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Saturday, July 29, 2017
“Hell Hath No Fury Like A Woman Scorned” – William Congreve
(Lanka-e-News - 28.July.2017, 7.22PM) Educated and highly focused, the introduction of Miss Muthukudarachchige Anika Vinodhini Wijesuriya (AW)and her testimony at the Commission to Inquire into the Bond Scandal (CIBS) has indeed created a storm and without a doubt. Born to a Singaporean businessman of Sri Lankan origin, and whose fortune was made through questionable deals using his connections at the highest levels of successive governments in power, it may be a little too late now for Miss. AW to realize that she bit much more than what she can actually chew, when she decided to try her hand in tilting the scale in a game of thrones.
Raised in a broken home and having grown up on the wild side, Miss Wijesuriya’s various relationships with various men in power and stature is her business alone. But if her recent actions originated as a result of a romantic relationship gone sour or at the behest of her father whose inner circle of friends include the likes of Mr. Gotabaya Rajapaksa, raise does it not more questions than for reasons she made her way into the said Commission?
Sri Lanka’s political culture has changed very little since the time the Late Mr. J.R. Jayawardena introduced the open market economy. Power corrupts and all of them politicians are in it either for power, money or for both. And not surprisingly, strange bedfellows they make politicians and businessmen. While it is no secret that members on both aisles of the parliament have loyalist friends amongst the business community, hesitate they do not to forge an alliance even with the enemy, should there be a mutually beneficial opportunity up for grabs. In this context, I believe no parliamentarian is free from such associations or righteous enough to live by a certain code of honor.
Enter Mr. Ravindra Sandresh Karunanayake (RK), Minister of External affairs, ex-Minister of Finance and the man of the moment, tried and convicted by sections of the media and awaiting ‘execution’. While my attention was drawn to this ‘trial-by-media’ circus when seeing attempts being made to vilify RK as the fall-guy for this entire ‘Bond Scandal’ episode, now that a Presidential Commission has been established to look into possible illegal acts, shouldn’t the passing of verdicts of guilt, innocence or complicity be the sole task of its highly respected panel of judges?
Being an investigative columnist and an activist, I was one of the first to expose the Bond Scandal as early as in March of 2015 through social media (Facebook). Having crossed swords with Mr. RK on numerous occasions on public platforms and in private over matters of national interest, I too believe RK should be investigated if there is enough evidence to prosecute him, and for him to be punished if found guilty. No dispute there. And adopting a holistic approach in addressing the matter, I sure wish learned readers or concerned officials would take note of following observations and questions or respond to same,
1/ Was it not PM Ranil Wickremasinghe (RW) who appointed Mr. Arjun Mahendran as the Governor of Central Bank in the first place? And was it not the same RW who defended vehemently the good name of Mr. Mahendran when the Bond Scandal was first exposed?
2/ If Mr. Arjun Aloysius (AA) of Perpetual Treasuries Limited had manipulated laws and profited out of it due to his connections to then-Governor of Central Bank as alleged, how did the Ministry of Finance get all involved in this web of deceit in the first place, directly or as an accessory?
3/ Though the Central Bank falls under the purview of the Finance Ministry, If there were no allegations of wrongdoing against officials of the Ministry of Finance over a possible or direct involvement in the scandal, on what basis or grounds was Minister Karunanayake being summoned to the Commission to inquire into the Bond Scandal?
4/ According to laws in existence, it is not a criminal offense for parliamentarians to be friends with members of the business community or to seek their assistance even in matters of personal nature. In this context, as claimed by her, if Miss AW was not willing to transact directly with politicians for reasons best known to her, would leasing out her apartment to a third party through a mutual friend (AA in this instance) be tantamount to a criminal offense by either party?
And now that the payment made by the family of Mr. Karunananayake to Miss Anika Wijesuriya through Mr. Aloysius for the lease of the apartment at Monarch residencies has been sensationalized by the news/social media, the way I see it, the hypocrisy of our countrymen is such that I find the latest developments and the hype surrounding it to be quite nauseating. I mean, where was the outrage when UNP heavyweight, MP Mr. Daya Gamage was heavily involved with the corrupt Rajapaksas in building roads or when the Rajapaksa acolyte Mr. Sumal Perera of Access International being given large scale government contracts by big wigs of the present government? The list of such instances is too long to publish here, but I believe it is a new low when vested interests drag down names of prominent and unconnected politicians and try linking them with infamous and highly controversial cases, solely to bring down the government they represent. If at all, I believe individuals should be tried individually in a court of law for their individual conduct.
5/ As claimed by her in her testimony, if Miss Wijesuriya was all skeptical about leasing out her apartment to the family of Mr. RK through Mr. Aloysius, why did Miss. Wijesuriya show the apartment and the functions of keys to the family of Mr. Karunanayake in the first place and using a similar sales pitch as that of a used-car salesman? And why did Miss. AW state her uncorroborated OPINION in a manner that is favorable to the prosecution side at the CIBS two plus years after the deal was done and dusted?
6/ Though educated in a reputed foreign university, could it be possible that Miss. AW missed out on the business school lesson on ethics where it was taught not to betray one’s customers or to implicate them negatively especially AFTER earning a hefty profit through them? If the trust placed on her by her business associates can easily be broken by her with regards to confidential information, could the possibly be malicious testimony of Miss. AW still be admissible in a court of law?
7/ Did Miss. Anika Wijesuriya or did she not have a sexual/romantic relationship with Mr. Aloysius at some stage in their lives? And if the answer to this question is in the affirmative, could it be possible that her testimony against her ex-lover resulted from her desire to avenge her bitterness over an intimate relationship gone bad?
While there may be some truth in Mr. Arjun Aloysius intervening and getting the lease under his name or under a company that he owns…, to imply that the upfront costs of the lease was borne entirely by Mr. AA and to prematurely castigate the Karunananayakes as ‘free loaders’ or accuse them of never repaying the original amount to Mr. AA is simply a malicious accusation as per my understanding. And absurd is it not to accuse someone of not having the funds to lease an apartment when he/she is rich enough to purchase it outright? To be fair to the family of Mr. Karunanayake, I believe Mr. RK too should be given an opportunity to present his case and for him to explain the timeline of events pertaining to the lease and purchase of the apartment in question.
While the opposition may want to use Mr. Ravi Karunanayake as their trump card, it should also not come as a surprise when self-promoting fellow parliamentarians from the same UNP push him towards the altar of sacrifice expecting him to take the blame for all their collective failures in good governance.
With new entrants and destabilizing forces acting behind-the-scene in the political arena, the need to investigate the likes of Sumal Pereras, Jayawardena’s of House of Fashion fame and Nahil Wijesuriyas among others for possible large scale fraud and financial improprieties becomes all too urgent and important. Furthermore, I believe the ploy of bringing the Bond Scandal into limelight by interested parties is none other than to buy time or to avoid being prosecuted for crimes committed during the Rajapaksa regime.
Come August 02, 2017, all eyes will be on Mr. Ravi Karunanayake to listen to his side of the story at the CIBS. Come what may, the guilty should be tried, punished and laws of the state upheld. In the same light, actions of a few individuals should not be causes for overthrow of a democratically elected government or to destabilize a government that gives hope to millions.
By Muhammed Fazl
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