24 April, 2018

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Ranil’s Reluctant Tryst With Truth

By Sarath de Alwis

Sarath de Alwis

Frozen in History

Twenty years ago in 1998, Dr. Jayadeva Uyangoda writing in the periodical ‘Frontline’ traced our  peculiar path of progress in the fifty years of independence. In about forty days we will reach the 70th year of independence as a post-colonial nation state.

We are yet a post-colonial nation state resisting modernity. Our black skins in white masks as described by Franz Fanon were shamelessly exhibited by John Amaratunga Minister of Tourism and Udaya Nanayakkara the governments new discovery to promote tourism at the best address in London the capital of their mother country. Neither of the two you can bet have read Fannon. But they did stage a ‘Ves Natuma’ by artists flown to entertain the British Guild of Travel Writers on their awards night during the World Travel Mart in London. It was public relations we cannot afford. Both comics are creatures of Tycoon Harry the suave Oligarch for all seasons.

John Amaratunga | Photo courtesy Facebook British Guild of Travel Writers

This writer avoids the adjective ‘modern ‘for a good reason. Oligarch who thrived under the redeemer still run this country. The clan Aloysius is not the disease. It is only a symptom. We are frozen in history. We elected a peasant in place of the autocrat who thrived in the patrimonial state. Ranil’s style of governance is a continuation. It is  bent on preserving a primitivity dating back to pre-independence times, poignantly captured in the lyrics of the song ‘Master Sir, Mata Himi Thena Denna.’

Sagala Hamu & Gamarala President

Sagala Rathnayaka, Minister of Law & Order, switches off  his mobile phone for an afternoon snooze in his manorial refuge in the deep south. The President wants to reach him for an update on a recent rumpus also in the south and instructs an aide to link him with Sagala by phone. The Presidential aide discovers the minsters ’mobile muted calls the residence. 

Sagala’s majordomo informs the senior Presidential aide, that, waking his master in repose was unthinkable. ‘Hamu Mahaththya Nidi. Aharunama Kiyannan’ (Master is asleep, will tell him when he is awake) was the response that the Presidential aide heard and interpreted its tone as indicating an imperious finality.

Servant mirrors the cosmology of the master

The UNP ruling class is cocooned in feudal hierarchical primitivity. That said, 21st Century household servants are not dumb. The domestic aide’s refusal to wake up Sagala was dictated by a subconscious sharing of his master’s world view.  He would have heard countless conversations between Sagala Hamu and Ranil Hamu that would have formed the frame of reference to the ‘Janadhipathi thuma’ who in his opinion was another ‘Gamarala’ who could damn well wait till ‘Sagala’ Hamu wakes up.

Where are we today, a day after a Prime minister for the first time in seventy years of our parliamentary democracy appeared before a commission of inquiry to explain his Prime ministerial decisions. He is at great pains to explain that it was voluntary, and the purpose was to clarify events, circumstances and decisions.

In the humble view of this writer Prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe he is also the first Prime minister of Sri Lanka who by a sworn affidavit has contradicted himself in the Hansard – the official record of parliamentary proceedings.

Where are we today

The answer to the question – Where are we today requires retracing our tracks in the last seventy years.  There is no point in reinventing the wheel.

Dr. Jayadeva Uyangoda has disassembled and reassembled our first fifty years in elegant prose and a pitiless probity. “…. in a political and historical sense my own biography of the past 48 years has been closely intertwined with the 50-year biography of post-colonial Sri Lanka. I grew up in the early 1950s in the relative peace of an isolated Sinhalese village. As a six-year-old child, I learnt about the assassination of Prime Minister S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike, and political assassinations were to constitute a major facet of my country’s politics since I reached the age of 38. As an eight-year-old child, I learnt about the differences between the Sinhalese and Tamil communities; then, of course, even the everyday events of my entire adult life were to be governed by Sinhala-Tamil conflictual politics. I came of age in the radical 1960s while being fed, looked after and educated by one of the best welfare states in the developing world. The welfare state, which also stood as an obstacle to significant economic growth, produced from among its own children a generation of bewildered idealists. Being one among them I ran away from home, became a modern anarchist, tried my hand at revolution and along with my generation paid a heavy price for that misadventure. Then in the twilight of my youth, in the 1980s, I witnessed how my country all of a sudden began to lose all its idealism and hope while aggression, hostility, ethnic self-righteousness, brutality and violence were welcomed with fervour by all those who mattered in shaping Sri Lanka’s political future. At present I am watching, not with pleasure, how Sri Lanka is running deeper and deeper into its decades-old crisis. In despair, I read the poetry of despair. As I recently read in a poem by Pakistan’s Kishwar Naheed, “I and my country were born together – We lost our sight in childhood.”

