The Mulberry Group

In 1994, Dilan along with a group of young politicians and parliamentarians in the ruling party formed a ginger group within the Government and named it the “Mulberry Group” with the objective of fighting corruption within the Government. The “Mulberry Group” comprised young blood like Dilan Perera, Nalanda Ellawala, Mahinda Amaraweera, T.B. Ekanayake, Janaka Tennakoon, Dulles Alahapperuma, Ravi Karunanayake and Kesaralal Gunesekere. Karunanayake and Gunesekere were members of the Lalith Front led by Srimani Athulathmudali.

The group questioned the way some senior ministers handled Government tenders and awards connected with the administration. Hence the Mulberry Group attempted to put the Kumaratunga administration on the correct path. Dilan fearlessly spoke against corrupt activities in ministries even within the Chamber to the surprise of the Government and the Opposition. He once opened out a speech stating “Mr. Speaker, we saw that the bureaucracy which existed during the cursed seventeen year rule of the UNP taking the PA Government on the wrong track and we formed the ‘Mulberry Group’ to agitate against improper conduct of officials and ministers”.

In his inimitable style, Dilan hurled remarks at certain ministers who turned a blind eye to corrupt activities in their ministries. Some ministers extended their fullest cooperation to the Mulberry Group and the group launched major investigations into the activities of many sectors including paddy, electricity and the Cooperative Wholesale Establishment (CWE). For example, in the case of CWE following an extensive probe a report on findings and recommendations were handed over to the President. As a result corrupt officials were removed within 24 hours. The Opposition UNP was fully satisfied with the probe conducted by the Mulberry Group. Some Opposition UNPers commended the efforts of the Mulberry Group to ensure a clean administration. The Mulberry Group of the 1994 Parliament was brave and courageous and within the group Dilan played a key role to launch probes within the Government to uphold transparency. It was the first time in Sri Lankan political history that there was a group within a Government probing corruption and malpractices of a Government they represented.

The COPE

The Committee of Public Enterprises (COPE) was established in 1980 on an initiative of the then Minister of Finance, Hon Ronnie de Mel. Public Enterprises are owned by the People and their conduct and performance were evaluated by the then Public Accounts Committee (PAC). But the PAC was set up to evaluate Government Departments. They were out of depth when evaluating Public Enterprises which were commercial entities, with corporate personalities and could sue and be sued, unlike Government Departments. To fulfill this oversight function COPE was created.

COPE, though created for a different purpose, functioned like the PAC for 28 years. In 2008, COPE, in which Dilan Perera was an active member, undertook an in-depth analysis of Public Enterprises. One of them was the Sri Lanka Insurance Corporation, which had been privatized, But the process of privatization was studied and it was realized that it was a corrupt deal where, assets of the government worth Rs 22 Billion, were sold for Rs 6 Billion. As a man who fights against corruption at every level, Dilan was appointed as the head of the sub-committee that prepared the COPE report. Though the committee was under many pressures, the committee produced a commendable report, following on which public interest legal action was filed by Vasudeva Nanayakkara and the deal was reversed by the Supreme Court.

[Back to First Page...]