4 June, 2023


Preaching Progress & Pickpocketing The Public Purse

By Sarath De Alwis

Sarath de Alwis

The title captures the essence of three wasted years since 8th January 2015. The kickoff point of the Maithripala Sirisena Presidency and administration of Prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe.

On his assumption, the new President publicly declared that his was a one term presidency. Reform was its singular purpose. Having said that, he made his brother the boss of Telecom and assured us that he would end nepotism. He promised to end cronyism. He made A.S.P Liyanage the ambassador to Qatar. He also steered through the 19th Amendment. He set up independent commissions. He made Gotabaya Rajapaksa to move the Supreme court to ensure his fundamental rights. Now that is a feat that defies repeat. The nearest equivalent would be to persuade Mahanayake theras that unitary is coerced and united is agreed and hence unitary is less Buddhist and United is more Buddhist. So, his positives outweigh his negatives. We thank gods for mercies, little or substantial.

Our quadruple quandary

This essay is not about President Sirisena. It is about Prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and his oligarchic cohorts. The observations made above were only to accentuate our present and imminent quadruple quandary.

We need to keep, sustain and defend this President occasionally faulty and frequently guided by commonsense. We must however with determination oust this appallingly unprincipled Prime minster.

We need also to prevent other unmistakably tyrannical contenders from swindling our sovereignty with help from our patently corrupt Saffron sorority.   

This compounded pickle and chaos should not divert us from our obligation to correct past mistakes, recognize present imperatives and realistically frame our future.

A Liability to Stability, In the name of God, Go.

Prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe must be told in plainest and precise language that we have had enough of him and his experts. Go in the name of God, Go. Ranil Wickremsignhe is a liability for the nations stability, economic, social and political. 

President Sirisena cannot tell him to go. With the 19th Amendment he has painted himself to a corner. He cannot dissolve parliament. He does not have the numbers. He has a few genuinely loyal SLFP troopers excluding the appointed clowns.

Making peace with the JO will not help. The Minority Parties who in effect brought him to power will not go anywhere near an equation in which Gotabaya is a factor.

He must use the minority parties to intervene to resolve the impasse. The UNP parliamentary group must be made to realize the folly of propping up a leader who has been successful beyond his worth, promoted beyond his intellectual capacity and arrogant to a degree far more than his rotten achievements deserve.   

Emerging from his clarifications before the Bond commission, Prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe told the press “I had an opportunity to explain our government policy on public debt. The president and secretary of our party, our ministers have come forward to fearlessly give evidence.  The ‘yahapalanaya’ (good governance) will move forward. There is nothing to hide. There may have been mistakes, shortcomings, but the ‘yahapalanaya’ will move forward”.

The commission was not about Government policy on public debt. It was about Arjuna Mahendran’s role as Governor of the Central Bank. It was about his son in law Arjun Aloysius making   windfall profits by trading sovereign bonds and profiteering. It was about manipulating the Central Bank supervised pension fund – the EPF.

Lying and Truth Stretching

Ranil is not a liar. He is a consummate truth stretcher. Unravelling the mind of Ranil Wickremesinghe has become a national emergency. He was born in to privilege with a gold spoon in the mouth. The world was his oyster. Uncle JR made him a Cabinet Minister in his first term. When it was his turn to choose ministers, he opted for old fossils like John Amaratunga, oligarchic octopuses like Sagala Rathnayaka, Malik Samarawickrama and slimy scamps like Vajira Abeywardena. They were the anointed.

He determinedly excluded superior intellects and incisive minds. Ranil inhabits a world where the in crowd, the anointed, shape policy. Events last week showed Sujeewa Senasinghe’s ill-concealed ambition to secure his slot round Ranil’s roundtable. He has come far on foot notes. 

What is wrong with these people? They are immune to criticism. They are indifferent to contrary opinion. More than exercising power, they enjoy retaining and concentrating power in their hands. Ranil in addition to his Prime Ministerial role wants to be the economic czar. He makes ambitious plans both political and economic.

Narcissistic Personality Disorder 

His condition has a name – Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Despite the social preeminence he is born to, he is overcome by a compulsive power grabbing urge. 

Although born to wealth and social preeminence, such people are compulsively driven to amass power for the sake of power.

The day, Ranil Wickremesinghe appeared before the commission was the day that our people discovered the real  pickpockets of the public purse.

A phalanx of front line misters of the UNP including peripheral associates, Rajitha Senanratne and Arjuna Ranatunga were on hand to express solidarity with the beleaguered leader of the UNP.

