1 December, 2023


Ranil Wickremesinghe’s Cutting Edge

By Malinda Seneviratne

Malinda Seneviratne

Malinda Seneviratne

Ranil Wickremesinghe is a man besieged. He has or has allowed himself to be surrounded by a bunch of self-serving politicians who are already as thick as thieves with the very same lot who benefitted from the previous regime and whose naughtiness helped bring that regime down.

Where are those principled individuals who supported him when he decided to back Maithripala? Who really benefited from ‘regime change’? Competent, decent, civilised, honest men and women of integrity or a nitwits, hangers-on, thugs and thieves? He knows the answer and he must know that the knowledge is not his preserve. People know.

But that’s ok. This business called politics is not about any of these things. It is about power. Plain and simple. And in that game, right now at least, Ranil Wickremesinghe has an edge. A big edge. An executive edge, in fact. That edge has a name. Maithripala Sirisena.

Ranil hasn’t quite said it but it popped out of the venerable mouth of long time UNP supporter, Rev Maduluwawe Sobitha Thero the other day. The Thero, now a good-governance advocate, now a UNP supporter, now again a lamenter about errors of judgment, has spoken when the time was right. He wants President Maithripala Sirisena to play a neutral role in the upcoming General Election. He even complains that the President hasn’t been quite neutral of late. The Thero is upset that Sirisena has stated he wanted his party to win! That, he claims, is proof that Sirisena is guilty of being partial! The Thero obviously has no clue about Sirisena’s role in bailing out Ranil Wickremesinghe’s boys by dissolving Parliament before the COPE report on the Bond scam came out. Now Rev Sobitha Thero does not see that as being ‘partial’. Strange? No. As mentioned, it is known that Rev Sobitha is for the greens.

RanilSo what would happen if Sirisena takes the Thero’s advise? It means that the UNP’s key opponent, the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) would ideally, i.e. according to the Thero of course, campaign without a leader. If the UNP has ‘incumbancy edge’ even though it is far less potent than the advantage enjoyed by the SLFP-led United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) in 2010, that edge would be amplified by having to contend with a leader-less opponent.

What’s interesting here is that the good Thero need not even ask. After all Mathripala Sirisena is doing a decent job of ‘keeping away’ all by himself and even going a lot further, being comfy with the UNP. Here’s why.

From Day One, i.e. after being conferred the Leader-post of the SLFP Maithripala has had a love-hate relationship with the rank and file of the party. Part of this is understandable. He abandoned the party and the party was upset; during the run up to the election he was attacked mercilessly. One can’t expect him to be thrilled by all that. It was mostly as a product of adapting to new realities that they installed him as party leader. Even after doing that they have been ambivalent in their views on the man. Officially some of them were part of the ‘National Government’ even as their colleagues were called ‘The Opposition’. That confusion apart they have openly backed Mahinda Rajapaksa and campaigned to push the President to accept his former boss and later opponent as the prime ministerial candidate of the SLFP. Again, this cannot thrill Sirisena.

Then there’s a question of colour-blindness which may be cause or effect of perceptions and relations vis-a-vis Mahinda Rajapaksa. As of now when confronted by the color green, Sirisena behaves as though he’s seeing blue. Blue offers multiple problems for him. He first sees ‘red’ (think of the bull metaphor). Then he sees the color of kurahan, yes, Mahinda’s color. The entire color business is confusing him. And others too, one might add, especially those in the party he leads. Fortunately for Sirisena (and the UNP), this color blindness is not costing him, Sirisena, any sleep.

The President has ample reason to be wary of Mahinda Rajapaksa given the latter’s vindictive history. On the other hand, being vengeful in return can also cost him. Imagine the (legitimate) antipathy to Rajapaksa being so deep that he let’s the party split and pave the way for a by-default win for the UNP. Where would that leave him? Having essentially followed the Sobitha-Thero plan, he cannot expect anything from the SLFP MPs except righteous derision. If he is Ranil’s yes-man now in such a scenario he would be a three-bags-full-sir man no doubt. He could suffer all that only on one condition: he is happy being play-thing, puppy dog’s tail and rubber-stamper for everything Ranil says and does.

As things stand that’s exactly where Maithripala is heading. This is why he is Ranil’s edge. His ‘cutting edge’ in fact for Ranil has effectively arranged things in such a way that Maithri uses his (Maithri’s) presidential edge to cut, chop and cleave as Ranil dictates. It’s good for Ranil.

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Latest comments

  • 5

    Mr President
    You got what you wanted.
    Do not destroy the PA so UNP can come to power. You are just a pawn in this grand scheme of things. Unite the party!
    Think the damage wiĺl do to the country.
    Think the damage will do to the party!
    PA will be in opposition for another 17 years!
    Let Mahinda continue this development drive.

    • 9

      Malinda Seneviratne. Shill and White Washer of Mahinda Rajapaksa

      RE: Ranil Wickremesinghe’s Cutting Edge

      Looks like Maitripal Sirisen also joined Mahinda Rajapaksa as a Shill and White Washer from the Stolen Billions and the billions from the Chinese

    • 0

      [Edited out]

  • 7

    We all know Malinda is MR supporter or wellwisher. Nevertheless, it is now Ranil’s time to govern. He will do so with good collaboration with MS.
    MS may have given nomination due some pressure but not with full heart. All these not going to add for victory for UPFA but certainly UNP has added to its vote surge.

