12 November, 2019

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Is Premadasa Committing Hara-Kiri?

By Amrit Muttukumaru

Amrit Muttukumaru

Sajith Premadasa being proposed albeit reluctantly at the last minute as UNP presidential candidate by UNP leader and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe gave a turbo boost to an otherwise boring one-horse presidential race where former President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s brother and former defense secretary  Gotabaya Rajapaksa was by far the front-runner. Wickremesinghe was compelled to do so after realizing the overwhelming support Premadasa had attracted at his several rallies. The same applies to Wickremesinghe’s cronies who now scream ‘Jayaweva’!

In the context of Wickremesinghe ‘stock’ in the country and among a vast majority of the UNP faithful perceived to be at an all time low, is it not imprudent for Premadasa to ALLOW himself to be identified strongly with Wickremesinghe to the extent that voters are led to believe that he will continue as Prime Minister under a Premadasa presidency even if the UNP forms the government after a general election next year? Wickremesinghe himself is going out of his way to reinforce this belief.  

The latest was at the press conference a few days ago at ‘Temple Tree’ where he explicitly confirmed he will remain as PM under a Premadasa presidency next year.  This assertion has been given PROMINENT media coverage for obvious reasons.

Does this not play right into the hands of his main rival Gotabaya Rajapaksa who could persuasively argue that nothing would change under a Premadasa presidency if Wickremesinghe would continue as PM?

Wickremesinghe’s ‘stock’ being low is due to inter alia:

(i) Reneging on the promise of good governance for which PM Wickremesinghe is widely held mainly responsible. The egregious Treasury Bond Scam epitomizes the worst excesses of the yahapalana government’s alleged corruption and abuse of power. 

(ii) Not holding those concerned under the Rajapaksa presidency accountable after alleging in the run-up to the 2015 national elections of terrible corruption, violence and abuse of power. 

(iii) Perception that the Yahapalana government allowed the Easter Sunday carnage to take place by ignoring several intelligence warnings.

(iv) Perception that Wickremesinghe would be more comfortable under a Gotabaya Rajapaksa presidency rather than one of Sajith Premadasa. This perception is supported by media reports (not denied) that Wickremesinghe who does not have even a ‘snowball’s chance in hell’ to defeat Rajapaksa was seriously considering being the UNP’s Presidential candidate. 

(v) Belief among a wide section of the UNP faithful that there is a nexus between him and the Rajapaksa clan. 

 (vi) Hanging on as UNP leader for the better part of 25 years virtually by force by the brute power given to the leader by the UNP constitution. 

(vii) Losing a record number of nation-wide elections and also probably losing thousands of exasperated party faithful.

These are in the context of Premadasa himself – UNP deputy leader and senior minister being virtually a silent spectator in the face of yahapalana shenanigans these past four and a half years.

Sinhala-Buddhist Card

Premadasa does not appreciate that his OVERPLAYING as he currently does the Sinhala-Buddhist card is COUNTERPRODUCTIVE to his cause as it will compromise his TRUMP CARD – the MINORITIES particularly Tamils and Muslims. No matter how strongly he espouses as he currently does the Sinhala-Buddhist cause, he just cannot get close to the Rajapaksas in this respect. Although his reach to this majority constituency has taken a MAJOR LEAP from what it was under Wickremesinghe, his only chance of being successful is by the MINORITIES voting for him as they did almost EN MASSE for President Sirisena in January 2015. Due to several reasons where his current mindless reach out to Sinhala-Buddhists features prominently, he has put paid to this realization. It would have been prudent for him to have been largely SILENT and still achieved what he needs from the Sinhala-Buddhist constituency while not compromising his APPEAL to the minorities vis-à-vis Gotabaya Rajapaksa.   

Conclusion

If Premadasa really wants to be President, he needs to be COURAGEOUS and undertake a radical course correction. This would necessitate immediately giving wide publicity to inter alia:

1)  Announce that under no circumstances will Ranil Wickremesinghe be Prime Minister under a Premadasa presidency

2) Tell the people that the country will only have a FUTURE if ALL people are treated EQUALLY

3) Tell the people that ‘true democracy is the way the country treats its minorities’ 

One wonders whether Premadasa by his utterances no matter what has already lost the confidence of the majority of the minorities – particularly Tamils and Muslims? 