These Senior Ministers were there not to give evidence. They were there, to inform the people and President Sirisena that they stood by Ranil Wickremesinghe who made Arjuna Mahendran Governor of the Central Bank. They were there to substantiate Ranil’s claim that Arjuna Mahendran’s appointment was not an arbitrary whim of his but the consensus of his ministers. This is not the first time that the dental surgeon has extracted rotten teeth, or the cricketer challenged the umpire.

They were shutting out their minds from the issue of bonds. At a critical point in the trajectory of their celebrated coalition they were suspending their conscience. They were not blind to the folly of Ranil Wickremesinghe. They refused to know.

Of Rational Egoists 

Philosopher and novelist Ayn Rand describes these warped human minds as rational egoists. Rational Egoists will not deal with others on any terms other than theirs. They are convinced that their purpose is an end and not the means of any end of others. 

Does this not describe the current UNP leadership? The writer directs this question to the cultivates minds of Mangala, Eran, Harsha and such others in the party. This writer will not exclude even a hectoring Appuhamy from the ranks of rational UNP minds, not egoistic as their manor born leader and his ilk.

This was convincingly demonstrated by the Dental Surgeon who excels in political surgery on behalf of the highest bidder. With the characteristic grin exposing his lilywhite teeth three days later declared that only foreign experts could explain what bonds are.

It is our misfortune that Governor A.S. Jayawardene now in his frail eighties is not physically competent to explain the system he put in place during his term as governor of the Central Bank under President Chandrika Kumaratunga. 

Let us hope that nobody got their dentures done by this dental surgeon now tuned bond expert. If anyone did, it is almost certain that he or she is sporting something discarded from the government’s central dental clinic!

Maithri in a cul-de-sac.

In a follow, up essay this writer will explore how President Maithripala drove himself in to a political cul-de-sac.

For the present this short missive is food for thought for those well-meaning endearingly guileless followers of Sobhitha thero who persist in their belief that they could still salvage their dreams.  This writer weeps for Sarath and Gamini.

As the President has correctly pointed out, the few achievements of the 8th January 2015 triumph were achieved when the UNP had only 44 seats in Parliament. What the President did not say but should have said is that Ranil Wickremesinghe is a fascinating fabricator of cock and bull stories.

If the UNP leader has decided to brazen it out, the President should offer to dissolve parliament with the consent of two thirds of the house now eager to amend laws to hold local government elections. A Parliamentary General Election under a reformed electoral system will enable the Kaduwela electorate in which this writer is a registered voter to reject the obscenity of Sujeewa Senasinghe.

A derailed train

The Maithri Ranil duumvirate is a derailed train. It will not take us anywhere. Reforms are inherently revolutionary. It is also inevitable that democratic reform movements are susceptible to hijack by persons with different agendas. It has happened to us.

There is no shame in admitting error and resuming the march. What we stood up for on 8th January 2015 was to dismantle political, social and economic hierarchies that were offensive to human decency.

What must be done

The Bond fiasco is a reminder that dismantling those oligarchic hierarchies is not a done deal. We don’t yet have a structure to build a fair society. The Surveillance state was dismantled. Yet, our day to day governance passed to a new set of villains with Orwellian notions and inclinations.

Ranil Wickremesinghe must go. He and his Brahmin cronies see others who differ as disposable and unwelcome. Such people can turn out to be worse than the earlier menace. Why take the risk?

Dinesh Weerakkody biographer of Ranil, son-in-law of John Amaratunga and director of the Access Group after 8th January 2015 called ours a revolution just as transformative as the Russian October revolution. That is hogwash.

Revolutions have a purpose but not direction. The French killed the King and deprived the nobility of their land. A century later they colonized Indo China and Africa. The Russians killed the Tsar and eliminated the entire Tsarist system only to install a new Tsar in the Kremlin 100 years later.  So, let us not call ours a revolution. Ours is an experiment. We shall continue with it. We shall overcome.

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Latest comments

  • 3

    MR.Alwis thank you as always.I really enjoyed your writing.This is the undeniable truth.I really hoped Ranil could make a change.people had hoped he is the messiah.A new dawn for Srilanka after a disasterous MR period.On the 8 of January night he made the “deal” with MR and that was the beginning of the choas theory.

