Whose agenda is COPE fulfilling in ridiculing Sri Lanka Cricket?

Written by N Krishnamurthy

The sole objective of the Committee on Public Enterprises (COPE) is to ensure the compliance of financial discipline in Public Corporations and other Semi Governmental bodies in which the Government of Sri Lanka has a financial stake. While investigating Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) though, however, it seems that the sole agenda of COPE is to ridicule the board officials, instead of finding factual shortcomings. If COPE finds recently ousted Shammi Silva led administration guilty of financial irregularities, it must be punished. However, right now, the COPE members, and chairman Charitha Herath particularly,  are focusing only on the live session drama of ridiculing board officials. Another big loophole in COPE investigation is that the committee is interested in investigating the financial irregularities of a only a particular period  (from 2016 to 2021), when it must be investigated from 2001 itself. In this scenario, the most obvious question raises is that on whose agenda is COPE fulfilling in ridiculing Sri Lanka Cricket?

With the cricket hustings round the corner, the cricket Rip Van Winkle scenario is in full swing by certain interested parties who messed up and left the game’s governing body Sri Lanka Cricket totally bankrupt. They are now hell bent on getting on board again. In this sordid background, the very obvious huffing and puffing of COPE at the outgoing administration smacking of nothing short of a clear biased agenda of creating a situation to ridicule its Executive Committee members as corrupt to the cricket loving public of this country is a tragic situation.

By its clear biased attitude towards the outgoing administration in faulting it despite proof provided by the Executive Committee members to the contrary, COPE has demonstrated its lack of transparency and that its feet are in different places. This has been well demonstrated by one COPE Member displaying some papers and mounting a scathing attack on the outgoing administration labeling them as corrupt and that they should be jailed.

This certainly appeared to be a pre-planned media show with this Joker in the pack in a black coat playing to the gallery his famous tricks to come before the media and give statements in court cases to gain popularity. A body directly responsible to Parliament acting in such a biased and highly irresponsible manner aimed at ridiculing at any cost the outgoing administration as corrupt as the reason Sri Lanka cricket has declined must serve as an eye opener to the cricket loving public of a cricket mafia at work. Playing an underhand doctoring role to serve the ends of evil men tainted by a terrible past record of having left the cricket board totally bankrupt is a very serious matter.

If COPE is genuinely transparent in its job why is it that its members have conveniently turned a blind eye to the actions of the former cricket board CEO prior to the 2016 administration that left Sri Lanka Cricket high and dry with its coffers empty? Doesn’t this smack of nothing but a witch hunt after the outgoing administration to serve the purposes of such errant officials.

This certainly smells so foul of a stinking U-Turn by COPE whose conduct has been as undignified as to ruthlessly and summarily pointing an accusing finger at the outgoing administration for the actions of past administrations dating back to 2006.

Does it not smack of an obvious witch hunt? So much so that those who followed recent events would have shockingly realized that the outgoing Shammi Silva administration has been faulted for financial bungling that occurred during other administrations dating as far back as 2006 and a 187,784 dollar illegal money transfer that occurred prior to the last two years in 2018 when SLC came under the administration of the Competent Authority, Kamal Padmasiri, that replaced the elected administration in the run up to the AGM, under the then Sports Minister, Faizer Musthapha. The fact that the Competent Authority at the time made eight overseas tours to Dubai at SLC expense has also been conveniently hushed up.

Surely, these people who are after the outgoing administration behave in a seeming land of the blind where the one eyed man is king. Can these so called responsible people surely descend to the realms of the knave to simply target an outgoing administration that has served a 2-year term for a whole heap of happenings of over 15 years ago? Does this not akin to a buffalo attack on the hapless like in the law of the jungle?

How come COPE has conveniently forgotten that the infamous former CEO left the cricket board in such a pathetic financial state that it was unable to pay the cricketers salaries and staff salaries.  Today, it is a tragic-comical situation that these sacred cows bent on a witch hunt after the outgoing SLC administration, have been blind to the fact that the infamous former SLC CEO who faced a major fraud Case, went Scot free. Does it not smack of an obvious witch hunt?

Even the face lifting constructive work by the outgoing administration such as setting up expansive infrastructure networks at grass root level for the development of cricket and funding clubs improve their infrastructure, have been put down to vote buying acts by those unscrupulous elements out to get back to administer SLC with nothing but upping their personal gains. The bankrupt past left by them is the best example of this stark reality.

In this public drama, the COPE is forgetting that any SLC administration get selected by it’s stakeholders through a democratic process. Passing judgment on them and the manner in which they were ridiculed is certainly not warranted and can be seen as an attempt to tarnish their images before the upcoming elections to the Cricket Board.

This type of unjustifiable condemnation while undermining the reputation of COPE, could have serious ramifications and cause damage to the reputation of the Institution Sri Lanka Cricket, the game and the country as a whole when it comes to market the Brand “Sri Lanka Cricket.” To condemn and ridicule individuals without justifiable reasons is nothing but the hallmark of villains aimed at boosting up their own images with personal agendas under the cover of Parliamentary privileges through the media publicity available to them.

Whose agenda’s are they trying to promote?

There were other respectable Members in the COPE who were asking more relevant questions instead of behaving like bulls in a China shop.

It is pertinent to note that during the relevant periods of the accounts in question 2017 and 2018 two forensic audits had been conducted by the Auditor General’s Department and no serious lapses had been highlighted except for the illegal money transfer of 187,740 US dollars, which happened during Minister Faizer Musthafa’s Competent Authority regime.

Also, why was COPE determined to display to the public a photograph of the Hingurakgoda, Polonnaruwa Stadium that was taken more than a year ago with mounds of earth lying in the middle of the ground when there were recent photographs of the completed grounds that were made available to them. Is the Chairman of COPE on some other’s agenda is the big question?

COPE has also targeted the outgoing administration over the sacking of Chandika Hathurusinghe whereas his sacking was created by the previous Sports Minister who, through a directive to the Cricket Board wanted Hathurusinghe’s contract discontinued.  Naturally, when a contract is prematurely terminated, the effected party seeks legal redress through available avenues in the legal system that is available for him.

One is made to wonder how people who represent such an august assembly as the Parliament of the country could stoop down to such low levels in playing such a cloak and dagger game so as to bring to disrepute board officials by ridiculing them like dogs.

In India, the biggest cricket playing nation in the world, If you ask Washington Sundar, Shradul Thakur or any other cricketer the name of the Sports Minister, they won’t be able to answer. Reason, In India, the The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has nothing to do with the Sports Ministry or Indian government. In Sri Lanka, the political interference in cricket is so much visible that cricketers worship politicians instead of relying on their own game. In this scenario, one must not be surprised, if the International Cricket Council (ICC) take stern action against Sri Lanka Cricket.

In this rotten situation, those who love the game of cricket can only chorus in one voice to these rats, “Come on, play the game.”



About the author

N Krishnamurthy