Civil society denies receiving PTL money, alleges Mahinda camp behind vilification campaign

Ven. Amila flays President


By Shamindra Ferdinando

Civil society groups which campaigned for common candidate Maithripala Sirisena and the UNP at the 2015 presidential and parliamentary polls, respectively, yesterday accused the Mahinda Rajapaksa camp of propagating a lie that they had links to the tainted primary dealer, Perpetual Treasuries Limited (PTL) or its subsidiaries, Walt and Row Associates and W.M. Mendis & Company Limited.

The Purawesi Balaya addressed the media at the Center for Society and Religion (CSR), Maradana. It challenged Joint Opposition lawmakers, Ranjith Zoysa and attorney-at-law Sirira Mendis to prove their allegations.

Co-convenors of Purawesi Balaya, Gamini Viyangoda and Saman Ratnapriya and Ven. Dambara Amila, convenor of National Movement for Social Justice Prof. Sarath Wijesuriya, film maker Dharmasiri Bandaranayake and Sudantha Madawa of Aluth Parapura strongly denied that they had benefited from PTL largess.

When The Island sought an explanation as regards the US announcement that USD 3.4 mn had been spent here in 2015 bedsides the disbursement of USD 582 mn in Burma, Nigeria and Sri Lanka for restoration of democracy in the run-up to January 2015 presidential polls, Ratnapriya said such reports should be inquired into. Ratnapriya pointed out that there were reports of external meddling even in US presidential polls. He said that tough laws were required to monitor collection and spending of campaign funds.

Viyangoda said that in addition to him, Ven. Amila, Dharmasiri Bandaranayake, Saman Ratnapriya and actress Samanali Fonseka had been targeted by those backing the Rajapaksas in a systematic campaign in a bid to silence them. He alleged that a section of MPs abused parliamentary privileges to sling mud at the civil society. Referring to a recent statement issued by Speaker Karu Jayasuriya, Viyangoda said that there was absolutely no basis for claims that a list containing 118 individuals who had received PTL money existed.

Viyangoda assured that if those lawmakers could prove their grouping received money from PTL he would quit Purawesi Balaya.

Contrary to allegations, the civil society had campaigned against government move to extend disgraced Central Bank Governor Arjuna Mahendran’s term, Ratnapriya said. The health sector trade union activist denied receiving benefits from the Sirisena-Wickremesinghe administration. He said he had been overseas at an ILO conference when he first heard about accusations.

The likes of Zoysa and Mendis could not stomach the Rajapaksas defeat in 2015 and were engaged in a futile exercise to bring them back to power, Ratnapriya said. Alleging that the previous administrations stolen billions of rupees, he said that there had been extrajudicial killings, ‘white van’ abductions and rampant corruption.

Ratnapriya alleged that those contesting parliamentary elections received donations from even brothels and drug dealers, therefore, they were indebted to the corrupt and criminal elements.

Ratnapriya said that the civil society would not give up its struggle. Instead, it would go all out to defeat the Rajapaksas at the next national level election.

Ven. Amila said flayed both the Rajapaksa camp and President Maithripala Sirisena. He said the President had failed to honour his much-advertised election promises. The Thera recalled how President Rajapaksa had unleashed the police on him soon after he had pledged his support in the late 2009 to former General and common candidate Sarath Fonseka. Rajapaksa had not been able to find anything wrong, Ven. Amila said, challenging law enforcement authorities to prove if he had benefited from anyone.

Referring to action taken against TNL and various social media allegedly by President Sirisena, Ven. Amila thera claimed that incumbent leader’s response to media criticism was deplorable. He said that he was confident that the public would not lose their confidence in the civil society.

Dharmasiri Senanayake said that an attempt was being made to facilitate the election of another dictator at the next presidential poll.

Denying their complicity in efforts to protect those who had been involved in treasury bond scams, Prof. Wijesuriya alleged that those connected to President Sirisena, PM Wickremesinghe and former President Rajapaksa were trying to suppress the inquiry.

Prof. Wijesuriya said that he had heard about President Sirisena seeking British High Commission’s intervention to secure the extradition of a person running a website and calling for a report on all websites critical of him. If that was true, President Sirisena would have to face dire consequences, he said. President Sirisena had conveniently forgotten how his presidential campaign had benefited from media and social media, Wijesuriya said.

Prof. Wijesuriya urged President Sirisena to own up to his mistakes and take immediate remedial measures without faulting critics..

animated gif
Processing Request
Please Wait...