The bottom line for the country is that irrespective of who becomes Executive President, the prognosis for the country is dire both socially and economically. 

What confidence can one have on the observance of the rule of law when high ranking law officers of the state themselves reportedly behave in a manner that beggars belief and are themselves not held accountable?

Irrespective of all other considerations will the Deep State have the final say particularly in the context of a tight and close race?

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Latest comments

  • 13
    1

    It would be refreshing, and common sense, for any leader to unify the entire country, and speak for all, instead of this constant targeting of the Sinhala Buddhists and diminishing the minority. Until the politicians acts and includes all Sri Lankans, we would never know real peace.

  • 18
    0

    He must also stop going one more after every new promise made by GR. Doesnt the guy have any sensible advisors?

    AKD seems to b the best bet but then will that mean GR will win?

    • 9
      3

      Most UNPers will stay home without going to vote this time. The only reason is obvious: the tug-of-war between RanilW and SajitP is detrimental and it seems RanilW is purposely sabotaging Sajit’s chance of winning the game. Sajit has no backbone to resist it and confront RanilW. Even if he plans a last minute course correction (at least a day or two before the election) it won’t work unless he does it immediately.

      • 5
        14

        Mr. Muttukumaru,
        You say “The egregious Treasury Bond Scam epitomizes the worst excesses of the yahapalana government’s alleged corruption and abuse of power. “
        As an alleged financial expert, do you not feel any responsibility to deal in facts rather than vague accusations lifted straight from your patrons Sirasa ?
        Here are the facts:
        The CB issued 10 Billion in bonds. Even if you write this off as a total loss (which it most certainly is not) the cost per person is about 250 rupees.
        The loss from SriLankan was 29 Billion in just one year (2019). That’s about 800 rupees per citizen.
        Now, can you tell us which is more “egregious”?
        You have never been able to answer previous queries by me and others. Bandying big words around will not do, please.

        • 13
          2

          Dear Buddhi,
          Weather it is 250 Rupees or
          250 Million Rupees ; Scam is a scam.

        • 11
          3

          L.A. Buddhadasa

          1) I reiterate that the “egregious Treasury Bond Scam epitomizes the worst excesses of the yahapalana government’s alleged corruption and abuse of power.” This in particular applies to the virtual absence of ACCOUNTABILITY.

          2) Your “facts” are selective and misleading. You even ignore the Treasury Bond auctions of March 2016.

          3) The reality is that the UNWARRANTED increase in interest rates at the controversial 27 February 2015 Treasury Bond auction also impacts on subsequent bond issues. It has been estimated by some sources that the loss incurred by the government merely from 27 February 2015 to 12 June 2015 alone is Rs. 55 Billion! Your attribution of a “total loss” of
          “10 Billion” due to the bond scam is way off the mark.

          4) We await the long overdue FORENSIC AUDIT of the CBSL to shed light on this and on the implications of the bond scam to the government, economy and integrity of the banking system.

          5) The Yahapalana government has made its own contribution to the sorry plight of SriLankan Airlines. Here again where is the accountability which include some of our ‘captains’ of industry and commerce?

          6) I have made no claim of being a “financial expert”. I also REJECT your allegation of “Sirasa” or anyone else being my “patron”.

          Amrit Muttukumaru

          • 3
            10

            Mr. A.M,
            “It has been estimated by some sources that the loss incurred by the government merely from 27 February 2015 to 12 June 2015 alone is Rs. 55 Billion”
            Now who is selective and misleading?
            You present an estimate as fact. I have presented a real , proven loss at SriLankan.
            Furthermore, if the loss is that big, why is the AG (at Sirisena’s prodding) suing the accused for just 600 million? And then, why is the Singapore govt. NOT as convinced aboutMahendran’s guilt as you are?
            I am not trying to defend the scam, but the fact that writers like you keep mentioning it as some earth- shaking event when in fact there is no real evidence, and other real losses have occurred which you prefer not to talk about.
            Buddhi.

