Colombo, December 21 (The New Indian Express): Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena has disapproved of the claim made by Media Ministry Secretary Nimal Bopage that a former naval rating, Wijemuni Vijitha Rohana de Silva, is part of a plot to assassinate him on January 26, 2017.
A spokesman of the Presidential Media Division told Express that the President not only wanted his disapproval communicated to the media but desired that the media do not publish what Bopage said. However, the non-state media and an international news agency carried the story.
Bopage himself told the press on Tuesday that he had not consulted the President before making the charge about the assassination plot because he thought it was his duty to expose the plot.
Rohana de Silva, who is now a practicing astrologer in Nugegoda in the outskirts of Colombo, had taken a swipe at the visiting Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi with his rifle butt during a guard of honor in July 1987. He was tried and sentenced but only to be released on a Presidential pardon two and half years later. He then became a singer and astrologer. In 2000 he contested the Sri Lankan Presidential election as a candidate of the Sinhala nationalist paty, Sihala Urumaya, and lost.
Media Ministry Secretary Bopage has himself been controversial. Besides making claims about an assassination plot, he had told the media that he would not sign a document to lease out imported vehicles to 58 MPs. He criticized the cabinet decision to get the vehicles on lease given the fact that the current parliament has only 45 months of life left. If the lease is to be paid off in 45 months, the monthly installment should be LKR 900,000 per month and not LKR.700,000 as proposed now, he said. Bopage also pointed out that at the end of the lease, the vehicle would be taken back by the leasing company and not handed over to the government. The deal had not gone through the Technical Evaluation Committee and the cabinet-approved procurement committee, he said.
Bopage said that he had been given two options – either sign the document or resign.
According to Daily Financial Times, during the Rajapaksa regime, Bopage was slammed by the parliamentary Committee on Public Enterprises (COPE) for financial irregularities when he was chairman of the National Human Resources Development Council (NHRDC) and the Attorney General’s department was thinking of prosecuting him.