MR at cross purposes

(Daily News Editorial)

Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa in the last lap of the election campaign appears to be in a confused state and is given to contradictions. In an interview with a well known columnist carried in an English daily yesterday Rajapaksa took to task his onetime Cabinet Minister Champika Ranawaka over accusations made by the latter that MR gave money to the LTTE. He (Rajapaksa) goes on to ask why the Minister continued to serve in his Government and if he (Ranawaka) had a principle he should have left the Government much earlier.

As far as principles go Mahinda Rajapaksa too is found wanting. He seems to forget the accusation he himself is continually making at election rallies against former President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga that the latter was poised to hand over the North and East to Prabhakaran for a 10 year period. The former President was then a senior Minister in that Government. We do not recollect MR leave aside quitting the Government, making even a whimper of a protest at this proposed action that would put Mother Lanka in grave peril. Surely Rajapaksa with his honorific Sri Rohana Janarajana conferred by the Maha Sangha for his deep patriotism should have been the first to leave the Government even though it was only a proposal. We also do not recollect Rajapaksa threatening to leave the Government on ‘principle’ when CBK was planning to share Tsunami relief funds with the LTTE through the P-toms mechanism. Mahinda Rajapaksa during the last Presidential election campaign in a clear reference to the attack on the Rukantha-Chandraleka singing duo said under his Government artistes need not fear of their hair being cut, a reference to the gang cutting the hair of Rukantha in that attack. This was meant as broadside at CBK. If one recalls Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa kept mum on that occasion and nary a word was said in protest at the treatment of our artistes.

The former President also wants the country to believe that there is a world of difference between the corruption that took place then and now. According to him in the case of allegations against the Rajapaksas no evidence has been put forward at all. Then citing the Treasury bond issue he goes onto say that the “UNPs Treasury bond scam is already been investigated”. That is exactly the point. The matter is being INVESTIGATED whereas in the past there were no investigations at all into the myriad allegations of corruption.

The Treasury bond issue went as far as COPE and the matter is argued in a court of law. Can Mahinda Rajapaksa cite even a single investigation launched into the allegations of mega corruption that were highlighted with monotonous regularity in the media. Can he cite a single corruption issue taken up in court except to penalise opponents as in the case of former Chief Justice Dr. Shirani Bandaranayake’s husband. The state of affairs could be gauged from the revelation made by the Cabinet Spokesman the other day that a mountain of files was gathering dust at the Bribery Commission.

The former President, to a question by the interviewer about the lack of visibility in the UPFA campaign has attributed this to the uneven application of the law by the police favouring the UNP. We are not aware if Rajapaksa had read the press accounts where it states that action has been taken against over 500 UNP supporters for election law violations and that even summons have been served against a Deputy Minister to appear in court. Would such have been the case under the former regime where election laws were violated with impunity and opposition election offices and election platforms set on fire? Today it is obvious to all that the law is enforced even handedly and after nearly two decades one sees a level playing field at this election.

The Former President appears to revel in his contention that no evidence could be found on the allegations leveled against his Government. He says that the present government had failed to unearth any evidence pointing to any wrongdoing of the Rajapaksas even after seven months in office. Mahinda Rajapaksa being a lawyer (?? -TW) could not be unaware that the law has to take its course and there can’t be kangaroo court justice like that he had, to try the former Chief Justice before a Parliament Select Committee.

Like the Prime Minister said investigations are very much on, with the Premier even providing the numbers against whom watertight cases exist. It was only a few weeks ago that a group of World Bank experts were in the country to assist in the ongoing investigations into the overseas accounts of former VIP family members. Besides, the complex and intricate nature of the investigations involves a lengthy process.

Rajapaksa ends the interview with grim foreboding that the country was in peril and the choice is before the people if they want a stable country that existed before January or one that resembles a cross between Yugoslavia and Greece. This separatist phobia he and his men tried to create in the minds of the people failed in January. It will fail in August too.

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