28 May, 2024


Eyes Wide Shut: Ranil’s Governance

By Sarath de Alwis

Sarath de Alwis

‘Eyes wide shut’ was the title of a film by famed director Stanley Kubrick. Loaded with Freudian subcurrents, the film was about an occult society that eliminates any one who cross its path. A theme that would no doubt appeal to a buccaneer primary dealer in sovereign bonds!   

The enigmatic title is a play on the familiar phrase ‘eyes wide open’. It conveys a subconscious urge to circumvent inconvenient truth.

This writer was reminded of Kubrick’s movie title when reading the spuriously succinct statement from the Prime minister’s office. “Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe is prepared to offer clarifications at any time to the Presidential Commission of Inquiry into bond auctions in view of references to him during proceedings”.

If the President was satisfied with the clarifications from the Prime minister, he need not have taken the trouble to appoint a commission. 

The statement unclothes the man. It is contemptuous of the intelligence of the average citizen. It’s snooty indifference, to what has unfolded before the commission probing the bond scam, is incredible.


At the time of writing this missive, on 17th October, the Presidential Commission has officially concluded hearing of evidence. The commission according to reports has said that it will re-sit for a special hearing if clarifications from the Prime Minister were needed.

The Prime minister’s views on auctions and direct placements are recorded in the Hansard. It is also replete with his Horatio like dogged defenses of Arjuna Mahendran, the man he handpicked to implement his macroprudential supervision of the country’s financial institutions and monetary policy.      

To meet the charge of conflict of interest, Arjuna Mahendran’s counsel elicited the information that his predecessor Niward Cabraal had his first cousin, brother in law, sister in law and the daughter of his brother in-law in banks that were supervised by the central bank.

Quite apart from the puerile theatrics, the revelation has a deeper implication. The oligarchy under the Mahinda autocracy is very much alive and thriving under the UNP wing of the hybrid coalition.

We do not know if the commission report would find who authorized the Chief Dealer of the Bank of Ceylon to bid Rs.13 Billion on behalf of Perpetual Treasuries.


Arjuna Mahendran, Niward Cabraal and their ilk are people with advantages,  as are their patrons. They have one common denominator. They regard themselves as inherently worthy of the leveraging power they possess. Their possessions and privileges are natural adjuncts of an elite class.

Why Oh Why, did Sirisena appoint this commission? No body breakfasting on bonds and billions expected a probe by a Presidential Commission. So, let us be grateful for small mercies. 

Prime minister Wickremesinghe is entitled to the luxury of looking at the fiasco with eyes wide shut. That does not mean that we must buy it. 

What the nation expected was his testimony under oath and subject to cross examination as was done in the case of his protégé who whined ‘ask the prime minister’ not once but several times.

Our challenge today is to face the fate our good governance experiment full in the face. Or else, we can  watch good governance evaporate with our eyes wide shut!

Malik Samarawickrama and Kabir Hashim Chairman and General Secretary of the UNP have both assured the Bond Commission that Perpetual Treasuries Ltd did not make any cash donations to the United National Party.


Gotabaya Rajapaksa, Defense Secretary at the time of the Welikada prison carnage has assured the committee of inquiry appointed to probe the bloodbath, that he did not order deployment of 798 STF troops that resulted in the deaths of 27 inmates and injuring many more.

Are they to be believed?  In the last two years, we have discovered that truth no longer matters. We are not even skeptical any more. Mahinda defined our truths. Under Maithri, Ranil is constructing his own truths.

It took two years for the Prime minister to table the report of the committee of inquiry in to the Welikada incident. The Sunday Times which published some of its findings informs us, that it had to make an application under the Right to Information Act to access a copy of the report tabled in parliament in whose custodial care, lies sovereignty of ‘we the people.’ 

The Bond Commission was appointed two years after the first scandal tainted bond issue surfaced. In the intervening two years, the Prime Minister doggedly defended his handpicked Governor of the central bank. The record will show that he insisted that Arjuna Mahendran should be reappointed for a full term.

The Leader of the House, Lakshman Kiriella never tired of insisting that the dismissal of a petition by three public interest litigants by the Supreme court was a total refutation of all allegations of iniquity, corruption or misconduct.

Only the naïve would assume that the Prime Minister wanted a presidential commission on the bond controversy. Only absolute blockheads would assume that the revelations before the commission surprised the UNP leadership.