            • 9
              2

              L.A. Buddhadasa

              1) The issue at hand is your taking exception to my assertion: “The egregious Treasury Bond Scam epitomizes the worst excesses of the yahapalana government’s alleged corruption and abuse of power. “

              2) Please do not PREVARICATE by introducing the pathetic state of affairs at SriLankan Airlines for which both the previous Rajapaksa government and present yahapalana government are mainly responsible in the absence of any accountability. I am well aware that losses at SriLankan Airlines are ASTRONOMICAL for which several ‘captains’ of industry and commerce are also responsible. Your silence on this is deafening.

              3) No one with a FIDUCIARY responsibility with access to official data on the egregious Treasury Bond scams of 27 February 2015 and March 2016 has QUANTIFIED the losses incurred by the government and implications to the economy, integrity of the banking system and people.

              4) Be that as it may, please appreciate that the UNWARRANTED increase in interest rates at the controversial 27 February 2015 Treasury Bond auction also impacts on subsequent issues of T-bills and bonds. On this basis it has been ESTIMATED by some sources that the loss incurred by the government merely from 27 February 2015 to 12 June 2015 alone is Rs. 55 Billion! This is merely an INDICATION of the MAGNITUDE of the LOSS. Hence your attribution of a “total loss” of “10 Billion” due to the bond scam is way off the mark. You have also ignored the Treasury Bond auctions of March 2016.

              5) Even the CBSL which is the issuing agency for Treasury Bonds has still not placed in the public domain its FORENSIC AUDIT of the Bond scams. This was a key recommendation of the report of the Presidential Commission. The report was available in the public domain from 3 January 2018. It is now 22 MONTHS since then and the forensic audit is still not in the public domain.

              6) It is hoped that crucial issues incidental to the bond scam thrown up by witnesses at the Presidential Commission related to possible MONEY LAUNDERING, TAX EVASION and PEPs being directors of banks will also be included in the CBSL forensic audit.

              7) I trust you now APPRECIATE my assertion: “The egregious Treasury Bond Scam epitomizes the worst excesses of the yahapalana government’s alleged corruption and abuse of power. “

              8) While I am glad you have raised the issue of the Treasury Bond Scam, it is noted that you have completely overlooked my article “Is Premadasa Committing Hara-Kiri?”

              Amrit Muttukumaru

              • 3
                6

                Mr.AM,
                You keep repeating this mantra:
                “Be that as it may, please appreciate that the UNWARRANTED increase in interest rates at the controversial 27 February 2015 Treasury Bond auction also impacts on subsequent issues of T-bills and bonds. On this basis it has been ESTIMATED by some sources that the loss incurred by the government merely from 27 February 2015 to 12 June 2015 alone is Rs. 55 Billion! “
                Since you are “not a financial expert” , maybe you don’t know that this very neatly calculated alleged loss is over 30 years, the term of the bonds. Less than 2 billion a year. Now think what 2 billion rupees will be worth in 2045? The price of a second-hand bus ?
                As to the loss due to increase in interest rates, one could argue that the decline in interest rates from 22% in 2000 to 12% in 2014 is an enormous profit to the State. Both arguments are specious.
                The fact is that there is no quantifiable evidence for your repeated accusations, and that is why there is no “forensic audit” or Singaporean cooperation.

                • 8
                  2

                  L.A. Buddhadasa

                  1) Further engagement with you is unproductive.

                  2) You DEFENSIVELY say “I am not trying to defend the scam”! Pray tell us, what else are you trying to do?

                  3) What are you getting from defending the indefensible? At least you acknowledge there was a “scam”!

                  4) Any UNBIASED commentator will concede that “The egregious Treasury Bond Scam epitomizes the worst excesses of the yahapalana government’s alleged corruption and abuse of power.”

                  5) If the bond scams are TRIVIAL as you disingenuously state, why has the CBSL UNPRECEDENTEDLY reportedly sought the approval of the Attorney-General to place in the public domain its long delayed FORENSIC AUDIT as it “could influence the upcoming presidential election”?

                  6) Prior to this was not Parliament dissolved on the eve of the 2015 General Elections to prevent the D.E.W. Gunasekera led COPE report on the 27 February 2015 bond scam being presented to parliament?

                  7) If it is not such a ‘political hot potato’, why has no one with FIDUCIARY responsibility with access to official data on the 27 February 2015 and March 2016 bond scams not QUANTIFIED the losses incurred by the government?

