Kekille’s bloodline

Monday 22nd, January 2018

It is thought that King Kekille, who meted out severe penalties to innocents and set free culprits in cases heard before him, never lived and he was invented by storytellers in days of yore as a metaphor for the asininity of rulers. But, we have reason to believe that the bovine monarch actually inhabited this land and his bloodline has survived; some of his descendants are currently in politics if their sayings and doings are anything to go by.

JVP MP Sunil Handunnetti has, speaking for his party, declared the other day that President Maithripala Sirisena should take the responsibility for the bond scams as the latter had appointed Arjuna Mahendran the Governor of the Central Bank. The Rathu Sahodarayas have left us baffled beyond measure.

With the benefit of hindsight everybody now knows President Sirisena shouldn’t have succumbed to pressure from the UNP, which demanded that Mahendran be made the Central Bank Governor. However, by no stretch of the imagination, can he be blamed for the frauds Mahendran has committed. The President rightly used his powers to thwart an attempt to reappoint Mahendran at the end of the latter’s first term. Strangely, the JVP doesn’t blame Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe for bringing Mahendran in and trying to have him reappointed in spite of the first bond scam!

The blame for covering up the first bond scam should, however, be apportioned to President Sirisena. Some UNP backbenchers have vilified the President and called him an ingrate because he had the bond scams probed, but, in 2015, he went so far as to dissolve Parliament before the COPE (Committee on Public Enterprises) report on the first bond scam was taken up for debate. That way he prevented the UNP’s chances of defeating the SLFP-led UPFA being ruined, at the last general election. True, his action was partly due to his desperation to scuttle Mahinda Rajapaksa’s bid to return to Parliament as the Prime Minister. But, the fact remains that in so doing he saved the UNP.

The Rathu Sahodarayas function as the kasakarayas (whip crackers) in what may be called the yahapalana perahera or procession. They prepare the way for the ‘Elephants’. Their criticism of someone is a precursor to a UNP propaganda onslaught on that person. They are also known for their full tosses to the UNP during the question time in Parliament. This kind of cohabitation between the UNP and the JVP was seen during the late President J. R. Jayewardene’s first term as well. The JVP was then derisively dubbed the Jayewardene-Vijeweera Peramuna. History seems to be repeating itself.

Handunetti, who headed the second COPE on bond scams, has, through his aforesaid declaration, demonstrated his party’s partiality to Prime Minister Wickremesinghe. It is only too well known that the JVP is eating out of the palm of the PM’s hand. No wonder the second COPE did not hold the PM responsible for anything anent the bond scams!

When Mahendran was appointed the Central Bank Governor, the JVP was part of the National Executive Council (NEC), which made all key decisions under the yahapalana government’s 100-day programme. Why didn’t the JVP oppose Mahendran’s appointment and leave the NEC in protest? One can argue that at the last presidential election the JVP backed Sirisena, who subsequently appointed Mahendran the Central Bank head and, therefore, the JVP should also be held responsible for the bond scams.

The UNP has appointed a committee headed by Minister Tilak Marapana to study the bond probe committee report. If Marapana’s track record is anything to go by then he cannot be expected to do act impartially. It may be recalled that he had to resign as the Minister of Law and Order because he stood accused of using his ministerial position to defend, in Parliament, Avant Garde security firm, which was embroiled in the floating armoury controversy, having functioned as the counsel of that company. Previously, the UNP appointed three of its lawyers to investigate the first bond scam and they cleared Mahendran of wrongdoing. So, it is not difficult to predict the findings of the Marapana committee. We bet our bottom dollar (or rupee) that it will pin the blame on some others a la King Kekille.

Now that the President has drawn flak for the bond scams because he is responsible for appointing the Governor of the Central Bank, he should seriously consider taking over that vital institution so that he can keep a watchful eye thereon. Likewise, if the President is really keen to manage the economy himself as he declared in Kegalle on Saturday then he won’t able to do so without having the Central Bank under his direct supervision, which is a prerequisite for running the economy. He has amply proved that he can protect himself against his enemies. It will be an uphill task for him to save himself from his friends.


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