Letter to the people of #SriLanka by former President Mahinda Rajapaksa
MAHINDA RAJAPAKSA Carlton - Tangalle
To the Venerable Maha Sangha, all Reverend Clergymen and the People of Sri Lanka
Numerous allegations have been levelled against me, my family and my government both before and after the recent presidential election. If there are allegations of wrongdoing against anybody, there are established procedures that can be followed. What we see instead is a media blitz meant to vilify me and to mislead the public. I wish to state my position on these matters so that the people will not be misled by this unprecedented campaign of vilification by interested parties.
The allegation has been made that I attempted to launch a military coup in the early hours of the 9th January. On the contrary, I conceded defeat and having discussed matters with the then opposition leader Mr Ranil Wickremesinghe, left Temple Trees several hours before the final results were announced. The accusation that I sought the Attorney General’s advice on how to remain in power illegally is by its very nature, an absurdity. I was saddened by the comments made about this alleged incident and other matters by the incumbent president at a rally in Polonnaruwa. It is with deep regret that I state that I am not being allowed to spend my days in peace even after leaving office.
Images of the interior of Temple Trees have been disseminated with the insinuation that I and my family had led an extravagant lifestyle at state expense. Attention was focused on an air conditioned rest room with TV and attached baththroom. This particular section of the Temple Trees premises was fully refurbished for the 2013 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in accordance with international specifications. An exhibition and a banquet for the visiting heads of state were held there. Over the past decade all foreign dignitaries visiting Sri Lanka have been received at Temple Trees and the quality of the facilities available had to suit the purpose.
Raids have been conducted by self appointed anti-corruption campaigners and the police to uncover evidence of waste, corruption and misuse of state funds by my government. A stock of plastic wall clocks with my likeness, a stock of tea cups with the ‘sataka’ symbol, stickers, posters and calendars have been shown on TV with the insinuation that the very existence of such items points to wrongdoing. Yet the people know that the possession of items like that by various individuals cannot possibly constitute a crime or an abuse of power. There was even an accusation that my wife had been involved in a scam trying to sell 100 kilos of gold belonging to no less an institution than the Treasury. Since the police have already responded to that ridiculous allegation, I do not wish to say anything further on that matter other than to point out that gold belonging to the treasury cannot be sold in that manner even by the Secretary to the Treasury leave alone the first lady!
Vehicles that even remotely resemble sports cars are being taken by the police from the houses of their owners in their search for Lamborghinis belonging to my sons. But no Lamborghinis were found. My
property in Weeraketiya was raided in search of a seaplane. Two containers of personal belongings of my family have been examined by the police on suspicion of being items ‘stolen’ from Temple Trees. These items were stored in containers because I had no place to go to in Colombo after vacating my official residence. They will remain in the containers until I receive the official residence due to a former president.
My government carried out more development work in this country than any other government in post independence history. These unprecedented achievements were belittled in the eyes of the public during the presidential election campaign with the malicious propaganda that the costs of these infrastructure projects had been overpriced three to tenfold and huge kickbacks taken by politicians and officials in my government. The estimates for all infrastructure projects are made by Technical Evaluation Committees (TECs) made up of well qualified and reputed engineers.
The project is then evaluated by a cabinet appointed tender board which is made up of the most senior civil servants in the country. Every agreement signed with a foreign lending agency is vetted by the Attorney General and it has to receive final approval from the cabinet. Sri Lanka is now a middle income country and not entitled to development assistance. Therefore, my government used concessionary financing arrangements with the ADB, World Bank, and the Japanese, Chinese and Indian governments for the implementation of certain development projects. If the cost of a project is to be artificially inflated as some have alleged, there will have to be collusion between all the relevant bodies of the government, the international project consultants who design and supervise the project from start to finish, the contractor and the lending agency - a process involving scores of individuals and therefore virtually impossible.
Some say that the main contractor in some projects subcontracts some of the work to others at a lower cost and therefore the entire project can be done at that lower price. The usual practice in the construction industry is that sub-contractors are brought in for certain tasks while the main contractors do the more important tasks themselves. However, the responsibility for the entire project rests with the main contractor.
At times segments of the same project are financed by different lenders. Two segments of the Southern Highway were financed by Japan and one segment by China. Similarly, two segments of the Outer Circular Highway were financed by Japan and one segment by China. It is the Chinese funded projects that have been singled out for criticism. China is a country that has helped all Sri Lankan governments for over six decades. Like all international lending organisations the China Exim Bank also has procedures in place to ensure the integrity of their transactions. I wish to suggest to those concerned that this maligning of a friendly country that has helped us so generously over many decades should stop.
Outrageous and totally unsubstantiated accusations against me were disseminated through various websites and social media networks such as facebook both before and after the election. I self-critically admit that my government did not take these baseless allegations seriously and counter them in time. However, I am confident that the truth will prevail one day.
May the blessings of the triple gem be upon you
Former President of Sri Lanka