17 November, 2018

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Is Bond Scam ‘Unbonding’ The Maithri-Ranil Bond?

By Vishwamithra

“Democracy means simply the bludgeoning of the people by the people for the people.” ~ Oscar Wilde

Potent arguments are being exchanged between friends regarding the Bond-scam that has taken the Colombo social circuit by storm; lethal points for both sides are being hurled at each other; yet the evidence shows that the bond between the two protagonists, President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, of the current coalition government is ostensibly intact. How tight and taut this bond could be is another matter altogether. In politics the line that divides what seems and what is, is thin, faint and blurred. A clever politician knows how to tread that line without offending those who occupy on either side of the line. But that is intellectually dishonest and morally deplorable. But that again is politics, the one profession that has destroyed our culture and degraded our values.

Yet every five or six years, after each election cycle, expectations are high, hopes are higher and eventual disappointment is insufferable. That has been the sorry story about the declining features our democracy. Maithripala Sirisena’s mandate was clear. It was uncompromising. Its weight was overwhelming. The anti-Rajapaksa sentiments overpowered an electorate that the Rajapaksa family treated as an absurdly cowardly and subservient commune. The collective sigh of relief that the majority of Sri Lanka exhaled was not only weighty and ‘un-foggy’, it was a real and living organism. At the time it seemed that the mandate embraced history; it called for a radical transformation of measures and values that were associated with a strain of truth not travesty, of dignity not degradation, of humility not hype. Nevertheless, in three short years, all significance of that mandate seems derelict and forgotten. The socio-political dynamics that drove the Rajapaksa regime and its henchmen and women to ecstatic pleasures and filthy riches has not died. On the contrary, it has gained momentum and is driving the current regime and the country at large, along the same blurry path towards the same empty goals.

Such tragic realities would open anybody’s mind to these unfriendly vagaries of socio-politics. They, these realities, would prompt any reasonable man, in the current context, to downright disappointment and a feeling of being thoroughly let down. Disappointments in politics, exclusively for those who have chosen politics as a livelihood, are a common occurrence. Yet for those who stay outside the fray as mere spectators and chosen only to partake of the voting process, these disappointments may mean abject poverty; they may lead the electors to unspeakable conditions in their close neighborhoods. The electors’ lot may have deteriorated. Their numerous requests for common good may have gone unheeded. Theirs is a fate that has succumbed to the wants and needs of thuggish henchmen of politicians who have deliberately opted to exploit the poor and enrich themselves. The voters willy-nilly have empowered the elected and impoverished the electors.

Against such a wretched backdrop, against such an unfriendly social milieu, the voter is becoming increasingly disillusioned about the choices before him. This is the precise state of affairs any politician who runs for office strives to avoid but it is the precise situation he has created for his electors. A culture, which has nurtured the citizenry for the past few decades, has now totally enraptured the social theatrics of a nation. And there does not seem to be a way to discard that culture and create conditions and circumstances that would in turn engender a new culture founded on more morally-acceptable norms.

Blaming politicians and their practice of corrupt politics in general would not suffice. A general upheaval on the part of the citizenry is sensible and leadership for that kind of upheaval has to be generated from the societal ranks of today. Such expectations might be too rare and difficult to realize. Yet dreaming for a better state of affairs is no sin. In fact, it is an onerous duty of each and every elector to dream for a better tomorrow. But one cannot dream for a better tomorrow if one is entrenched in a ‘comfort zone’ of the present. Confidence and competence conspiring to reveal brilliant minds may be scarce and infrequent, but as Plato penned “mankind will never see an end of trouble until…lovers of wisdom come to hold political power or the holders of power…become lovers of wisdom.”  We might take eons to achieve a stage in which our power-holders would become lovers of wisdom. Accumulated subversion of norms, willful and callous disregard for the rule of law, lack of decent and reasonable constraints on public conduct and appalling ignorance of history have created a monstrous galaxy of politicians whose beginnings are more obscure than their ends. 

