Unabashed politico guilty of smuggling | Daily News

Unabashed politico guilty of smuggling

PM did not come to my rescue, so I voted against Govt. – Ali Sabri Raheem:

“If we elect the same corrupt politicians every time, that’s an obvious message that we don’t want a change.”
- Sukant Ratnakar, Quantraz

Ali Sabri Raheem, the Parliamentarian who was caught red-handed when attempted to smuggle gold and mobile phones and was imposed a penalty of Rs 7.5 million has a strange logic for his decision to vote against the Government at Wednesday’s motion on removing Janaka Ratnayake, the Chairman of the Public Utilities Commission of Sri Lanka from his post.

“I decided to vote against the motion to remove Public Utilities Commission Chairman Janaka Ratnayake from his post as both President Ranil Wickremesinghe’s Secretary Saman Ekanayake and Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardena did not come to my rescue,” he told media explaining his decision to vote with the Opposition.

As the other MPs of the ruling alliance did not follow such logic expounded by the MP guilty of smuggling, the motion was passed by a comfortable 46-vote majority.

The illogical explanation of Ali Sabri Raheem shows that some of the politicos still think they can bend the law and they expect their leaders also to support their crimes. Perhaps, the MP from Puttalam was under the impression he could get the votes of his district, which has the largest donkey population in the country. But he must realize that the Puttalam voters are equally intelligent like the population in other districts who are not gullible enough to swallow such illogical views of politicos like Ali Sabri Raheem.

The errant MP, perhaps thinking he could get away as some politicians guilty of bribery charges were reelected to Parliament in the past. In 1959, Walter Thalgodapitiya Commission was appointed by the SWRD Bandaranaike Government to look into bribery charges against some MPs. In the following year, the Commission confirmed evidence of bribery against two former Ministers C. A. S. Marikkar and M. P. de Zoysa, as well as Parliamentarians D. B. Monnekulame, H. Abeywickrema, M. S. Kariapper and R. E. Jayatillake. Monnekulame and Kariapper resigned soon after the publication of the report. The Sirimavo Bandaranaike Government at the time did not take any action based on the report.

In 1960 General Elections M. P. de Zoysa contested again and the opposition slogan against his was ‘Paga Raja Apata Epa’(We don’t want King of Bribery). However Zoysa won his seat and his supporters carried him shoulder high, shouting the slogan ‘Paga Raja Apata Honda’(King of Bribery, good for us). In 1965, the new National Government, led by the UNP revisited the report and enacted the Imposition Of Civic Disabilities (Special Provisions) Act (No. 14 of 1965) which stripped Marikkar, de Zoysa, Abeywickrema, Kariapper, Jayatilleke, and Monnekulame of their civic rights for a period of seven years and Kariapper who was a Member of Parliament at the time lost his seat.

Ali Sabri Raheem sought help from the wrong person. He should have realized that Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardena would never give a helping hand to a person guilty of nefarious activities. When there was an outcry against MPs in general, there were calls from not only the youth activists but also from religious leaders, professionals and the public that the country should get rid of corrupt politicians. President Ranil Wickremesinghe last week referred to the feelings public and said the demand was that all 225 MPs should be drowned in Diyawanna Lake and added, that it would only pollute the lake and will not solve the problem as the general secretaries of political parties would appoint a new lot of politicians to fill those vacancies in accordance with the Constitution.

Joining the public outcry against politicians in general, religious leaders always pointed out there were few exceptions as politicians such as Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardena have never been accused of any corrupt practices or nefarious activities. Recently Ven. Dr. Omalpe Sobitha Thera, Elle Gunawansa Thera and several other leading Buddhist monks publicly stated that almost all MPs are bad but there are few honest politicians like Dinesh Gunawardena.

Ali Sabri Raheem should have thought twice before calling for help for his dishonest acts from a scion of the Boralugoda family as Justice Kariyappa has recorded in a judgement that ‘Philip Gunawardena is an epitome of truthfulness and integrity’.

Due to Ali Sabri Raheem’s smuggling act, his namesake Foreign Minister Ali Sabry also faced some difficult times as initially some misinformation circulated in the social media. To put the record right, it is necessary to point out Foreign Minister Ali Sabry, PC is a rear politician who spends his own money for political activities. The following quote from his Parliament speech will clarify this position. Quote “I have not earned from politics. I did not come here for that purpose. I have not stolen, not even a single cent from public money. Put all together with allowances, and benefits, the salary I am now getting is below that 10 percent of income I used to get. Before I accepted this post, I paid Rs. 42 million as income tax for five years. I came here because I thought that I would be able to do something for this nation. What we have now is a nation of people who rejoices when someone else’s house is on fire. My question is whether we find answers for our problems when everything is set on fire.” Unquote.

While people like Ali Sabri Raheem tarnish the image of Parliamentarians, one must not forget leaders such as Dinesh Gunawardena and Ali Sabry bring glory to the image of our Parliament.


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