4 October, 2022

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Ranil’s Cabinet Trap & Aragalaya

By Ameer Ali

Dr. Ameer Ali

President Ranil Wickremesinghe (RW) without mandate from the people, but elected from the floor of the legislature, naturally wants to strengthen his position by widening his support base inside the Parliament. His initial plan to form an all-party government proved difficult. He has now turned his attention to form an omnibus cabinet to accommodate into it as many as possible tempting them with ministerial positions. He knows from past experience how his colleagues could be swayed to change side at the right price and at the right time. Already minority ethnic parties like SLMC and DPA are bending backwards to credit RW for establishing some semblance of normalcy in the country. Ranil’s cabinet is therefore a trap to win support and silence the critiques before the full agenda for economic revival is revealed after completion of talks with IMF.

Evidence of shortening queues by introducing better methods of distribution of cooking gas and fuel, and at slightly reduced prices are pleasant surprises which would help calm down the angry nerves of the masses. But how long would these surprises last depend on how soon RW could manage to get emergency funding from international sources to pay for more imports. Prematurely though, certain quarters of the opinion industry have already issued complementary testimonials to boost RW’s presidential credibility and image. In reality, judgement on RW’s performance should wait until the full gamut of IMF initiated reforms are released and presented to the parliament with a detailed mechanism to implement them. They are certainly not going to make life easier to a vast majority of people. This is why RW wants the entire parliament to accept the reforms unanimously and share the resulting praise or blame with him. An enlarged cabinet with ministers from diverse political affiliations would therefore help him to confront criticisms with a steady hand.

Having warned the nation already of incoming hardships, which according to RW would last optimistically for six months, but realistically for more than a year ceteris paribus, he is preparing himself to take a tough stand against would be dissenters and protestors. Emergency regulations had already been passed permitting the use of force if necessary to control any riotous street demonstrations. What he did to aragalaya soon after he became President was only a prelude for things to come. His prelection to praise the military after visiting the Army Head Quarters on 9th August, also reveals his readiness to call upon the military to enforce law and order if reactions to reforms turn ugly and violent. The secret behind an omnibus cabinet is therefore to recruit a team of yes men and women to defend RW’s agenda which, according to him, would “reset the economy” and transform the country from its current failed state status into a “First World Nation by 2048”- a grandiose dream from a grandstanding president.

RW’s route to achieve that transformation is by creating a robust export economy with “innovative thinking” while being cognizant of global changes, use of renewable and nuclear energy, and by maintaining “sustainable foreign loans”. These are obviously reforms of a tall order and reflect the need of the time; but the question is whether such reforms could ever be successfully implemented and yield the desired outcome when the socio-political system on which such an economy is set to operate remain undemocratic, corrupt and ethno-chauvinistic? It is this basic foundation that the aragalaya youth called the “system” and demands that be changed. RW has astutely twisted that call and confused systemic change with change in the economic model.

RW is intelligent, educated, experienced and like his mentor JR Jayewardene, politically shrewd, in comparison to many of his current parliamentary colleagues. He understands clearly the real meaning of aragalaya’s demand for systemic change. He is also aware that the demand for systemic change vibrates in international circles in their reaction to what had happened to Sri Lankan society and its economy under the previous regime. UN agencies, diaspora communities and even friendly countries had been critical of the sectarian character of Sri Lanka’s political governance, its development path and social infrastructure. Without changing that system and democratize governance on a secular foundation no economic model could successfully operate to pull this country out of its current morass. This is why RW’s very long-term dream of transforming the country to First World status through dynamic economic modelling would fail. In fact, the dire situation into which this country has been pushed into today, is the product of a rotten political system managed by corrupt and chauvinistic leaders. RW is aware of this but he is unable to get rid of it without a mandate from the people.