                  8) You are CONVENIENTLY ignoring the implications of the bond scams to the economy, integrity of the banking system and people. Let us see whether the CBSL covers these aspects in the forensic audit.

                  9) It is hoped that crucial issues incidental to the bond scam thrown up by witnesses at the Presidential Commission related to possible MONEY LAUNDERING, TAX EVASION and PEPs being directors of banks will also be included in the CBSL forensic audit. You have conveniently ignored these aspects as well.

                  10) With reference to the 27 February 2015 bond scam, you have been compelled to ostensibly accept the estimate of ‘some sources’ that the loss incurred by the government from 27 February 2015 to 12 June 2015 alone is Rs. 55 Billion!

                  11) Please note this is merely an INDICATION of the MAGNITUDE of the LOSS. Hence your attribution of a “total loss” of “10 Billion” due to the 27 February 2015 bond scam is way off the mark. You have also ignored the bond scams of March 2016.

                  12) Please do not INSULT the intelligence of CT readers by lecturing that this “very neatly calculated alleged loss is over 30 years”. Surely one does not have to be a “financial expert” to discern this!

                  13) Since you ostensibly portray yourself as a “financial expert”, could you please reveal the ASSUMPTIONS under which you claim that Rs. 2 Billion in 2015 will most likely only purchase “a second-hand bus” in 2045? Whether buses will be in vogue in 2045 is another matter!

                  14) As to your assertion of there being no “Singaporean cooperation” for the extradition of Arjuna Mahendran, we do not know the ‘QUALITY’ of the government’s request for extradition. Remember that Singapore whatever its other shortcomings is a highly ‘professional’ country.

                  Amrit Muttukumaru

                  • 0
                    7

                    Mr. AM,

                    2) You DEFENSIVELY say “I am not trying to defend the scam”! Pray tell us, what else are you trying to do?”
                    What I am trying to do is introduce some balance in a situation where clueless “opinion leaders” pontificate to their sheep-like followers . I maintain that there is NO real evidence for a loss greater than what the AG himself has claimed. Neither is the very professional Singaporean govt. convinced.
                    Finally, just to put it simply, assume you borrow a million from your neighbour, promising to pay in 5 years with interest. In what way can it be a loss ?????

                  • 0
                    5

                    Mr AM
                    “expert”, could you please reveal the ASSUMPTIONS under which you claim that Rs. 2 Billion in 2015 will most likely only purchase “a second-hand bus” in 2045? “
                    Really? Perhaps you don’t know that 30 years ago, in 1989, a used car cost 50,000 , a loaf of bread 3.50 and petrol 12.00. A little extrapolation helps, even if one is “not a financial expert”.

                    • 3
                      0

                      L.A. Buddhadasa

                      1) Your attempt to DOWNPLAY the ENORMITY and impact of the egregious bond scams is puerile and pathetic. Your type of “extrapolation” is downright dangerous to society.

                      2) You imply an EXTREME erosion of purchasing power due to rampant inflation over a 30 year period which is not viable for a stable economy. If inflation is as rampant as you envisage, people will lose faith in the domestic currency leading to chaos and instability. High value SL currency denominations will have to be substantially increased from the present Rs. 5000/= to something outrageous. Inflation mainly arises due to the heavy mismanagement of the economy by governments.

                      3) On your puerile question “assume you borrow a million from your neighbour, promising to pay in 5 years with interest. In what way can it be a loss?” is it not obvious there will be a loss to the lender if given below market rate and a loss to the borrower if taken above market rate?

                      4) If the bond scams are TRIVIAL as you disingenuously state, why has the CBSL UNPRECEDENTEDLY reportedly sought the approval of the Attorney-General to place in the public domain its long delayed FORENSIC AUDIT as it “could influence the upcoming presidential election”?

                      5) Prior to this was not Parliament dissolved on the eve of the 2015 General Elections to prevent the D.E.W. Gunasekera led COPE report on the 27 February 2015 bond scam being presented to parliament?

                      6) If it is not such a ‘political hot potato’, why has no one with FIDUCIARY responsibility with access to official data on the 27 February 2015 and March 2016 bond scams not QUANTIFIED the losses incurred by the government? I trust the CBSL has CREDIBLY done so in its forensic audit.

