Anura Kumara Dissanayake

JVP Leader and Chief Opposition Whip Anura Kumara Dissanayake on Tuesday made a stunning revelation in Parliament that a former Higher Education Minister has robbed valuable furniture and other items donated to the female hostel at the University of Colombo. Dissanayake did not name the minister, but pointed his finger at the bench in Parliament where that minister was now seated. At the time the JVP Leader made the charge, the minister in question was not present in the House.

Robbery of donations and gifts to State institution by politicos is not new. That dirty culture began after 1977. A number of priceless items including a priceless gem that was kept inside the Buddha Shrine at the President’s House went missing after the death of President Ranasinghe Premadasa. The famous Mulkirigala Painting which was hung near the stairway at President’s House too went missing. However, President Chandrika Kumaratunga managed to locate it at an auction in London and brought it back. But the robbers were not brought to book. Silver spoons and other valuable cutlery also went missing from the President’s House.

During the UNP Governments from 1977-1993, the internal audit at the Health Ministry reported that a long conference table, chairs and flower pots were missing from the ministry. All fingers were pointed out at a Cabinet Minister. President Ranasinghe Premadasa personally investigated the matter and found the items lying at the personal residence of that Cabinet Minister. He immediately ordered that minister to return those items to the ministry. During the regimes of Presidents Jayewardene and Premadasa (the duo never occupied the President’s House) all gifts offered to them by visiting Presidents, Prime Ministers and International Leaders were kept at the President’s House and an inventory of those items were maintained. President D.B. Wijetunga and Chandrika Kumaratunga too followed suit though they occupied the President’s House.

If the government checks the inventories at ministries, it would certainly find that valuable furniture and other items are missing when governments do change. Some ministers order new furniture, while the older ones are yet usable. Finally, none knows the fate of old items as they disappear from ministries. If valuable items from the President’s House and Government Ministries disappear in this style, those who occupied those ministries should be held responsible. The plunder of State-owned property had increased fourfold over the past decade. A large number of vehicles from the Presidential Secretariat and some ministries are still missing. These anti-national acts involving politicos, demonstrate the low quality of politics practised in our country and the calibre of politicians people elect to the supreme legislature. Adding insult to injury, the discipline and conduct of many politicians are at low ebb. They do not even respect the judicial precinct. A fortnight ago former Provincial Minister Upali Kodikara physically pushed a policeman and challenged the police inside the building where the Special Presidential Commission sits in session. Police feared to arrest him on the spot.

All valuable items for the State Sector are purchased through public funds and not by personal funds of ministers and politicians. If politicians rob those items, the government leadership should take them to task. Female hostels at universities lack facilities. That is why some countries and institutions donate items to meet those requirements. If the Higher Education Minister himself plunders those valuable items as claimed by Anura Kumara Dissanayake, the government should immediately probe that charge and bring that minister before the law.

Cabinet Ministers are no exception before the law to allow them to plunder gifts and State-owned property. And, it’s a shame to the entire country before international eyes when it is reported worldwide that Sri Lankan Cabinet Ministers rob items donated to a female hostel at a university. Sri Lankan ministers were known to be the best comedians in the world during the past decade with ministers like Mervyn Silva proposing to marry the former UNHRC Chief Navi Pillai. Now, with ministers reported robbing items like furniture which are the property of State-owned universities, the world would say, ‘Sri Lankan Ministers are the Best Robbers in the world.’ MOTHER LANKA WEEPS IN SILENCE IN the FACE OF THESE DISGRACES.

(Source: Ceylon Today)