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Milinda Moragoda

The Honourable
Asoka Milinda Moragoda
Colombo Municipal Councillor & Opposition Leader
Member of the Sri Lankan Parliament
for Colombo District
Senior Adviser to President
Former Cabinet Minister of Justice and Law Reform
Former Cabinet Minister of Tourism, Economic Reform, Science and Technology
Personal details
Born (1964-06-04) June 4, 1964 (age 50)
Colombo, Sri Lanka
Nationality Sri Lanka Sri Lankan
Political party Sri Lanka Freedom Party (2011-)
UPFA (2007-)
Other political
affiliations
Sri Lanka National Congress (2009-2011)
United National Party (-2007)
Spouse(s) Jennifer Moragoda
Relations Moragodage Christopher Walter Pinto (father)
Alma mater International Institute for Management Development
Royal College Colombo
Website Milinda Moragoda's Website

Asoka Milinda Moragoda (Sinhala:අශෝක මිලින්ද මොරගොඩ) (born 4 June 1964) is a Sri Lankan politician and businessman. He is the current Opposition Leader of the Colombo Municipal Council & a Senior Adviser to President Mahinda Rajapakse. He was a former Cabinet Minister and Member of Parliament representing the Colombo District. Moragoda has served as the Minister of Justice and Law Reform, Minister of Tourism (2007–2009); Minister for Economic Reform, Science and Technology and Deputy Minister for Plan Implementation and Development (2002–2004).

In 2007 the Parliamentary Committee on Public Enterprises (COPE) accused then opposition parliamentarian Moragoda of large scale corruption during his time as a UNP minister. In a bid to dodge prosecution Moragoda crossed over to the ruling UPFA government and was appointed Minister of Justice and Law Reform.[1][dubious ]

Early life and education

He was born to Moragodage Christopher Walter Pinto a diplomat and Yasodha Neiliya Jayawardena, daughter of U. N. Jayawardena the former Governor of the Central Bank of Ceylon. He attended Royal College Colombo and graduated with a MBA from the International Institute for Management Development in Switzerland. Moragoda was a Fellow of the Weatherhead Centre for International Affairs (then known as the Centre for International Affairs) at Harvard University from 1994 to 1995.

Business career

Before he entered politics, Moragoda was the Founder Chairman of Mercantile Merchant Bank Ltd (MMBL), an investment bank and private equity company in Sri Lanka with interests in a wide range of business sectors. He was also involved with the creation of the Colombo Stock Exchange, and served as an alternate director on its first board. During his tenure in business, Moragoda also served on a large number of corporate boards.[2]

Political career

United National Party

During his political career of almost 10 years, Moragoda has worked in a number of key areas. He was a principal Government negotiators, in the peace talks of 2002-2004. He also functioned as the principal interlocutor with the international donor community. As the Minister of Economic Reform, Moragoda spearheaded the government’s economic reform programme. He also gave leadership to the development and implementation of Sri Lanka’s ICT policy, E-Sri Lanka.[3][4][5]

Moragoda was first entered to Parliament as a National List Member in 2000 with the United National Party (UNP) and was reelected in 2001 and in 2004 from the Colombo District.[6]

Sri Lanka Freedom Party

Upon crossing over the government Moragoda was appointed as the Minister of Tourism by President Mahinda Rajapaksa. During his tenure, he was able to successfully implement the Tourism Act of 2001.[7] In July 2009 he was appointed as Minister of Justice and Law Reform. Even though he sat and voted with the government, he remained a member of the opposition UNP until 2010 when he started the Sri Lanka National Congress (SLNC). The SLNC was disbanded in 2011 when Milinda joined the Sri Lanka Freedom Party, the main party of UPFA led by President Mahinda Rajapaksa. In the 2010 general election he lost his parliamentary seat.

In 2011 he became the UPFA's mayoral candidate in the October 2011 municipal election in Colombo.[8] He was elected to Colombo Municipal Council, becoming its opposition leader.

Allegations of Corruption

In 2007 Moragoda's party was in the opposition having lost the 2005 elections to the UPFA. As the UPFA Government sought to expose corruption during the UNP regime the Parliamentary Committee on Public Enterprises (COPE) released a report accusing Moragoda of widespread corruption and abuse of power.[1][dubious ]

Mercantile Credit Ltd, a subsidiary of Mercantile Merchant Bank, founded by Moragoda was found to defaulted on loans of 4.7 Billion Rupees (which had been obtained by providing false information) while Moragoda was Minister for Economic Reform. COPE conducted three inquiries into these loans and their defaulting but on each occasion the investigations were never allowed to reach the final stages due to political pressure.[1][dubious ]

In 2002 Lanka Marine Service (Pvt) Limited owned by state-owned Ceylon Petroleum Corporation which sat on a 8.5 acre plot in the Colombo harbor was sold to the Sri Lankan conglomerate John Keells Holdings. The Supreme Court ruled that as then PERC Chairman, Dr. P.B. Jayasundara and Executive Director of JKH Susantha Ratnayake had acted with dishonest intent in the sale of LMSL shares. The Bribery Commission also began investigations into criminal chrges against Dr. Jayasundara, former Ministers Milinda Moragoda (PERC was under him) and Karu Jayasuriya (CPC was under him) on the charge of abusing public property in connection with this deal.[9][10]

Before the investigation could reach conclude both Moragoda and Jayasriya crossed over to the government. Reporting on the privatization of Lanka Marine Service COPE stated that by his actions Moragoda had at the very least incurred a loss of 1.7 Bn rupees for the government.[1][dubious ]

The COPE report also alleged severe irregularities in the privatization of Sri Lanka Insurance which happened under the tenure of Moragoda. The report stated that Moragoda created a loss of over 3 Bn Rupees for the government solely through non-compliance with the 4th term of the contract. These investigations too were not concluded before Moragoda crossed over to the government.[11][dubious ]

Links to the USA

US Embassy cables released by wikileaks show Moragoda to be a long time information source of the US Embassy in Colombo. The cables also state the US Government's interest in Moragoda as their key partner in Sri Lanka. Writing to Washington in 2003, then US Ambassedor to Sri Lanka Ashley Wills says of Moragoda:

[Regarding] the U.S., the intelligent, articulate Moragoda is a perfect fit. born in Washington, D.C, he is a dual national Amcit (please protect) married to an American, with plenty of Washington connections, many from his days as a visiting fellow at the Heritage Foundation and at Harvard. A "big picture" person, Moragoda is also highly aware that the U.S. is the most powerful country in the world, and he feels that it is better that Sri Lanka recognize that fact and work within it.[12]

Other work

Moragoda has founded a number of non-profit organizations. Among them is the Milinda Moragoda Institute for People’s Empowerment, under whose aegis operates a humanitarian de-mining programme in the North and East which has been in operation since 2002[13] and Apeksha, a free English Education Programme for children of low income families.[14]

Honors

See also

References

External links

  • Milinda Moragoda's Website
  • Statement contributed by Milinda Moragoda at the Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Malaysian Tourism Minister Meets His Sri Lankan Counterpart
  • A Warm Heart, a Cool Head, and a Deep Breath: Speeches
  • "Peace with Development" - by Minister Milinda Moragoda
  • The Power of Attitude Milinda Moragoda in Action on YouTube

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