UNP Leader and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe played Master Blaster in the softest of interviews on the State-owned television Rupavahini.
The interviewer, Chairman and the former Editor of Ravaya, Victor Ivan who at the outset said that he was representing Rupavahini sent down dollies to Wickremesinghe who duly dispatched them to the fence.
*Ivan interviewing Ranil
Ivan, a senior journalist who celebrated 25 years in the profession just the other day, was either totally unprepared or was complicit in a puerile exercise deliberately designed to help Wickremesinghe shake off serious charges levelled against him.
To begin with Ivan, read out a prepared question about the controversial Central Bank Bond Issue from a piece of paper, much like a cub reporter. Ranil proceeds to bat for a full eight minutes.
This is quite uncharacteristic of Wickremesinghe who is known to respond to tough questions with questions of his own. For example, he could easily have questioned Ivan’s moral authority to level corruption charges at him, Ranil.
Ranil could have asked Ivan about tax evasion, for example. In 2008 during a meeting with the slain Editor of the Sunday Leader Lasantha Wickrematunge, then Convener of the Free Media Movement Uvindu Kurukulasuriya and then Chairman of the UNP Malik Samarawickrama, Ranil said he had all the information about this issue.
Until the Presidential Election of 2005, i.e. during the reign of Chandrika Kumaratunga, every month without fail the Ravaya would get a notice from the Department of Inland Revenue, requesting payment of an outstanding amount of Rs 14 million.
*Lasantha interviewing Chandrika
When Mahinda Rajapaksa became President, he told Ivan to speak with the Commissioner of Inland Revenue. Ivan sent the Lal Piyasena, the late owner of Dai Lanka, to represent him. Piyasena was told that Rs 2 million had to be paid because payment had been promised by Ravaya. The rest, Rs 12 million, was frozen. Financial Accounts of Ravaya related to the period mention this amount under Liabilities (click here to see the financial accounts).
It is no coincidence that until 2014, Ivan was a big backer of Mahinda Rajapaksa, openly claiming that neither the ex President nor his brothers Basil and Gotabaya were corrupt. Quite in contrast to the questions he put to Ranil about ethnic reconciliation, he insisted that the issue was one of terrorism.
Lasantha knew all this. The then Chairman of the Lotteries Board while on the same flight to Dubai had revealed to Lasantha that ‘Mahinda wanted us to give continuous advertisements to Ravaya because the newspaper had a tax problem’. When all this was brought out, Ranil instructed Lasantha Wickrematunge to follow up. So he knew all about it. He could have forced Ivan out of the attack then and there but didn’t.
This is not the course of action that Ranil took. Ivan could have used the reprieve and bowled some doosras (like Murali) or toe-crushing yorkers (like Malilnga used to bowl). Indeed, on one occasion he took issue with Lasantha for not going on the offensive and has said in black and white that Lasantha’s inability or unwillingness to have done exactly that had been the reason for their friendship ending. Ivan mentions all this in his book ‘Paena Ahinsakada?’ (Is the pen innocent). ( Click here to read)
He refers to Lasantha interviewing Chandrika in early 2006. The interview, according to Ivan, got a lot of pre-publicity including posters put up all over Colombo. Ivan had castigated Lasantha for going easy on Chandrika. Ivan’s position was, ‘when you interview someone for the first time you have to first ask about issues that are already of public concern. Lasantha had essentially used the interview to get Chandrika to attack Mahinda Rajapaksa.
Ivan states that when he brought this up Lasantha had been silent. Ivan says that he was disgusted (hirikithak danuna).
Interestingly, Victor in his first interview with Ranil, tosses a full toss about the Bond Issue, is not ready with any follow up questions. The COPE document which Ranil tried to suppress clearly states that the Governor of the Central Bank Arjuna Mahendran was directly involved in the scandalous transaction. Ivan had a lot of ammunition which he didn’t use. Once Ranil finished his piece, Ivan moved to another topic.
Neither does not question Ranil about serious matters that are already of public concern including the dictatorial manner in which he runs the UNP and most importantly the Batalanda torture chamber. The last is particularly surprising since it was as a result of a Ravaya investigation that the Batalanda Commission was instituted in the first place.
He could have also taken Ranil to task over him threatening newspapers and journalists citing Parliamentary privileges when he was agains the ropes on the Bond scam. Ivan after all was the person who as far back as 1993 almost singlehandedly fought to get this clause removed.
