25 May, 2024


Ranil Wickremesinghe: A Hired Premier

By Ameer Ali

Dr. Ameer Ali

Aragalaya demands systemic change, because the existing system with President Gotabaya Rajapaksa (GR) as its synecdoche has allowed crooks to govern, bankrupted the economy and brought misery to people. The prevailing penurious state needed immediate repair by any means and from any source. There was one man in the parliament during the days of Mahinda Rajapaksa’s (MR) premiership, who was promising a magical panacea. He was the member who led his oldest political party to a historic defeat – worse than suffered by a previous leader, Sir John Kotelawala in 1956 – lost his own seat and entered the legislature through backdoor. He was Ranil Wickremesinghe (RW). When MR resigned after the 9th May failed attempt to end aragalaya, he said that he did so to enable an All-Party Government to be installed to tackle the ongoing economic crisis and bring stability to a nation in multiple conflict – a situation MR jointly fathered with his siblings and children. In the absence of other suitable candidates therefore GR had no choice but to appoint the magician RW as PM. It was a gamble with high stakes. Although it was an appointment constitutionally, in reality RW was a hired by the existing system to accomplish a preset task. That task was to repair the economy and bring dollars to facilitate imports of necessities. He could enjoy all trappings attached to that position, so long as he completed the set task before being de-hired. The rest would be taken care of by the guardians of the system with GR as its head.


It is with this backdrop that one should look at what RW had accomplished so far, the difficulties he is facing and the challenges confronting aragalaya. Before he was hired, RW, with his educational credentials and political experience known within foreign quarters of power, was insisting on the need to approach IMF without delay, while articulating the idea that a consortium of countries should be approached in order to ease the scarcity of precious dollars. Already, during the last days of MR as PM, a delegation to Washington under the former and a very-short-tenured Finance Minister Ali Sabry was dispatched to Washington to set the ball rolling with IMF. Also, GR sacked Nivard Cabraal, promised independence of CBSL and brought in Dr. Nandalal Weerasinghe (NW), an accomplished financial economist with long central bank experience, as its new chief. NW knew very well what IMF would expect and therefore immediately set upon reversing the previous easy monetary policy adopted by his immediate two predecessors in the name of providing liquidity to a disastrous alternate path of development initiated by GR. These measures were in any way associated with aragalaya’s demand for systemic change.

All that was left to the hired PM cum Finance Minister RW was to prepare a new budget with fiscal reforms in conformity with NW’s tight monetary policy and to satisfy IMF. But he went a step further to bring in constitutional reforms to dilute or remove completely the executive powers of the president, transfer those powers to the parliament and PM as in olden days, and in addition defenestrate parliamentarians with dual citizenship. To be fair with RW, even before being hired he promised these reforms to satisfy GGH and GGG aragalayers. Furthermore, in his attempt to introduce the principle of accountability he also made provisions for the youth to play a role through the parliamentary process. The was also news that he demanded NW be removed to be replaced by one of his own men and was rebuffed by GR. But these measures threatened the very heart of the existing system that set the pattern of governance over the last seven decades.

Although the system of governance in operation is called parliamentary democracy, that democracy had been systematically denuded of its flesh and only the skeleton remains. What really in existence is majoritarianism built on the ideological edifice of Sinhala Buddhist ethnoreligious nationalism. All constitutional and legislative changes that were brought since the time of independence only calcified this foundational ideology. JR’s 1978 constitution cemented that ideology in concrete and GR’s and MR’s victories at the last elections were the product of that ideology and constitution. Under no circumstance therefore, the guardians of that ideology are prepared to surrender it to any challenger. Hence, RW’s constitutional initiatives, even if they were half-hearted and meant to be used as bargaining chips for him to gain popularity and remain in power, they were strictly out of bounds for the hired PM. This is why the guardians with support of GR are now busy canvassing among parliamentarians to deny the required two-third majority to pass these reforms. (Incidentally, it is a shame that one Muslim MP, without any understanding of the danger into which he is putting his own community, also had join those anti-reformists).

On the principle of accountability also the guardians believe that politicians and administrators should be accountable not to the people via any new mechanism, but to the managers of the rotten system. The idealogues of Sinhala-Buddhist nationalism are prepared to exonerate, and had done so previously, even criminals as long as they show obeisance to Buddhism and its sasana. This is the level to which they have demoted Buddhism, a heavenly blessing to all humanity. With their pernicious ideology they have also defamed the Sinhalese, a community unique in the world for its exceptional friendliness, urbanity and innocence.