Ranil Wickremesinghe. Chandrika Kumaratunga and Mahinda Rajapaksa collectively epitomize the folly of the next twenty years from 1998 to 2018.

Chandrika is history. Mahinda dislodged from the saddle is fiercely clutching on to a part of the harness. The horse is restless. The purpose of this essay is to assess how long Ranil will remain on the saddle. In a previous essay 48 hour before, this writer noted that, “No matter how Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe’s encounter with the Commission turns out, its final outcome will be monumental and transformational.

Reading the details of his affidavit submitted to the commission published in the Island newspaper and the detailed report of yesterday’s proceedings carried in the Daily Mirror   makes it abundantly clear that he is not just injured but fatally wounded.  The question is how he will survive on his saddle but how long?   

Not Ranil Bashing

Ranil bashing is today a fashionable pastime among commentators. This writer is not one of them. His earlier Prime ministerial tenure was a positive path to progress economic and political. We knew Prabhakaran to be a ferocious beast. Given the magnitude of the carnage and the precious years forfeited in an unending conflict, this writer admired the courage of Ranil Wickremesinghe to sign a cease fire agreement with the LTTE and explore a negotiated settlement. A more powerful executive president made some noise but did not repudiate the shaky piece that followed. The war winning redeemer of the Sinhala Nation who by then was already anointed ‘Sri Rohana Janaranjana’ by the monastic order in Kandy did not critique the agreement and retained for more than two years continuing the dialogue under his presidency.  In the Presidential elections of 2005 Ranil lost by a whisker. Anyone claiming that the Sinhala people opposed the CFA is a classic Parvenu and a Charlatan.  Ranil polled 48.43 % against Mahindas 50,29%. That was when Sinhala soldiers fought the war. ‘Ranaviru’ warriors emerged a few months before General Fonseka went to jail.

In an article published in the Daily Mirror of 20th October 2005 this writer condemned the protean politics of Mahinda and endorsed the decisive politics of Ranil.

The Man changed after May 2009 and embarked on collusive politics with the autocrat Mahinda who was now Janaranjan not only of Sri Rohana conferred on him by Malwatte but in the entirety of the Thrisinhala, courtesy Prabhakaran.

Mr. Clean turns Mr. Operator 

Since 8th January 2015, Ranil has bonded with oligarchs who thrived under Mahinda Rajapaksa. Under Mahinda, sister of the Central Bank governor accessed the nations largest pension fund.  Ranil made it simpler. He appointed a governor whose son in law lived with him, shared WhatsApp and Viber with him to do it. 

The Prime minister informs the commission in his affidavit; “Mr Mahendran was selected for appointment in view of his professional qualifications and experience in the field of banking and investments. He had functioned as the Chairman of the BOI during the period 2002 to 2004. He had also held senior positions in the banking industry in Middle East and Singapore. The previous incumbent lacked comparable qualifications and experience and the administration of the CBSL during his tenure of his office had been the subject of severe criticism. Hence, prior to the General Election of 2015 there was a general demand from our political allies that a competent person versatile in banking and International finance should be appointed to the post of Governor of the CBSL.”

Clarifications

During his voluntary clarifications he is told:

Now these are the clarifications we need. The first one is where you aware about the holding companies of PTL were Perpetual Capital Holding Pvt Ltd and Perpetual Capital Pvt Ltd?

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremasinghe tells the commission “No, I was not aware about the holding structure of those Companies.

In the affidavit the Prime Minster affirms “Upon the formation of the new Government in January 2015 there was a general consensus within the Government that Mr Mahendran should be appointed to the post of Governor of CBSL. I discussed the proposed appointment with the then Minister of Finance who agreed that Mr Mahendran was the most suitable candidate. Accordingly, the then Minister of Finance with my concurrence recommended to His Excellency the President that Mr. Mahendran should be appointed. His Excellency the President acting upon the said recommendation appointed Mr Arjuna Mahendran as the Governor of the CBSL.

