23 January, 2018

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Cold Facts & Warm Bodies

By Sarath de Alwis

Sarath De Alwis

Give me control of a nation’s money and I care not who makes its laws.” ~ Mayer Rothschild

Founder of the Rothschild dynasty 

It is now clear that Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has decided to ride out the storm that has engulfed him, his party and his administration.

Endowed, as he is, with a prodigious supply of illusion and indifference, that is only natural. The Prime minister seems to emulate the Somerset Maugham character in the novel ‘Razors Edge who asserts “You’re beginning to dislike me, aren’t you? Well, dislike me. It doesn’t make any difference to me now.”

The writer is indebted to the Political Editor of the Sunday Times for this anecdotal reference to Maugham’s novel the “Razors Edge’.   

In his political column last Sunday, he says that the President has, with his statement to the nation on the report of the Bond Commission has placed his Sri Lanka Freedom Party’s relationship with its coalition partner, the United National Party on a Razor’s edge.

The reactions in the English print media on the report of the bond probe is a telling commentary on the deep rooted privatization of public affairs in our land.

The editorial in the Sunday Times was far more interesting. It is a classic example of what the famed American columnist and media pundit Walter Lipmann described as the ‘world outside and the picture in our heads’ in his seminal work “Public Opinion’.

The Sunday Times editorial faults the President for making the main points of the CoI report “without the courtesy of showing it to his Prime Minister.”

The editorial proceeds to unravel the electoral fall out of the Presidential statement.  “..it begs the question whether he had a different game-plan in using the report as political leverage against his coalition partner in Government with the all-island local council polls next month. In his address he said that he had already sent a copy of the report to the Attorney General – why did he not give a copy to his own Prime Minister? Does he not trust him?”

The Sunday Times Editor is blunt with his opinion. “That he mentioned the PM’s name in his public address without first telling him seems strange, if not politically incorrect, and especially so in a coalition partnership.”

The editorial continues “… Not that he should have omitted the reference. He shared the report given to him the previous Saturday with only his close confidants. Is his own PM now no longer one of them?”

Even in this digital age the news media has a definitive role to set the nation’s agenda in situations such as the current drama surrounding the Bond scam. People who like to be informed rely on well documented information about public issues. Large headlines, lead story on page one, editorial comment frame the issues.

Was the President wrong in not showing the transcript of his statement to the Prime minister? This writer opines that the President was right in not showing his statement to the PM. If the President was prepared to amend, adjust or alter the text, he could have indeed done so. The purpose of this missive is to again reiterate what this writer asserted in a previous essay. We voted for President Sirisena the common candidate for a specific task. This is the first time in the last three years that he has acted in accordance with the compact he made with most venerable Maduluwawe Sobhitha thero.

Anticorruption is not an industry. It is not a project. It is not a policy. It is about institutional reforms. It is about enhancing transparency and accountability in state and economic institutions.  The ordinary citizen has a greater claim on the findings and recommendations of the CoI on Bonds than the Prime minister who appointed the Governor whose conduct is the subject of the probe.

This is not about coalition politics. This is about social empowerment and anti-corruption strategy. The surest way to achieve this objective is to first recognize that corruption in high places is systemic. The antidote is social empowerment, expanding and protecting, political and economic resources, and alternatives, open to ordinary citizens.

Only social empowerment can provide the necessary support for institutional reforms. The President must be commended for empowering us citizens by his forthright statement.

As has been made evident during the public hearings of the Bond Commission, the you scratch my back, I scratch your back syndrome is  embedded in a web of personal or neo-patrimonial relations that cover our politicians, businesspeople and an intermediary class of shadowy operators who specialize in maintaining the equilibrium in competitive party politics.

The most interesting aspect of the political column of the Sunday Times is the reference made to the ‘placement of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka under the Prime minister.

The report states “The Sunday Times has learnt that the commission of Inquiry has also raised issue on the placement of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka (CBSL) under the Prime Minister on grounds of the legality of the exercise. The commission is of the view that in terms of the law, the subject should have remained with the Ministry of Finance.

The Sunday Times Political Editor then proceeds to explain ‘There was a political rationale then for the move. Ravi Karunanayake, who was the Finance Minister, had faced court action over the remittance of funds from Raj Rajaratnam, a stock broker of Sri Lankan origin in New York and now in jail in the US for insider trading. The investigation had been initiated by the Exchange Control Department that came under the CBSL. Hence it had been considered prudent to bring the CBSL under the Prime minister.     