‘We the people’ now await the report, findings and recommendations of the Bond Commission. The report when presented to the President, should be immediately published.

Public perception of justice depends on the outcome and not in the optics of the process that the Prime Minister’s office attempted to manage with a brief statement that earned time on electronic media and banner headlines in the print media. Another demonstration that our governance practices are permeated by a pernicious relativism- “Unuth Horu Munuth Horu”.    

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Latest comments

  • 12

    Bond Thieves and Modern Andareys: I thank the author for his courage in writing this article. The “Unuth Horu Munuth Horu” is not going to satisfy me at all, an ordinary man with no political ambitions – in short a Putujjana. In fact, no one should be satisfied with that. The Horu whether they are Un or Mun should be punished.

    No reference to James Bond should be allowed as a funny way of shielding from blame. No ne should be allowed to escape by playing the role of a modern Andarey. All those who are guilty should be punished according to their guilt. I say this not only for me or my generation only, but for the sake of all future generations. Unless that is done our country will be doomed.

    • 4

      Edwin Appuwo, what matters is the size of HORAKAMA.

      Have we had the leaders that looted the state as nothing can reverse the damages ? Majoritiy of people are born meeharak. THey woul d not even care even if their lovely ones woudl have been taken away. That is typical sinhalaya.

      Bond scam is taken as a redherring to bury the HIGH proifle money laundering of Rajapakshe. But Truth will succeed.

      Thanks to MR et al, they have looted it all harmful manners.

      Now we cant fly back home from Frankfurt. Not just few dozens but few hundreds of billions have been the losses of Srilanken Airline.

      • 4

        SIMON The size of the horakama is nothing for Ranil. I heard he had done better ones. the important thing is the thieves are continuing to goven with impunity It seems evvery govt institution is the same. govt cronies are making it a disaster. See every govt institution is burdoned with extra employees. Ranil wants to bring Indian empoyees under ETCA. So, where is the end. Can the maids working in the middle east bear all this cost ?

        • 0

          ” Ranil wants to bring Indian empoyees under ETCA. So, where is the end. Can the maids working in the middle east bear all this cost ?”
          Hey Jimbo,
          If you can work in your Canadian toilet, why not Indians here? Otherwise you come back and do it.

      • 2

        Simon De Silva

        “Have we had the leaders that looted the state as nothing can reverse the damages ? Majoritiy of people are born meeharak. “

        The average IQ of the meeharak is 79. Do they elect what they deserve, or is it that they have no choice? After all 5.5 million voted for MaRa Maa ChaTu MaRa AmaNa MaRa…

      • 1

        My angers become double when looking at why not they the authorities go after the billions of money grabs made by Rajapakskes on broad day light ? This sounds as if RW is being hunted for someone else s agenda.
        I have no doubt these men will get it sooner than later that former men too abused bonds to the very same manner even worst in the past.

        Today there are reports – how much of debts they the rulers have made sofar. PM has reiterated this on and on in parliament. No douments, but to have doctored CBN reports in favours of the previous BARBARIAN REGIME should be a crime with highest possible punishments.

    • 4

      The poor Taxpayers money should come back to the state coffers and the cost of living of the poor should be reduced; These sharks plunder the country must be in jail thought their life. No sympathy no mercy for these rouges. they may hold any high position justice must be delivered irrespective of rich or poor,
      In most cases big looters in high position easily get away by foul means. This must not happen to these rogues.
      People must be alert on these matters and the media must educate the public about this SCAM

    • 1

      To be fair by Cabraal family, his in-laws could have been appointed by any of the major shareholders to the respective bank boards simply on merit and on their own credentials. The CVs of the in-laws are so strong and unlikely that Nivard had any say in their appointments.

      Nihal Fonseka – First Cousin / veteran banker and deputy CEO at HSBC was appointed to DFCC as CEO. Major shareholder is Harry J at DFCC.

      Dhara Wijethilaka – S-I-L / former secretary Justice Ministry and Planning Ministry was appointed to Samapath Bank. Major shareholder is Dhammika Perera.

      Ranel Wijesinghe – B-I-L / Former director John Keells and former President Chartered Accountants Institute appointed to BoC

      Ravi Thambiah – B -I – L / chairman and owner Renuka Hotel and shareholder at DFCC appointed to DFCC. Major shareholder is Harry J.