Protocol required the mild-mannered Attorney General to lead the clarifications of the Prime minister.   He was not asked if the general consensus of the government on the outstanding suitability of Arjun Mahendran to be governor was shared by Dr.Sarath Amungama who was then a cabinet minister with extensive experience in dealing with multilateral financial institutions and specifically the International monetary fund.

Emerging after his clarifications he assured everybody that all clarifications were provided. We may have made some mistakes. We will correct them and go forward. We will continue the yahapalanaya.

In the forty years of public life, yesterday was the first time that Ranil Wickremesinghe conceded that thin trace of fallibility.

Genesis of Sin 

Mark Twain was right. God made a mistake by forbidding the apple. He should have forbidden the serpent. Then Adam would have eaten the serpent and spared the apple.

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Latest comments

  • 5
    2

    It is Unbelievable – all these royal thieves are greedy enough to hang onto it and showing no shame of it. Simply, Sri lanka has two law enforcements and two judiciaries. Mega thieves go free. Petty thieves are hanged. thieves also protect thieves. Now, it is three years. Previous govts thieves roam free. some go back to their newly naturalized country and won’t come back. Some are preparing to contest elections again. Namal Rajapakse alone has given 800 phone calls. It is typical Indian or Pakisthan. Even Paksithan got rid of afew prime ministers.

    • 4
      3

      Has this so called robbed funds from the CB been deposited to Ranil’s account or to the UNP Party account? Has Ranil denied ownership to any new assets that he has acquired like how the Rajapaksas have amassed wealth and have denied ownership?

      • 4
        1

        The difference is that the alleged acquired wealth of the Rajapakses was a myth believed by gullible voters who voted in this mob. There is not an iota of evidence against the Rajapakses despite this govt going to extreme lengths to fabricate evidence. People even believed that a Lambhorgini was imported by Namal R. Up to date no evidence of this mythical car has surfaced not even a fake photo.

        • 1
          3

          Dear Percy,
          How are you related to Daisy achchi .No one is so blind, than who do not want to see

          • 0
            1

            mugalan I like to SEE the evidence, not just bullshit that fooled the people in Feb 2015. That was led by a yellow robed humbug who despite being rewarded with a free trip and medical expenses by YAHAPALANAYAS for his dirty work died in Singapore his KARMA catching up with him.

        • 2
          0

          Percy is the Malwana house and the multimillion Gower Street Corp Co. yours amongst many other assets?

          • 0
            1

            Gamini you seem to be one of the illiterates who have a vacant mind. “Upstairs vacant” as they say. I will agree with what you are saying if you publish photos of the properties you are talking of. I am sure Col Tel will allow that.

      • 6
        0

        Ranil has bugled as the premier of the country by appointing a totally unsuitable incompetent person as the Governor and we the people who brought them to power have totally lost confidence in him! The government has also failed to prosecute the Rajapaksas who you say has amassed wealth. Prove it to gain confidence of the people or don’t talk about it!! Can we move forward with incompetent heads of state? Its 3 years since they came to power!

      • 6
        0

        Taking the money or enabling that taking is the offence.

        The prosecution need not prove what was done with the loot. Maybe, in a bank account in Iceland or buried in the sahara. Maybe even shared equally with MR. It does not matter.It is immaterial.

        One thing for sure, the money will not appear in UNP accounts. They did not do all this to put the money in the UNP account !

        In the case of a high official like PM even a higher standard must apply. Remember Nixon ?

  • 4
    1

    For Sri lanka, the best solution is the whole Parliament should resign, and the country should carry on with the help of a Care taker govt. Military should be the caretaker govt.

  • 3
    2

    A very good piece.

    As SL politicians go, Ranil is not such a bad guy. He hasn’t robbed to enrich himself.

    But out of all the pols SL has ever had he is extremely unlikable; I’ve never seen anything like it! He has a ton of negative-charisma ……… if there is such a thang.

    I feel Ranil’s weaknesses are gutlessness and blind-loyalty.

    He gets cuckolded by his cronies all the time. …………….. Most, if not all, he brought into politics have left him and joined the other side. There was a guy called Milinda Moragoda (or such) ……… and that was the worst.

