MP and former Cabinet Minister S.B. Dissanayake told a senior monk in Kandy on Monday (5) that President Nandasena Gotabaya Rajapaksa was perplexed by his plunging popularity in the country, and had recently gathered secretaries to government ministries to demand reasons for the steep decline in support.
“The American president is still so popular. But my popularity has really fallen – why is that” (මං හොඳටම වැටිලා ඉන්නේ) President Rajapaksa had demanded, Dissanayake told the prelate, narrating that the room was filled with secretaries from various government ministries. The MP tried to explain the Government’s failures placing the blame squarely on the shoulders of officialdom, insisting that the President’s orders were simply not being carried out.
“I pointed out to the President that his instructions were not being followed. The thing is hamuduruwane even though instructions are being given they are not being carried out,” Dissanayake claimed.
“But all their own things get done,” the priest snapped back.
Dissanayake was paying tribute to the Chief Incumbent of the Gatambe Rajovapavanaramaya Ven Kappetiyagoda Siriwimala on the occasion of his 90th Birth anniversary.
The Chief Incumbent was scathing in his criticism of the Gotabaya Rajapaksa Administration, insisting that “time had run out” for the Government to fulfill its promises to the people. Ven. Siriwimala criticised the decision to put military personnel in positions of authority. “Soldiers know how to fight in a war. They don’t know how to run a country,” the chief monk insisted.
“In all honesty, we are totally disillusioned. We don’t do politics here and in fact look at what has become of us for getting involved in politics,” the priest complained.
Dissanayake tried to explain that the Government was facing a major cash crunch because the country’s main sources of revenue had taken a hit during the pandemic. “Well that has happened to the whole world,” Ven. Siriwimala retorted.
Dissanayake replied: China has told us to take whatever money we need and give it back whenever we can. The Government has been given a clear message from China that they can give us any amount of money we need, returnable when the country can do so.”
The Gatambe priest’s grievance is particularly telling because he was a staunch supporter of Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s candidacy. The priest actively campaigned for Rajapaksa’s victory in 2019, telling his Sinhalese devotees that the country was in dire need of a strong leader to pull it back from the brink of destruction. “This is our country’s last chance” he told candidate Gotabaya in August 2019 as he blessed the SLPP nominee for President.
See transcript of the exchange between Dissanayake and Ven. Siriwimala and translation below.
Watch exchange (8.40 onwards)
Ven Siriwimala: ඇත්ත වශයෙන්ම අපි කලකිරිලා ඉන්නේ. අපිට ඕනෑම නෑ කියල හිතිලා. මම මෙහෙ දේශපාලනය කරන්නෙත් නෑ. ආයේ කරන්න ඕනත් නෑ. කරලා වෙච්ච හැටි පේනවා නේ. [We are truly disillusioned. We feel like we don’t want any of this. I don’t engage in politics. There is no need to get involved again. See what has befallen us now for doing politics.]
SB: පහුගිය දවස්වල ජනාධිපති තුමත් කිව්වා ඇමෙරිකන් ජනාධිපතිතුමා තාම හොඳට ඉන්නවා ජනප්රියත්වයේ. මං හොඳටම වැටිලා ඉන්නේ. මොකද කියල ඇහුවා. දැන් මෙහෙම සේච්ට්රටරීස් ලා සේරම හිටිය. ලේකම්වරු හිටිය. ඒ පාර මම කිව්වා ජනාධිපතිතුමා ඔබතුමා කිව්වා කිසි ම දෙයක් කෙරිලා නෑ කියල. ඇයි එහෙම කියන්නේ? කෝ මං කිව්වා දැන් ඔය ඉස්සරහම ඉන්නේ අධ්යාපන ලේකම්. දැන් ඔබ තුමා කිව්වා ජාතික පාසැල් දාන්න දැන් අහන්න කීයක් හදල තියෙනවද කියල. අවුරුදු එකහමාරයි තාමත් ලැයිස්තු හදනවා. හැම එකක්ම හාමුදුරුවනේ කිව්වා ට වෙන්නේ නෑ. [Recently the President said the American President is still doing well in terms popularity. But my popularity is really falling. Why is that, he asked. Now all the secretaries to the ministries were in the room. Then I said, Mr President, nothing you have ordered has got done. He asked, “why do you say that?” I said look, right in front is the secretary to the Ministry of Education. You said build national schools. Ask him how many have been built so far? It’s been 1.5 years and they are still compiling lists. The thing is hamuduruwane even though instructions are being given they are not being carried out]
VS: හැබැයි ඒගොල්ලන්ගේ වැඩ වෙනවා.
[Well but their things are getting done.]
SB: අනේ මං දන්නේ නෑ. අධ්යාපනයේ GL කිසිම දෙයක් කරන්නේ නෑ
[I don’t know. As Education Minister GL is not doing anything.]
VS: මට නම් හිතන්න බෑ ආයේ කරයි කියල. කාලේ පැන්නා
[I can’t imagine that anything will happen now. Time has run out now.]
SB: ගැටළුවක් තියෙනවා අපේ ප්රධාන ආදායම් මාර්ග කඩාගෙන වැටුනා. හැබැයි එහෙම වුනා කියලා…..
[There is a problem, our main sources of revenue were wiped out. But just because of that…..]
VS: මුළු ලෝකෙටම වෙච්ච එකයි
[That happened to the whole world.]
SB: ඔව් මුළු ලෝකෙටම හැබැයි චීනේ අපිට කියලා තියෙනවා ඕන ගානක් ගන්න, පුළුවන් දවසක දෙන්න කියල. ඕන තරං සල්ලි දෙන්නං පුළුවන් දවසක දෙන්න කියන පණිවිඩේ ආණ්ඩුවට කියල තියෙනවා. [Yes, to the whole world, but China has told us take whatever amount you need, pay it back some day when you can. The Government has been given a clear message from China that they can give us any amount of money, to pay back whenever we can.] (By Janakie Mediwake)