By Grusha Andrews –
Ranil, oh, Ranil,
I cringed with shame, listening to your speech made at the 72nd anniversary of the United National Party. Later I thought to myself, “Why should I be ashamed, I’m not your wife or child!” But, why did I cringe? Because you are the only viscerally conscious liberal democrat in current politics in Sri Lanka. Regardless of your good and bad, rights and wrongs, I believed that you are the only current politician who was futuristic. Because I stood up for you when Sirisena et al attempted their damndest to oust you with a No Confidence Motion in an undemocratic fashion. Because I have challenged with all my heart the comic and destructive media persona painted by your opponents. I have believed that you have some ‘political humanity” and unparalleled institutional knowledge in politics that a few possess. Because I personally know that, much beyond the perceived political animal, you are a fine, elegant, sophisticated, patient man with inherent civility.
Ranil, if I have ever stood up for you, it’s not because I’m a Ranil Slave in the brand of those wannabe superman or spider men hanging from electric poles in the mist of Janabalaya to Colombo. It’s because I believed that there remains in your heart a soft corner for democracy and country.
I’m ashamed, listening to your UNP anniversary speech, Ranil.
I didn’t realize you were this hard up for thinkers and speech writers. Found below is the official text of the anniversary speech released by your office. The initial passages are selected from your speech. The large letters in dark fonts are the speech you should have delivered if you had a human being still living in your heart. So what if this comes too late? Although you do not know me, I know you!
So are you ready, Ranil? This can be a fun game. Even a small boy can play it.
“Today we celebrate the 72nd anniversary of the UNP. The UNP started from the Farm Court Mansion and today it’s housed at the Sirikotha in Sri Jayewardenepura Kotte”
“Today we celebrate the 72nd anniversary of the UNP. The UNP started from the Farm Court Mansion and today it’s housed at the Sirikotha in Sri Jayewardenepura Kotte. The UNP is the party of the Nation. It’s the party that can bring together all religions. The largest single party in the country. It’s the party that was instrumental in gaining dominion status to our country. It’s the party that brought freedom to our country.
Therefore, from a context of freedom, the UNP really is the real Sri Lanka Freedom Party!
The anniversary celebration of the UNP is really a celebration of the freedom, potential, power and the vision of our people without any divisions along race, religion or caste. The UNP is the only party in this country where a man of any race can climb politically. It’s the only party from which a man of any caste has the freedom to be President. It’s the party where a man can rise to Premiership regardless of his caste or class.
From a context of belief in social justice and equality, the UNP is far ahead of so called socialist parties. We in the UNP are more just and more socialist.
Therefore we are celebrating the 72nd anniversary of a political party that believes in humanity and equal ground for all our citizens.
“yesterday, I received a telephone call enquiring if we are going ahead with our anniversary celebrations in spite of the Janabalaya to Colombo protest march. I was informed that Pohottuwa was going to encircle Colombo and topple the government, that citizens and students were terrorized. But finally, the power of the Pohottuwa (Jana balaya) and the power of the fibbing (‘pacha’ balaya) of the media both came to nothing (extract)
Ranil, as you are the Prime Minister, try not to use words like ‘pacha’. Tch. Tch.
“Yesterday, I received a telephone call enquiring if we are going ahead with our anniversary celebrations in spite of the Janabalaya to Colombo protest march. I was informed that Pohottuwa was going to encircle Colombo and topple the government, that citizens and students were terrorized”.
However, as the leader of the largest political party in the country, I’m not bothered about the so-called power of the Pohottuwa, nor the power of biased media. I respect the power of the people.
In spite of the best attempts by certain media to propagate fake news, the people are ahead of media. Through the internet and social media people communicate their ideas, real beliefs and hopes. We now live in a society where traditional speeches and deceit no longer apply. People are networked though the information technology, internet and Facebook and other forms of Social Media. They exchange ideas instantaneously and they have found a large space for their ideas. In that modern open society no one can fool the citizens whether the citizen is a farmer, doctor, clerk, student or manual worker. The citizen understand their power.