But they are a product of the democratic will of the electorate. The electorate has to come to terms with them until it’s time to replace them with an equally unqualified set of politicians. The founder-leader of the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP), Rohana Wijeweera articulated this process of continuous ‘revolving-system of government’ (thattu-maaru kramaya) most eloquently in his speeches in the late sixties and early seventies. However, we cannot go where Wijeweera wished to take the youth in Sri Lanka. That ideology is dead and proven absolutely worse than the present democratic way of life to which Sri Lankans have got accustomed.

That is the preface to my central contention of today’s column: Maithri/Ranil bond. Soon in the wake of the election of Maithripala Sirisena as President of Sri Lanka in January, 2015, the bond that was built between President Sirisena and Prime Minister Wickremesinghe looked immensely solid and firm. Almost each time President appeared in public, albeit his profound loyalty to Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP), his original political party, he never failed to mention that he was greatly helped by the United National Party (UNP) and its leader Ranil Wickremesinghe for being elected as President. The bond between Ranil Wickremesinghe, leader of the UNP, seemed to grow with each passing day. His respect and admiration for the UNP leader was palpable and intense.

On the part of Ranil Wickremesinghe, the complement was returned with even greater strength. Nevertheless, the Bond-scam apparently had a profound effect on this bond. The mutual trust was shattered and the growing crevices became visible and tangible. In the meantime, Sirisena’s fight within his own party, which he in fact left when he contested the Presidential Elections against its leader Mahinda Rajapaksa, became even more intense and at times comical. Sirisena’s failure to take full control of the SLFP did play an integral part in the Maithri/Ranil bond to be fissured. The formation of the infamous ‘Joint Opposition’ (JO), which in all realistic terms, a group of Ministers and other parliamentarians whose loyalty to their defeated leader was surpassed only by their collective questionable financial integrity, increased the graying of Maithripala’s shock of hair.

In order to buttress his position in the Cabinet, which was dominated some UNP stalwarts, Sirisena resorted to one of the acts which enticed unconditional criticism. He brought back some defeated SLFPers back to parliament through the backdoor known as the ‘national list’. While the UNP members of the Cabinet, both in private and in public, spoke in one voice, these SLFPers began indulging in a cascade of crude and rude criticisms of their own government. The JO, having failed to come to terms with the Presidency of Maithripala Sirisena, a typical product of the country’s dry zone citizenry, a loyal disciple of the Bandaranaike family and an emblematic follower of the so-called ‘Bandaranaike policies’, began a campaign of vituperative politics. They left no stone unturned in order to gain temporary political advantage. Despite allegations of amassing vast amounts of wealth at the expense of the country’s coffers, Mahinda and his immediate family managed to throw mud, first at Prime Minister Wickremesinghe and then at President Sirisena.

Into this the arena of dastardly political theatre entered Arjuna Mahendran, unseated Governor of the Central Bank and deposed Minister of Finance, Ravi Karunanayake and their Bond-scam. Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe failed to see the depth of damage this Bond-scam could cause. He should have insisted that Arjuna Mahendran resign immediately upon the surfacing of accusations regarding the Bond-scam. The damage would have been much less; there would have been no Presidential Inquiry; no JO cry, for their past practice of corruption was hardly outdone. The evil effects of the Bond-scam are now manifesting themselves as ghosts of mistakes that could have been easily averted. And their effects are affecting the bond between the President and Prime Minister. The unbonding of the bond between the two leaders of the country is now visible. Its apparent consequences will be shown in the local government elections scheduled for February 10, 2018.

What could have been nipped in the bud has grown into a massive tree, taking firm roots in a soil that is already spoiled and rotten. Hopes are still alive for the bond to re-bond. It’s entirely on the shoulders of both men, Maithripala Sirisena and Ranil Wickremesinghe.

The writer can be contacted at vishwamithra1984@gmail.com            

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Latest comments

  • 2
    0

    Mutual trust in parliamentary politics is like one between thieves, or rather cheats.
    There never was trust or real goodwill.
    The Bond saga was a somewhat heavy straw that broke the back of the camel, I mean the deal.

    • 3
      3

      There never was a “bond scam” of the proportions being bandied about. The gains made by PTL are NOT Central Bank losses.
      This financial illiteracy only goes to show the gullibility of our people.

