Is change there?

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2017-04-12

By Bandara

She spent a life of luxury and comfort in a large mansion. Even where power was concerned, in that country she was second to none. She ruled above everyone and believed that not even a crow could fly over her head. However, she could not maintain this authority of power and dictatorship throughout her life.

She was accused of a number of things including bribery, corruption and misuse of power. In the first week of the month of March, before a people's Court she was proven guilty. She had to leave her powerful post then.

She is none other than the former President of South Korea, Park Geun-hye. This former President who was removed from her post was taken into custody on Thursday 31 March.

The luxurious life she lived changed completely and now she has to spend her time isolated in a prison cell of 10 square metres.

The former South Korean President spends her time, as Prisoner No. 628, at a Detention Centre in Seoul.

Similar to the procedure followed for other prisoners, a photograph was taken of her when she was imprisoned. She was put into a cell subsequent to providing her with a small tray for her to take her meals on, the clothing she had to wear while in prison, a mattress to sleep on and sanitary requirements only. The media in that country had reported that she shed tears when she was imprisoned.

The accusations, against her, included revealing State secrets, obtaining bribes and misusing power. If these accusations against the former South Korean President Park Geun-hye are proved, there is a rumour in that country that she could be imprisoned for life.

Behind these accusations of corruption against the former President there is the massive shadow of one of her closest friends.

That is Choi Soon-sil who had been a long-standing friend. Whatever the meaning of her name meant, she was the one who destroyed Park Geun-hye and sealed her in prison.

It has been revealed that Choi Soon-sil used her friendship with the former President and obtained millions of American Dollars from well known companies in South Korea. There are accusations that the former President assisted her in these misdemeanours. The accusations were that many of these firms had given her money with the intention of obtaining various favours based on her ties with the President.

Another grave accusation against the former President was that she had handed over files containing secret reports on her government's economic activities for her friend Choi Soon-sil to use.

Destroying evidence

Choi Soon-sil is also at present in custody. It is reported that the former President was taken into custody because it was apparent that the accusations against her were justified. It is said that another reason for her arrest was that if she remained in power there was a risk of her destroying evidence.

Although the former President was taken into custody, no legal action has been taken against her as yet. She is being questioned these days. South Korean media had said that a case will be filed against her prior to 19 April.

When comparing the manner in which the former President of South Korea misused her State powers, there was an era in Sri Lanka as well when State power was misused without a limit. From preventing criticism of the government, exercising dictatorial power to benumbing the entire country with punishment, violence, fear and lawlessness, has been forgotten by the power-hungry followers. They have forgotten the pressure they were undergoing when the brain was benumbed and the 18th Amendment was approved, by raising of hands. They have forgotten how State property in the country was misused according to the whims and fancies of certain individuals.

Former President J. R. Jayewardene's son Ravi Jayewardene passed away recently.

Ravi gave up his father's political heritage which created in this country a politico-economic change.

Ravi Jayewardene completed his studies to become a pilot and returned to this country and served Air Ceylon as a pilot. By then Air Ceylon was on the verge of financial bankruptcy. Ravi strongly believed that a national airline should be launched in Sri Lanka. He used Singapore Airlines as a model. With his father becoming the ruler of the country, by winning five-sixth majority vote, the opportunity to realize his dream of creating a new national airline was available to him.

In 1979, he appointed his pilot friend Rakhitha Wickramanayake as the Chairman and launched a new national airline named Air Lanka. Air Lanka was started utilizing two Boeing 707 aircraft leased from Singapore Airlines. Air Lanka did not succeed as much as expected.

Air Lanka which made losses as the national carrier was brought back to life by former President Chandrika Bandaranaike's government. In 1988 President Chandrika took a bold decision. She entered into an agreement with Emirates. Emirates bought 40 per cent of the shares of Air Lanka for a sum of US$ 70 million. The name was changed from 'Air Lanka' to 'SriLankan'. The agreement was valid only for a period of ten years. Air Lanka which made losses from 1979 onwards became SriLankan and gradually began earning profits. At the end of the ten years, in 2008, as per the agreement, SriLankan Airlines had earned a profit of Rs 4.4 billion. The profit that was taken forward at the end of that year amounted to Rs 9.288 billion.

SriLankan Airlines

The regime that then came into power chased away Emirates which enabled SriLankan Airlines to earn a profit of Rs 9 billion.

That was done as the result of a very personal incident. A problem regarding air line tickets required for a group from the regime to travel to England arose and reports were published that the Chief Executive Officer of Emirates, Britisher Peter Hill had to give up all his posts almost immediately. It was said that even Peter Hill's visa was cancelled.

SriLankan Airlines was subject to the veto power of a brother company. Nishantha Wickremasinghe who had not even got through his GCE Ordinary Level, a brother-in-law of the head of the regime was appointed as the Chairman of SriLankan Airlines.

It was reported in Parliament, that the then Minister of Aviation Services who had to reply to a question raised by a parliamentarian of the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna regarding the educational qualifications of the Chairman of SriLankan Airlines, had to accept the fact that Nishantha Wickremasinghe had not even passed his GCE O/Levels. SriLankan Airlines which had made a profit of Rs 9 billion by the time the Emirates Agreement came to an end, had made a loss of Rs 128 billion by the year 2015. It was also reported that in addition, SriLankan Airlines had obtained a loan of Rs 76 billion as stated in the Profit and Loss Account and Balance Sheets and was apparent in the statistics.

To which category of financial crime can this incident of a company which made a profit of Rs 9 billion, recorded a loss of Rs 128 billion during a period of six years, fall into....?

This is only one example of a massive crime which took place in connection with State property during a refractory period of administration.

All these strikes, threats and roars as well as protests are to escape from the accusations of misusing national wealth. People say that the doctors' strike is also part of it. They put their hunger for power to the forefront and using dishonest individuals, drag the entire country into inconvenience.

The threats and empty words that Temple Trees and the Presidential Secretariat will be surrounded on 1 May are part of plans to save themselves from such State crimes. Ape Hamuduruwo was told that the government will be toppled before two Vesak Poya Days pass and morale is provided for the henchmen simply due to the greed for power.

The fact on the other side of this is also terrible and extremely tragic. The report of Attorney-at-Law J. C. Weliamuna Committee which the new government appointed to investigate and report on the misuse of finances of SriLankan Airlines, frauds and corruption and using the 'services' of beauties among other facts mentioned and not mentioned and so on, has been put into cold storage or allowed to rot. It was issued on 30 March 2015.

This is where the deceptive game lies.

Former President of South Korea who misused State power, as mentioned earlier, now languishes in a 10 square metre prison cell, isolated.

People who grabbed public wealth, misused the law and destroyed democracy with dictatorship and power in our country, corrupt individuals, fraudsters, rapists and those who made the country a paradise for killers, are saying that jointly they will capture power within two Vesak Poya Days.

Reports of discoveries, inquiries and investigations of the government are in 'termites' company'. If change is there, this cannot happen.

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