against corruption. A highly disconsolate Fernando said the government they created with great sacrifice, even risking their lives, had today become a boomerang against its own members.

Minister Fernando, no doubt, is justified in his lamentation. Being the catalyst that rallied the hitherto dormant opposition against the Rajapaksa juggernaut by his great showing at the Uva Provincial Council election, that, no doubt, precipitated a mass wave against the oppressive regime, he naturally has regrets at the way things have panned out, where, the hunter has become the hunted, so to speak. The Joint Opposition appears to be gung-ho, and is going hammer and tongs to drive it into the public psyche that the government was corrupt to the core, and, is using the Ravi Karunanayake affair to buttress its claim. The notion also is being created that allegations leveled against Rajapaksas carried no weight and was made with the intention to grab power. The fact that not a single big time swindler of the last government had been brought to book up to date too has gone a long way to give credence to this claim and has planted the seed of doubt in the public mind.

That fact that the Attorney General's Department is carrying out its task with extraordinary zeal, in grilling members of the government is lost on the public, which is what is obviously galling to government ministers like Harin Fernando. Hence, his request to the President to employ the same mechanism to round up the mega corrupt in the Rajapaksa government is indeed justified. A similar Presidential Commission was appointed at the very outset of his regime by JRJ to probe corruption under the 70-77 United Front government, the outcome of which saw Sirima Bandaranaike lose her civic rights. But, two and half years into his Presidency, President Sirisena had appointed a commission to probe members of his own government, which may be another reason that has riled Harin Fernando.

While it is true that such a commission cannot be selective and should even probe corruption within government, the very fact that this has paved the way for the corrupt elements under Rajapaksa to gain political ascendancy, riding on the findings of such a commission, could be another reason for the frustration of the likes of Minister Fernando.

Indeed, there is enough and more material, sufficient for a dozen Presidential Commissions to probe, during the 10 year tenure of the Rajapaksas, which have all gone by default due to the lackadaisical approach displayed by the Yahapalanaya government, in violation of its mandate. The hedging deal, the Greek Bond issue, the white elephants such as Mattala, Sooriyawewa Cricket stadium, the running to the ground of the national carrier, the astronomical amounts paid to PR firms in the US to promote Sri Lanka when there was an ambassador entrusted with the task, wasteful expenditure in the promotion of Hambantota as a venue for the Commonwealth Games, inflated estimates in the construction of highways, the billions ripped off in the purchase of aircraft, to name only a few, no doubt, would far exceed anything that the alleged Bond scam had lost for the country's economy. 


There is 1 Comment

In Yahapalanaya there is no room for nepotism but president appointed his own brother as chairman without calling applications so it is no surprise action against corruption going at a snail space.


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