CaptureA couple of months back the retiring Canadian High Commissioner introduced me to the German Ambassador, whose country has been doing much helpful work in vocational education. He seemed a nice young man, but as it turned out he was cross with me because, in an article in this series about six months back, I had been critical of some pronouncements he had made.

I had quite forgotten what I had written, and I certainly did not associate the football playing youngster with the old man, his predecessor during the war, who used to pontificate to us. But on cue as it were, even while he suggested that I should have spoken to him before making pronouncements, he pronounced again, on much the same lines. Apparently not having read the manifesto on which President Sirisena won election, he continued to pontificate about what he claimed were ‘changes that the Sirisena-Wickremesinghe government had promised in 2015’ referring almost entirely to what Mangala Samaraweera had signed up to in Geneva. And most worryingly, in talking about corruption, he twinned it in both efforts with impunity / exemption from punishment.

My article noted that what the President should concentrate on is the promises in the manifesto on which he was elected, and in particular dealing with corruption in terms of the suffering it brought to the Sri Lankan people. I did tell him that I would be happy to discuss anything he wished, but since then there has been a deafening silence.

I suspect this is because he also in his message referred to an issue that I would hope he now finds embarrassing. He repeated the old canard about my ‘role some years ago which led to the closure of the office of the Friedrich-Naumann-Foundation’.  He obviously assumed that the allegation was true, even though the former Deputy German Ambassador had discussed the issue with me at length, and seemed convinced that it was nonsense. The reason for the FNS Head, Sagarica Delgoda, being questioned by the police was, as clearly described by Jehan Perera, its organization of a seminar on ‘improving the opposition’s ability to win elections by better campaign methods’.

Underlying this of course was the support Mrs Delgoda and the FNS gave Ravi Karunanayake for a range of activities. One of these was the Democratic Youth Leagues, for which Buddhika Pathirana and Manusha Nanayakkara were the front men, though later he fell out with both of them.

One reason I think is that Buddhika is an independent personality – hence his now languishing in obscurity despite his evident capacity, and consistently heading the UNP vote in Matara, above Ranil’s favoured henchmen Mangala and Sagala – and questioned what was happening to the money the FNS was pouring in. He complained to me that it went into the hands of Ravi and Sharmila Perera, the Secretary of the New Democratic Front, through which both Sarath Fonseka and Maithripala Sirisena contested Presidential elections. The party was again in the news since its chairman, a British citizen, was involved in the hacking of the Far Eastern International Bank. As it happened, the former regional head of the FNS seemed to know nothing of the involvement of Sharmila Perera in the 2010 election.

I wrote to the ambassador when the news first emerged of Ravi’s shenanigans with regard to the apartment for which Arjun Aloysius paid. There was no reply, though I hope that, in line with his public pronouncements the ambassador takes corruption seriously and looks into the role of the FNS in funding what seems to be a plundering project. The reports of how Ravi misled the state banks to ensure further profits for Aloysius, and now the role of another of his principle associates, Shalila Moonasinghe, should make the Germans think, if indeed they are concerned about good governance. But unless we have another public pronouncement from the ambassador, noting the misuse of German money, we will have to conclude that all this is hot air, based on personal predilections, not principles.

Ceylon Today 7 Nov 2017

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