It is impossible to predict what Ranil would have said had Ivan questioned him in the way that Ivan had wished Lasantha had interviewed Chandrika. Ranil could have asked this ex hashish dealer about the Rs 5 million that Ivan pocketed from funds collected to keep the Ravaya afloat.
Only Ivan will know fully why was soft on Ranil, and only Ranil will know why he, Ranil, was soft on Ivan.
Robert.R / August 4, 2015
Ranil can only hit soft balls. He is a softie in more ways than one I think.
Samuel Jayaweera / August 4, 2015
Softies are aceeptable while embesszelers are in many way not the ones should get elected as leaders. Not once thousands of times there are evidence to prove MR and his corruption deals friendly clans are not favourable for lanken progress. They were given times enough to prove.. there MR only abused the funds of the poor man s tax as he has no heart at all. On the following day going to the poor and huggin their children to outreach press across the country was what his men did to stay in power. People became fools for some period, but now there are all signs to see, they will get back to sense and will elect the right person this time than any other times before.
Supun Jayawardhane / August 5, 2015
whoever you are – I really dont think that anyone with sane thinking would ever allow Rajapakshe to come back.
Reasons: (few among the most abusive)
a) Bugger had no action taken even if people were assualted
eg. Fact finding mission made to Hambantota and Tangalle by UNP young politicians – they were attacked so brutally, as the head of state, just enjoyed it accusing the victimized parties further – proving his criminal nature
b) Bugger had no heart feelings at the time Aluthgama riots ended up with life and property losses
eg: Aluthgama riots ´ fuel was produced by Ghanasara the most barbaric pseduo monk – and his hate public speeches. But what action MR et all took in this regard ? Even today – the man who put the fire to burn Aluthgama is wtihout being charged.
gigurawa / August 9, 2015
Dear Mr Sapun Jayawardhane.
It seems you are able to express yourself in English. You are welcome to write in what ever language you are conversant with- Tamil, Hindi, Malayalam, Urdu or Sinhala..
Jango / August 4, 2015
In any event, Victor Ivan’s credibility is in tatters after the recent revelations of his Ravaya scam, so objective observers will find it difficult to take him seriously.
Ranil has to make a serious attempt to revamp his declining image, and from all recent appearances he is making the effort!
Kavi / August 4, 2015
I urge all those who are planning to comment on this article, please, before you comment, watch the interview in question and then comment based on what you see in the interview and not based on what the author reports here.
(Video linked by the author and also available on Rupavahini website here: http://www.rupavahini.lk/discussion/special-discussion3/7792-2015-08-01.html)
Pot Shot / August 4, 2015
Frankly I am disgusted with this article not because of the innocuous questions asked by Ivan or the customised his interview of RW but is this what journalism in Sri Lanka all about?? attacking people personally whereas the public want policy matters addressed the accountability of politicians and their actions brought to light.
CT attacking Ivan and vice-versa is no consequence to us. Who the hell is Ivan to us?
Asaipillai / August 4, 2015
Once more your pet hate – Ranil bashing! Shameful, your naked hate of a rare statesman in the history of Sri Lankan politics.
What’s the hidden agenda – CT?
Native Vedda / August 4, 2015
“What’s the hidden agenda – CT? “
Aspiring for an Utopian good governance in this island, perhaps.
words / August 4, 2015
Ranil? A statesman? Batalanda Ranil? The bond scam Ranil? The illegal PM Ranil..? The Ranil who appointed RK to post of FM? The Ranil who controlled his own party as a dictator would?? A STATESMAN???? Yikes!!!
max / August 4, 2015
lol.. A rare statesman in this history of Sri Lankan politics! Gonavala Sunil must have been laughing from the other side to you Mr. Asaipillai!
Robert.R / August 4, 2015
No hidden agenda, see CT articles before Jan 2015 and you will see it carried similar ones of Mahinda. The ones in power will be scrutinized and thats good.
Stop accusing anyone NOT pandering to your Ranil worship as Mahinda supporters.
Is this any different to Mahinda during his heyday accusing anyone criticizing him as a “terrorist” NOOOOO
Ram / August 4, 2015
You must be watching those flying pigs and the pink elephants too.
R K Raghavan / August 4, 2015
Mahinda’s googly will make Ranil to go off the stumps forever.
Mahinda is my favourite to win.
Native Vedda / August 4, 2015
R K Raghavan
“Mahinda’s googly will make Ranil to go off the stumps forever.”
How about a Ranil Doosra hitting MR’s underbelly?
“Mahinda is my favourite to win.”
Keep hope alive even MR doesn’t win on 17 August 2015.
