The Presidential Commission investigating the Central Bank Bond scam is distinctive in that it is a commission investigating into allegations that reflect on high ranking politicians of the government itself. Previous presidential commissions were appointed to investigate alleged acts of corruption or violations of the law by political opponents of the government in power.
Although the appointment of such a commission cannot whitewash wrongdoings of government politicians – if such acts were committed – it is a worthy precedent for any government committed to transparency and accountability to follow. This move in fact took the wind off the sails of the virulent critics of the National Unity Government who were in the process of building up a fake ‘grand conspiracy by the Yahapalanaya Government’ to cover up a billion rupee fraud.
The adherence to strict legal procedures by the commissioners and the Attorney General Department Counsels determined pursuit to uncover alleged malpractices blew up conspiracy theory in the face of critics.
Nonetheless developments that took place in the sittings of the Commission were Manna from Heaven to the critics and those opponents of the government who have sworn to bring it down before the end of the year.
Attempts made by opponents of the government, well-meaning critics, ‘patriots of many hues’ and even muckrakers, on any issue, are a part of the democratic process. But they should necessarily be aimed at getting to the truth and not slinging mud at any person or institution for personal, political or monetary gain. The muckrakers on the Central Bank issue have produced enough fictional garbage to out beat that of the much celebrated Meetotamulla Dump. Such moves are obviously aimed at building up public opinion in the hope of pressurizing the Commission in its findings. However, considering the high professional standards set up by the Commission, it is obvious that their findings would be based on facts and not in fiction or faction (facts and fiction).
We have restrained ourselves on making comments on evidence given by witnesses before the commission and will await the final report unlike politicians opposed to the government and so called independent journalists of so called independent journalists institution. They have attempted to do the work of the commission and delivered their opinion on many issues within 24 hours after evidence was given.
This is not a phenomenon originating from sittings of the Central Bank Commission. This is a kind of new journalism that has developed in the recent past two years where some journalists are taking over the role of the police, politician, judge, priest and may soon attempt to be the executioner as well. Investigative journalism is well and good but it places the onerous duty of getting to the absolute facts before proceeding further. The old journalist adage of: Facts are Sacred and comment is free has been cast aside in this age of ‘Fake Journalism’ where anything favourable to their party is the absolute truth and that which is favourable to the opponents are ‘damn lies’.
In the new missionary spirit has infected journalism, morality has been hijacked from religion and today journalists deliver their sermons in editorials, feature articles, columns, perorations in the idiot box and radio. Not all of them are professional journalists but there are great pretenders such as from academia – their punditry being rejected by their colleagues and hooted at by students.
Politicians with thick skins in pure white ‘Sil Redi’ suits, carrying trays of jasmines with accompanying TV crews are preaching high morality to the gullible public completely ignoring the fact that some of them are on bail granted by courts on charges for defrauding public funds, forgery and even foreign investors. The revered Sangha, who by tradition in the past have advised monarchs and in the recent past prime ministers and presidents, are now being led by political demagogues on subjects they are not too familiar with. The objection by monks to a constitution, which has not yet been drafted or approved by the government or parliament, is a case in point.
Sri Lanka is slowly but surely slipping into political chaos. Gullible masses well paid and entertained by political parties are being transported in hired buses for political demonstrations creating chaos in the country and toppling the government. The thinking is that the size of crowds at political rallies reflects the political power of the Rajapaksa faction. This is not so because it does not demonstrate the political power of a party faction but power of the purse and the black money available. The results of the last presidential election proved just that.
The Government of Good Governance, while it did abide by the democratic norms which it has pledged to uphold, should do something good and essential for its survival: Stop the descent into chaos.
Whatever the findings of the Central Bank Commission may be, it is essential that there should be a follow up in legal and constitutional manner. In all matters involving the law and constitution the correct procedure should be followed.
Despite the pledge of the government to hold local government elections in January next year, the Opposition is planning chaos if elections don’t take place. The government should not be scared of such elections, come what may.
Remember the Rajapaksa government has swept practically all local government polls before the last presidential election but lost what mattered most, the Presidential. Battles can be lost but the War won.