Aragalaya has vacated Galle Face Green, as it promised to do even before RW sent his armed force to clear that precinct. But it has not closed and will not close its mission. “We did not do this for months … for fun, our anger was against Sri Lanka’s corrupt political culture, (and) that anger has not changed, it is still alive, we will learn from our mistakes and rise again”. These words, quoted by a journalist, are from one of the female aragalayers and they send a clear message to RW. So far, he has employed the government security machinery to hunt down, arrest and incarcerate suspected aragalayers for alleged criminal behaviour. The fact that he suspects them for setting fire to his private residence adds a personal grudge against his anti-aragalaya stand. However, he had remained totally indifferent or nonchalant to chase after the mega-culprits who made this country bankrupt by enriching themselves, their families and friends. He will not go after them, because he owes his Presidency to the same gang and it is with their support that he could remain so at least until 2024, if not beyond. But where is his gratitude to aragalaya that made all this possible?

The only party that has so far refused to be enticed by RW’s ministerial offers is JVP/NPP. It is a sensible move on its part to escape the president’s cabinet trap. While aragalaya decentralizes its protest and continues with its mission island-wide, it is incumbent upon JVP/NPP parliamentary leadership to echo aragalaya grievances from inside the parliament. Aragalaya has not yet developed an independent leadership and there is ample common ground between the youth movement and JVP/NPP to come to an understanding and present a credible political alternative to Sri Lankan voters. Sooner they realise this and act as a coalition better for the economy and country.

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

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Latest comments

  • 13
    2

    The important ministries Finance and Defence are now under the control Ranil. The Prime Minister Post is now powerless. Even they bring 22nd amendment to the constitution it won’t change much. So, those who aim to become ministers may only have the benefits to make money through some projects deals but they all under the name of corruptors which means there is no escape from Ranil’s command. Ranils safety is only under the radar of West, India and China. However, in Internal Politics, only Rajapaksas have the talent to challenge him. In order to get some small relief in Economic situation Ranil need both China and the West, not India at this moment to get IMF loan. IMF loans means once again reduction of the size of state sector which means unemployment and sale of the resources. At this point, it easy for Rajapaksas to come back using thr racism and the same tactics played by Ranil. We are again going to go another cycle of violence and further deterioration of economy.

    • 6
      4

      Dr. Ameen: The worst anti-minority riots have always happened when the UNP – Yankie Dickie JRJ as he was called and nephew Ranil were in power, while the US and Keenie Meenie Special Forces could run amok in the country!
      July 1983 and the Easter Sunday attacks to provoke anti-Muslim riots and Weaponize Religious Identity politics like the the 1983 riots which Weaponized ethnic identity politics in a “Jakarta Method” Cold War style operation to divide and rule always happen when the US backed Liberals are in power????! How come?

      • 6
        5

        Ranil’s cabinet is a trap to win support the IMF’s bailout of BlackRock and other Vulture funds at the expense of the people of Sri Lanka. Ranil has no legitimacy as he is the Architect of the 2015 Central Bank Bondscam that invited all the Vulture Funds to descend on Sri Lanka. And 70 percent of the Western Sovereign Bond Debt trap borrowings were taken during RW’s -2015-2019 regime to debt trap and Default Lanka, enabling the US and EU Bondholders to capitalize on the IMF firesale of strategic assets like ports, airports, CEB, Sri Lankan Airlines, CPC etc and enable set up of US military bases in strategic Lanka!
        There will be NO economic relief, only COLONIALISM after completion of talks with IMF and its Economic Hit Man Ranil Rajapakse!

    • 2
      0

      PM is a clown even though he is a product of Boralu Sinha. It would be a matter of pride to offer such a position now. Looking back, the damage done by the inhumans to this nation is immeasurable. Although his friends were suffering mentally and physically due to the deliberate actions of the Rajapaksas, he was like a pet dog of the Rajapaksa family.
      Only the Prime Minister could have avoided such a cabinet proposal if he had any compassion for the nation at the most crucial stage of Sri Lanka’s economic struggle. Who will oppose if that is done?: Now RW as the President has to secretly bite his nails by approving that cabinet proposal….. All these people are shameless asses.

    • 3
      0

      Dear Ajith,
      .
      It is up to us to ensure that it is not only the detestable Rajapaksas who stand up to this ophidian. The NPP has not shown any signs of compromising.
      .
      Conservatives are still apprehensive of the violent past of the JVP. They need the steady support of people like us, who are known to have never indulged in extreme behaviour of any sort. Please see these two minutes by a young undergraduate speaking impeccable English:
      .
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NAazfxNLfFk
      .
      I know her mother slightly; the long-term reliable Secretary to the Anglican Bishops of Colombo, Nadhie Wanduragala. Having people like her, talking rationally like this, and also chanting clean and clear slogans, will go a long way to re-assuring the “respectable folk”. That support must be steady.
      .
      Listen to the voices of even those whom we respect on Colombo Telegraph. They want their idiosyncrasies listened to. No. We must be in for the long, patient, haul.