      Sunil Wijesinghe – B- I- L/ chairman United Motors and Dankotuwa Porcelain appointed to NDB. Major shareholder is Ashok Pathirage of Softlogic and GOSL.

      Anushka Wijesinghe – Nephew / Chief Economist at Ceylon Chamber appointed to Seylan Bank. Major shareholder is Ishara Nanayakkara of LOLC.

      Bank boards are run very independently.

      • 0

        DFCC received € 200.0 mn
        to develop renewable energy…
        they refused advance on Solar power …
        ” it was only for Hydro…”
        So ..phoney…..hik…hik…hik…

  • 5

    Edwin Rodrigo
    I totally agree with you.But the million dollar question is who and how are they will be punished.
    Today i red in a newspaper that the recently impeached south korean president is really having a hard time
    in prison.That is democracy and Sout korea.In Srilaka no chance at all.

  • 4

    some of you are analysis is misguided. Ranil as soon as the first bond scam happened, appointed a three lawyer UNP group to assess it. that says, his intention. He wanted to see only the legal repercussions and not any kind of financial iree4gularities. How can we expect financial irregularities from lawyers. they are should have been two lawyers and two accounts minimum. Besides, there had beena series of bond scam even after the first bond scam. Then why did they spoil the COPE report. Another point is COPE should include impartical beaurucrats and not the politicians. DEBT office, auditor general, COPE etc can be under auditor general who is doing job and not a puppet as now. ———— It is unbelieveable to see Ranil wockramsinghe look like very concerned and scared stay like a little cate by the side og MY3. In a decent law enforcement environment Ranil, Arjun Mahendran and many more UNP politicians must have resigned. I think MY3 should appoint to make the trail clear starting from Ajith Nivard Cabrall to durin gthe MR govt era. I think Aloqsius went to singapore 13 times witt money and who allowed him to go through thr airport without any checking ?.. that money should be some where in East asia and in the middle east. The most important thing is the scandle is too deep and wide spread canker, three judges are not enough. They may spoil it in the courts, probably closer to the elections, by involving gangs of expensive lawyers by overwhelming the FCID judges. MY3 is silent, I think they all are in the same boat. Because, definitely some SLFP politicians even in this govt are involved.

    • 1

      Jim softy the dimwit

      Did you type the above?

      • 1

        I know what you say. Are UK? don’t talk BS. Just tell me. Or are you senguttuwan ?

  • 13

    It took a long time to realize but Ranil , his way of thinking, and doing things is a failure as much as the Rajapakses were ultimately a failure.

    Born in to a so called elite family ( wheel and deal) , go to a so called elite school , entire life and upbringing based on Sri Lankan illusions of grandness , never do a job,live on your parents ill gotten wealth, get into politics via family connection, pretend to know everything- the list is endless

    When we compare what our elite say they possess with the outside world we realize what a miserable lot they are – in abilities, intelligence, achievements and even wealth- insignificant.

    Only low cunning and vulgar manipulations stand out. Big rats in a small rat hole. Two things are sure they are rats and live in a small rat hole.In Ranils case, a rat who is very greedy in grabbing opportunities to travel to other lands

    If Ranil employees a driver I will say soon there will be a major accident or the bugger will steal the car and share the loot with Ranil !

    But like every other thing in this cursed society no body says the emperor is not wearing any clothes….

    His followers say he is a leader !

    • 2

      Very very true.

    • 2

      Harry Hatton:
      Hard to dispute anything you have to say!

  • 2

    It is sad to see in a country like SL where majority people have at least basic education,if not street smart, has some amount of political awareness, with the new generation getting their privilege to vote ,and all the social media at their disposal,Srilankans who are abroad doing so well and progressing with generations,In our motherland we are unable to find an alternate to the crap we are being served year after year so called two party to united party and no party,regional party and religion/cast language based parties and parties just to fool and loot,when will we see the light if at all at the end of this dark narrow visioned tunnel, countries who were so behind of us are at least showing some progress , countries which never heard of an election are thinking about having one. It is when people are willing to make some effort to step out side of the box? I really will like to see that happen in my life time.

  • 6

    to any discerning reader, the proceedings of the Commission of Inquiry into
    the bond racket for last Thursday is extremely revealing. It is abundantly clear
    that Dr Ranil Wickremasinghe was providing minutes of the Central Bank
    Monetary Board to Arjun Aloysius of Perpetual Treasuries. This is contained
    in an SMS message already published.

