All quiet on anti-corruption front – Government ‘deals’ to protect each other on accusations of corruption, bribery

Sri Lanka is swiftly impending towards the first anniversary of electing the joint opposition candidate as the President. But the people sense very well that the President and the National Government are finding it an obstacle to “walk the talk”.

In the months of November and December 2014, we heard on political platforms and media briefings, political discussions of a new political landscape within which many allegations of corruption and waste, and promises made to bring the culprits to book. But since the January 8th Presidential Election and the August 17th General Election triumphs, there is not a hint that the related persons have yet been appropriately prosecuted. As far as the voters are concerned, the government, which assumed office with the guarantee of good governance, has been abortive in delivering on its promises to gratify the voters.

Why is it not achievable? There were many proven cases of bribery, corruption, misappropriation of funds, nepotism and violations of the law. The government was nippy to institute investigations at the FCID, CID, Bribery or Corruption Commission, and the Special Presidential Commission, which are some of the bodies set up to look into incidents of grave public apprehension. Regrettably, there has been no institution to administer the findings of these institutions. The necessity for such an administrative body, which could issue commands to all concerned on investigations concluded, is imperative.

In the absence of such an organization, different government agencies take their own time to carry out investigations, thus delaying justice. We must not forget that if not all, most officials have been used to working in a particular system and may have affiliations towards the preceding regime. This could, intentionally or unwittingly, be the ‘spanner in the works’ with certain disinterestedness in the entire task. The view of many is that without a sturdy body of people to administer these processes, the national government is unable to “walk the talk”.

There have been loads of views in political circles on the ‘deals’ the members of the national government have made to protect each other on accusations of corruption, bribery and waste. Among many such ‘deals’, a few are given below as investigations have been completed but regrettably the culprits ,politicians, businessmen and racketeers involved have not been brought to book, wherein the deep aspirations of voters have been absolutely devastated.

There are serious allegations fraud and corruption involving the former President, the immediate members of his family, ministers in his Cabinet and senior officers of the Presidential Secretariat, and other institutions which directly came under the President. The investigations of these allegations are reportedly over, in most cases, but no action has been taken. There is also a very clear delay in other important investigations.

More recently, there had been the tender issue on gas and coal imports. Then the government has paid a bankrupt company much more than its market value. It appears that all previous deals are taking place in a diverse twist under the incumbent dispension as well.

In spite of the above, the national government that promised the voters the highest punishment to the corrupt politicians, businessmen and racketeers is resorting to the phrase “forget the history and help commence development”. However, with certain political parties stressing the government to bring the culprits to book, more the investigations have commenced. The voters are eagerly waiting for justice to be meted out for their pleas.

Sunil Thenabadu

Queensland