I initiated my approach in this manner because, by expressing admiration for Ranil Wickremesinghe upfront, I understood that a limited number of readers might engage with the article. This observation stems from the prevailing perceptions among individuals who communicate and comprehend English. I am of the belief that this situation should evolve someday, prompting me to articulate this composition.
To commence, I shall outline the reasons behind my positive regard for Ranil. Over time, I have closely examined his perspectives and vision, which have consistently demonstrated a propensity for long-term thinking. Unlike many other politicians who tend to prioritize short-term gains, Ranil has consistently adhered to a broader strategic outlook. A notable instance lies in his unwavering commitment to retaining traditional attire instead of conforming to Western dress codes, despite receiving suggestions to the contrary from various quarters. Additionally, he has not been inclined towards a piecemeal approach, eschewing the practice of making ceremonial visits to places of worship or engaging in staged interactions with infants. These attributes of his have particularly resonated with me.
I became acutely aware of his farsighted perspective during the inception of the “Regain in Sri Lanka” project in 2001/ 2002—a vision that remains one of Sri Lanka’s most commendable. Remarkably, numerous political factions continue to incorporate elements of this vision into their agendas. The sequence of events remains vivid in my memory. In 2006, during his tenure as the opposition leader, I penned a letter outlining potential strategies for the enhancement of the fisheries sector. Unexpectedly, I received an invitation to meet with Ranil, which pleasantly surprised me.
The meeting was scheduled for 5.45 p.m. at the office of the opposition leader. Arriving around 5.30 p.m., I distinctly recall that it was a rainy day. Upon disembarking from my vehicle, a security personnel approached me and inquired, “Are you Mr. Ranawaka?” While fully aware that they were unfamiliar with me, their proactive anticipation of my arrival was evident. This indicated the existence of an organized and systematic communication channel to identify incoming visitors. I confirmed my identity, to which they gestured for me to wait in a designated area outside the office until the appointed time.
At precisely 5.45 p.m., Ranil emerged from his office and informed me, “I currently have some visitors inside; I’ll summon you shortly.” This further underscored his methodical nature, leaving me convinced of his structured approach.
Our conversation extended beyond 25 minutes. Following my comprehensive overview, his initial query revolved around the boat count, “How many boats are currently operational?” My response approximated 55,000 boats encompassing various categories. His subsequent question pertained to the rationale behind this sizable fleet. Without reservation, I concurred entirely. Even today, I maintain the view that such an extensive number of boats remains unnecessary. Given the catch capacity of these boats, achieving the same results could be accomplished with merely 2 or 3 ships.
The concern lies in his oversight of the individuals laboring on the boats. This particular incident illuminated his lack of comprehension regarding grassroots-level realities, despite his commendable foresight. His focus appears primarily fixed on national advancement and affluence. However, Ranil, it’s imperative to recognize that a nation’s development cannot be solely orchestrated through such an approach.
The reason for my reservation towards Ranil becomes evident. Ranil, your constant call for contributions to your endeavors, for the sake of development, has been heeded. Responding to these appeals, we have submitted numerous proposals. Initially, these proposals were channeled to the appropriate authorities. Notably, your secretary, Mr. Saman Ekanayake, managed this process adeptly. I must acknowledge that Mr. Sagala Ratnayaka even extended an invitation to his office for a discussion. Regrettably, these efforts have borne no fruit. A conspicuous absence of subsequent follow-up or outcomes emerged. This is the basis of my sentiment—I cannot align with your approach, Ranil.
The majority of my suggestions were directed towards enhancing the fisheries sector. These proposals underwent a cycle where they were returned to the fisheries ministry. The secretary within the fisheries ministry rejected these proposals, influenced by misguided advice from within. It’s noteworthy that I haven’t collaborated with her or had any personal interactions. During my involvement, a handful of officers would consistently hinder progress. Astonishingly, these same individuals continue to persist. There are personnel who have remained within the ministry for approximately 15 years—an aspect that raises questions. It’s puzzling how such an extended tenure is feasible. Even the secretary herself was slated for retirement, yet her service was extended—a decision that remains perplexing.
At that juncture, it became clear to me that despite your rhetoric, you are adhering to the entrenched norms of conventional politics. This realization has led me to my present sentiment of disapproval. As you articulated, your aspiration is to elevate the nation to developed status by 2048—an objective that necessitates a coherent vision and a dedicated workforce. This presents an opportunity to assemble a cohesive team and forge ahead. The window of opportunity remains open. However, should you persist in aligning with the conventional practices of politics, regardless of the party, including the “Pohottuwa,” and yield to their directives, our country’s prospects are bleak.
Even if you were to assume the presidency in the subsequent term, it would hold little value for the betterment of the nation. The Ranil I have come to recognize differs from this representation. This conviction underpins my motivation for composing this article. This communication might potentially mark the culmination of my correspondence with you. I find it unproductive to continue corresponding, as the futility is evident. Presently, the bulk of my efforts are dedicated to advancing my institute, with a focus on contributing to the country’s development. This stands as the undeniable reality. I am resolute in my decision not to engage in endeavors that yield no meaningful outcomes. Pursuing political appointments and their responsibilities holds no merit.
A think tank was established during yahapalana government , and its existence has received official cabinet approval. We urged for its restoration and functionality. However, the secretary in question has provided inaccurate details about the think tank. Allow me to emphasize once more that she has indeed furnished erroneous information to your office. I possess the written correspondence as evidence, and the contents of the letter are undeniably untrue.
Not everything should be driven solely by profit motives. Even in the United States, challenges exist. In the U.S., policies are formulated after thorough consultations with relevant departments, ministries, and authorities. Deliberations encompass how these measures will contribute to national development, their regulatory aspects, and, where possible, the potential for profitability. It’s crucial to highlight that the primary focus isn’t centered around profit generation. I believe this exemplifies the way a government system should ideally function. Preserving our national identity is imperative. We cannot simply relinquish control to the private sector without any oversight. The decision to hand over various sectors to the private domain in 1977 has led to our nation’s decline.
In 1978, China embarked on a gradual journey towards building its economy, which has ultimately led to its current status as a formidable nation. Similarly, India began this process in 1998 under the leadership of Manmohan Singh, enabling them to accomplish remarkable feats like reaching the moon. This achievement is rooted in their prioritization of development over mere profit. Reflecting on our own history, it’s conceivable that we could have achieved similar progress in 1977, yet the endeavor faltered. Sadly, no corrective actions were taken, culminating in the contemporary tendency to attribute blame to the political landscape (“225”). However, the crux of the issue doesn’t solely lie within the “225.” Rather, it has given rise to a network of bureaucratic influence, wielding considerable power. This entrenched bureaucratic influence, in turn, nurtures a symbiotic relationship with the corporate sector, drawing sustenance from both the “225” and the network of government officials.
Transferring the entire operational landscape to the corporate sector would likely result in them absorbing resources in a manner akin to leeches. It is imperative to establish an equitable playing field—a context where healthy competition thrives. Transparent mechanisms must be instituted to ensure fairness. An illustrative case is the on board security team operation previously overseen by the Navy. Once directed towards the consolidated fund, this function has now been entrusted to a private sector entity due to the inaction of officers who, instead of actively engaging, remained passive observers. This signifies our vulnerability and diminishing strength.
Nonetheless, I maintain my faith in your ability to steer in the correct direction. However, the disheartening contrast between my beliefs and the prevalent reality is evident. Permit me to express one final aspiration: the path ahead cannot be traversed alone. While you’ve assumed the mantle of the presidency, this journey necessitates assistance. I propose that you consider having someone like “Patali” accompany you on this endeavor.