Sri Lanka president overrules PM on bond probe
ECONOMYNEXT – President Maithripala Sirisena Wednesday announced overruling Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe over the Central Bank bond scandal and declared that he did not quit a corrupt regime to form a similar government.
President Sirisena told a meeting at a Buddhist temple at Narahenpita in Colombo that he did not agree with his Prime Minister’s attempt to get the police to investigate the controversial 2015 bond sale as a "civil matter."
"I do not agree with that," he said referring to the Prime Minister’s office forwarding the cope report to the police for an investigation.
"A police investigation can take years. Even before the COPE (Committee on Public Enterprise) report was approved (in parliament), the Prime Minister’s office sent it to Attorney General and from there to the IGP (Inspector-General of Police).
"I made inquiries. Police investigations, according to them (PM’s office), is not to have a criminal investigation, but a civil type of probe. I do not agree with that. I want to do this in a proper way."
He said he wanted to ensure a clean investigation and bring the culprits to book in a timely fashion.
"I came out of an administration that was extremely corrupt. After leaving them (the previous corrupt regime) I am not ready to form a similarly corrupt administration. I don’t care who the perpetrators are, but I will do the right thing and take action.
"I don’t care if they are in the government or elsewhere, but I ask all the 225 Members of parliament who want a clean administration to support me in this endeavour to punish those who are corrupt."
The president also altered his earlier stand on a Special Presidential Commission which he announced on Monday to probe allegations against the then governor Arjuna Mahendra who stands accused of insider trading.
A Special Presidential Commission does not have powers to carry out a criminal investigation and therefore the President said on Wednesday that he would now appoint a "Presidential Commission" that could lead to criminal prosecutions.
The President said he watched Tuesday’s parliamentary debate on the COPE report and said it turned out to be a case of trying to show that the other party was more corrupt than them.
The President he would appoint a seperate commission to probe the ‘games’ played in the past eight years, after the first one completes its work.
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.
Sampanthan said the country was "stinking" of corruption, but the worst thing was the loss of Central Bank’s credibility.
The President said it was he who removed Arjuna Mahendran, an hand picked appointee of the Prime Minister and replaced him with internationally recognised civil servant Indrajith Coomaraswamy.
Oppose legitimising homosexuality, legalising prostitution
The President also claimed credit for resisting government moves to legitimise homosexuality and legalise prostitution.
Sri Lanka is bound to remove discriminatory laws based on the sexual orientation of an individual, but Sirisena told Buddhist monks at the Abhayaramaya Temple in Narahenpita that he will not allow such legislation.
He said recognising homosexuality and commercial sex workers was against Sri Lanka’s culture.
(COLOMBO, January 25, 2017)