The society where people participated in rallies for alcohol, rice packet or money will soon end. As the UNP we must think of ushering in a society where people rally for the truth, policies and development.
Potottuwa is exploiting the sentimentality and poverty of the people to fool them Some media organizations try to inflate the importance of Pohottuwa. So, it will be short lived. The more we try to bring together people in the society the more these media organizations will poison the minds of people with mistrust and phobias.
All over the world, traditional politics is challenged by populism. Populism offers anger without solution. This demands a new brand of politics from us. Whenever a leader who believes in democracy and equality emerge, these forces will destroy that politician’s image with ridicule and fake news. If one succumbs to this wave it will denote the end. The wave of truth should overcurrent the wave of fake news. The new generation of leaders should be equipped to handle this phenomenon.
We must constantly engage with the people and the media. We must be accountable and responsible to them. Whenever we try to bring unity, some politicians, media organizations and businessmen will try to introduce division. But remember, the UNP is the party of unity.
The UNP tries to build the citizen. Our party should enjoy our victory in a democratic manner. We mustn’t break the law to enslave the membership. Do not use the ‘takarang sheet’, Samurdhi allowance or a job chit to enslave the members. It’s not good for human dignity. If we respect our members they should be able to stand straight in front of us and criticize us. They should stand on equal ground with us.
The UNP does not need slaves.
We do not work towards hero worshipping icons or coronating heirs to thrones. As late president JR Jayewardene said, we “do not have a dynasty to protect; nor an inheritance to fatten; nor princess and princesses to coronate: our dynasty, inheritance and heirs are the people of this country” While speaking of dynastic politics, I would also like to speak about the future leadership of the UNP.
“We must build the next generation. We must hand over the country to them. I will plan till 2025. They must plan till 2030. We must make a long term journey” (extracted).
Ranil, Ranil, Ranil…. Be a little philosophical. 2019 will come before 2025. How if you said this bit?
“We must build the next generation. We don’t need slaves. We in the UNP think about the modern and equal world of tomorrow. The future of the UNP should also be modern and equal.
The leadership of the UNP is not a crown to be placed on anyone’s head. I will only coronate citizens of this country. I believe in democracy within the country and party. The second line leaders of the party should have the strength of character to declare their bid for party leadership in so many words and carry their intentions through. One cannot be the leader of the party through media games, defaming and weakening the party and causing division in the membership.
The next leader of the UNP should be the deserving one. It should be given, not for an heir, nor to a trick master. The next leader of the UNP should be an educated, intelligent progressive leader who can win the love of the people. That leader should be patient, believe in co-existence. That leader should denounce racism, be qualified and able to interact with world leaders. That leader should understand the pain and the sorrows of our people.
Above all this the next leader of the UNP should have the personality and the moral courage to declare that he is coming forward for that role. My heart and the leadership of the UNP is open for that person.
Ranil, I wonder if you know that there are 52% Homo sapiens in our country called women. I think you are married to one of them. Therefore, how nice it would have been if you said this bit too?
“Not only the future leadership of UNP is not the inheritance of one family or one heir, I must also reiterate that it’s also not the inheritance of men. Remember that it’s the UNP that brought the historic electoral reform to bring in 25% minimum female representation on local government bodies. Our party is democratic. We are liberal in our views. We have no divisions or discriminations.
Our future party leader can be a woman leader. In many developed countries the heads of state are women and young leaders. We must understand that reality. As the UNP we must think of our party, country, citizens, women and children with a free mindset.
Today in the morning the supreme court of India made a verdict abolishing an archaic colonial law criminalizing citizens based on their gender identity. Those countries that are progressing look at their citizens in a humane way. They strive to include all segments of society to usher in a new world. If we are to progress we must say no to all forms of discrimination; look at society with kind eyes; distance ourselves from self-serving aspirations. There is no one who is not needed to build this party”.
So Ranil we are done for today. We shall play this game again another day. Till then, remember, you are a national leader. Your words don’t swirl in the wind and disappear in to thin air. The whole nation is watching you.
I will stop now.