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Thursday, May 30, 2024

Govt. violating the rights of the people

 ”Is this a clear message by the government to the judiciary to say the least – “we appointed you and you better look after our interests at all instances and if you step out of line this is the fate that you or your members of the family would be faced with”?”

By Upul Jayasuriya – Attorney at Law
  • On April 24, a divisional bench of the Supreme Court presided over the Chief Justice Shiranee Bandaranayake orders that the former Army Commander Sarath Fonseka be transferred to the Nawaloka Hospital from the General Hospital.
  • A few days later (April 27) all the exposure on the NSB – TFC transaction starts surfacing, only after the order is made by the Supreme Court for the transfer of General Fonseka from the General Hospital back to Nawaloka.
  • By this time the pardoning of the former Army commander is history with the President insisting that either Sarath Fonseka or any one of his family members should seek clemency from him.
  • Suddenly the President activates the mechanism to pardon the former Army Commander despite the fact that there was no such application made to the President.
  • The Government is well aware of the fact that the former Army Commander’s bail application was to be determined by the Supreme Court on May 31.
  • Attorneys’ for Sarath Fonseka file a motion in the ‘deserters case’ moving for bail on May 17. Motion was taken up in open court before High Court Judge Sunil Rajapasha on May 18 and the Senior state counsel in a shocking turn of events says the AG had “no objection” to enlarge Sarath Fonseka on bail.
  • Motion is filed in the White Flag case on May 21 and the Supreme Court allows the withdrawal of the appeal and thereafter Sarath Fonseka is released from the prison on a Presidential remission of the sentence on the May 21. The Chief Justice also orders the Registrar of the Supreme Court to inform the Prison’s superintendent that the appeal has been withdrawn.
  • Board of directors of the NSB, appointed by the government go against the Chairman by publishing an advertisement in the daily newspapers and dissociate themselves from the attempted purchase of shares.
  • Government-sponsored unions of the NSB come out and fight against their Chairman with whom they have had a cordial relationship until then.
  • Astrologer-turned-banker holds interviews against the Chairman of the NSB.
  • Working Director-astrologer tenders his resignation from the NSB board.
  • On May 24, the President visits the ex-Working Director at his residence in Galle and praises him for being the first to resign from the board of NSB.

This Government has never intervened in any corrupt deal that took place in the country which was colossal in nature. A few such instances are enumerated below:
A) 40 billion-rupee fraud for the award of tenders in the north under Uthuru Wasanthaya – through China Harbour Corporation and CATIC.
B) The corrupt deal amounting to US$25 million in the purchase of gantry cranes by the Ports Authority.
C) Billions of investments made by the Monetary Board of Sri Lanka through the EPF amounting to billions which has now come down drastically in the value of the portfolio, some of which are pointed out below.
D) Waste of 10 billion rupees in SriLankan Airlines and five billion rupees in Mihin Lanka under the patronage of Sajin Vaas Gunawardena. It is noteworthy that when Mihin Air was about to be closed Sajin Vaas has established his singly-owned largest private airline company by the name and style of Cosmos International acquiring several helicopters and a number of fixed wing aircrafts for domestic travel in Sri Lanka.
E) The Government took no steps when the Governor of the Central Bank initiated the purchase of large lands in New York and Dubai which are definitely not within the purview of the Central Bank costing billions of rupees.
F) How and why didn’t the Government comply with the Supreme Court order and issue bonds to the value of six billion rupees and instead pay spot cash in violation of the Supreme Court order to Harry Jayawardena when the Court reversed the purchase of the Insurance Corporation?
G) While 5 % of EPF monies were earlier invested in the stock market, it has been increased to 8 % in the last few months. Statistics have revealed that in 2008, the EPF had invested Rs. 30 billion in the stock market and earned returns amounting to only Rs. 0.17 billion. The prices of certain stocks are inflated and once the EPF purchases them the prices have fallen.
I) The EPF had brought shares for Rs. 4 billion and lost Rs. 1 billion. In one instance the EPF had purchased 10 % of Laugfs shares that were Rs. 38 each for Rs. 48 on the 10th. The monies invested were Rs.1.8 billion and by the end of trading, the stocks have fallen to Rs. 40 (per share).
J) The EPF had also purchased shares in Grain Elevators and Browns. In the case of Grain Elevators, five million shares that were purchased at Rs. 238 each have now fallen to Rs. 36 per share. The loss is over one billion rupees.
K) These are workers’ monies and the government has invested Rs. 50 billion in the stock market in the past few months. The EPF monies are invested by the Monetary Board chaired by the Governor of the Central Bank. In the last one year the value of the portfolio has plummeted down to at least 25 billion rupees.
L) In another transaction, shares of Laugfs Gas Company was trading at Rs 38 for two months and the prices went up to Rs 48 on October 10 at around 11 am. The EPF then bought Rs 1.8 billion worth of shares and on the same day, at around 2.30 pm the price of Laugfs shares dropped to Rs 40. So the loss for a single day was Rs 300 million.
Who is responsible for these losses? Will the Governor and the rest of the members of the Monetary Board put a paper advertisement and tender their resignation?

If there is one person of the Monetary Board who would be ‘benevolent’ enough and take a leaf from the book of the astrologer Abeygunawardena, he can be assured with a rare privilege that the President of the country would visit him at his residence and praise him for the courageous decision taken.

When such is the record of the government what prompted the government to assertively intervene in the ‘attempt to purchase’ of shares by NSB of TFC?

Is this a clear message by the government to the judiciary to say the least – “we appointed you and you better look after our interests at all instances and if you step out of line this is the fate that you or your members of the family would be faced with”?

(The writer is one-time Secretary of the Bar Association of Sri Lanka and later the President of the Colombo Law Society. He drafted three impeachment motions against the former Chief Justice Sarath N Silva out of which in one instance Chandrika Kumaratunga the then President prorogued the Parliament and in the second instance she dissolved the Ranil Wickremesinghe regime in 2004


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