MR’s gems | Daily News

MR’s gems

Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa, these days, is making statements to the media that border on the ridiculous, to be more charitable, providing comic relief to the public, or, at least the more enlightened among them, during these times of hardship brought on by the high cost of living. Recently Rajapaksa pledged to reduce the Value Added Tax by 20% in a future government under his leadership. When asked by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe to explain how this will be done, while at the same time paying off the mountainous foreign debt the country is currently saddled with, Rajapaksa came out with a gem. Said he: “If I was able to successfully end the three decades long separatist war this is next to nothing to me.”

On Wednesday, in Kataragama, Rajapaksa told journalists that he will make certain that his nephew Udayanga Weeratunga will return to the country to face charges against him, in one month's time. What was keeping him (Udayanga) from boarding a plane to return to Sri Lanka, presently, was the delay in admitting his children to school at the other end, according to the former President. So it is now clear that Rajapaksa is not only very much in touch with Weeratunga but is also well aware of the events connected to the life of his nephew, whom he appointed Ambassador to Russia, that paved the way for him to be involved in the multi-million dollar MiG aircraft deal.

One would have thought that Rajapaksa would make this entreaty to Weeratunga to return to the country to answer the charges, when he met the latter in Japan recently and not wait till the time is ripe to admit Weeratunga's children to a foreign school. That would have saved a lot of trouble and costs to the country in the form of travel of the legal teams to Dubai and for lawyers engaged at the other end. That would also have raised the political capital of Rajapaksa several notches.

However, by keeping mum all this time, when the matter was on the boil, and no intimation made to Weeratunga, during his clandestine meetings with the latter, abroad, to return to the country, Rajapaksa's sincerity in this connection is very much in doubt. This is more so because former Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, too, some months ago, requested Weeratunga to return to the country and face the allegations. This ploy, certainly, smacks of a calculated move by the Rajapakas to demonstrate their innocence in the MiG affair. For, in explaining how the billions earned, in commissions were deposited in the offshore company as alleged, Weeratunga will be compelled to reveal the connection of his uncles in the whole deal. By expressly summoning Udayanga to return to the country the Rajapaksas clearly want to create the impression that there indeed was no such deal. A clear case of throwing dust in the eyes of the public.

Mahinda Rajapaksa also spoke of the rise in the underworld, in his discussion with the journalists, in Kataragama, and, the alleged links of government politicians with members of the underworld. But what takes the cake was Rajapaksa's assertion that during his days in power the underworld was non-existent. How, the former President could speak so glibly is difficult to fathom. In whose era did the Wambottas, the Julampitiye, Amares hold sway, anyone who lived on this soil at the time is aware of.

In a way, Rajapaksa may be right in his assertion. Perhaps, the underworld at that time did not gain much prominence, being eclipsed by the killings, abductions and torture carried out by special units of the military, with the knowledge of powerful figures in the government. Nay, the underworld figures at that time were elected members of the local councils. The Chairman of the Tangalle Pradeshiya Sabha is currently serving a life term for the murder of a British national and raping his finance. But for the direct intervention of Britain in the matter, this was bound to have ended as another unsolved crime. The Manager of the Noori estate was murdered by a gang led by the Deraniyagala Pradeshiya Sabha Chairman. MR was also known to have paid his last respects to the body of slain Chairman of the Ratgama Pradeshiya Sabha, a notorious underworld figure.

True, a war of sorts was declared by the former Defence Secretary against the underworld, but there were allegations from the then General Secretary of the UNP Tissa Attanayake that the police and army were acting selectively in this respect and only underworld figures perceived to be supporters of the UNP were targeted while those supportive of the government were left alone.

Be that as it may, the war against the underworld is presently being carried out in earnest. Police, army and STF teams were shown on TV, the other day, combing jungles to apprehend the remaining suspects responsible for the killing of a police officer.

State Minister of Defence Ruwan Wijewardene said the government will go all out to curb underworld activities with the help of the tri-forces. The decision was taken at the Defence Council meeting chaired by the President.


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Mr's gems, what a stupid and irrelevant reply to a rational question.

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