Mandate to apprehend bond scammers | Sunday Observer

Mandate to apprehend bond scammers

If the Attorney General has issued an arrest warrant and the CID is looking for certain suspects, and they abscond, there is no gainsaying that there is corruption there, and there has been an attempt at evasion. That is to state the obvious, but there can be no redemption for the people involved.

Though some of the suspects have appeared in court since, they have run out of road, and their political or other careers should be over.The bond scam saga is now in its brand new iteration.

This latest episode has a Chicago gangster script written into it.

The fact that the ten people involved flagrantly evaded arrest is an abundant signifier of the scale of the corruption that is manifest in the entire sordid saga known as the bond scandal.

But rarely in Sri Lanka has a cabal of suspects played truant with the law with such impunity. Obviously the stakes involved are extremely high.

VENAL

It can bring us inevitably to a single conclusion. The scale of corruption under the former UNP regime was at a new level that’s hitherto unprecedented.

There has to be an entirely different tack to take on this issue of corruption by the venal, who also did nothing for the general betterment of the country.

The bond scam cannot be regarded as a common or garden case of corruption. But worse here than the scam itself is probably the scale of the coverup.

It’s not forgotten that the first attempt to gloss over the sordid saga was to appoint two or three unknown junior lawyers to register a pro UNP opinion on the relevant bond issue, with the hope that such a document will bury the matter in perpetuity, no pun intended.

All subsequent efforts have been conducted in the same vein, and this includes the so called forensic audit which was contrived to deflect the matter by citing the so called pre 2015 bond decisions which have no comparable whiff of irregularity about them.

The forensic audit report was commissioned by the then powers that be in the same manner that junior nondescript lawyers who did not know the first thing about a bond issue or its ramifications were commissioned to come up with an opinion that was aimed at disappearing the bond scandal for good.

It’s an affront to think that the same people who did something this preposterous are going to be honest about the so called forensic audit, and it’s commissioning for collateral purposes.

These people should no longer be allowed to insult the people’s intelligence. The bond scam is in a league of its own in terms of damage entailed to the State, and the cumulative loss sustained is in the region of trillions.

The chief culprits are evading the law and were absconding while every effort was made to abuse power and deflect the extent of the crime by issuing a spurious forensic audit, when the Attorney General had stated clearly that this contrived so called forensic report ought not to be released.

LA LA LAND

The UNP is the same dispensation whose MPs were caught on tape imploring judges to frame people.

They were also eavesdropped on, and heard to be asking policemen and prosecutors to say that certain political adversaries, notably one opposition MP ‘had threatened a foreigner living abroad with death’ — a complete concoction. (The victim MP concerned was Gammanpila.)

Does the UNP’s damage control squad seriously believe that the people would take them at their word when they concoct reports about the bond scam using the same officers in the Monetary Board that officiated when the scam took place? They must be in la la land.

This sideshow is over. The Attorney General has displayed serious intent. The key players are AWOL.

It means that the game is up. The UNP’s corruption was wanton. It’s not of the forgivable variety, and yes there is redeemable, forgivable corruption too in this world.

People regard leaders such as Park Chung Hee as heroes despite the fact that there were alleged abuses on their part, what with the state running gulags for those considered political opponents.

Of course Park was never associated with any kind of criminality concerning state funds. He was squeaky clean and a patriot. For lifting South Korea almost single handedly out of poverty, he was deified by his people.

So yes, there is an extent of ‘corruption’ or at least excesses such as goon squad operations that people are willing to tolerate from excellent leaders who delivered under trying circumstances.

But blatant corruption in this country by the commonplace venal whose only achievement is to be serially corrupt is not merely intolerable, it stings right in the eyeball.

There is no decency in suspects appealing for a reprieve under these circumstances. That’s an act of extreme insolence and should be taken for the cringeworthy effort it is. I’m talking in general here, but if anybody puts the hat on, it’s their business.

SPEEDY

Let’s remember that the people granted a mandate for ferreting out corruption, especially with regard to the bond scam.

However, the current spate of arrests and warrants out for arrest are mandated by officials of the AG’s department.

Those who speak of these events in political terms have their heads buried deep in the sand. If the people voted for the speedy apprehension of those intimately involved in the bond scam, what the political leadership had to do was to free the process of prosecutions of any impediments. This is precisely what the current Government has done.

As it’s recalled, the UNP government did not want the entire bunch of brigands involved in the bond scam prosecuted, and there were considerable barriers placed against the proper functioning of the prosecution process during their tenure.

GLOSSED OVER

All that has to be done now is to remove those barriers and let the law enforcement process take its course …

That has been done, and it is ridiculous if anyone alleges that this ‘happens before an election.’

The wheels of justice grind, and they have to grind, election or no election.

Sometimes, due process takes time. But what matters is that there is a critical mass of public opinion that have invested political capital in getting the bond scam criminals under the sway of law enforcement.

In the face of such strong public opinion there is no way that the matter can be glossed over and the criminals treated with kid gloves.

It’s known that it’s fairly common practice to treat corruption in this country in a certain cavalier fashion.

But there is no room for business as usual as far as the spectacularly corrupt bond scam is concerned. As far as diddling public money goes, the scam broke the dam. Those who are caught up have to pay the price, and there is no way out of it.

In the South Asian and sometimes South East Asian context, it is difficult to hold mega-scammers to account. But that does not mean that there have not been instances where the weight of public opinion was overwhelming, and the 1MDB scandal in Malaysia was one example where the dam broke.

Make no mistake that until the very last, the mega scale IMDB was poised to end up as one more case of justice aborted.

But, public wrath was damning. A party that had not lost a single election since independence was shown the door by the Malaysian people based almost entirely upon the bad press ensuing from the scandal in which the then incumbent premier Najib Razak was inextricably enmeshed.

Razak lost despite the fact that his party was so formidable that it had been unassailable, and though his father was a venerated figure in Malaysian politics.

There is a level of corruption that gets ignored in developing countries for the simple twin reasons of political culture and institutional inadequacy.

But the people will fight back when they know that they have been comprehensively duped, and been mocked with in your face corruption beyond all tolerable levels. No corruption at any level is tolerable, but some of it goes by the board due to sheer lack of recourse. Not with the bond scam, and not this time. These criminals will have their day of reckoning.

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