The Prime Minster has assured Parliament that he has no clue on the whereabouts of Arjuna Mahendran. On Thursday last week, this paper reported the story with an interesting profile of the Prime Minister that betrayed him experiencing his Pontius Pilate moment of truth. Just as the procurator of Rome failed in washing his hands off that historical travesty, the Prime Minister will not succeed in washing his hands off the Bonds scandal that decidedly derailed the ‘good governance’ agenda.
The Prime Minister seems convinced of his capacity to hoodwink us and our capacity to absorb his deceptions.
He has asserted that he had no dealings with Arjuna Mahendran after he ceased to be Governor of the Central Bank. That is not an accurate statement. After he stepped down from his position in the Central Bank, he continued to be a close confidant and advisor of the Prime Minster.
When the President declined to re-appoint him as Governor of Central Bank, the Prime Minister co-opted him to his economic team.
Arjuna Mahendran accompanied the Prime Minister to Indonesia within weeks of his ceasing to be the head of the ‘big bank’.
Arjuna Mahendran was listed as the ‘Head of the Five-Year Planning Unit’ in the official delegation.
The Prime Minster has also confessed to some intimate insights into Arjuna Mahendran’s residential preferences in Singapore. “Mahendran had a habit of changing houses from time to time. That is a general practice of Singaporeans as well.”
This again is an exorbitant cock and bull spiel. Mr. Arjuna Mahendran belongs to that category of privileged Singaporeans who can afford a detached home amidst lush canopied greenery of tall trees. Such homes are lifetime investments.
With disarming detachment, he insists, “He left the country without informing me and I have no clue about his whereabouts now.”
Hypocrisy and deceptive statements are regarded as legitimate and permissible tools in policy debates. However, deliberate falsehoods in explaining the personal conduct are another matter.
The Prime Minster with his response on the whereabouts of Arjuna Mahendran has established that his politics lacks authenticity. He has achieved something more. He has demonstrated that he commands a vast reservoir of slime.
Sujeewa’s ethical gymnastics
There are two things important in politics. First is money. The second important thing is to remember the first thing – money!
According to a report published in this paper on Saturday, the Attorney General’s Department has informed Court, that State Minister Sujeewa Senasinghe has received three cheques of Rs 1 million each, from W.M. Mendis & Co. Ltd.
The State Minister reacted swiftly. He held a press conference and explained.
Anyone – even criminals can fund political campaigns of candidates. How could he know who funded? “Are you going to ask me to check their biodata whenever someone gives me money? How can you know when you’re running a political campaign? Keeping accounts is not what is important. What is important is doing the campaign,” he stated.
The man is right. What is important is doing the campaign and wining the campaign.
The sanctimonious humbuggery of the man is astonishingly authentic. At the time he received money from W.M. Mendis and Company, he had no idea that the Mendis distillery and liquor manufacturers had any connection to the primary dealer Perpetual Treasuries Limited (PTL).
Only he and a few others who are new to politics are being unfairly targeted for receiving funds. All others who dealt with the PTL have been ignored.
“The B Report submitted to Court does not say that I or the other politicians whose names have been revealed have committed a crime.”
He was willing to donate the funds that he received through the Mendis distillery to a charity.
This is what crony capitalism is all about. In crony capitalism, private parties make undue profit from abuse of public authority. Corporates benefit from the public purse by virtue of their group membership and relationships with public office holders. Sujeewa Senasinghe is incapable of differentiating between a corporate campaign contributor and the individual and universal citizenship.
Sujeewa Senasinghe will never understand what he is accused of or blamed for. Favouring a few at the expense of many is the sum total of his political existence. He awaits the next floods to demonstrate his undiminished capacity to help the homeless poor.
It is no wonder, that people are cynical and apathetic about politicians. Big money interests dominate the public discourse. This government has lost its legitimacy.
Waves over Air Waves
Precipitate action taken by the Telecommunications Regulatory Commission against the TNL TV channel created some political waves. The channel is owned by and operated by the brother of the Prime Minister. The TRC is under the direct purview of the President. The Secretary to the President chairs the Commission and his brother is its top executive.
Minister of Finance and Mass Media Mangala Samaraweera told Parliament that closing down any media institution by the Government would be unethical and undemocratic. He was responding to opposition parliamentarian Wimal Weerawansa who raised the issue. He scored some bright brownie points.
“We do not agree with the political views of the TNL which is owned by the brother of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe. The channel has slung mud at us many times. But we do not approve of the sealing of that institution. It is undemocratic. This Government came to power promising five-star media freedom. Therefore, the Minister should let us know as to what had happened,” Weerawansa said.
Minister Samaraweera agreed with ample enthusiasm. Shutting down a media institution was not democratic. “There are many TV stations which sling mud at us, but we do not have anything against them. In fact, I am a friend of the owners of those media stations and it would not be changed. We should be able to keep our politics in one box and our friendships in another box as professional politicians. I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to death your right to say it.”
The affected party had no doubts about the reason why it happened. Recent criticisms levelled at the president was the immediate provocation.
The incident tells us that we are yet to evolve an independent intuition that regulates the technology pivotal to mass communication. We must establish verifiable systems to arrive at impartial truth. We must devise methods to counter attempts to bend regulations to serve partisan ends, the whims and fancies of the powerful and their ulterior motives.
The Hardship of Accounting
Never ask of money spent Where the spender thinks it went. Nobody was ever meant To remember or invent What he did with every cent. – Robert Frost