22 August, 2019

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Ranil Wickremesinghe 70 Years On – A Kindly Reflexion On His Leadership Style

By Shyamon Jayasinghe

Shyamon Jayasinghe

“Take him with his deficiencies…he is the best political leader we have today. The fact of his lapses only points to the fact that we are all in an imperfect world. Take him out of the scene and Sri Lanka will be the poorer for that.”

No Actor

Ranil Wickremesinghe, the Prime Minister of Sri Lanka, is the most unfairly maligned political leader in Sri Lanka. At the same time, he is the most underestimated or underrated. Ranil is also the least flamboyant of leaders. He goes about in his normal shirt and trouser unless on special occasions where he puts on a simple coat and tie. He wears no satakaya because he isn’t interested in trying to act. He is no actor and it is unlikely he would ever be a stage or movie star.

Charisma?

Such characters don’t typically gather charisma-that mystical appeal quality that Max Weber introduced to our vocabulary about authority and leadership. This has been one of the common criticisms of Ranil’s leadership all through the years. On the other hand, charisma is not a stable basis of authority for any leader fo it is derived out of a public subjective faith on the leader. Maybe the leader is inspiring and such faith rests on this inspiring quality. Historically, it is shown to be a fragile basis and once – charismatic leaders soon lose hold on the public imagination. The consequence is that the charisma fades away and the leader has little else to lean on to keep his herd of followers. Weber argued that a process he described as routinisation is the only way a charismatic political or religious leader can continue to have a following and he cited the example of Prophet Muhammed. The prophet’s teachings became institutionalised or ‘routinised’ and his commands became law cemented by tradition and custom. Hence, Islam survived and prospered.

Legal-Rational Style of Leadership

It is no easy task to ensure such phenomenon in the field of competitive politics.

The once charismatic political leader will have to lean back on having his authority being given the aura of legitimacy. Max Weber described this as another style in leadership and he called it the legal-rational style of leadership based on commonly acceptable law. In practical terms it is a democratisation of leadership.The former charismatic leader  is now the head of a democratic process.

Ranil Wickremesinghe can be defined as having a leadership style based on a rational-legal order. He has always prided himself as a democrat and has never behaved undemocratically in his five stages of Prime Ministership. As a veteran in the Commonwealth Parliamentary Union our Prime Minister is known to have earned considerable goodwill, respect and trust internationally.

When he was unfairly, illegally and absurdly removed during the infamous 52-days Ranil did not resort to extra-legal means; nor did he encourage  moves toward that. He simply sat pretty in Temple Trees, used the telephone to contact world leaders, pressed parliament to intervene. The move succeeded and Ranil got back gracefully. This was one of Ranil’s supreme moments and it demonstrated how he had simply outclassed his political enemies who were running hither and tether like cats on the hot tin roof. It also showed that there isn’t anybody among our parliamentary leaders today who can outclass Ranil Wickremesinghe. Take him with his deficiencies…he is the best political leader we have today. The fact of his lapses only points to the fact that we are all in an imperfect world. Take him out of the scene and Sri Lanka will be the poorer for that.

Cunning

Of course, he is full of political cunning; but that is no disqualification. Machiavelli, in his famous book “The Prince,” stated that a political leader must be a fox and Ranil is just that. He is a master on the chessboard and can outbeat anyone. This is how he kept his Grand Old party together for twenty years in Opposition when Mahinda Rajapaksa, the then Executive President-cum dictator, tried hard to manipulate defections. Anton Balasingham explained why the LTTE deprived Ranil of an election victory and the reason he gave was because they considered Ranil as “a cunning fox.” The 19th Amendment was another of his brilliant strokes. He knew that the incumbent  of President’s office  could not be trusted and also that a full scale change of constitution is going to take time. This Amendment was, therefore, brought in as a halfway solution to clip the Executive President’s powers without recourse to a referendum. This move saved democracy for Sri Lanka during the constitutional coup.