  • 7


    Your criticism about Ven Sobitha thero is quite abhorrent, it was because of people like him we were able to breath some fresh air. If not for him, just imagine MR sitting on MS’s place today. Listening or watching whatever MR let us see/hear made me to ponder are we living in a democratic country or a country where a dictator rules the roost.

    When Gnanasara thero roaming around, you saw nothing wrong, hypocrisy?. Where is the journalistic ethics.

    MR himself admits there were wrongs in his government but did not want to take any responsibility for anything.It is blatantly obvious why he want to make a come back; just to protect his wealth amassed and to safe guard his clan from being prosecuted.

    Being too closest to MR, you have had a lot to write about what had happened to SL during the 10 years under MR. But you opt to highlight things that happened during the last 6 months. Propaganda for your buddy?

    • 3

      Aia, I agree with you. A few years ago Malinda was a caring journalist, righting the wrongs in the world. I have seen him in heated debates winning the argument with his substantive points. I wonder where it has all gone wrong for him. It’s probable Mahinda’s loots had got to him. I am aware he received a laptop. Perhaps he received more. It is sad to see money dragging down an otherwise brilliant journalist to the gutters.

      • 0

        Sylvia Haik:
        Money doesn’t “drag down” people. They CHOOSE to be “DRAGGED DOWN.”
        Even more than those of the “western, developed world,” Sri Lankan politics seem to be dominated by two types of people: those who are simply “bought and paid for” (laptops and interest-free loans and motorcycles are the smallest of bribes!) and those with much to lose who are in the business of buying “insurance” from those currently out of power but likely to return. Simple? Yes. Simplistic? Hardly!

  • 5

    The problem in the country is that politicians have become by nature corrupt. Someone like Rev. Sobitha could have changed that but it has not happened. The Sinhala politician lived by cheating the Sinhalese from the time of the Bandaranaikes. They promised Sinhala Only but had English only for their own children. They waxed fat stealing from the coffers of the state. Why change when politics was the way to power and wealth for the incompetent. The Tamil politician was no different. He stayed in Colombo, earned a lot of money and deluded the people on the North and East to elect him. We are going to have another cycle of electing the corrupt, the incompetent and the illiterate once more. That is the way of this Thrice Blessed land. That is why the diaspora of both communities continues to grow.

  • 1


    All the machinations of UNPers will fail and come August 17th the SLFP/UPFA alliance will be back in power. There was a calculated move to divide and break the UPFA alliance but it appears that Sirisena’s hands were forced by the majority of the SLFP leaders who realized the danger to the party. It looks certain now that Sirisena, despite all his promises to the UNP leader, has to grudgingly give Mahinda and his allies nominations to contest next month’s election.

    You talk about Sirisena edge. That edge might have helped to postpone the disclosure of UNP leader’s role in the bond scam, but would not help Ranil to win the forthcoming election. With the 19th amendment, Sirisena will not be able to impose his will on the formation of the next government. He had previously proposed that the next government would be a national government thus enabling UNP leader to creep into government again. I doubt Sirisena will have the clout to do so. Mahinda and the UPFA MPs would not have UNP as partners in a national government if they manage to win absolute majority. Ranil will be condemned to remain in Sri Lankan political history as a stop-gap Prime Minister and to have never enjoyed the PM’s office for a standard period of five years.

    Elsewere in one of the Colombo Telegraph comments columns, I have mentioned that Sirisena acceding to Mahinda’s demands for nominations under UPFA for himself and for his group of supporters had not just helped prevent the split of SLFP/UPFA alliance but it also kept in tact Sri Lanka’s democratic tradition of two party rule. This two party rule is vital for Westminster system of government. You will see this working fine in UK and Australia where if a government in power is defeated, the other major party wins to form the next government. This tradition started from 1956 and since then we have seen rightist UNP and left-centre SLFP/Left alliance ruling the country alternatively. Any split in the SLFP/UPFA alliance would have upset the two-party system and caused instability with no single party managing to form a government on their own.

  • 1

    What would Malinda know about politics? The people he critique have seen the world inside out. The best advise is to keep out of politics as you will only dig a big hole for you. The reason is you are just a pup and people who know you will not take you seriously. Why don’t you stick to reporting drama and new mums forums that will do well for you. Take my advise son.

  • 2

    Lots of `blind’ UNPers spoke of the `brilliant strategist’ Ranil W’s move to back President Sirisena as Presidential candidate. They never realized that UNP will not have a head of state for the next 5/6 years merely because RW was not a candidate who could unite and obtain the trust of the opposition like JRJ did in 1977.

    Now my prediction is that UNP is also going to be in the opposition in the parliament for the next 5/6 years.

    The entire opposition including UNP, TNA, SLMC, JHU and others received only 400,000 votes more than MR. How can these parties receive more seats than Mahinda specially when MR is contesting with President Sirisena.

    So much for the `brilliant strategies’ of Ranil W. FIGURES DON’T LIE.

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