Now that there is far less accumulated garbage as families buy less household needs even if commodities are available, that yawning gap is being filled with verbal garbage spewing from the lips of our political worthies. Not that political garbage emanating from that great Hall of Fame by the Diyawanna Oya is something new. Oh [...]


Creating more confusion over Pandora


Now that there is far less accumulated garbage as families buy less household needs even if commodities are available, that yawning gap is being filled with verbal garbage spewing from the lips of our political worthies.

Not that political garbage emanating from that great Hall of Fame by the Diyawanna Oya is something new. Oh no. But then the Hansard throwing, chilli- powder bombarding brigades that have marched into our Holy of Holies in the name of our despondent people, and whose illustrious educational backgrounds are hidden from public view, have more garbage to spill now than before.

So it came as no surprise when reading the Tamil Guardian published here I came across a pile of bovine rubbish that might have been useful in turning out organic manure of which there is a noticeable shortage, rather than for intelligent,
educative discourse.

The news report in the Tamil Guardian opened thus “Responding to the revelation that members (sic) of the Rajapaksa family stashed millions of dollars in anonymous offshore trusts and shell companies, Sri Lankan State Minister of Wildlife and Forest Conservation, C B Ratnayake blamed the Tamil diaspora.

“Speaking at a press conference he claimed that the diaspora were behind the revelations in the Pandora papers and further defended Sri Lanka’s President Gotabaya Rajapaksa stating:

“The Pandora Papers have come out because of the diaspora and former Deputy Minister Nirupama Rajapaksa’s name is mentioned. If any Rajapaksa does something wrong, does this mean that Gotabaya Rajapaksa is guilty? If Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe does something wrong, does that implicate Mahinda Rajapaksa?” asked State Minister Ratnayake seemingly satisfied with
the impregnability of
his argument.”

I cannot vouch for the veracity of this report which appears to have been picked up from the Sri Lanka media–mainstream or social.

Still such was the Socratic logic that spurred the State Minister of Wildlife and Forest Conservation to rise to the defence of the Rajapaksas, if he indeed did, that even the fast disappearing wildlife which the minister is nominated to protect would scarce forbear to cheer, if
one might twist Macaulay’s words somewhat.

One can understand the state minister’s desire to rush to the defence of the brothers Rajapaksa — president and prime minister — after all a Brownie point here and another point elsewhere would come in handy if another cabinet reshuffle is in the offing in time to come.

But then for heaven’s sake, make a sound, strong argument capable of defending rather than firing loose buckshot. Mr Ratnayake is not speaking to a foreign audience, he is not speaking at the UN General Assembly (heaven forbid!). He is speaking to the media and via it to the Sri Lanka people.

They are not so ignorant that they cannot tell the difference between a Rajapaksa and a Rajapakshe — the difference between a paksa and a pakshe is surely clear in the spelling — English or Sinhala.

Now to the crucial issue! Did he tell the gathered journalist what evidence he had and would make public to support the contention that the Tamil diaspora was responsible for the revelations in the Pandora Papers.

Did any of the journalists present at the conference ask Mr Ratnayake for proof to buttress his assertion? If they did the minister produce an iota of evidence?

I mean just because he is in charge of wildlife he should not go about making wild statements without proof?
If he did not provide an answer then have the media pursued it since he has bowled an ethnic ‘Chinaman’, so to say, into this global corruption exposé.

Here was the occasion when state minister Ratnayake had the opportunity to unburden himself of this valuable information about how the Tamil diaspora was able to collate data to implicate a close relative of the Rajapaksa family in what seemed like questionable financial doings.

It is all the more reason why the state minister should have done so expeditiously for it was a few weeks back that President Rajapaksa indicated to UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres his readiness to associate the Tamil diaspora in the long belated discussions on reconciliation.

While state minister Ratnayake, busy as he is saving our precious wildlife and our forests from being felled by those with power and political influence, and lending what we feel is undying support to preserve this planet from man-made ecocide, was able to track conspirators in the Tamil diaspora which deserves national plaudits.

I suppose like the recent promotion of thousands of military men, Mr Ratnayake should be duly honoured for taking on the vast Tamil diaspora single-handed like Horatius across the Tiber and giving the scattered diaspora undue publicity.

But state minister Ratnayake’s brief narrative at the press conference seems to leak like a dilapidated sieve. Though the news story is from the October 14th edition of the Tamil Guardian it does not say when the press conference was held.

Now which part of the diaspora and operating from which part of the world did those who passed on the information contact the ICIJ, the organisation responsible for the Pandora Papers, to perform this deed?

How is it that Mr Ratnayake seems to be the only one privy to this information for nobody higher up in the government or at its apex has told the Sri Lanka public of this foul deed as some might see it or others as a national service, depending on which side of the barricades one is on.

The recent attempts at obfuscation and confusion are interesting. The other day I received a list of names of some 65 Sri Lankan called “Panadura Papers” that supposedly appeared in the earlier Panama Papers, which, to my knowledge, was nowhere in that collection.

There were more red herrings thrown across the floor of parliament when the names of two Sri Lankan mentioned in the Pandora Papers came up. Later Minister Namal Rajapaksa, a cousin of Nirupama, stuck his oar in when it would have been more prudent to remain aloof, saying any dealings were during the administrations of the 1990s.

But none seems to deny that transaction had transpired through shell companies in some tax havens. What the couple told the investigators of the Bribery Commission we do not know. So, one must await the findings of those intrepid commissioners.

Where will the buck — or bucks — stop? Personally I would rather read a book.


( Neville de Silva is a veteran Sri Lankan journalist who was Assistant Editor of the Hong Kong Standard and worked for Gemini News Service
in London. Later
he was Deputy
Chief-of-Mission in Bangkok and Deputy High Commissioner in London. )


Share This Post


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked.
Comments should be within 80 words. *


Post Comment

Advertising Rates

Please contact the advertising office on 011 - 2479521 for the advertising rates.