      • 1
        1

        OLD codger: You Should be taken to the Galle Face to punish. You know how. It is the Treasury that has money and not the Central Bank. Central Bank lost public money, EPF money, BOC money. So, do not talk like a Hyena. You Hyena does not know what you are talking. Why don’t you explain what the Central bank’s responsibilities are. Ranil used Central bank to make EPF and BOC lose. country also lost ,llot of money. growth stopped. People had to pay extra bank interests. extra taxes to pay of govt debts. govt has to borrow more.

        • 0
          0

          Jimmy the dummy,
          I have shown the calculations several times in this forum. Disprove them if you can without talking second-hand B.S.
          Even the World Bank has stated that losses on bond issues cannot be calculated. Are you smarter than the World Bank?

          • 1
            0

            OLD codger: You are a pathetic liar just like your INPATRIOTIC PM, FM and the Foot Note Gang. there is a video in which Harsha De silva is laughing at the bond Scam’s Honesty. why don’t you write here your justification. Sri lankan people have written how bond Scam emptied the Banks, EPFs, and emptied the pockets of those buy loans and pay taxes. You can ask world bank political questions. they give political answers just the way, world bank is saying Sri lanka is not doing well financially. Moody Ratings gave negative rating while IMF says Sri lanka is doing fine financially. so, you are another pathetic LIAR who tries to lie to the country on behalf od your gang of thieves.
            Why don’t you write your calculations again.
            Vishvamithra your article is just as usual. You know it. there are no bonds in Politics, IF MY3 thinks that way, he is in big trouble. Ranil tried to screw up MY3 as much as he can but Ranil got caught.

            • 0
              0

              Jimbo dummy,
              Prove this is wrong if you can:
              1. Normal bond interest 9.5 %
              2. Bonds actually issued at 12.5 %
              3. Difference is 3 %
              4. 3% of 10 billion is 300 million
              5. Therefore, the loss is 300 million PER YEAR.
              6 FACT : The 2014 loss at Sri Lankan Airlines was 18 billion.

              So what should you be jabbering about? Sri Lankan or some piffling 300 million?????
              Even you should be able to understand this.

              • 0
                0

                OLD CODGER: How about 20 billion or what ever they asked. what is the calculation for 30 years,. why bonds were treated like Treasury bills. PCOLi Calculated the losses to EPF alone Rs 11,5 million within the first five months. . they didnot know what they did . What Did Ranil do with the Sri lankan arilines. chairman is a dead beat with respect to the airlines and he is earning millions from the airline and is running his catering/duty free business. Ranil Friend’s charitha Rathwaththa’s brother’s salary is rs 4.5 million. What is his exeptional qualification. How do they get salaries when the airline is losing money. WILLL GOVT EVERY RECOVER THE RS 688 MILLION NOW THEY ASSIGN TO ARJUN MAHENDRAN. hE WILL CLAIM BANKRUPT. PROBABY HE DOE SNOT HAVE ANY ASSETS IN SRI LANKA. ALL GIVEN TO THE DAUGHTER. so, how do they recover. How about the bond scam affecting other banks, prime rate and peoples borrowing rates ? How about increased taxes ?

                • 0
                  0

                  Jim softy Dimwit

                  Are you sure you know what you are talking about?
                  Old codger has simplified Bond issue for dummies.
                  Read, learn ….. if possible take your hands off your Willie and Keyboard.

                  • 0
                    0

                    N.V,
                    Jimmy is smarter than the World Bank. Give him due respect.

                    • 0
                      0

                      old codger

                      “Give him due respect.”

                      Dimwit has to earn respect.

                • 0
                  0

                  Jimmy,
                  The GOVERNMENT does not have to pay more than 300 million a year for 30 years. Is that going to bankrupt the country? If so, how? Do you believe everything that the Sirasa pundits say?
                  It is TRUE that PTL made 5 billion in one year. That money DID NOT come from the government. It came from the people who bought the bonds off PTL.
                  If there ever is a trial, there is no crime to prosecute, only Ravi for bribery.
                  Sri Lankan Airlines lost 18 billion in ONE year under Mahinda. But the country is still not bankrupt????

