Ex-defence secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa has told the presidential commission investigating serious frauds and corruption that he was not aware of the machinery at Kankasanthurai cement factory being sold for scrap iron, and that the then senior assistant secretary Siri Hettige was to be blamed.
Lanka News Web previously revealed in detail about this scrap iron scam. Although Gotabhaya tries to blame it on Hettige, presently senior assistant secretary at the petroleum ministry, we will mention here the part played by the ex-defence secretary in the scam.
Cabinet approval needed
In 2014, plans were made to sell old machinery of the KKS cement factory as scrap iron, and the defence ministry’s internal auditor made it clear that that could not be done as the factory did not come under the ministry. He said cabinet approval was needed for that. Taking that note with him, Hettige went to meet Gotabhaya.
Gotabhaya told him that he discussed the matter at the Security Council, that it would be no problem and to arrange for the deal. Since it was given orally, Hettige twice asked him to give a written order. But, Gotabhaya did not do that and Hettige included a detailed note in the relevant file.
Gotabhaya’s playing the ‘baby’
Everybody knows that at the time, Gotabhaya was powerful than the cabinet. It is ridiculous to think that deal had gone through without his knowledge. Therefore, he is now playing the ‘baby’ in front of the presidential commission. He parachuted to the ministry seat, and he did not have any experience in administration. Therefore, he cannot escape by saying ‘I don’t know’ due to the note by Hettige.
There are two lessons to be learnt from this. One is for those who worship Gotabhaya as a big hero and a patriot. This so-called patriot had sold a national asset cheaply. Also, while accusing others of betraying the country and war heroes, he tries to wash his hands off by saying he does not know and betray someone to escape his own skin.
The second is for the present and the future rulers. If nepotism takes the upper hand when making appointments to the administrative service, such appointees spoil everything in this manner.