Witch-Hunt Or Poetic Justice?
- Yoshitha Rajapaksa Debacle
by Wimalanath Weeraratne
A small boy one day brought a pencil home from school. His mother never asked him: “Son, from where did you get this?” On the second day he brought an eraser home. His mum kept her calm and stayed quiet. The boy continued his habit increasing its severity and ultimately it became a problem to the whole school unil he became a dropout. His mother never said anything against her son’s wicked habits.
One day he was caught by the king’s men for breaking into the palace to steal. During the hearing, the king ordered that the young rouge be executed for attempting to steal property belonging to the monarchy. After delivering the judgment the king inquired: “Do you have any last wishes?” “Yes” replied the young man, “I have something to say to my mother.” His devastated mother was brought to the presence of the king and her son. “What is that you have to tell me, my son?” “Come hither and I will tell you a secret,” replied the son.
When the mother went closer to her son, he bent over as if to whisper to her ear and alas bit off a part of his mother’s ear. “Why did you do that my son?” shouted the mother in pain with blood gushing from her severed ear.
“This is to remind you that had you warned me or punished me the first day I brought a pencil, today I would not have to face the gallows!”
Although this may be a fictional story inspired by true events, last January 30 events reminded not only the public but also the politicians of our country that even a former first family is not immune to this universal truth and day everyone has to face the consequences of both the good and bad one does in his or her lifetime.
The owners and top management of the Rajapaksa family-owned Carlton Sports Network (CSN) including former President Mahinda Rajapakasa’s second son and naval officer – Lieutenant Yoshitha Rajapaksa, along with CEO Nishantha Ranatunga and the former President’s Spokesman Rohan Weliwita were arrested by the Financial Crimes Investigations Division (FCID) over alleged financial irregularities relating to the channel.
Although the Police was delayed in its decision to arrest the Board of Directors of CSN on alleged breaches of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act No 05 of 2006, it was revealed that there is overwhelming evidence to prove that CSN investments amounting to a staggering US$ 2.3 million were made from monies of questionable sources. Laundering of black money is a grievous offence under the anti money laundering laws.
The total capital of CSN is said to be Rs 234 million and only its initial capital of Rs. 7 million had been accounted for by the CSN officials. Sources say that financial irregularities had occurred when obtaining funding from a nefarious company – Cosmos Group owned by one-time Rajapaksa lackey Sajin Vass Gunawardena which had invested Rs 50 million each from two of his companies- Cosmos Technology and Cosmos Printing. Another Rs 52 million has been obtained from a Chairman of a Licensed Commercial Bank who is yet another Rajapaksa stooge another Rs.25 million by Chesmy Consolidates owned by two children of the elder sister of Mahinda Rajapaksa – Himal Lalinda Hettiarachchi and Ranganee Hettiarachchi and another Rs.50 million on a loan obtained from a Specialised Leasing Company. It is also learnt that assets worth several millions of rupees belonging to other state agencies too had been misappropriated for the benefit of CSN.
Further investigations are now underway to ascertain whether the suspects had violated multiple laws including the Customs Ordinance No. 17 of 1869, the Penal Code (No. 2 of 1883) by engaging in creating forged documents, criminal breach of trust, criminal misappropriation and the Offences Against Public Property Act (No. 12 of 1982) by engaging in the misuse of state properties.
Wild ass freedom
It took no time for then President Mahinda Rajapaksa to misuse the people’s mandate given at the 2005 Presidential Election and take the public for a ride. All the main ministries, portfolios, subjects and state institutions came under the purview of either himself, or his siblings Minister Basil Rajapaksa, Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa whilst the eldest offspring of the D A Rajapaksa – Chamal Rajapaksa was made the Speaker of Parliament. A significant number of those who harp about independence and good governance today forget that they were once henchmen for the Rajapaksa siblings.
In the light of this, several cohorts tried to boost the image of the crown prince and heir apparent – Namal Rajapaksa. The crown prince was not only seen many a times interfering into activities of ministries of very senior ministers but also went to the extent of bypassing many to influence highly-experienced public servants.
After obtaining an unprecedented 99% marks for the subject of Delict at the final year examination for Attorneys-at-Law at the Sri Lanka Law College from its defamed Principal and Rajapaksa stooge W. D. Rodrigo, the budding MP started emulating Minister Felix Dias Banadaranaike of the 1970-1977 United Front Government. After being dishonourably removed from the esteemed office of the Principal of this hallowed institution, Rodrigo was appointed as the Director General of Legal Affairs at the Presidential Secretariat. That is how those who faithfully served the Rajapaksa clan were returned favour by the Rajapaksas.
Although they did not poke their finger into cricket as they did not play the gentlemen’s game, rugby was not so fortunate and the Rajapaksas thought it fit to interfere in anything that was remotely connected to the sport. Those who truly displayed their sportsmanship in the game was ruthlessly frowned upon and even attacked both on and off the field. Budding rugby player Wasim Thajudeen who reportedly opposed a move by the Rajapaksa-owned Carlton sports Club to takeover Havelock’s Sports Club met with ‘an accident’.