                      7) You are CONVENIENTLY ignoring the implications of the bond scams to the economy, integrity of the banking system and people. Let us see whether the CBSL covers these aspects in its forensic audit.

                      8) It is hoped that crucial issues incidental to the bond scam thrown up by witnesses at the Presidential Commission related to possible MONEY LAUNDERING, TAX EVASION and PEPs being directors of banks will also be included in the CBSL forensic audit. You have conveniently ignored these aspects as well.

                      9) With reference to the 27 February 2015 bond scam, you have been COMPELLED to ostensibly ACCEPT the ESTIMATE of ‘some sources’ that the loss incurred by the government from 27 February 2015 to 12 June 2015 alone is Rs. 55 Billion!

                      10) Please note this is merely an INDICATION of the MAGNITUDE of the LOSS. Hence your attribution of a “total loss” of “10 Billion” due to the 27 February 2015 bond scam is way off the mark. You have also ignored the bond scams of March 2016.

                      11) As to your assertion of there being no “Singaporean cooperation” for the extradition of Arjuna Mahendran, we do not know the ‘QUALITY’ of the government’s request for extradition. Remember that Singapore whatever its other shortcomings is a highly ‘professional’ country.

                      12) You ostensibly portray yourself as a “financial expert”. Your puerile defense of the indefensible egregious bond scams does no credit to the professionalism of this discipline.

                      13) Please note there will be NO FURTHER ENGAGEMENT with you on the subject of the bond scams as it is UNPRODUCTIVE and hence a sheer waste of time.

                      Amrit Muttukumaru

  • 22
    5

    Premadasa must openly denounce the performance of Wickremasinghe if he has any aspirations to win the upcoming elections. It is common and ‘still fresh’ knowledge that Wickremasinghe is utterly reviled as a political leader by the people of Sri Lanka. To continue to be associated with the man will merely grossly reduce the popularity of an emergent Premadasa.

  • 11
    4

    After nearly 05 years of total mismanagement, he has craftily
    passed the buck to SP to try to win an unwinnable election and to commit political hara kiri in the process .

  • 2
    8

    There is nothing wrong in playing Sinhala Buddhist card. Sajith needs at least 50% of majority Sinhala Buddhist votes. He has to prove to the majority that he is sincere for the upliftment of their welfare.

    Minorities should understand that they can’t demand their rights at the expenses of welfare of majority.

    As it is his manifesto is very well balanced to look into the grievances of the minorities.

    If the author doesn’t like Ranil that is his problem. Ranil will continue to be PM until the end of his parliamentary term. A new PM may be elected after next parliamentary election. This is democracy which Sirisena tried to destroy.

    • 4
      1

      Acumen
      “Minorities should understand that they can’t demand their rights at the expense of the majority”.
      Which means Ranil has seen that SP’s recent manifesto is isn’t well balanced to look into minority grievances is it not?

      • 1
        1

        His manifesto basically deals with remedy for the violation of human rights of minorities in the form of disappearance of persons, detentions without trials etc. Their political rights are already embedded in the constitution in clauses such as 13A. A president needs to uphold and protect constitution of the country.

        • 2
          1

          You have conveniently ignored the fact that it was a JVP’s application that enabled Ex CJ Sarath N Silva a known MaRa Pakse ball carrier to emasculate the 13A that constitutionally protected violations of minority human rights.
          Whom are you trying to fool?

  • 3
    0

    Amrit, all parties are playing with one (only) ace card which is “SB / Racist Card”. Rest are Jokers and dummy. The difference is ” ability to bluff “?? who blinks first ??? Some are willing to show , some are indirectly implying to hold and rest are bluffing.

  • 3
    11

    RW may have many shortcomings. But one must acknowledge his value and worth as it’s widely acknowledged and accepted that he is the most knowledgeable Politician in the House today (MR is in the shade in comparison). One must not throw the baby with the bath water!

    Is the writer advocating that SP violates the Constitution (as did MS) by appointing a new PM? As I understand it, he will not have the powers to do that. SP has rightly said this is a ‘Presidential Election’ and not an election to select a PM. That will occur only in due course in accordance with the Constitution of Sri Lanka.

    I guess SP has enough advisers around him to guide him on these issues. He is also by now a seasoned Politician in his own right (unlike his nemesis).