  • 1
    2

    President Ranil Wickremesinghe (RW) without mandate from the people.

    Ranil knows he is not self-worth due to in power without peoples vote.

    He will work first to him and people special abilities, relationships, identifications. None of these is you But he will like to keep an election again UNP will appoint him president. To be a valid people president. He has to structure by the principle to win by the people overcome his egocentricity. That his mind is telling him I am not from the people, till then he will borrow from the other countries quickly but who will pay. Or more foreign companies will come, or lifts ban on six Tamil diaspora organizations to bring dollars.

    • 3
      0

      Dear RBH59,
      .
      When we say that Ranil is without mandate, let us remember these points:
      .
      One. The purpose of the National List was to bring into Parliament those who were highly skilled/ educated, but were unknown to the public. After one term, they ought to be able to establish themselves so that they have support. Professor G.L. Peiris, when he first came in (try to forget that now he has overstayed – and jumped!); Eran Wickremarratne (he was actually National List, the second time); Professor Charitha Herath;
      .
      Two. On occasion, a party could legitimately decide that a seasoned politician who is a particularly effective orator and campaigner, ought to be set free to campaign without focus on one District. That can, of course be the pretended reason: e.g. Harin Fernando from my Badulla District (he had lost the immense popularity that he had).
      .
      Three: Ranil is not like that! Everybody knew him, nobody wanted him. He lost even in Colombo!
      .
      Four: The UNP

      • 3
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        Sorry. That slipped in!
        .
        FOUR: The UNP was entitled to just one seat in Parliament on the National List. What did they do? Got one to be the Executive President, and then nominated yet another! Yes, there’s another fellow now in Parliament!
        .
        All Ranil’s Inner Circle of Loyalists (who usually happen to be Royalists also) have been given prominent positions in the Administration. In a sense similar to the Duminda Silva pardon and appointment by the Rajapaksas.

  • 14
    0

    Leave Alone SLPP There are so many Black Sheep groups from parties like SLFP,MUSLIM CONGRESS,RISHARDS PARTY,WIMALS PARTY AND TNA(TELO,PLOT)Dreaming to become cabinet ministers.it is going to be a headache for RANIL To please every body.IN SLPP THERE IS A TUG OF WAR BETWEEN SENIORS LIKE PAVITHARA,JONSTON,MAHINDANANDA,AND LOT OF JUNIOR MEMBERS TO CATCH THE EYES OF RANIL.NONE OF THESE GUYS FROM ALL PARTIES ARE NOT BOTHERED ABOUT POOR SRILANAKNS AND ONLY WORRIED ABOUT THEIR FUTURE AND PERKS-JAYAWEEWA TO POOR SRILANKANS,

  • 19
    2

    Now President Ranil and Prime MInister and Douglas Devananda have invited Diaspora Tamils to come and help to improve the economy of this country and also they removed some of the Tamil Diaspora Organisations and individuals from the banned list. They also requested Tamil and Muslim Politicians to join the all party group. They also promised to implement all the demands they made without any hesistance. I am sure some of the Tamil and Muslim members are happy with their promises and they might be given some ministerial posts. We all can remember these leaders have not only promised but also made agreements several times in the past.
    Dear Tamils and Muslims in Sri Lanka and Diaspora,
    Don’t fall in the trap. Promises and agreements are not solutions. Actions and Implementations are the need. Did Ranil get the mandate from the people or from the MPs who voted him. What is the difficulty now with two third majority in parliament? What is the barrier for releasing all the political prisoners? Don’t forget that two of the directors from Tube Tamil charity who helped those Tamils who were affected by war are taken under PTA and they are still in jail for a year without any charges. Those who started violence against innocent protestors are free but innocents are in jail. This is to Sinhalese people.

