Isn’t it timidity and hypocrisy of My3?

President’s ire justified

(Daily News Editorial)

President Maithripala Sirisena is clearly unhappy at the snail’s pace in which investigations into mega corruption under the Rajapaksa government is continuing and made his displeasure known in no uncertain terms at the Cabinet meeting on Tuesday. An angry President, it is reported, had lashed out at the absence of results in the ongoing investigations carried out by the different investigative arms during the last two and half years, with special reference made to the Special Anti- Corruption Unit, whose term of office lapsed on June 30.  

President Sirisena also observed that it was only those SLFPers who supported him who were being investigated. The President also went onto enumerate the instances of massive corruption that had taken place under the Rajapaksas, investigations into which lay in abeyance. 

The President’s ire is understandable. The absence of results in any of the significant cases now under probe, involving the Rajapaksas and their cohorts, have not only been a matter of embarrassment to the government and the President personally but had made the latter being viewed in poor light by the public, given that the main election platform of the Common Candidate rested on hunting down the thieves who ransacked the country’s coffers and bringing them to justice. The President is also mindful that lack of progress in the investigations is going to provide ammunition to the Rajapaksa camp to be used against the government and make MR and the rest cast as victims of a diabolic plot to oust them from office.

He is also aware that, had any significant breakthrough being made in the ongoing investigations, Rajapaksa would have lost the political momentum he has acquired to muster crowds and hold political rallies countrywide to undermine the authority of the government. As a spin off, the government would also have been spared the ongoing rash of protest agitations which are obviously being bankrolled by defeated politicians yearning to regain lost power. We say this because it would have been awkward indeed for protest leaders to be seen to be leading agitations which has the backing of such political elements.

It is a fact, indeed, that the initial enthusiasm shown by the FCID and other investigating arms have waned considerably and the determined thrust to go after the rogues have lost its steam. True, investigations should be painstaking with no room left for the offenders to wriggle out of the law. Investigators are also wanting in the necessary technical knowledge to unearth details of white collar crime. There are also other restrictions placed on the investigations. According to Minister Dr. Rajitha Senaratne he has positive proof that money has been stashed away in a Dubai bank to the credit of a former VVIP, as reported in a Sunday newspaper political column. However, Lankan investigators are being barred from moving in the matter due to the constraints imposed in respect of overseas banking.

The process, hence, is time consuming and sometimes unwinding making patience wear thin of those genuinely desirous of seeing the wrongdoers prosecuted. However, it is equally true that local cases that do not confront such restrictions are getting dragged on for some mysterious reasons that have evoked the concerns of President Sirisena. In addition, the frequent challenges thrown by members of the Joint Opposition that they are open to any probe and that the government had used the corruption allegation as an election slogan has no doubt put the government on the back foot.

Be that as it may, the President’s observations should encourage the investigating officers to pursue their task with a single minded purpose. To begin with, investigating bodies such as the FCID are maintained at public cost. It will amount to cheating of the ordinary public if these organs are left to wither in the vine while thieves are left to enjoy the booty. Government politician who interfere with the investigations should be identified and shamed. The President, at the same Cabinet meeting, revealed that certain members of the government were with the Rajapaksas. If so, this amounts to a betrayal of not just the President but all those who helped install the Yahapalanaya government. This is because the main focus of the civil society organisations, social groups and the various Fronts including artistes, literary figures et al. was to get rid of Rajapaksa family rule and elect a government committed to good governance.

Crucial elections are round the corner and an administration that include members with fickle loyalties can only undermine the whole Yahapalanaya project.