Economic Vision

It is generally recognised that Ranil is a visionary guy who can see far ahead about the island’s needs  and who could, accordingly, recognise the need to carve future paths. His projects ‘Gamperaliya,’ and ‘Enterprise Sri Lanka,’ now launched, have the potential to be harbingers of economic revival at grassroots level. On the eve of his birthday he commenced work in building the largest yet FDI project namely, the oil refinery in Hambantota. He is the only leader who has been talking economics when most guys are busy paddling racist, sectarian and tribalist issues. Even in his worst of times while in Opposition it was Ranil Wickremesinghe who never resorted to  racism or communalism to regain political strength.

Integrity

The Opposition has been trying hard to paint Ranil Wickremesinghe as a corrupt person and made a huge issue over the bond case. But the Presidential Commission did not implicate the latter in any corrupt deal. Ranil’s integrity remains untarnished. Over his forty years of politics Ranil Wickremesinghe has had nor corruption allegations. Ranil hails from a family that gave away much of their land to the Kelaniya Rajamahavihara and other temples. They are a family that never robbed. This contrasts with another political family that used taxpayer money to build a memorial for their pater.

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Latest comments

  • 4
    2

    Kusa Raja: Shaymon, when you say, ”Take him with his deficiencies….blah.. blah.. blah..” it reminded me of the pep talk given by my mother in law to her daughter (my wife) when my wife put her foot down and turned down the proposal for marriage from my family. The words were harsh but true: “You want me to marry that KKK (Kalu Ketha Kota – කලු කැත කොට) Kusa Rajjuruwo? No way mother. Over my dead body!”
    .
    That was the truth, I have to admit. I was surely out of the race compared to the competition. One was a guy with a buffalo horn shaped moustache and a hairy body like that of Hulk Hogan, (the American wrestler of fame). The second one looked like Gussie Fink Nottle, a character from a P G Wodehouse novel, a small and shrimp-like man who drank orange juice only (no beer and definitely no narcotics), whose hobby was the study of newts. When he spoke, which was whenever one turns on the TV, he looked like a fish, with only his lower teeth showing.
    .
    Then came my mother in law’s speech, starting with visionary words ”Take him with his deficiencies….blah.. blah.. blah..and you will be happy.” And the vision came true for both of us, my wife bagging a Professional as the husband and me roping in a Pancha Kalyani to my stables.
    .
    So, I decided to take Shaymon’s advice and vote for Ranil once more in the next Presidential elections. After all, despite all his other shortcomings, Ranil is not a KKK like and looks like Richard Gere. I think we will all be happy.

    • 2
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      Dear Edwin Rodrigo,
      I thought you are a much more intelligent than that. Everything said and done by RW on the Bond Scam, he becomes a No No, my friend.

      • 5
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        Hancho Pancha,
        I think youa re too early to draw conclusion about so called ” broad day bank robbery”.
        Below are what I have found regarding the issue; I have no doubt, truths will succeed in the end as we experieced it also in terms of that conspiracy occured on the 26th Oct 2018.
.
        1) President SIRISENA himself reiterated that the bond scam related losses to have been occured since 2008
        .
        2) He had the temerity to share also the amount of the losses – which should be over 1000 billions according to his EXPERTs
        .
        3) COPE revealed it that an amount of 11 billions should have been lost since 2015.
        4) Central Bank Governer confirmed the sum amounting to 11 billions are frozen for future use
        5)All these issue – BOND SCAM was telecasted all along from the day one by SIRASA TV channel, whose FREQUENCIES are reported to have been gained through illegal means being close Prez Sirisena
        6) Not yet today, SIRASA- opens their powerful MOUTHS about investigations being not done for the earlier bond scams that should have lost nearly 990 billions since 2008, which is around 99% of entire losses since 2008 ???????????????????????
        .
        7) SOME THING IS FISHY ABOUT THE BOND SCAM TO HAVE BEEN REPORTED BY THEM RIGHT ?
        I dont want to clean ARJUNA MAHENDRAN, Oxford educated senior accoutant has no what soever stain in his CV at the time, he was appointed to CB as the GOVERNER – is this a lie ? I HAVE NO INFO to prove other way around either ?
        .
        8)Dr WIJEWARDHANA has never uttered a single ONE line statement, that BOND scam is intentionally made by RW led govt.
        .
        9) Dr Wijewardhanas – man Susiripala Thennakoon is NOW made silent, even if these duo were THE MOST WELCOME invitees fo SIRASA TV channel for all the discourses on the BOND scam issue

    • 3
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      Dear Edwin Rodrigo,
      I thought you are a much more intelligent than that. Everything said and done by RW on the Bond Scam, he becomes a No No, my friend.