  • 3
    0

    The in-fixable defect in this legacy government is its Medamulana Royal stamp. The government is it made by, for Royals. So we the Royal leaders and their 135 henchmen run the show. Evil is only a puppet on the string. You guys may remember what an obedient nincompoop the PhD Layer, GLP was The cabinet Ministers all are appointed Old Rowdy. Tricky Evil may find some wiggle space for his clans, but nothing more. Slap Party has the Parliament majority. They made sure Gothapayal’s Humpty Dumpty comes down, It is inconceivable that the Joint Comedy Club brought down two government in success will allow Ranil to get away with his tricks. The Anarchy campaign was only racist campaign but sugar coated to hide the evilness underneath it. Sinhala Intellectuals viewed Protestors as Tamil Diasporas’ agents. So to protect the Slap Party Parliaments and its rowdy racists, they started the Anarchy campaign. Ranil, who was rejected by Janathave and abandoned by all elected MPs were voted with majority to under take the process of the part success Protestors achieved. A man or woman who has an iota of cells in hid head will be able to perceive that this government was not formed to revive the economy, but to protect Sinhala Mahajen, who were defeated by Diaspora, who are setup Colonialists and Neo-colonialist and who came back after wipe out of Leader Pirapaharan in Nanthikadal and.

  • 3
    0

    The above was posted by the unruly Firefox, before me editing it. Sorry!

    • 1
      2

      Do we thank the fox for it?

      • 7
        0

        Should we be talking of foxes or jackals, dear SJ?

        • 2
          0

          Dear SM
          .
          I am not the only one on CT who compares the behavior of our Sinhalese to animals. See … my club members are increasing.

          • 2
            0

            True, LM;
            .
            however, it must not be overdone; and it must be done with finesse.
            .

  • 4
    0

    The Joint Comedy Club Chief, Communist Denish said that he is expecting the support of Diaspora Tamils to bring back the Slap Party swindles Economy. Yes, we too expecting some support from Communist Denish. We want his help to find Gothaapayal or the Hitler King arrested and prosecuted in ICC though UNHRC. Is the Communist being ready to sit and talk on that subject of handing over Hitler to UNHRC? Can he tell how and where the swindled wealth the Medamuana Royals have stocked? Is that still in Peacock Palace swimming pool sand? So, can we treasure hunt that and give it the 90,000 Tamil war widows? “Chanthanam Methinaal Thadavada Pukkaiyil.” That is why the Methamulana Royals who have so many Mansions in all over the world, filled a swimming pool with sand, not with water. Because they know better the retail value of mansions with Swimming pool. Another thief of this Royals went to court, just disclaimed his Manson as he does not know who owns that. So, judge said sell the Mansion and remit the money to government. But the guys still doing Hangy Pangy with that Mansion. In that condition the Evil Emperor chest beating that his hut was burned, and he has no place to sleep other than Presidential Palace. These politicians are not thinking the Sinhala Buddhists are not equal even to water buffalos!

  • 8
    0

    Ranil.W. Iis a shrewd person.He successfully prevented(with the help of Mahinda R)
    any other CAPABLE UNP parliamentarian to take over the its LEADERSHIP. Ranil.W was holding on to the Leader of the Opposition for FAR TOO LONG. This had ENABLED Rajapaksas to mishandle the SL economy for decades. I simply do not UNDERSTAND why any of the Singhalese do not want to accept the fact that their ACTS against the minorites had been the MAIN cause of the current economic predicament. Both Aragalaya Movement & NPP-JVP should BASE their policies to make the country secular and non discriminatory on the basis of ethnicity or religion. A change in the socio-political system as Dr A.A. points out is of utmost importance. Tamil Leaders should not fall for the EMPTY PROMISES of Ranil.W.

    • 1
      0

      Naman,
      .
      Some of us “always”
      (in my case from around 1970, so that Black July did not take me by surprise) knew that we were storing trouble for ourselves.
      .
      Please see the discussion below this article:
      .
      https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/its-time-to-untether-the-kite/
      .
      I have already given a link there to other relevant chapters in Rajan Hoole’s book than this:
      .
      https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/count-down-to-july-1983/
      .
      I shall go back there when comments cannot be submitted here, tomorrow. I don’t want to repeat myself. Read also various other articles by the same authors by learning to navigate within Colombo Telegraph..
      .
      https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/count-down-to-july-1983/
      .
      Yes, in terms of the country’s Sinhalese population we were a minority then, but many have realised their folly, and demagogues will not be now able to whip them into a frenzy any more. We will work consistently to promote non-discriminating secularism.
      .
      The lessons now being learnt won’t easily be forgotten.