  • 7
    0

    Ranil did not foresee the damage the Bond scam would do ! Who planned the whole operation ?Whose name jumps out as the unseen hand at every point in the Bond saga ?

    In simple terms ,Ranil is a dead man living in a new and vibrant present. He thinks in terms of his
    abject cronies, old school ties, how great his family is, what wisdom JR had etc . Or even better, as long as there are people in this country who can be made to think of these things as worthy, chaps like Ranil will thrive.The truth is the present world has no time for these rotten and dead ideas of an old generation who have led the country to utter despair.

    So let us pay baila homage to aunt Irangani ( an incomparable artist, esp because she has my blood !)and send cousin Wijewardena to UK as High Commissioner .Also promote that loser Ruwan Wijewardena and slithery Sagala to political heights to succeed him, just like how JR did with Ranil.The people must eat and digest what ever these sick minds think and come up with including his version of the Bond scam. The UNP is his property and the country his servants

    One time Ranil thought if he wears denim trousers and promise the farmers trousers he will get votes. The next time he promised gold chains and a slice of papaw to village lads. The surprise is that there are people who still think a joke is a monument

  • 2
    0

    Bond scam must undo the bond between MS & RW/UNP for the benefit of the country; the chances for the stability of the bond between MS & RW was averted by the failure of RW & his allies to resign as gentlemen just after linking their names to bond scam.

    People expect president to be energetic and be a storm to blow RW & allies into oblivion unless it’ll be a political blow for him.

  • 1
    0

    Treasury or the State banks do not decide how much money to be borrowed for the govt, What rate should be the prime rate. Ranil fked with the prime rate by robbing the banks.

  • 0
    0

    The MS/RW bond was a marriage forced by voters on 08 January 2015. We knew that there will be difficulties but the bond issue cropping up so soon has brought us back to reality.
    MS & RW cannot step back. They MUST make the tenuous union work. If they succeed, they will be part of history.

  • 0
    0

    Nothing will unbond this bond. RW made MS President and MS made RW PM.. This mutual gratitude will never be broken. Moreover Ranil is craftier than anyone thinks.
    Soma

  • 1
    0

    My3 was used for sure .
    But this is poly tricks ..My3 now must decide, do I archive my beliefs and suspend my conscience temporarily and start kicking the yakos on their backs or ,let my conscience melt me down to step down ?

    You can never do politics with a clear conscience in Sri Lanka or any
    3rd world nation. Impossible.

    Wonder how many got the Bond game right ,it was too easy catch . men in the game are seasoned and no fools ,yet let every gap open. Simple is it not ? You scratch my back and I do yours .
    So game close , the previous regime is forgiven by the present and the present forgiven by the previous. Good one ,except poor My3 ,was mercilessly abused by all.
    So all in the game .Let My3. Do his game now,.. Take over executive PM .if Mahinda want he can be ceremonial king and Ranil can be FM and go around and bring some funfs home.Happy ending

  • 1
    0

    The joint opposition was not created’ naturally’ but due to a lame old Jockey Sampanthan getting on to the saddle of the leader of the opposition’s horse- another NONDI KUTHIRAI- (A Tamil phrase) a lame horse. By his jockeying he has Neither helped the Tamils Nor the Sinhalese. If there is a no confidence motion against Ranil against his ‘Bond’ with Arujuna Mahendra’s ‘misdeeds, Sampanther will either vote against or abstain from voting to express his Bond with Ranil .Mr.Sumanthiran PC too will do the same to spotlight his ‘thanks giving’ for the Title of PC conferred on him.
    I would suggest that Sampantahar be made the President and Sumanthiran PC the Prime Minister, at least for a day or create a mirage to that effect.This would make them faithful servants for ever to Ranil. The Tamil people who are fighting for their lands and the release of their Children from prison, whom they are supposed to represent will be NON EXISTENT.

  • 0
    0

    President will reshuffle the cabinet after Feb 10th.

    Waiting to see ..

  • 0
    0

    LG polls– UNP will lead , SLFP(my3)
    Will come in 2nd,
    JVP will surely come third.

    JO ,most probably won’t make it ,(as long as bandula ,GL, Wimal & Gamampila remain part of it.

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