    Was the learned doctor, economic maestro, political wizard, undisputed leader
    of the UNP doing this villainy for the sake of “good governance and transparency?”
    The man who quotes Lichchavi and Latimer House rules when he wants to win
    even a warped argument should now resign. There is no room for people like RW
    who masqueraded as Mr Clean but have turned out to be Highway Robbers.

    Whilst talking of Yahapalanaya, Ranil was flirting with the Rajapaksas. He helped
    them by giving details of all the investigations against them. He tried to betray
    Sirisena. Now, he is getting it back in tons.

  • 1

    “Eyes wide shut” will give “biggest bottleneck” a good run for its money

  • 0

    Arjun Mahandran repeatedly said to the commission “Ask PM ‘”What has he said. He had told him that country needs 75 Billion LKR to pay unpaid bills of the former regime
    He had also agreed with AM Auction method is better than direct placement if( BIG IF) tranparency is observed..We all know what Cabral did with direct placements.
    How can you attack RW. on this
    When you ask your domestic to buy groceries you expect him to buy from a reputed place. If he had purchased them from a known place and cheaper stuff , you are not to be blamed.
    But your negligence of not knowing your domestic well is your problem

  • 1

    Ranil has had many maligners and this writer is one. The real reason is that Ranil is the spoiler for Mahinda Rajapakse. He is found fault with anything and everything. To all these spiteful accusers Ranil Wickremasinghe gives the right answer: SILENCE.
    As for me, I will wait for the Commission’s findings. It is judicial procedure that can elicit the truth. Not you or me.

    • 7

      It is not the author or the other maligners that have managed to lose election after election.

      In any other coutnry, such a loser will not remain a leader of a party, especially a major one.

      What did your great leader do when the previous regime introduced the 18th amendment? Ran away !

      What did your great leader do when CBK introduced the 2000 package? Did nothing and back stabbed her after agreeing to support it.

      He is an much responsible for the crimes of the previous regime since he watch and did nothing when the previous regime was abusing our rights!

      Stop hiding your head in the sand and face the truth!

    • 4

      Shyamon Jayasinghe:
      Given what ha already transpired and what continues to happen in the matter of cover-ups and the outright malfeasance of both the current regime and its predecessor, can you place ANY trust on the findings of ANY commission appointed by this lot or its predecessor.
      A dead end for Sri Lanka? Unfortunately, it is beginning to look more and more like that!

    • 3

      Shyamon, Read some evidence , What else do you need? Your fetish boy to come of the closet and admit it was all his error of judgment? Do you appreciate a leader who give silence to all the questions?, Behaving like a spoilt T girl in the parliament, cracking sick jokes!

      Man is nothing but an egoistic spoilt little brat who thinks that every arse belong to him! Does not listen and does not answer to the people and to the party.

      UNP was a great party, It has been hijacked by few now, No voice for moderately intelligent people! He is the one who is responsible for the down fall of the UNP.

      Where is effing rule of law? Lackeys and cock suckers in every commission,
      A police that beat people in front of cameras?
      No elections! You can shove this democracy up yours!

    • 8

      “Ranil has had many maligners and this writer is one. The real reason is that Ranil is the spoiler for Mahinda Rajapakse. He is found fault with anything and everything. To all these spiteful accusers Ranil Wickremasinghe gives the right answer: SILENCE….”


      Silence has its moments. This isn’t one of them. You will not quite understand the mood on the street since you aren’t here to feel the pulse.

      I don’t think Sarath de Alwis is an incurable maligner of Ranil. That is uncharitable. I read Sarath’s criticism as a show of acute disappointment instead. Of course I agree, there are incurable maligners, but don’t you agree, there are also incurable loyalists as well?

      Ranil has earned whatever he now harvests, through a show of disrespect for the feelings of the decent people of this country who expect him to govern in a fair , firm and equitable manner. Regrettably, he has shown he is unable to display those traits as a leader. Examples are aplenty and too tedious to recount.

      Unless the basics of good governance are defined and explained in the plainest terms to all, the same issues that hold us from soaring upwards now, will prevail a 100 years from now, while we flounder in them in far less manageable ways.

      The end may have well begun!

    • 0

      Shame -on….
      Keeping silence is nothing but bloody crookedness..

