Sri Lankan parliamentarians can be bought, says British envoy

Dec 11, 2007 (LBO) – Britain’s envoy in Sri Lanka has mocked the practice of a parliamentary committee to probe corruption dominated by government ministers, saying many lawmakers have been given positions to buy their loyalty. “It must be the only oversight committee in the world that consists mainly of ministers,” British High Commissioner Dominick Chilcott said, referring to Sri Lanka’s parliamentary committee to investigate corruption.

“This is not to cast aspersions on any of the individuals concerned. But the conflict of interest involved must undermine the credibility of such a committee.”

Chilcott remarks were made in a memorial lecture Monday to remember a former Sri Lankan prime minister, Dudley Senanayake.

“Dudley Senanayake would be disturbed at the many allegations made these days about corruption in politics,” Chilcott said.

“He would be pleased at the existence of a parliamentary committee to investigate corruption but surprised that 22 of its 30 members are government ministers.”

Chilcott’s outspoken remarks came in the context of Sri Lanka’s government having one of the biggest cabinets in the world especially given the small size of the country and its population of 20 million.