Peace for the World

Peace for the World
First democratic leader of Justice the Godfather of the Sri Lankan Tamil Struggle: Honourable Samuel James Veluppillai Chelvanayakam

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

US$ 200M Garbage Scandal

 MAY 16 2018

The story is told of the Greek Philosopher Diogenes who was found roaming the streets of Athens in broad daylight, carrying a lamp. When the Athenians asked him what he was searching for, he replied, “I’m searching for an honest man.”

Diogenes may have had lived 2,500 years ago, but the moral of his story is applicable even today, especially to Sri Lanka. This is in the context that a US$ 200 million World Bank (WB) funded garbage disposal programme, covering the Greater Northern Colombo area and a Kelani River Flood Protection scheme, having had been scuttled due to allegations of corruption (See also yesterday’s ‘Ceylon Today’).

The tragi-comedy is that it is the Government which sought WB assistance for the garbage disposal project, after last year’s ‘garbage mountain debacle’ at Meethotamulla, North Colombo, which killed at least 30 of the country’s poor.
The cancellation of this project, due to allegations of corruption, by at least some of the bigwigs in Government, is a reflection that projects are an opportunity to line their pockets. The fate of the poor, other than shedding crocodile tears over their plight, means nothing.

Their philosophy in life: ‘Now that we have the papacy, let’s enjoy it,’ or in layman’s parlance, ‘Make hay while the sun shines’ ‘and let the poor of Sri Lanka go by’!

Small wonder that the Government was beaten ‘black and blue’ at February’s Local Government Polls by their alleged bête noire, former President Mahinda Rajapaksa!

And, more of such polls beatings will be the norm and not the exception leading up to the two national polls to be held in another two years’ time, the Presidential and the Parliamentary, where the Government will be cast into the political wilderness unless they mend their ways even at this late stage.

The present Yahapalana Government was elected to power, at the 8 January, 2015 Presidential Election, on the anti-corruption ticket. But hardly two months went by when the new Government was mired in a corruption scandal involving the multibillion rupee Treasury Bonds auction of 27 February, 2015, followed by a similar T Bonds scandal that took place a year and a month later, on 29 March, 2016, revolving round their then Central Bank Governor appointee.

As if that was not enough, a Cabinet Minister of the present Government was also allegedly embroiled in this Treasury Bonds scandal, resulting in him being sacked from his respective portfolios not once. He’s currently serving as an ordinary MP.
But that was not enough of a sacrifice to please the masses as the sound beating that the Government suffered at the 10 February LG Polls showed.

Nonetheless, that doesn’t mean that the Government, like the three proverbial monkeys, ‘who sees no evil, hears no evil and speaks no evil’, ignores this, its latest corruption scandal, the $200 million ‘Meethotamulla’  Garbage Scandal and allow the status quo to remain unchanged.

The $200 million ‘Meethotamulla’ Garbage Scandal is seemingly an ‘open and shut case’ of corruption. First, tenders were called, but subsequently certain highups in Government were allegedly trying to push a Malaysian company, which was not the cheapest, to win the contract. The bidding process had two components, each of $100 million in value, with the corruption tainted first, allegedly involving the Megapolis Ministry, having had to be first completed, before going on to the second, involving the Provincial Councils and LG Ministry.

It’s allegedly at the first leg of this programme, involving the Megapolis Ministry, that it had got mired in corruption and seemingly with no action taken by the authorities to redress this wrong, resulted in the WB pulling out of the project.

It’s up to the Financial Crimes Investigation Division (FCID) and the Commission to Investigate Bribery or Corruption (CIABOC) to take over this case, thus reestablishing the bona fides of this Government, even at this late stage, in the eyes of the masses, before the two crucial elections of 2020 take place.

Rajapaksa’s successful rallying cry at the February LG Polls was the cost of living and corruption centering round the aforesaid Treasury Bonds scandal. Don’t give him cannon fodder by being blind to this latest scandal.