ECONOMYNEXT - Sri Lanka's government Tuesday resorted to the latest Donald Trump tactic of offering "alternative facts" to defend Arjuna Mahendran who is accused of "insider dealing" when he headed the Central Bank.
Government loyalists side stepped the findings of the Committee on Public Enterprises (COPE) during a debate initiated by the JVP and went onto the focus on the alleged corruption during Mahinda Rajapaksa's decade in power.
Government's anti-corruption activist and deputy minister Ranjan Ramanayake diverted attention to bond scams under the Rajapaksa administration and large scale corruption between 2005 and 2015.
Speaker after speaker from the government tried to say that corruption under the former government was worse than at present.
Donald Trump's campaign manager Kellyanne Conway recently offered "alternative facts" when video and photographic evidence proved that their claims of record crowds at the presidential inauguration were false.
Amidst the mudslinging and outright lies, Opposition leader R. Sampanthan moved to lift the quality of the debate by focusing on the real issue - a debilitating plague of corruption.
"What is happening now. I am not saying Mr. Ranil Wickremesinghe is corrupt. I am not saying Mr. Maithripala Sirisena is corrupt, but there is corruption. you know it," Sampanthan said.
He said much was talked about the corruption that prevailed during the previous regime, but not a single person had been convicted or even indicted.
"Has anyone being convicted? No. Are you framing false charges that you cannot substantiate. The country needs to know.
"When there is so much of corruption levelled against the former government, why is it that no one has been convicted, or no one has even been charged in a court of law. Is it because you are protecting them?," he asked the government.
"Or is it because your charges are thoroughly unfounded and you cant substantiate them?"
Sampanthan said the country was "stinking" of corruption, but the worst thing was the loss of Central Bank's credibility.
"The Central Bank has lost its credibility in this country. The Central Bank's misconduct, their misbehaviour, their acting beyond the legitimate functions of the Central Bank did not start yesterday or the day before.
"It started a long time ago, during the last regime. The Central Bank was accused of engaging in political propaganda on behalf of the government in the US."
He said the country had suffered immensely and wrong doers must be punished irrespective of their station in life. (COLOMBO, January 24, 2017)