Not to be outdone the youngest in the Rajapaksa siblings – astronaut Rohitha also took part in professional car racing. Not wanting to be subject to the contempt of the Rajapaksa’s, talented racers allowed ‘Chi chi’ to ‘emerge’ champion at racing events in which the former first family were chief guests and former first lady Shiranthi Rajapaksa handed over the trophies.
Third Law of Newton
Formally stated, Newton’s third law is: For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. The statement means that in every interaction, there is a pair of forces acting on the two interacting objects, in the study of physics.
Posts on Facebook showing a photo of Mahinda Rajapaksa being tearful after Yoshitha was arrested went viral during last week.
“What is wrong is taking revenge on children. If I was arrested and caged, it would have been so much the better for this. There is a doctor also here. He is a shareholder. What he has been told is to tell Yoshitha’s name and that then they will release him … if not he would be put in jail. He (Yoshitha) is preparing for the MBA examination on the 9th and 10th. Now see the frustration he undergoes. Another person was brought with hands and legs broken. These people are not in the hospital. Only the injured person has been put to the hospital. This is the true story,” lamented the Pater. What the Rajapaksas have forgotten is that they clan caused thousands of fathers, mothers, sons and daughters to cry and whine over their loved ones arrested, tortured, maimed or killed.
The Bible states “A man reaps what he sows.” Thus now Yoshitha is behind bars because of the repercussion and consequences of a culture created by none other than the Rajapakas themselves.
Irreparable faux pas
Rajapaksa should have had farsightedness to think that bringing his wife, brothers, sons, cousins, nephews, nieces and every Tom, Dick and Harry of the Rajapaksas would one day sound the death knell for the Rajapaksa regime.
In a third world country such as Sri Lanka you cannot expect close relatives of the chief executive getting involved in various organs of the government, but former President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga must be commended for not pushing her daughter Yasodara and son Vimukthi into every nook and corner of the political establishment.
Ravi Jayewardene and Elina Jayewardene did not interfere into the affairs of former President J. R. Jayewardene anywhere close to the extent the Rajapaksa spouse and offspring went to.
Although Sajith Premedasa took up politics he in fact abandoned the comforts of Colombo Central which was a United National Party (UNP) stronghold thanks to the legacy left by President Ranasinghe Premedasa went in to the hinterlands of Hambantota whilst his sister Dulanjalee did not have anything to do with politics.
Namal passing Sri Lanka Law College exams with flying colours, Yoshitha running the show at CSN and manning SupremeSat satellites into outer space were in fact too much for the three siblings. So far only CSN kickbacks have backfired upon Yoshitha, but as Frank Sinatra says ‘the best is yet to come!’
Just as Mahinda Rajapaksa called the arrest a politically-motivated witch-hunt to seek revenge from the Rajapaksas, MR supporters too are following suit.
Rajapaksa lackey and National Freedom Front (NFF) Leader Wimal Weerawansa, who along with wife should be arrested for the alleged sale of public property for a pittance and forging a passport, had become so desperate that he had the audacity to say that the government is resorting to avenging from the children of politicians whilst Deputy Minister Nishantha Mutuhettigama went onto say that three SLFP MPs were ready to resign from their portfolios if the political witch hunt by the UNP is not stopped.
“Do not awaken sleeping serpents” threatened Mutuhettigama, although ending his warning with a desire to see a movement where Mahinda would hold hands with Maithri.
National Movement for Social Justice member and good governance activist – Prof. Sarath Wijesuriya addressing the media recently reminded the United National Front for Good Governance (UNFGG) to deviate from its current path and keep to pledges made to the people prior to the January 8 Presidential Election.
“Offenders responsible for corruption, malpractice and murder are still not being investigated and punished as promised. Several people who placed their trust in the government question us.”
“Recently Namal Rajapaksa in an interview to a newspaper claimed that none of the Rajapaksas had done anything against the law and as such to present any Rajapaksa before courts of Law. Now Yoshitha is before courts and now they are going against their own words claiming that it is a witch-hunt!”
As such Wimal or Dinesh Gunawardena cannot now claim administration of justice as a witch hunt. However Nishantha Mutuhettigama correctly said not to awaken sleeping serpents. The Rajapaksa regime was a venomous serpent that sucked the blood and life of the people.
If Maithri should join hands with Mahinda why should the Rajapaksas be defeated? Maithripala could have jolly well continued under Mahinda. He gave up his Ministerial post and the General Secretary position of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party in order to put a stop to this tyrannical regime at a grave cost to his life. Now it is inviolable upon him to accomplish the pledge he gave to the people. Catching thieves is part and parcel of Maithripala’s mandate and this should not stop with Yoshitha!