A ‘Green’ Rajapaksa | Daily News


A ‘Green’ Rajapaksa

Although claiming to be a UNP MP Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe usually makes no bones about where his political loyalties lie. Since his estrangement from the Greens after holding an important Cabinet post in the Yahapalanaya Government, Rajapakshe has been making common cause with the Joint Opposition and toeing the line of his namesake, the former President. However, in the process, the UNP renegade has got himself into a tangle of contradictions with a tendency to put his foot in the mouth.

It is well known that Rajapakshe burnt the midnight oil to give birth to the 19th Amendment. No other Parliamentarian in Yahapalanaya played a more active role in Parliament to ensure the passage of 19A which emasculated the powerful Presidency. It was Rajapakshe who attended to the nitty-gritty and did the legwork so to speak, in getting the legislation passed.

Now though, he sees demons in 19A. It is now his constant refrain that 19A should never have been introduced and during a media conference on Tuesday stressed that the Presidential system should be retained at all costs. Why? Because this (abolition) will allow a Prime Minister and his MPs to manipulate the Parliamentary process and what is more, prevent a set of crooks selling the country outright.

Surely, being a President’s Counsel, and, Justice Minister to boot, at the time, Rajapakshe ought to have known what he was walking into and spotted the dangers he now envisages. Or, did the nectar of victory of the new Yahapalanaya Government, for whose birth he laboured round the clock, cloud his judgement so as to miss the calamity in store for the country by the 19A?

Ditto for his present stance as regards the Hambantota Port. The decision to lease out the H’tota port to China in order to offset the monumental debt left behind by the former President was taken in the Cabinet when Rajapakshe was a minister. No one recalls any protest by Rajapakshe on this score at the time.

But, hey presto, the port deal suddenly becomes a monumental sell out for Rajapakshe after he falls foul of the Yahapalanaya Government, some two years after the event. Why did he fail to see the danger at the time but suddenly become a patriot fighting against what he calls the sell-out of the country?

Rajapakshe's duplicity and doublespeak was also demonstrated countless times which all coincided with the stances adopted by the JO and Mahinda Rajapaksa. It was the former Justice Minister who went hammer and tongs against the setting up of the present Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) on the Easter Sunday bombings, claiming it would compromise the Intelligence Officers.

At the same media briefing he was beside himself with righteous indignation over the alleged suppression of a file by a Muslim State Counsel at the Attorney General's Department containing details of Zahran Hashim’s extremist activities. How else but through the PSC hearings that this matter came to light? Not just Rajapakshe, all those Buddhist monks who excoriated the Government over the PSC have now pounced on this new revelation to go to town with a new weapon to attack the Government. In other words, the Government has scored an own goal by appointing the PSC. Rajapakshe, no doubt, would be in the bandwagon using this as a handy weapon against the Government.

The former Justice Minister also got himself into a twist during a TV panel discussion where the topic of the non-invitation of the Prime Minister to the Security Council meetings was brought up. Rajapakshe claimed that the President had good reason not to invite the Premier, the prime reason being the details of the discussions were leaked to a newspaper and that also drug lords and the underworld were being tipped off on the plans to apprehend them. How come was it then that the Prime Minister was now (post Easter Sunday) attending the meetings was the question raised by the Government representative.

Some time ago a Sports Minister in the Rajapaksa Government claimed that the most corrupt institutions in the country are the education sector, the Police and the Cricket Board - in that order. But according to Rajapakshe, the most corrupt institution in the country was Parliament itself of which he is also an honourable member. Replying to a journalist at the same press conference, the MP claimed that some members had received Rs. 100 million to Rs. 500 million to remain in a particular party and then switched sides having received a bigger amount from a rival party.

Rajapakshe, certainly, ought to know, having been an active player during the 51 day ‘Government’ where desperate attempts were being made to buy over UNP MPs in order to clinch the numbers. Why, no less a personage than President Maithripala Sirisena revealed that the going rate was Rs.400 million. Hence Rajapakshe too could not have been unaware of the stakes. Be that as it may, it will be interesting to see how Speaker Karu Jayasuriya would treat this remark- the description of Parliament as the country’s most corrupt institution.

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