    He got fooled/cuckolded by his crony Mahendran and his SIL this time too ………. he is ashamed to admit it. ……….. with great cost and detriment to him.

    Ranil only feels comfortable with his cronies ……….. and has difficulty in appreciating others who are not in his circle ………. like the new governor of the CB of SL, Kumarasuwamy. …………. That turned out to be not such a bad appointment.



    “this writer admired the courage of Ranil Wickremesinghe to sign a cease fire agreement with the LTTE and explore a negotiated settlement. “

    The CFA was the catalyst for the defeat of the LTTE. After Prbakaran’s war-machine went on a hiatus for 3-4 years, he couldn’t get the wheels rolling again; his “troops” had got used “peace-time” living. And the SL forces got the time to regroup and focus. But Ranil can’t take credit for it ……….. that wasn’t his intention. ……… it was an occurrence and development of an event by chance in a happy or beneficial way. ………

    They say that’s serendipity …………… I wonder what lies around the corner!

  • 6
    0

    It is likely history will record RW as a failed Leader. His judgements appear to be poor/questionable. One has only to look at his choices for Secretary of the Party (TA), Governor Central Bank (AM), Chief of Staff (SR). Finance Minister (RK), Foreign Minister (TM), choice for CC (WR) to realize/gauge his poor judgements. He has appointed Sagala as his C of Staff, Minister Law and Order, Southern Development Minister. Is he a Superman to be able to deliver in all these capacities? Sagala has proved to be a poor performer and there are rumours he is protecting / interfering in prosecutions relating to members of the former regime/their henchmen? Doesn’t RW have any other capable MP’s to appoint / delegate some responsibilities? I have read the best UNP performer in Parliament, even ahead of RW, is Buddhika Pathirana. I believe he got the highest preferential votes in his District, Matara, even ahead of Mangala and Sagala. He appears to be an intelligent/smart/sober young man with sound Sinhala diction. Wonder why RW does not tap his strengths? That’s why I question RW’s judgements. It is time for him to hand over the Party to a more promising, capable, acceptable and efficient member. Who might that be? RW has been Leader for too long delivering very little to the country / party.

  • 6
    1

    The Attorney General turning up to question the PM in a complex case he is not familiar with at all is not protocol but third world nonsense , perhaps South Asian servility.

    In this case it is also possible that this Attorney General may end up as the boss of the two judges of the Commission. . Upon the present CJ Dep retiring, RW(PM)may well recommend this AG to be CJ !. So there are wheels within wheels.

    When RW turned up as a witness to clarify his affidavit to the Commission he was not attending to any duties as a Prime Minister. He was explaining his involvement in what could very well be a criminal conspiracy.

    If the two Commissioners, two products of a Sri Lankan upbringing, think that RW can only be questioned by the highest legal officer of the government that is a courtesy extended to a PM who is under a very dark cloud, but not protocol. All protocol matters are well known and documented.

    I hope the discussion between the two commissioners to call the AG in this matter are recorded in a minute form. They are attending to a public function and should act with the necessary transparency and credibility.

    IF RW catches a cold he should be treated by his usual GP, not the president of the GAMO or someone like that.Every act of a President, PM or even a judge is not protocol.

  • 2
    0

    Ranil’s only bulls eye was unintentional CFA. Other than that, every time he failed and he showed that he ia not a leader. More than having a vision, more than being a leader, he likes to be an important sudda – fellow recognized by many. Unfortunately, UNP does not let anyone come and compete with him except for other unsuitables.

    • 2
      1

      If there is a Vacancy for the post of P M Just call all other 224 M P S for an interview.
      There is none to compete with RANIL.Ranil is known to every one in Srilanka. He is known all over the World M P is wearing Ranils Boots and meet world leaders !

  • 0
    0

    gomin dayasiri has for a long time advocated the need for young leaders to take over from the fossilized ones
    but who is the young man or woman on either side capable of taking over
    I cant think of any at the moment though as Hegell I think said the time brings forth the man

  • 2
    0

    “Ranil’s Reluctant Tryst With Truth” is not quite correct.
    It was not a ‘tryst’. Ranil was dragged kicking and screaming. The silent majority Lankans, felt that ‘Truth’ was nowhere there.
    The Ranil wand is losing its magic – much to the glee of rogue magicians armed with the good old language/religion wands.

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