Lacille De Silva says Ranil is not reliable
By Rasika Hemamali
Former Secretary of the Presidential Commission of Inquiry to Investigate and Inquire into Serious Acts of Fraud, Corruption and Abuse of Power, State Resources and Privileges (PRECIFAC) and Attorney-at-Law Lacille De Silva says Ministers Hakeem and Ravi Karunanayake had clearly been subject to accusations. "They influenced the President, directly, to remove me from the PRECIFAC", he noted.
Excerpts of the interview:
On 8 January there was a political transformation in this country, how do you view the period that followed?
A: Promises were made, to combat corruption, make Government Service more efficient, and ensure media freedom also to ensure independence of the judiciary. Of the initial promises what we expected first was implementing a procedure against corruption. A Presidential Commission was appointed against corruption and fraud. An opportunity was granted to select a clever active staff. The Commission was established in the month of March. By the month of June about eight hundred petitions were received and the hearings had also begun. The first report was handed over. At the end of February I was removed from the post of Secretary.
Why do you think you were removed?
A: There were influences to halt the investigations on corruption. I think investigations on former President Mahinda Rajapaksa, as well as many in the Joint Opposition had commenced. Some of the people against whom there were charges joined the Government. In addition Ministers Hakeem and Ravi Karunanayake were clearly subject to accusations. They too influenced the President directly to remove me.
Q: Are you saying this with responsibility?
A: I am saying it with responsibility. SATHOSA had granted approval for importing rice. By importing rice, a loss of Rs.15.15 billion had to be borne by the Government. Our investigations became a threat to ministers in the present Government too. They did not want to come before the Commission and what they did was send their officers to the Commission. This request had been put to the Prime Minister. At that time, the President was of the stance that investigations should be carried out into corruption and fraud. At the end of February, before I was removed, I can recall the President told me to continue with the work and that it was good, but, when there was pressure he may have asked his Secretary to remove me from the post.
Are you saying that the President was put under pressure?
A: Definitely, there would have been some pressure that is why it was decided to remove me. President had discussions with the Prime Minister on the stance that officials did not want to go before the Commission. All of this happened during the same period.
The first step was to get rid of me. Then bringing in Government officials also gradually slowed down and all investigations came to a standstill. In this manner fulfilling of all promises is coming to an end. Once again, corruption investigations are being empowered through various other organizations in the country.
As a country, corruption and fraud should be stopped. If not we cannot progress. It is the innocent people who are suffering. Today youth are engaged in protests. Those are just demands. We remember how they took up arms against the Government. As a country we have not given careful thought to these; it is because those in Government do not possess the ability, neither do they see the need to do so. They cannot even prepare a plan.
Today we have reached a valuable turning point. After a serious war, in 2009, the then Government managed to raise the country to a certain standard, even they were unsuccessful in going beyond that.
The present ones came into power saying corruption, fraud, tender frauds, this and that. Ranil Wickremesinghe is not someone who will fulfil anything he says. I am saying this very clearly. In the Treasury Bond issue from the inception he gave unnecessary protection. It is totally wrong. Fortunately, the President took some decision. Through that decision, in some way, it became clear what the truth is. However, even today there is some sort of doubt whether these will be covered up. I am 100 per cent certain they will not be covered up.
Can we believe that if a Treasury Bond fraud took place, those found guilty will be punished?
A: Most definitely. It will be done. What he did by getting rid of us is dig his own grave. I do not believe he will be so foolish again. People also expect that from him.
He went to the United Nations Conference and said this path will be corrected. If not, it is hard to believe that even the President will have a political future. This is the final chance. It is clear. This situation cannot be corrected due to large scale interference from Government.
Are you satisfied with those in Government?
A: This Government has an idiotic Cabinet. When briefing the media on Cabinet decisions it is democratic to reply to questions in a civil manner, that is not how it happens, they use just one or two words and try to win, in an undemocratic manner. That is not how these should be solved. Cabinet is continually making the situation worse they don't seem to be able to untie the knots. Finally it is the President who has to intervene in everything and solve them.
Where should the country head?
A: Agriculture should be developed also there should be a successful plan in place to generate employment. Today we are in a very regressive state that should be corrected. The resources of this country are being spent on the welfare and happiness of parliamentarians and ministers. The world's best vehicles are being brought to Sri Lanka. The current economic status is a result of the incompetence of politicians.
We should spend the most on developing education. The Health Services, Transport, Judiciary as well as the overall Government Service has collapsed. To take the country forward it is essential to build up the Government Service. By bringing a new Constitution these problems will not get solved.
Are you saying that there is no need for a new Constitution?
A: We said very clearly that a new Constitution was required. See the Procurement Commission. It was said that such a Commission was required because all the corruption and the frauds under the previous Government was due to the procurement procedure being corrupt. Even the concept of a Procurement Commission was a proposal by Ranil Wickremesinghe. By proposing and not implementing can we expect that through the new Constitution people will get just solutions to their problems?
The 225 Members in Parliament will increase to 233 the number of Pradeshiya Sabhas which is at 4,000 will be increased to 6,000 or more. Those who are defeated and those who win will be 50 per cent, each. A strong Opposition is required for a country. Through this presidential system, the Opposition is being completely done away with.
What Ranil Wickremesinghe is doing involves a situation that goes beyond even that. Therefore the country is being dragged down further. Therefore we do not need a new Constitution at this stage.
At the conclusion of the 'Sil Redi' case, the JO said that due to such verdicts, Government officials will become apprehensive
A: That verdict was 100 per cent correct. Based on the current situation appoints are made by politicians. As a result they have to become political henchmen. However, if a certain official refuses to take an order, they appoint another to that chair and get it done. That is what is happening. At the same time Government officials should be held responsible for their actions. Judge Gihan Kulatunga's verdict is certainly a turning point in history. A Government Service that refuses to act on a wrong order should be implemented.
Sri Lankans working abroad, they are Sinhala, Tamil and Muslim, maintain their integrity. No one can work under these decadent politicians.
If this country is to be developed the President has to fulfil all the promises he made. It is not apparent that Ranil Wickremesinghe is fulfilling five cents worth of that. He is swaying from side to side similar to a stick in the mud swaying from side to side. This country cannot be taken forward with such a leadership.
If I am to be upset it has to be with the President. The President was aware of the work I was doing, but, I was thrown out without even without being informed. I can see what is happening.
Are you criticizing the Government because of the displeasure on being removed from the Commission?
A: I am speaking as an honest citizen. I did not after that go behind people and ask for jobs. I do not have anything to gain neither do I have anything to lose. If so it is the President that I should criticize.
Do you believe that by changing the Government you will not be able to achieve the difference you expect?
A: It is the characters that should change. In a democratic country, there should be leaders who honour democracy in order to implement democracy. They should be a learned and knowledgeable group. There are ploys to have the same Government in place so that the same group will benefit.
How can you find such a group of people?
A: Clever persons should be selected at regional level and if that happens this country can be rebuilt.
Expect crossovers in droves when elections are announced We want to take an anti-UNP struggle forward
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