    • 6

      Ranil should be impeached asap. – before he causes more damage to Sri Lanka’s economy.
      His corrupt cronies network are also operating the BOI and National Enterprise Ministry just like the Bond scam corruption network; They are planning to privatize strategic assets to crony capitalists and foreign hedge funds without any transparency, accountability or safeguards for social and environmental sustainability on Fake Advice of foreign Economic Hit men and IMF

  • 5

    Are there any politicians with honesty and integrity? We have 225 dumbos in parliament and may be less than 5 are honest !!

    Every politician is hell bend on making money. Color of party is irrelevant. The system is so corrupt and ask the Chinese as how to get things done with both governments.

    The heads of departments, corporations and boards are no different. They simply follow their respective Ministers. It is said that a Prinicipal kicked out recently from a Colombo school owns 5 houses in Colombo and suburbs and this shows how corrupt the system is. Kids of state institution heads and service commanders and their deputies are are all studying overseas. How are they doing it? Tax office is blind to all these and a simple way to expand the tax net is to look into their sources. More than 10,000 kids go overseas every year and how are they funding their education?

    Look at the luxury cars on the road. Where in the world do you pay USD 300,000 to buy a Totota jeep and USD 200,000 to buy a BMW or a BENZ.

    Who is buying the apartments? How can an average wage earner buy a low end apartment for Rs 20 million? Even on a 20 year loan monthly payment would be in exess of Rs 200,000 per month and how many can afford it?.

    Black money is all over and the whole system is so corrupt.

    Sri Lankans have no future unless the legal system and the tax system together with the law enforcement authorities act with fairness. We are doomed.

  • 6

    Dead on Sarath! its relative merits we are talking of. Sira is less of a rogue than Ranil by a long chalk. Keep up the good work!
    Ranils should be impeached soon because he is dangerous to the health of the National Economy and should not be in charge of BOI or economic policy making.
    Bondscam Ranil is a financial criminal and has taken to new heights immunity and impunity for financial crimes by corrupt politicians and Royal College cronies. Ranil is also more dangerous in the long run and is worse than Mahinda Jarapassa s dictatorship in fact when it comes to looting Lanka and the culture of corruption;.
    RW is NOT fit to be in charge of Economic and development policy in Lankan and must be impeached soon before he causes more damage and debt to the national economy. Today there is no FDI or real economic growth in lanka because of Corruption.
    Ranil and his corrupt Royal College network has looted the central bank and treats the people of Lanka with Contempt while now planning to sell of strategic assets like land, ports, gas, and SOEs to dodgy US hedge funds that asset strip and magnify the debt trap that Lanka is in because of Ranil’s bondscam.

  • 3

    Mr.De Alwis

    Though the facts are absolutely right and RW should go the question is who is going to bell the Cat ? None of the “Green” colored Rats & Mice aound are either incapable or too servile to do the job.I wonder where those “cultivated minds”that you have mentioned were all this time when the storm on Bond Scam was brewing
    As for MS let us not fool ourselves for we all know too well what he is capable of (though he would like us to believe otherwise)

    Did we ever think that we would be hit with a Double Whammy after 8th January 2015 Revolution

  • 0

    Dear Readers: As regards this “Bond Scam”, I invite you to watch the TV discussion titled “Balaya” aired over “Hiru” on 23rd Nov. 2017. It would be very interesting to watch the 2nd round of discussion and the participation of “Prof: Asu Marasinghe & Wasantha Samarasinghe in a question and answer clarification relevant to “Interest Rates” and “Earnings”; and the “Understanding” that this MP “Prof” of UNP (appointed MP) wants the public to accept. Then you will know why and how these UNP MPs “Understanding” of “Bonds” came about and it’s connection to “Lajja & Baya Nethi Agamathi”. This “Prof” Asu Marasinghe (UNP List MP) also produced a letter addressed to President, in which 49 MPs have signed, requesting an appointment of Commissions to inquire into 4 delayed and or “not undertaken” corruptions. This “Prof” (Marasinghe) conveniently forgot the fact that he is also a PARTY to such “Delays” & “Forgotten” corruption inquiries, being a member of the Government that runs the Governing. So no wonder, in the company of these types of “Professors” and a whole bunch of other so called “Academics” with no “Lajja & Baya”; this PM Mr. Ranil Wickramasinghe too joining the clan and herd to appear at a Presidential Commission to justify his own “Brain Child” called “Bond Scam” to rob the Central Bank. He (PM) will continue to “Preach” (so with the President) and “Pickpocket”. On a side track, I take this opportunity to offer a “Big” Thank You to that Priest at Thirupathi in India for REMOVING the three piece suite of our PM and hiding his naked body on a piece of RAG. That PRIEST (Poosari) is much more intelligent and “No Nonsense” person than our MPs and the people of this country. The connection to that “Balaya” is : Col3neg and look for Political Program.