The statement is not plain stupid. It is the type of obnoxious predication made by pretenders to divine knowledge in public affairs. Such parvenus are possessed of pride that their puny cerebral cavities cannot contain.

The Prudent thing would have been to find someone else not linked to stockbrokers jailed in New York. It is this same Prime Minster who allowed Foreign Minister Karunanayake to hold on to the National Lotteries Board.

Corruption in our land is both longstanding and thriving. It is normal and acceptable. Therefore such statements are   made in the knowledge that such were acceptable.

May be Mr. Ranil Wickremesinghe and the UNP should consult President Jacob Zuma of South Africa now battling the constitutional court. Responding to the Constitutional court findings against him he asked what are these values? Then he provided the answer himself. African Problems must be resolved in the African way. Because if we solve them only legally, they become complicated. Law looks only at one side only and does not look at other things. It deals with cold facts but they are dealing with warm bodies. That is a contradiction.   

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Latest comments

  • 5
    3

    I believe….Ranil signed the CFA with the LTTE without consulting nor informing the twice elected executive president of the country CBK!

    What side does the Sunday Times bat for? One must ponder that too while reading its editorial….

    • 6
      2

      Perriamama

      Contrary to what you believe and type here the Norwegians kept Hindia and Chandrika very well informed.
      CFA was a trap which caught your Thalaivar VP off guard, leading to the split of LTTE and eventual down fall of him.

      When Norway threw him the noose that stupid psychopath didn’t know how to grab it and climb out of his pit, rather he used it to hang himself for and on behalf of Dr Mahinda Rajapaksa (LLD) and his clan. What a sacrifice for his employer? Dr Mahinda Rajapaksa (LLD)’s bribe really worked.

      • 0
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        Sarath,

        All this is well and good,

        Once we get rid of Ranil …………who should lead the nation?

        Can you name one?

    • 0
      0

      Sarath, goo one, so , ok we know about Sunday Times and English press.
      But why has the JVP not called for Ranil’s resignation and impeachment and for a massive mass rally by all groups and communities who want to see and end to corruption and money politics?

      After all, JVP knows the evidence exists.

      Why are they only agitating about SAITM and wasting the lives of medical students and patentist?!

    • 0
      0

      As usual Sarath raises many questions well worth thinking over. I prefer though, the hard cold facts to warm bodies.

      No way will our country ever become a developed country. Buildings and flyovers are not the main hallmarks of a developed nation. If the thinking is not progressive, the country will remain backward, buildings and flyovers notwithstanding!!

      This country is getting so complicated, it will soon become a great place to LEAVE!

  • 6
    4

    But but but, Ranil speaks good English, is married to a PhD in Gender affairs with an English degree. He is an intellectual who reads a lot every day. He went to Royal College and Law Faculty. He was the youngest minister in JR’s cabinet because he was skilled. You people are class envious of the Colombo 7 English speaking people who can recite Shakespeare and Chaucer. They use fork and spoon and knife to eat unlike your savage Southern Sinhala polity. This is an attack on Ranil because he is from a top family and from Royal college. They did nothing wrong. Ravi K is also a Royalist; he did nothing wrong. He deserved the Flat provided him by Aloysius. He was named best Finance minister in Asia. All these Kurakkan and rice eaters and Rice horas and Sand horas from Polonarruwaa are jealous. This is the same jealousy and inferiority complexes that made Sirisena send his son to England(how did he make money to do that?). Did you see the large Restaurant and hotel in Polonnaruwa by the son-in-low Who is head of Telecomm?. this is all bowl toke envy of a real blue blooded Royalist upperclass PM.

    • 7
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      CrabbyPatty

      Ranil may have all the credentials & the cleanest among a dirty lot but I have lost all faith in him as a strong & able leader. He chose his corrupt friends over the country, therefore, shows lack of integrity. Agreed, Sirisena is just another Rajapakse in the making, nothing more than an uneducated yob who was thrust to the high office by good fortune. As for RK, Royal College has not taught him about ethics, integrity & honesty either. His pathetic performance in the Penthouse saga, trying to give the impression of naivety & no knowledge of conflicts of interest, is ample proof that he is not capable of & should not hold a high office, particularly, with all the indications of his involvement in money laundering & back handers. It would be nice to know if he would still be considered the best FM by those who gave him the accolade when he was at his peak.

      I suppose it’s still not too late for Ranil to start cracking the whip & reforming his party for starters instead of pointing at past regime failures, which is well & good, but we need action to bring the culprits to justice. Ranil will not be able to ride out this storm but it would make a difference if he does the right thing. He has a choice, either go down in history as a reformist (& save some credibility) or as just another ineffective & gutless politician.

