20 January 2019
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How Rajapaksas ruined BMICH

bmichThe BMICH was built as a gift by the Chinese government. Its construction began in 1970 and the opening by the then prime minister of China Zhou Enlai took place in 1973. It was named after the late PM S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike
on a proposal by the Chinese government, which also proposed that there should always be a representation of the Bandaranaike family in its administration board. The then PM Sirimavo Bandaranaike approved all these through a parliamentary act.
In 1978, the first executive president J.R. Jayewardene changed that act and got a new one approved to make the head of the state the chairman of the administration board. He also expelled Mrs. Bandaranaike from the board. For the entire duration he was the president, JR was the chairman of the administration board, excepting the final period of his rule, during which Sunethra Bandaranaike was made its head as per the previous act, but its successor remained in force. After Sunethra, Anura Bandaranaike became the chairman.
When Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga came to power in 1994, she became chair of the administration board, a position which she held for eight years continually. In 2005, former president Mahinda Rajapaksa became its chairman, which marked the beginning of the end of the BMICH, with its activites falling into chaos. He appointed his relatives and henchmen to every main institution in the country, and the BMICH suffered the same fate. When Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga was expelled from the chair, the BMICH had a fixed deposit for Rs. 200 million.
Mahinda not only removed Chandrika, but also got rid of the entire administration board. He also wanted to remove the Bandaranaike name from the place, and as the first step, appointed his secretary Lalith Weeratunga as the competent authority. Under him, Bandula Ekanayake was appointed the director general. The BMICH was run to the please the whims and fancies of the Rajapaksa family and both the institution and the memorial foundation were on their way to ruination. Some years later, a senior administrative officer D.D. Peiris was appointed to the administration board, purportedly to make its administration more efficient, but neither the president nor his secretary had any such intention. We say so with good reasons. Peiris did a full inquiry and submitted a report to Weeratunga about the BMICH. That report befell the same fate that had befallen all reports during that regime, and nothing had been heard of the report since. A letter signed by Weeratunga to Peiris ordered him not to dig up old things and to do only what he was asked to do. In view of the prevailing situation, Peiris complied. After the presidential election this year, Maithripala Sirisena was appointed chairman of the administration board, and he reappointed Chandrika to the board. During their 10 year regime, the Rajapaksas and their henchmen gobbled up the memorial foundation’s assets and reduced its FD money from Rs. 200 m to Rs. 24 m. There is no report, accounts or whatsoever, as to what had happened to Rs. 17.6 m of the FD money. The money had been spent in violation of financial regulations of the country and regulations of the memorial foundation, but with the consent of only Weeratunga and Ekanayake.
The FCID is to be handed over investigations into the frauds at the foundation. The ex-president stands accused of spending money of the state to distribute Sil clothing during the presidential election, and an investigation is underway. Once the investigation into the memorial foundation begins, both Weeratunga and Ekanayake could get arrested.
However, Weeratunga would try to arrange a meeting with president Sirisena through Indrani Sugathadasa and strike a deal to save himself. But, Ekanayake has no such connections and he will definitely be arrested. We are in the possession of documents pertaining to this fraud, but we refrain from publicizing them as an investigation by the FCID is about to begin.

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