  • 1

    Mr. Jagath Fernando: A very timely and a thought provoking comment you made. On the same subjects you have dealt with, I would ask you to read through the recently passed “Exchange Control Act” of 2017. The provisions therein have open the flood gates that were closed all this while in the previous Act, because that ACT has been abolished. Now no one can be charged on Foreign Exchange Violations. All are free to bring in and take out any amount. What was the main reason to have this Legislation? It is to “FREE” the ex Minister of Finance – Mr. Ravi Karunanayake from the dagger that was hanging over his head. In the court case that he faced on “Money Laundering”, he was “discharged” , due to an error of dates; but NOT ” exonerated” from the charges and the Judgement allowed the AG to file an amended the plaint and refile the case. Now that opportunity has been denied and NO MORE case against RK. This Act was passed in Parliament with a vote of 97 FOR and 18 AGAINST. It was electronic voting and a Lawyer participating in a TV discussion said even the JVP voted “FOR”. Sorry I have no confirmation on that; but if it was so, what HUMBUGGING is that by JVP?

  • 0

    Mr de Alwis……………. are you contradicting yourself when “the peasant we elected” according to last week’s article has become ” we need o keep, sustain and defend this President occasionally faulty and frequently guided by common sense” this week???

  • 0

    Some foreign news says, Sri lanka has gone 12 places below the corruption index and it is among the Corruption – Rampant countries., Because, of bond scam, Sri lanka’s foreign direct investment in 2016, in relation to 2015, had gone down by 54% and it was just $ 450 million. . Because of charged higher interest, Sri lanka is not trustworthy anymore, the govt had to pay extra $ one billion as the interest during 2016 and 2017 for borrowing. The advertised prize for bonds had been 9.5%. Yet they paid 12.5.% for 30 year bonds. the govt is losing billions. In 2019, govt has to $ billion interest for the $87.5 billion. but the govt foreign reserves are just $ 7 billion. during the Mahinda Rajapakse times, the reserve amount was about $ 9 billion. Yahapalanaya blamed previous govt, even in 2017 Sri lanka did not get nay foreign investments, because investors are concerned.

  • 5

    Ranil has certainly been a pox on the nation.

    Will we ever have the courage to treat this pox ?

  • 2

    I think some of the statements are wrong in this article. I don’t know why the Writer is hesitating to state that Ranil baba is a LIAR. Understand Arjun Mahendran, for every thing, was saying ASK RANIL. Ranil was indirectluy blaming ARjun Mahendran. I can not understand, when there are so many things, Ranil did not check the books of the new govt, instead, he was in a hurry to repair the roads.. that was not with a simple amount. why di dnot Ranil try to establih or get the help of Babks as primary dealers. Economic experts could have bent the laws and could have got BOC to lend it’s money and EPF money. Instead, gave it to governor’s son in law. GALLEON RAVI was appointed for finance minister. Did not Ranil know that he had money laundering accusations?. Instead Ranil got the Central bank under him. why did they go 3.0 percentage points above the advertised prize. All have discussed. Ranil went only to clarification and not grilling means, it was stating facts wrong which is lieing. It is misleading the AG and the country. In here, AG was a willing partner.

  • 1

    right now the question is why politicians are experienced rats. When they find the opportunity they jump into it and steal. when we ask them to quit they go and hide. the most important problem is they are like Leeches, remoras and simply parasites. See how many are struggling to come back to the kitchen because they know it is the best place to be as they are used to steal and eat and fatten their families and dynasties. I don’t think, MY3 is the one who changes it. the only one who di dnot have a family is an idiot. After 40 years of experience only thing he knows is how to lie, how to cheat and how hang on to it. HIs economic expertise is from IMF, from a private company affiliated to Harward (because we paid money), his expert economic ideas are written by MCC and affiliated one man – consultant companies. So, talk about a strategy to get the hathikare out and get elected a new lot. Think why do we need this many rats and thieves. One all powerful president who is ruled by ll the rules in the country and some more check and balances because he is powerful, some professionals who run the development program, One politician for each province is enough to look after the province’s political needs abd other needs. Why do we need this many rats who think they are the exxperts and experts are just puppets of them.

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