At last, the younger generation of educated and critical minded Sinhala-Buddhists have waken-up to the horrors committed by the idealogues and their guardians. Aragalaya is the product of that awakening and that generation is not for sale at any price to any politician but is determined to bring about a systemic change. It is a landmark event and a dividing line in the history of this country. The guardians of the old system are also not going to give up that easily. They tried to end aragalaya and its demand for systemic change on 9th May, but it backfired. Their next move would be more vicious and brutal, and it may well have the support of the state’s defence apparatus. Yet, if aragalaya gets an effective leadership that it badly needs at the moment, and if the masses rally behind it, which they would in the face of mounting economic hardship, Sri Lanka is destined to witness a new dawn.

Finally, to the minorities in the country who had been disconnected for decades from the prevailing system, there is no alternative but to join aragalaya. They have to find solutions to their problems from within the country and with its people. It is welcoming news that aragalaya youth are in dialogue with minority community leaders.

*Dr. Ameer Ali, Murdoch Business School, Murdoch University, Western Australia

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Latest comments

  • 7

    I’d change the headline to – “Ranil Wickremesinghe: A Hired ‘feeble’ assassinator of aragalaya”

  • 4

    Aragalaya demands systemic change,

    PM Ranil says the worst is yet to come what we need is to bring an end to suffering so there is no relief he can get the stolen money and put it to the country he can speed Agriculture that can trigger job-led economic growth, If agriculture goes wrong, nothing else will have a chance to go right If you strive now maybe you’ll get over the fence. but 225 are policy i can do this I can do that like Premadasa done one mistake not getting PM and Harin jump to the Present government t that have done 100 of mistake, One mistake bigger that 100 mistake.

  • 12

    If Ranil is an honest politician he should first reinstate Dilrukshi to her old position and continue with the investigations on bribery and corruption. Ranil is the one who protected the Rajapaksas, why should we accept him as the PM. He is a spent force politician who does not have a mandate even to sit in the Parliament leave alone be the PM. He is a pinata seat MP. He has no mandate to lead the country other than he is chosen by the Rajapaksa family as their blue-eyed boy and in turn, Ranil has started gathering all his boys with various high positions under him. Is this the demand of the Aragalaya?

    • 5

      Dear Buddhist.
      ….first reinstate Dilrukshi to her old position and continue with the investigations on bribery and corruption…..
      Dilrukshi joined hands with Ranil to set free the looters. She made a big show only. Having been in the AG’s Dept she should have known that the indictments should be signed by the 3 Commissioners but instead she signed as DG and filed them, knowing this loophole will set the culprits free. And that was why four bribery cases were thrown out. Now at last one against K’gala Johnny has been refiled.

  • 3

    This soothie softy is no good for politics good for golf for time passing Mr Nice
    That Kurunagala traitor promised when his term ends as prez he takes away the executive prez and gives the power to parliament and they had 100 days program with the blessing of Ven Sobitha thero, Mr Nice hondwicked by VW plant too

  • 4

    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

    • 7

      Eagle Dumbo Eye

      I wonder why patriotic sinhalayo diaspora is protesting opposite the UNHRC in Geneva. Perhaps they must have realised there has been a genocide against Sinhala people being perpetrated by Sinhala/Buddhitst state and the Sinhala/Buddhitst politicians.
      Watch learn and say/type some stupid comments:

      As long as you (your kith and kin) receive Stalin’s free food parcel you are happy. However those who protest opposite UNHRC want the entire people to free themselves from corrupt Sinhala/Buddhists. As a symbolic protest why don’t you launch 24/7 protest opposite Weerawansa’s house, or for that matter Rambukwella’s house, Malwattu, Asgiria, ….

  • 4

    You state, ‘If Ranil is an honest politician’ – But tell me where do we find an ‘honest politician’ ? Such an animal does not exist, certainly not in today’s Sri Lanka

    • 6

      Anther anomaly is this much hyped 21A When you say : …. They have to find solutions to their problems from within the country and with its people…
      I am indeed surprised that still no one is exposing the fact that 21A is not people oriented but only politically oriented for the MPs to somehow play for time, as no public hearings nor have canvassed the views of the public on the 21A (eg. An MP should lose his seat if he votes against the party as his sacred trust to the voters is abandoned). This has been fashioned by Dealdasa to cover themselves for two and a half years and only MPs views are utilized. It will be watered down more to accommodate views of some to get votes to pass the bill, at the Committee stage.