R K Raghavan / August 5, 2015
Mahinda’s full toss googly will break the middle wicket into two to send the batsman Ranil off the grounds on 17/8.
I and my life partner are fully supporting Mahinda.[Edited out]
Native Vedda / August 6, 2015
R K Raghavan
“I and my life partner are fully supporting Mahinda.[Edited out]”
Your life partner, let me guess:
Nalin de Silva
Duminda de Silva
Bandu de Silva
Sorry there are too many names to chose from. I give up.
Off the Cuff / August 6, 2015
Dear Tamil Pseudo Vedda,
ha ha haa, The doggie reflex of making lists and lists and wisecracking as aimlessly as a doggie raises it’s leg at every Lamp post, bush and tree on its aimless path.
There is an apt Sinhala idiom for this type of behaviour “Ballata wadakuth ne, himin gamankuth ne” which translates as the Dog neither has work nor a slow walk.
How many of these nonsensical and Idiotic lists have you littered CT with, over the years? I have seen a countless number during the few years I have been with CT. Any tangible results you have got? Can you list those results?
Why don’t you produce an intellectually challenging comment that will be a joy to read by those who agree with you and those who don’t? Are you intellectually challenged and derive a perverse pleasure in littering CT with idiocy?
You got it right royally from Paul (August 4, 2015 at 1:39 pm) when you tried to use him as a cat’s paw, two days ago.
Paul said “Ah yes this is what we have come to expect from you, aimless quotes and asides. Never address the points that OTC makes. Never counter his documented and referenced allegations. Just sit at a keyboard and filibuster. You think you have convinced the readers? You have achieved nothing. As you are fond of quotes, here is one for you from Dr RN ‘I am not easily influenced by anyone, unless I am convinced by facts. OTC knows what he is talking about on the subject. Further, I like his approach. He presents his stands with references. It is for others to provide counter evidence to contest him’.”
Let’s see how honourable and knowledgeable you are when you reply my comment to you at this link.
Will you have the GUTS to reply or will you run like a coward as you have always done in the recent past?
Time will tell.
Shantha / August 4, 2015
I was really choked after seeing ivons interview .., he is a very senior and highlighted journalist and interviewing prime minister of the country. But I didn’t see any difference in between Ivon and a newcomer interviewer. It is very clear that he has put green shirt on him by looking at the questions he asked and the way it was carried out. Waste of opportunity ..
Ralph Boultgeens / August 4, 2015
Congratulations. CT has beaten all in muck raking.
EDWIN RODRIGO / August 4, 2015
Ok, if it was a staged affair as claimed here, let us have MR and RW debating each other. It would be interesting and revealing.
However, I doubt whether MR would accept it. During the Presidential elections MS challenged MR several times for a debate but MT backed away.
mike / August 5, 2015
“Ok, if it was a staged affair as claimed here, let us have MR and RW debating each other.”
Medamulana Meeharaka’s interpersonal and communication skills are far below anybody’s expectation. I can say without fear of contradiction that he may have not passed any public examination without impersonation! A good example is that he calls himself a lawyer! His playboy son Namal is also a ‘lowyer’? Medamulana M. has excelled himself ‘creditably’ talking utter filth. Paraya, packaya, etc. comes within the scope of his vocabulary.
K.A Sumanasekera / August 4, 2015
What is Batalanda Ranil’s batting when compared to the skills which are now being displayed by his Enforcer and body guard Gallen Ravi Karunanayaka , the Hon Treasure.
Even googlies are straight driven past the bowler unmercifully .even if they come from mates.
Look at poor Sujeeva the Pretty Boy of Batalanda .
Galleon is accusing Sujeeva as as ass licker of Rajapaksa, for denying that Rajapaksa organized the AK 47 Hit on his chief campaign manager Army Sampath..
Galleon said he has never heard any one by that name.
How cruel is Sajeeva to accuse a normal Sampath as an Army Sampath who is in Pathalaya.
This Sampath I don’t think was is in even Salvation Army , the old outfit of our new Field Marshall.
Wonder whether Galleon has heard the names , Kudu Lal , Kudu Mervyn, Potta Naufer, Soththi Upali .And many others in Wanathamulla, Peliagoda, Slave Islands, Keselwatta and Maradana?.
The Professional / August 4, 2015
Is Victor Ivan a journalist?
Shamil / August 4, 2015
Ranil is the man only who can make srilankans happy.
thondamannar / August 4, 2015
yeap ! you are spot on.
Yes Ranil can make “GE” srilankan like you happy.