  • 0
    3

    The NZ govt is blocking an Easter bombing suspect from being questioned by the Sri Lankan authorities. They have given him political asylum so that he cannot be touched. The cardinal should try to get him questened by the authorities.

  • 4
    0

    The sinhalas are mere Lemmings and are hurtling full throttle towards being toilet cleaners for the chinese

  • 5
    0

    Prabakaran had a mauritus passport but never ran away. Gota crook ripped of the sinhalas and RAN AWAY and now is BEGGING for aylum

  • 4
    0

    Dear Dr Ameer Ali,
    .
    Thanks for the clarity of thought that you display in congratulating the NPP for standing firm.
    .
    Even guys like me, who know little of Marxism admire their commitment.
    .
    The desire to migrate is getting greater by the day, but old fellows like me have to stay put.
    .
    Sincerely,
    .
    Panini Edirisinhe of Bandarawela

  • 1
    0

    I think that I must now make further comments here, below this sensible article by Dr Ameer Ali, an outstanding scholar of economics, and this other article by Vishwamithra, whose identity is not known (well, he has written to me, but from his “special address” which doesn’t reveal who he is).
    .
    Both have identified our problems correctly (well, that’s what I feel) and have had the courage to to spit out the truth.
    .
    And that truth is that we have a legal, but illegitimate government, and until the rather foolish citizens of this country (I am a citizen, and, therefore, I’m also, by definition, foolish) realise that, and are allowed by the crooks currently controlling us, to elect a new government, there will be no improvement.
    .
    And on what basis do I guarantee to you who read this that the next government that we elect is going to be any better. Oh, no. I provide no guarantee of that, but I just feel that it’ll be a legitimate government, and therefore, somewhat better.

    .
    tbc

    • 2
      0

      Continuing………….
      .
      In the process I may have to disagree with what two very fine people [old codger and leelagemalli] have been saying.
      .
      At this moment, what I value in Dr Ali is not his brilliance, but the common sense that he displays.

      .
      If you want something less foolish sounding than what I’m now writing, please look at the last comments here:
      .
      https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/any-dealing-with-president-who-lacks-legitimacy-is-political-suicide/
      .
      However, you may have to scroll up to an earlier comment in which I have given the link to the important article that I have there referred to. Why am I being so tiresome as not to give you that link here and now? Because I want you to take some trouble finding it – if everything is served you on a platter, you will not THINK at all. In other words, I’m “ragging” you!
      .
      And even here you will find some relevant things:
      .
      https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/leaping-without-looking-from-gotas-vistas-to-ranils-vistas/

      .
      Panini Edirisinhe of Bandarawela

  • 1
    0

    I have now re-read Dr Ali’s article, and I think that all his observations are sane. This morning, I have also been able to access this Ranil interview in the British newspaper, The Economist without paying. I had to register:
    .
    https://www.economist.com/asia/2022/08/16/an-interview-with-the-president-of-sri-lanka
    .
    Ranil thinks that he can be the Dictator here for a long time. If that happens it will be tragic for us. He has never been a man who played fair. He is adept at pretending to be clean, rational and reasonable, but in fact his determination to control all around him will not leave him until he breathes his last. Human rights monitors the world over know this.
    .
    Also, even without the World Economic Downturn foreign countries will not help. Why should they? His power grab has been too shorn of public blessing. The economy will adjust gradually, and I see tourism getting back on its feet. His prognosis there is correct.
    .
    OTOH, the media has already forgotten us. For about three months we provided them with unforgettable and dramatic video footage. That will no longer be the case. The ruthless Batalanda criminal will be coldly efficient. In the climate that prevails today, most will be timorous. Like Dr Ali, I will look to the NPP for leadership.
    ,
    Panini Edirisinhe

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