Resolving bond issue: Judicial Process the only way out

Sunday Leader Editorial

The Central Bank bond issue is being considered as a divine gift fallen from the skies that could be used to destroy the Sirisena-Wickremesinghe government by some in the Joint Opposition. The past 22 months of this government did provide them with sticks, stones and mud to throw at the Opposition but they have not had the desired effect.

The bond issue was different. The Joint Opposition, while demanding action to be taken against the former Central Bank Governor Arjuna Mahendran, is attempting to use the COPE report as justification for an inquiry into the conduct of Premier Wickremesinghe leading to the incidents on the bond issues and even thereafter. However the COPE report makes no reference to Premier Wickremesinghe at all on the bond issue.

But anything to whip their pet hate Wickremesinghe is good enough and now the bull horns of the JO are in full blast demanding that President Sirisena suspends Wickremesinghe from holding his post of premier and to appoint a commission of inquiry into the Central Bank bond issue.Image result for COPE report cartoons

Cartoon from Internet

Leaders of the Joint Opposition are well known for their fondness to live in cuckooland. To demand that the Prime Minister should step down from office, even temporarily for an unknown period, is being out of touch with modern politics anywhere in the world.
With the effusion of such political lunacy they are only thwarting a fair and just inquiry being made on the bond issue which some pundits estimate in hyperbolic figures.

The mechanism of purchase and sale of Treasury bonds is something beyond the understanding of an average citizen. The comment of a cynic: ‘The only bond that I know of is James Bond’ summarizes the general opinion on this bond issue. Yet, pundits have proliferated in every nook and corner and of course in the media too on this issue, which we are told requires a knowledge of banking and central banking practices as well as of economics. Nonetheless, Sri Lanka is a land blessed with those holding post-graduate doctorates in various fields even though many such doctors do not possess the GCE-O level certificate. So we wax eloquent over a subject we know nothing of from morn till late at night at street corners and talk shows.

Although this posturing seems to be prima facie a harmless exercise, it does politicize and obfuscate the billion rupee issue. In this country when politics get involved in an issue, the matter is decided on those who are in favour of the party behind it or those against it. Sense and sanity departs.

Prime Minister Wickremesinghe last week in parliament said that he would refer this matter for the Attorney General’s Department. President Maithripala Sirisena last week said that the matter should be referred to a judicial process and all politicians should stay away from it. Different people have different views on the COPE report and he would seek legal advice and forward it to courts, he had said.

The legal process, which President Sirisena proposes to take, is not clear in the report of his speech but he is correct in that the final solution on controversial issues of this kind is through an independent judicial process.

Nevertheless it would not be possible to keep the JO going for the jugular of Ranil Wickremesinghe. He has been their arch foe for decades and will continue to be so in the foreseeable future.

The Opposition without any semblance of social responsibility has since this government assumed office been obstructing its activities in every conceivable way. But if they continue in their disruptive and obstructionist policies they would inevitably damage the democratic process of the country. If in power they are bound to meet this same line of resistance.

A government in power too needs to be tolerant of an Opposition. We have been repeating these lessons in elementary Civics for sometime as observers can only deliver the message. It is left to political leaders to transform it into action.