Island Opinion Page
Ministerial opulence and its implications
Most would have been staggered by Minister Kiriella’s revelation of assets exceeding 400,000,000, allegedly derived from a lucrative legal practice and inheritance. Likewise, a while ago, Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe disclosed that he earned an income of 1,000,000 a month as legal fees. Justice evidently does not come cheap. This should have the judicial authorities seriously considering the distress caused to litigants, by compelling repeated appearance in Courts due to the formal process. In fact, it may even prompt fixing lawyers’ fees on a “per case” basis rather than “per appearance”
Considering the aforesaid assertions, it shows the error of the misguided who believed that Ministers were amply, even excessively rewarded, unmindful of the immense sacrifices that they have actually made. What, one wonders, do some people not sacrifice for the public weal?
Cartoon from Daily Mirror
No doubt Inland Revenue has duly noted and ensured that taxable income has been correctly declared and paid, as also any dues on property transfers, inheritance, etc. Assuming that Mr K’s assets are in cash, he would be wise to invest (even in a Bank at modest interest) when he could count on a revenue of around 3.5 million per month. Treasury Bonds may yield even higher, but could be tricky.
Mr K’s intention was to dispel any suspicion that he had any need to receive a “cut” from the Central Expressway Project. This assumes that satiety induces rectitude. Not so, else there could be no phenomena like Trump, Rockefeller and Bill Gates – millions breed further millions. Further, it is inconsistent with the reported sale of his duty-free Land Cruiser. No worry, because circumstances ensure that none in Parliament would feel comfortable in “casting the first stone”. Far from being a deterrent, large windfalls sometimes merely whet a voracious appetite.
One has to be pleased that well-heeled entrants adorn the Legislature. Messrs R & K need not have been rushed into these disclosures, had they honoured the Constitutional requirement to declare their assets at nomination or swearing in. Even if they had, they will possibly repose in the safe custody of Mister Speaker or the Commissioner of Elections. Not much use, were it not for the Freedom of Information Act. One wonders about further discoveries of “ownerless Mansions”. By recent experience, epidemic amnesia may pose a problem. –“NETTLE GRUB”
This refers to your editorial captioned “Real leaders and others” in today’s paper (24th Oct). It was mainly about the Japanese Prime Minister who was elected by a two thirds majority as Prime Minister. While I endorse all what was said I would like to highlight some humble leaders from not so rich countries who were pillars of honesty and humbleness.
Topping them is Jose Mujica former President of Uruguay. He donated 90% of his salary to charity and ditched the lavish presidential palace deciding instead to live in his ramshackle house with his wife in his farm. His sole personal asset amounted a1987 Volkswagen Beetle.
First female President of Malawi Joyce Banda sold off the presidential jet and the fleet of 60 Mercedes limousines in an effort to steer the then struggling country to financial austerity. At that time she said she doesn’t mind flying commercial “I am already used to hitch hiking,” she said.
Later the money earned from selling the plane went to feeding more than one million people.
Nepal’s Prime Minister Sushil Koirala’s term was short but his only declared asset was three mobile phones. In a country where politicians are typically associated with wealth, Koirala is unique. Before moving in to his official residence he stayed with his brother instead of a hotel. Koirala also said to have rented a small house in Kathmandu.
Sri Lanka too has had such leaders in the past but no longer. D.S Senanayake, Dudley Senanayaka, W. Dahanayake come to mind. When will Sri Lanka see such leaders again?