? Are you satisfied with the government’s attention on corruption allegations and the action being taken against them?
A: Firstly, I have to remind that the current government was elected by the people to implement the law and they also wanted to remove the regime that corrupted the country and brought Sri Lanka to its knees.
When the people voted in the new government they expected the new government to satisfy them by probing corruption allegations brought against the previous regime. But today, we can see there is a major delay in taking action against the corrupt, by the Financial Crime Investigation Division (FCID) and the Criminal Investigation Department (CID).
When the government is so keen in arresting individuals like Basil Rajapaksa, Namal Rajapaksa or Mohammad Muzammil of the National Freedom Front (NFF) they forget to probe into other major allegations.
Therefore, it is the government’s responsibility not to take political revenge but to strictly implement the law in Sri Lanka which was not implemented in the previous regime. The government should provide power to the authorities which implement the law, because, clearly there is a delay. When Namal Rajapaksa was arrested he was bailed out in one week. Now, Basil Rajapaksa has been arrested even he will be bailed out in one week.
People are suspicious; the law implemented on politicians and ordinary civilians are different. So, what is happening is individuals with allegations have deals with the current government, to keep them safe.
? Namal Rajapaksa was arrested and released on bail, and as soon as he was bailed out Basil Rajapaksa was taken into custody. Therefore, do you think the current government is more concerned about hunting the Rajapaksas?
A: I personally do not think that the government has prepared a programme to take action against the corrupt, but in the previous regime Rajapaksas were involved in a lot of corrupt activities.
However, the law should be implemented equally, to everyone, if the government is only planning on taking the Rajapaksas into custody, first, former first lady Shiranthi Rajapaksa and former President Mahinda Rajapaksa should also be arrested.
But that did not happen, therefore, if someone is thinking that the current government is only taking political revenge, it is wrong, because the corruption allegations against big wigs in the previous regime take a lot of time to probe. But the current government is taking a lukewarm attitude towards these issues at the moment.
Nowadays even if culprits are arrested they have the capability to get bail whenever they want and stay in remand like staying at a hotel.
? Don’t you think the current Cabinet also consists of individuals with a large number of corruption allegations?
A: Without any doubt there are many individuals with allegations in the current government. They are in the Cabinet, Parliament; also there are presidential advisors and ministers’ advisors as well.
We can never think the law will be implemented against them as they are a part of the current government.
When they take the power of the government and influence the authorities, the law cannot be implemented on anyone.
? So you think the law is not properly implemented on individuals who are a part of the government?
A: Not only the law they are not even bothered to conduct investigations against them, which is not fair, on the part of the current government.
?The current Cabinet is comprised mostly of ministers who held ministerial portfolios in the previous regime too, so actually, there isn’t a difference between the two?
A: President Maithripala Sirisena is from one party and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe is from another and they have combined and formed a national government. They also have two different policies which are being put to practise in Sri Lanka at the moment.
President Sirisena and Premier Wickremesinghe should be cautious when they appoint thieves and corrupts from the previous government to the current government.
? After Arjuna Mahendran was replaced by Dr Indrajit Coomaraswamy as Governor of the Central Bank, the COPE nor Governor Coomaraswamy has made any attempt to probe into the Mahendran scam? What is your opinion?
A: Actually, the government is not concerned about the Mahendran scam at all, that is why he is still part of the government and was given a new portfolio.
If the law is implemented on Mahendran and his son-in-law, both of them will end up in jail for sure.
Now this is the reason why people are disappointed with the government and yes it is very disappointing when the government is less concerned about corrupt actions of government officials.
? There is silence on the Avant Garde case as well, why is that?
A: During the Avant Garde case, Premier Wickremesinghe told in Parliament that there are 800 firearms without licences and that the firearms are owned by the Avant Garde organization. Somehow the Avant Garde owner has been able to bribe a minister of the current government to keep his case closed for some time.
?Sri Lanka Customs took a large amount of foreign currency into custody, which was being taken by three women, which means thefts haven’t stopped as yet?
A: Recently the Sri Lanka Customs took 1.6 million rupees into custody and the money was hidden inside three bags belonging to three women.
If the Customs probed into how these women got the money and from where, this would have been sorted by now.
There are smugglers behind these corrupt actions and these smugglers should be taken into custody in the near future and government officials should take appropriate action. If Customs investigates into the incident in depth they will be able to find the true smuggler of this money and the law should be implemented against those individuals. This is a major issue for the Sri Lankan economy as well because currently one dollar is worth 150 rupees in Sri Lanka. Our economy is gradually down and when these incidents occur it affects the economy even more.
? Did the government give a solution when Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) Leader raised a voice on the issue of Indian and Sri Lankan fishermen?
A: No, they did not. If they have, they should first implement the solution and they have not. Therefore, the government should not spoil the relationship with India while solving this issue, they have to deal with this calmly.
?: Moving on, do you think the VAT of 15 per cent is not affordable by the people?
A: Yes, because people cannot afford anything because the government has imposed the 15 per cent tax on many important sectors. At the end, what matters is that people are able to afford the prices of goods and they should be paid properly in order to be able to tackle the current government imposed tax.
?What do you think the government should do if they want to stop corruption in Sri Lanka?
A: The law should be strictly applied and it should be fully implemented and should be equal to everyone. Only if the law is strictly applied will there be a reduction in corruption. Otherwise it will continue.