  • 4
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    Oh brilliant.crabby.
    Sira was in mahindas cabinet for ten years and he cant be spotless clean. The whole bond comic commission was set up to neutralize ranil and unp

  • 7
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    They use fork & knife “…………………. Yes..that is why this fantastic Royalist used Mahendran to rob the Central bank right royally …………………in 40 days.
    Mahendran was the FORK.

    • 3
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      Once first bond scam news came out, they started complaining saying it was because OF Rajapakse govt people in the Central bank. thereafter, Arjun Mahendran started firing them. that is how they covered up inside the bank.

    • 0
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      And RK was the spoon.

      But it is clear that RW has committed a series of blunders in the Bond scam so his chances of retaining the ” Mr. Clean” title looks very slim.

  • 2
    0

    Your article is unfair. One comment says that you were taking a shot at CLEAN MAN who became a thief within the first 40 days. Again, are you accusing president for not informing Ranil. I think, it is very clear, all the Time CLEAN MAN was undermining the President. I think he had an idea in his mind if this marriage is fallen down, he would go with Mahinda Rajapakse. the statement, if he made it, That I beat the president to the AG’s office. is a taking a shot at PResident saying, I am a thief but he also is. the amazing thing even the two time – money launderer is not guilty now. I don’t think sri lankan Law enforcement is the same for LAw makers. Even President allowed the Foreign Exchange Control act to go thorough and make politicians who bring money undeclared go through a negligible penulty. So, now every one can bring their hidden money without any fines and the fine is just 1.0%. Ranil said that first.
    There is a better thing is trying to explode underneath. for the first time, Sri lanka increased it’s allowed debt limit. what did they do. Just one constructing Fly over upto now.

  • 4
    1

    What is wrong with these people..
    We need a political revolution in Sri Lanka..
    Not like that of Iran or Arab spring but a true and silence revolution in a true sense .
    Intellectual revolution to dislodge these crook Ranil and some others .
    For 70 years these people have been fooling public.
    Why should public give them any mandate any long .
    I’m telling this long-time.
    We should vote for JVP.
    Jvp is only party that have a team that is corruption free
    That is dedicated to give leadership.
    All accusation you say about JVP does not have any valid point.
    JVP will do well in this election
    This election is four side race
    JVP
    UNO
    SLPP.
    SLFP.
    I think JVP should get more share of votes
    All educated people have moral Duty to tell.people you to vote for JVP.

  • 4
    1

    SLPP: Sri Lanka Perverts and Pimps.

    The Joint Opposition and the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna, led by former President Mahinda Rajapaksa, is now at the centre of a fresh controversy over sexual bribes allegations.

    Madusha Ramasinghe, an actress who sought nomination from the Podujana Peramuna, alleged that some stalwarts of the party asked for sexual bribes from her room consider for nominations.

    Ramasinghe held a protest in front of the Elections Department yesterday urging the Chairman of the Elections Commissions to intervene in the matter and prevent political parties from asking for sexual bribes from female candidates.

    The actress said a secretary who had close links to the former President and a few others asked for sexual bribes and she was denied nominations after she turned down such requests.

  • 2
    0

    Dear Crabby Patty,


    Your comment is dripping with sarcasm.

    I agree with what I see as your intent.

    Yes, Sirisiena is essentially decent, although human. The pretentious Ranil W. has got to be pushed out. That was your intent in writing, and I fully agree.

  • 0
    0

    Sarath de Alwis quotes a snip attributed to President Zuma of South Africa ~ “African problems must be solved the African way”.
    The simplest interpretation of this monumental Chinthanaya is “Zuma problems must be solved the Zuma way”.
    Zuma goes on to say ~”If we solve them only legally, it becomes complicated”.
    It is the other way round “If we DO NOT solve legally, it can become as complicated as the stainless steel pot scrubber”.
    Laws are warm but cold bodies find them uncomfortable.

  • 0
    0

    Brilliant comparison of the predicament the PM-RW finds himself as in that beautiful novel by Somerset Maugham[ onetime Nobel Prize winner -English Literature] The Razors Edge. I always suspected that this book also blended with Buddhist Philosophy.
    Self-Sacrifice to save another[Arjuna Mahendran] is the most overwhelming of Human Passions; Yet the path to salvation is as difficult to pass over as the sharp edge of a Razor.
    Tomorrow in Parliament would RW pass over?
    I WOULD RECOMMEND THAT HE READS THIS MASTERPIECE OF SOMERSET MAUGHAM!

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