Politicians and their wealth: before and after

by R. Senaratne

(August 28, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) Very many of the species known as politicians dabble in politics with the sole intention of making use of the positions and portfolios they hold to establish a sort of family business involving their kith and kin. They take to politics by making an initial investment for their political campaign with monies raised from their cronies and businessmen around them.

After having won their seats and received their portfolios, they get down to doing business politically by appointing their kith and kin to key posts in their ministries and agencies under them.

They then initiate large scale development projects that could be undertaken by their ministries and team up with unscrupulous businessmen with whom they can manipulate tenders for these development projects and other business transactions to their advantage. Their goal is to make millions of rupees from the transactions they put through with their dishonest business associates.

The more development projects and shady business transactions they put through, the more lucrative it would be for them. They maintain that they have had to invest money to achieve their political status and so consider it their right to make good that money and more for themselves even by fraudulent means.

These politicians have become wise and would no longer invest the millions they have defrauded, in government securities for fear of being hounded out by vigilant civic minded people; nor would they deposit these in banks for fear of being discovered. Instead they are said to stash their ill-gotten money in iron safes in their homes and when the surfeit of cash cannot be accommodated in the safes they are said to buy estates and gold jewellery in the name of their kith and kin. After this is done any further surplus money is said to be packed in suitcases and hidden away under the politicians' beds.

Some other politicians have siphoned off their stolen money to their clandestine bank accounts in other countries and have invested in villas and orchards for their progeny in those countries. Whilst maintaining a presence here, they visit those countries at intervals to survey their wealth there.

These politicians although they live very comfortable and luxurious lives are never contended and happy because they are always on the lookout to make more money. They also spend sleepless nights thinking of what would happen to them if they are caught in the bribery net.

No sympathy should be shown to these rogues when caught, and the minimum sentence for those found guilty should be confiscation of the ill-gotten wealth and a jail sentence, the first six months of which should be with hard labour.
- Sri Lanka Guardian