  • 1

    You are dead right Shyamon Jayasinghe. It has been an orchestrated attack on Ranil W. The writer attends all Rajapakse meetings

  • 0

    The X’mas day 2004 Tsunami left destroyed homes, fishing boats etc. The world came to our aid but the then GoSL led by MR helped themselves. This was clumsy.
    On 08 January 2015 the GoSL we installed told us that Lanka is heavily in debt. The MS/RW led GoSL proceeded to create wealth out of this misery. But this was clumsy at clumsy worst.
    We are left to choose corruption, nepotism, culture of impunity with whitevans or without. What a choice!!
    Note that the language/religion divide will appear only in the last part of the equation to do with whitevans.

  • 10

    Mr Shymon Jayasinghe You dont appear very sound on these matters Can this so called Commission make adverse findings against RW when it has not even heard him ? They are acting like a judicial probe ( two judges and an auditor) in a hurry to finish a case. This is only a fact finding mission. We want to know all the facts, not to to finish the case in a hurry.
    The country wants to know the whole truth, time is not an issue here. The people have been wronged for so long they can wait for a few more years. But we want every witness called and treated equally. Already some witnesses have become more equal.

    This is not like a commission in Australia. This is very Sri Lankan , nothing will happen. Your wishes will come true Mr. Jayasinghe, dont fear. Only non English speaking Rajapakses are rascals. RW from Royal College is a gentleman with infinite love for the people and disdain for power and money, almost a saint ! He is very manly and a born leader too.

  • 0

    Harry Hatton: You may say Ranil Is a gentleman in a two piece suit. Yet, he has a history of supporting criminals. What do you say about Ranil lieing to the parliament, appoint three UNP laywers to safe guard him. that is a long list. I heard people i nthe parliament knows who Really Ranil is. what do you know ?. I Think Senior politicians in the parliament knows who Ranil is. What shameless Ranil is when he is not steppin down until the investigations are finished. He is the head of the Central Bank. He is the head of the UNP. He ordered the Central bank meeting and He established the FCID. Now, he sits aiel laying eggs or protecting eggs and he can not move. See how he sitting by the side of MY3 like very obedient doggy. Why Ranil is given a question paper instead of responding t FCID directly because he has to prepare some lies ?. question papers are little kids and not for the leaders of the country. why it is so challenging to answer to the FCID ?

  • 1

    Mr Harry Hatton. The commission will summon Ranil if they think there is a need to.There is no need to summon you, surely? You have decided Ranil is guilty. That is no good

  • 0

    What is the solution. Ranil and many other politicians are difficult to chae out. Many who write here are journalsts and writers. where were you all these all this long. why did you guys hang on to these thieves. Mr. Vander pooten like people were kneeling in front of Ranil just like obedient poodles. Anyway, is there a way to chase out these people. I now Dummala get rid of bad spirits. these guys don’t go even for that. He may stay silent for a week or two and then start talking some other crap which makes every body say YES SIR to him. Will you guys say YES ths time too.

  • 0

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  • 2

    The Bond Commission has ostensibly concluded its sittings. The Prime Minister, we are told, will be called to testify should the need arise, later on.
    What this means is that Hamlet has been staged without the Prince of Denmark.

    Kishali Pinto Jayawardena has listed out all the Commissions that this country has seen,over the years; They have been Archived more or less!

    Pieter Keuneman, Parliamentarian par excellence of yesteryear had famously remarked that Commissions are akin to a visit to the Toilet.
    First, there is a sitting, followed by some deliberation and with a loud report the matter is dropped.

    I am not quite sure whether it is the Bond Scam or the ripoff of the MaRa family that is the biggest robbery; Samsung, an international Brand name has had its CEO sentenced for corruption.That is South Korea.

    But in Srilanka,most probably, nothing of the sort will take place and it will be back to business.
    Srilanka-A land like no other!

  • 1

    ” Our challenge today is to face the fate our good governance experiment full in the face. Or else, we can watch good governance evaporate with our eyes wide shut!”

    What is demonstrated here are two things.

    1. The remarkable naivety of Sarath and his ilk in thinking RW+MS+CBK rogue bunch would deliver good governance in the first place given their amply demonstrated history. Did Sarath and others think that mob were born again?

    2. The remarkable naivety they still show in NOT recognizing that there was NEVER good governance under this mob……….starting from chit system sacking of chief justice and appointing RW as PM the day after. If they understood it they wouldn’t be still talking of good governance under the patronage of the current mob in present and future tense.

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