      RW courted and caused disaster right with in the first 100 days. It was the cunning of MS which saved the day for him.

      • 3
        1

        I thought you are a much more intelligent than that. Think again. I am just a simple engineer with a BSc obtained in the 3rd and last shy.

        .

        So on a hancho pancha scale of intelligence of 0 to 10, may be, I rate 3?

        • 6
          1

          Perhaps the highly intelligent Mr. Hancho can tell us exactly what this bond scam was about, with facts and figures? Simply quoting Sirasa won’t do, please.
          Or to make it even simpler, was the alleged loss :
          1 more. 2. Less than the loss at Sri Lankans Airlines in 2012 to 2014 ?
          Just answer 1. Or 2

  • 3
    2

    Am I the only person who came straight to the comments without reading this article for evening entertainment?
    HAHA

  • 4
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    I am not an intelligent guy at all. If I am I would not be living in Srilanka. Erudite Gentlemen; there are more and more questions than answers: why is Mr. Arjun Mahendran absconding. If he has done nothing wrong why cannot he face up to the music? He has his guardian the PM, who is there to protect him. How about Penthouse Ravi suffering from amnesia getting the rent for his penthouse paid by Arjun Aloyshes and lots and lots of other questions. There is this common denominator: RW. It is mind boggling to me.

    • 3
      2

      Hancho,
      Since you are into asking questions, a few more for you:
      1 . Where do you get information?
      2. Are you sure your sources have no ulterior motives?
      3. Why do some TV channels talk every day about bond scams ?
      4. Why do some channels NOT talk every day about ship scams, spectrum scams, or airline scams?
      If you learn to use your mind, Hancho, it is not so mind-boggling after all.
      Always ask the right questions.

  • 1
    1

    Mr Shyamon Jayasinghe, you are out of reality, because of your age and the physical distance you have to this country. We elected this so-called yahapalana government into power thinking we will as a country make remarkable progress and the living standards of the people would improve, and also corruption, wastage and other malpractices would be eliminated. What happens is just the opposite. May be you are gazing this country from downunder through blinkers.
    We have unceasing strikes demanding wage hikes or for not fulfilling promises made to the working masses. The economy is in shambles because of mismanagement. No promised development has taken place and the rupee ha depreciated to an unthinkable level with concomitant increase in prices. There is no proper direction in economic planning on which even the German Ambassador has commented. Now we have power cuts as the government has not done anything to generate electricity needed to meet the increasing demand during the past 4 years. To his credit Mahinda Rajapakshe in spite of the raging war, took steps to increase power generation, and during his regime there was no shortage of power supply. A government that was brought to office to eliminate corruption disappointed the people by robbing the Central Bank through bond scam within the first month of coming to office. He allowed Western powers to finger into internal matters of this country thus acting according to their dictates.
    My conviction is that he should have resigned over the bond scam taking responsibility for appointing a rogue as the Central Bank Governor. In any other country this would have been the case.
    You say, to quote “Of course, he is full of political cunning; but that is no disqualification” Qualification or disqualification, his cunning is only for his benefit and not for the benefit of suffering masses. He is making an annual pilgrimage to India seeking blessings of a mythical “God”, such is his belief in superstition not expected of an elitist personality.

  • 0
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    This comment was removed by a moderator because it didn’t abide by our Comment policy.For more detail see our Comment policy https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/comments-policy-2

  • 0
    1

    A really good article. Well considered. Congrats Shyamon and keep writing

  • 0
    2

    The Gota followers do not like these articles. They want the murderer back and the hit squads. But Welgama-MR’s prominent former Minister- has strongly objected saying they are not going to nominate murderers. Lasantha is haunting

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