Kamal / August 4, 2015
CT should remember that Ranil himself only made CT website available for Sri Lankans. Mahinda squised neck of CT.
words / August 4, 2015
Lol.. so CT should not write the truth about Ranil? ? There’s freedom of media for you yahapalanaya toyyaas
Jay Jay / August 4, 2015
It is so funny to read the comments. During the previous regime, CT used to publish dirt on MR and the clan. Blue supporters were critical while the green supporters were praising CT. Now the tables have turned. Now the people who less than 9 months ago was praising CT is condemming and the ppl who blocked CT are praising it. So funny. All I can say is that, as long as officials keep doing the wrong thing, CT, please report it.
dcn / August 4, 2015
The whole article looks it was meant to hit at Ranil than Ivan. Cannot understand the author’s intentions. Is it to undermine Ranil’s popularity amongst the voters or jeopardise the most possible results on the 17th which is expected for Ranil to win with a majority.?
Robert.R / August 4, 2015
Read the CT articles before Jan 2015, they attacked Mahinda. The ones in power are the ones that have the most scrutiny. Then you enjoyed it right ?
Also now you mention a “majority” for Ranil, last week you said 2/3 stop backtracking. Let us see your Ranil get that, then lets talk.
Also I suggest you go look at my pre 2015 comments to see that I am no supporter of Mahinda. I know its CONVENIENT to accuse anyone who shows the fault of “Mr Clean” Ranil as Mahinda supporter.
Wera / August 5, 2015
This is a very civilized interview. A lot of ground is covered and important points are made. The state of the Bribery commission was very interesting to listen to. A lot of people are very frustrated at the slow pace of investigations but listen and learn the causes for the delays. Now CT gets a thumbs down for its partisan hatchet job of an article which is a load of rubbish. Also the usual idiots with no sense whatsoever keep up the stupid comments. The interview was in Sinhala and aired by Rupavahini. Therefore the whole country got to watch and listen. Excellent could not have asked for more. I wonder if that was the reason for the panic. Cant let the common man hear a sensible discussion from a sensible PM. Must go all out to discredit it?
Harry Hatton / August 5, 2015
Ranil may sound like a huge Pandit to his dumb followers but in reality he is a god example of the problem.
Ranil says in his interview with Victor Ivan that sri lanka has failed to build a national identity and that individual groups try to find answers within their caste or religious or organizational framework.
This is correct. Every sri lankan feels that the system is not fair and transparent so why be loyal? The main thing is we must create systems and institutions that are fair and transparent so that all can enjoy a fair stake in it.
Is the UNP fair ? Is it a party where thousands fight and vote for so that Ranil and a few old Royalists can run the country ? Where did Ruwan Wijewardena come from ? What about Akila Kariyawasam who said that Napolean fought in World War 1 ? What about Mahendran the con banker doing a huge favour for his son in law ? This man Ranil is a hypocrit and an insolent mediocrity . But the colombo society is even more mediocre so they see him as the greatest intellectual to have walked the earth !
Bhatiya jayasekera / August 6, 2015
Lets face reality. The fact is all are personalities with weaknesses. So we have to select the appropriate guy according to the current situation. It is a sine qua non that ANY PROGRESS to start,attempt and survive needs a PEACEFUL ENVIRONMENT,that is for sure. Singapore & Malaysia by giving priority to this aspect achieved progress. So in my opinion the best guy is MR cause he openly admitted mistakes and if he lives by that promise, this country will survive. We must force him to have the correct systems and the right gus
Bhatiya jayasekera / August 6, 2015
Comment forwarded just a while ago with good intentions. There was some problem, trust you received it. Regards Bhatiya
Ranil Wijeyesekera / August 7, 2015
A lot of peole made mney through the stock market and foriegn exchange market by insider trading helped by the central bank. People sent money to safe places with the hlp of the central bank.This caused a diversion by false accusation by the governor. When change was introduced there was sabortouge. In many other institution there was sabortouge. This is to be excepted. A minprity governments hands were tied.
A new mandate should be able to sweep these sabourters. those intent on corruption should not be allowed. COPE was p9olitically motivated like the past. The report was not out but a edidted version of proceedings by DEW@ was produced. There was no report.He will beguilty of defermetion. He will have to suffer the consequences.
Ranil is loyal to his subordinates for any mistakes. MR supporters can slander without imunity as they thought they had protection. There must be a trace on for money movements. Who ever has funds will not be able to use it. Specially during the election to protect numerous henchmen who have stolen state funds.