  • 7

    (Incidentally, it is a shame that one Muslim MP, without any understanding of the danger into which he is putting his own community, also had join those anti-reformists). – Ameer Ali.
    This Forum is aware that I cheer Ameer Ali at every opportunity I get when he argues for sanity in our politics. I consider it a shame that he does not denounce the damage, not one but many, Muslim MPs have caused to us, Tamils.
    It is not just our political problems, even the Economic problem, could be linked to the narrow and clumsy politics of those Muslims.

  • 8

    ‘It is welcoming news that aragalaya youth are in dialogue with minority community leaders’.
    I’d call it a heartening news.

  • 9

    To have any hope in this country aragalaya should continue and win the demands of the people. What RW says and plans are what everyone knowns. He always says the worst is to come and predicts a grim future, well that may be true but it is also a method to deflect any blame in the future. Foreign workers remittances had been an important inflow of dollars in the past, it has exceeded even 500million per month in some instances. RW has not addressed this issue. Infact unless the system changes we cannot expect a boom in the foreign remitances. RW can borrow money which will buden us further, in short term increasing foreing remittances and improving tourist arrival are the only hope.

    When a foreign reporter asked about tourism RW tried to make a joke of it and ultimately said situation is not good for tourism. He was just unable to give any positive views to improve tourism. RW messed up the last oppertunity people gave in 2015, he is surrounded by crooks and MR and GR came back to power because there was no alternative. Rw has proven him self non trust worthy. IMF cheif has said Sri Lankan economy has been mismanaged, (it is not a simple statement of fact) RWs majic has not worked so far. Now the horse trading has started. There is no future unless the whole system changes.

  • 6

    There is no magic stick to solve this issue even whoever comes to power, it looks like coming years (at least a couple of years) is going to be hard for us. Train IT sector and product PM’, Developers, QA, Architects, System admin for all platform and languages and export to west. This is what India does. At least one Indian in every American Company in the IT sector. So, we need the young professionals as rulers . This is one way of increasing the cash inflow of dollars.

    • 2

      Are young professionals the rulers in India?

  • 4

    The media is to be blamed severely for the many corrupt acts of political leaders,
    since of late and the astounding amounts involved. A Whatsapp message circulating
    since the aragalaya commenced was as follows:
    1. Seven luxury Boats in Bali, Maldives etc. The value is 850 Million dollars.
    2. Shenyang Gotiar Aircraft anuf. Co.Ltd. Co-owners I MR Valued at 20 Billion $.
    3. Maradhoo Island – Maldives. Ownership: Udayanga Weeratunga. Valued 26 Mil.$
    4. Dubai Marriott Hotel-Vitinama $ 7 billion. Owned by Rajapakse clan.
    5. Perera & Sons – A network of Restaurants spread across country Namals
    6. MAS Holdings 18%Stocks. Leading Exporters. MR owns 18% stake.
    7. 2 of 6 flights in Uganda Airlies owned by MRfamily-an investment of $ 800
    8. Yoshita owns Baidu Co in China. Shares valued at 7 Billion $.
    9. 3 Luxury houses in Burj Khalifa Tower in Dubai. Investment via N.Lokuwithana.
    Value 140 M$
    10. Seychelshi La Diegu Island – Rohitha bought for his wife . Value 60 Million $.
    11. Tanzania`s Shin Yang Diamoond Mine. Owned by Gotabaya. Value 7 million $.
    12. Pyramid Wilmar Co. One of the largest operation Companies. Rajapakse Invests
    for family.
    13. Roar Media Network- Namals, bought by woman Royal Raymond.

    • 4

      I think that this is a repeated story.
      I checked one item at random, found it to be faulty and reported it here.
      A list without source of information or other evidence is as bad as gossip.
      Even one falsehood destroys the credibility of any other that may be true.

      • 1

        Sj Just because one item is wrong or even the whole thing is wrong it doesnot make Rajapakse clan saints. Growup dont be childish in trying to protect Rajapakses indirectly.

  • 0

    “What really in existence is majoritarianism built on the ideological edifice of Sinhala Buddhist ethnoreligious nationalism.”

    What a joke. Then why is Anglican Ranil there? Do you see a Christian, Jewish, or Hindu Prime Minister in Bangladesh, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, etc?

    “Finally, to the minorities in the country who had been disconnected for decades from the prevailing system, there is no alternative but to join aragalaya.”

    It is a better alternative than blowing things up.

Leave A Comment

Comments should not exceed 200 words. Embedding external links and writing in capital letters are discouraged. Commenting is automatically disabled after 5 days and approval may take up to 24 hours. Please read our Comments Policy for further details. Your email address will not be published.