Regional Development Minister Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka accused former Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa of politicized the Army during his tenure in office.
Participating in the Committee Stage debate on the Expenditure Head of the Defence Ministry, Minister Fonseka said the Army had been split into two factions due to the political influence the former Defence Secretary exerted on the Army. This was one of the key reasons which paved the way for former President Mahinda Rajapaksa to lose his presidency.
He said that persons like former Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa and former Army Commander Jagath Jayasuriya had even committed offences when they served in the Army. At present, there are bogus patriots who tarnish the reputation of the Army. Former President Rajapaksa didn’t respect the Army. “He imprisoned me while another 35 Army officers were chased away”.
The reputation of the Army was undermined while the confidence of Army officers was lost due wrong decisions taken by the former President. He even made attempts to stage a military coup in 2015 to grab power. But this government doesn’t have guts to take legal action against him (Rajapaksa), the Minister said.
The Minister said at present some retired high ranking Army officials have engaged in politics. Some such officers who openly said those who raise their hands to pass the new Constitution should be killed are even entering army camps. Steps should be taken to immediately stop such practices and the law should be implemented against retired Army officers who have committed to various offences, he added.
Ninety five percent of those who engaged in the military operations against terrorists were patriots. They made a supreme sacrifice on behalf of their motherland, but there were nearly five percent of opportunists in the Army and at present they go behind various political groups, Minister Fonseka noted.
Sri Lanka Army has completed 67 years. Still the Army doesn’t have a national strategic defence plan. After 2010, the defence budget has been doubled and it amounts to Rs. 160 billion. If eight years have been lapsed after end of the war, there is a question whether the standard of the Army has been improved.
Minister Fonseka said at present various allegations have been leveled against the Army. It is an act of cowardice to say that the Army has not committed any offense. It is not good for the reputation of the Army to defend those who have done wrong.