    • 2
      2

      Gamini,
      I agree. The Oct 26 coup clearly showed that president has no power to appoint or remove a PM; it has to be done with a majority vote in the parliament. Also, to suggest that Sajith was acting like Ranil’s shadow, Amrith must either be unaware of what was going on in SL politics, or he is simply trying to create a shadow of conflict within Sajith’s camp. I think that the tone of the essay suggests the latter b’cos everybody else in this country know that Sajith as well as the current speaker tried unseat Ranil from the leadership. They both, along with many other UNP loyalists, are the party b’cos of the loyalty to the party; not b’cos of Ranil. Besides, that is the way real politicians must behave.

      It appears that, about loyalty to the party leadership, Amrith is also following the “slave mentality” some use to define the loyalty: Unconditional loyalty. But, the whole world saw how Sajith set a record in SL politics by winning the candidacy by challenging the existing leadership! That achievement of setting a precedent for future itself is good enough to put Sajith apart from all other candidates. In the past, all such attempts ended up either resulting in party beak-ups or leaving the party altogether. Therefore, unless Amrith is hoping to be one of GoRa’s White Van drivers, it is better for him to withdraw the Hara Kiri proposal.

    • 1
      0

      Gamini,
      I fully agree with you. A democratic president has no constitutional right to sack the PM who was elected by the majority law makers in parliament as we have seen Sirisena ate the humble pie.

    • 0
      0

      Section 51 of the nineteenth amendment to the constitution gives extra powers to the current president which the new president will not have.

      Section 51 “Notwithstanding anything to the contrary in the Constitution, the person holding office as President on the date of commencement of this Act, so long as he holds the Office of President may assign to himself the subjects and functions of Defence, Mahaweli Development and Environment and determine the Ministries to be in his charge for that purpose and accordingly, any reference in any written law to the Minister to whom such subject or function is assigned, shall be read and construed as a reference to the President.”

  • 3
    14

    Bullshit article by a Gota troll, Sajith will win with a majority, the Buddhist are not dumb as before.

    Rice from the moon anyone?

  • 1
    0

    Free Sanitary Pads for Masses was the Master Stroke of the UNP Candidate Keselwatta Kid to get in front in this Election, where Wahabi Suicide Bombs in Catholic Church and the greatest Reserve Bank heist in the History, the Government Bond Scam were the main issues.

    And it worked in the Electorate which is made up of 40% who are less than 400 Ruppiah a Day .
    And another 20% who are on the Samudhi Dole.

    UNP Candidate has even promised to double the Samurdhi Receipients to go along with Free Sanitary, Pads , Free Meals to all School Children and Free Uniforms and even Free Houses.

    I know Dr Ranil bragged to the Media Scrum that he will be the PM on the 17th.
    Do our great majority who are happy with the above offers care too hoots about what Dr Ranil says?.
    Or do they know what Dr Ranil’s Agenda is?..

  • 7
    0

    R anil should say he will resign the day after Sajith wins. That surely win many votes for SP.
    Remember Ranasinghe Premadasa reneged on a promise to make Lalith Athulatmudali as PM and instead appointed DBW.

    • 0
      0

      SheltonW

      Sajith will not win.

      However if it’s country’s fate he’d not make RW the PM & FM SF the defense man either.

      His plan is to make MS an MP from the national list & then the PM.

      Birds of feather flock together.

      He’s going to enjoy maximum politics.

  • 2
    0

    Feeling sad for UNPers.

    Gota is on winning saddle; & it’s firm.

    But never say die UNPers; though you can’t make Sajith the winner, there’s a way for you to defeat Gota If you hate or jealous of him.

    (most probably Gota is getting below 50%)

    You have to put AKD’s vote base to the maximum use.to beat Gota.

    As AKD is very close to come as the runner up (Sajith the 3rd man), if all the UNFers mark 2nd choice for AKD, you can make the AKD the president to make Gota the loser.

    The best thing is forget Sajith for the time being & mark the 1st choice to AKD.

    Minorities assure that their 2nd choice is AKD.

  • 1
    0

    Are we going to see a revolt in the temple of politics. And will this spill onto the roads and , once again, bring on a gloomy atmosphere and result in an abject economy.

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