15 April, 2024

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Ranil’s Sin

By Vishwamithra

“You shall find out how salt is the taste of another man’s bread, and how hard is the way up and down another man’s stairs.” ~ Dante Alighieri

During the first two decades of this century, Sri Lanka faced two marked instances, junctures which challenged the thinking and its consequential movements that could have easily changed our societal development had our leaders chosen to adopt a different strategy both politically and economically. On both occasions, international powers, both in the West and in the East, were more than riveted to our engagement in the issues following these two unprecedented events; that attention was total and it was indeed compassionate, not to labor the point. But the greatest misfortune is that on each occasion we lost the opportunity, not because each event was followed by another disaster. A chance for an amazing new beginning was lost on each occasion. Instead of stepping into a new beginning, our government leaders opted to trek a different course. They chose to exploit the character and substance of both occurrences in order to enrich themselves. The enormous financial assistance that flowed in from the international players ended up in the pockets of those who occupied the seats of power. A nation’s tragedy was turned into a personal opportunity for the avaricious, corrupt and dishonest leaders.

On both occasions it was the Rajapaksa family that was responsible and accountable for the neglect at first, and later the cascade of corrupt practices that ensued. When the tsunami engulfed the most of the coastal areas of Sri Lanka, the money so received for revival and restoration of normal life for those who were affected was robbed by the Rajapaksas. The ‘Helping Hambantota Fund’ saga and the alleged misappropriation of the monies by the Rajapaksa siblings are being talked about in open fora. Neither Mahinda Rajapaksa nor any other of his siblings has denied the story, fueling the talk into an accepted fact. For these dishonorable men, a nation’s trauma is secondary and making money is of prime concern.

But the greater tragedy was the apathy of the masses who, in this particular case, merely opted to look the other way. They deserve the rulers that they get. The other opportunity so lost was the aftermath of the cessation of the 27 year old conflict with Tamil militants led by Liberation Tigers of Tamil Elam (LTTE). Once again the international players of all sectors welcomed the end of an ethnic conflict that dominated the country’s national life.

Into this wartime arena only Ranil Wickremesinghe walked in 2001. When the country’s mood was essentially focused on the ethno-conflict and the people were being polarized along Sinhalese-Tamil-Muslim lines, Ranil as Prime Minister in 2001 chose to tread a different, vastly unpopular yet a very smart policy of reconciliation between Tamils and Sinhalese communities on the one hand and peace and calm for the soldiers of each side on the other. Ranil Wickremesinghe as Prime Minister brought the two political leaderships of the respective peoples together firstly for peacemaking purposes, secondly for peacekeeping by the soldiers and later for peace-building by the two respective ethnic groups, Sinhalese and Tamils.

He engaged Norway, a leading Liberal Democracy in North Western Europe, as a mediating party and in fact, established brittle yet hopeful structures in order to keep the peace so achieved, even on an interim basis. Why Ranil’s efforts could not bear fruit was because of his lack of understanding of the third tier, the base for the peacemaking and peacekeeping tiers. The base, the third tier of peace-builders, comprises of the broad masses and that is one arena Ranil had no clue about. Pluses and minuses of this process could be argued for decades to come but no sane person would pass negative judgment on the initiator of the route he took.

What happened to the man who was sworn in as the country’s Executive President in 2022? In 2001 he challenged the most feared terrorist army and its most formidable leader, Prabhakaran to come to the negotiating table. Why did he not show the same mercy and understanding towards the Aragalaya and its vociferous but non-violent leadership and participants? That incomprehensible policy-pursuit must not only be bewildering but worrying to many an international observer today. Is Ranil Wickremesinghe more frightened of the protesters in 2022 than he feared the Tamil militants in 2001?

His first act as newly sworn-in President was to deploy the Army, Police and the STF on the Galle Face Green at 2 in the morning to hammer, intimidate and violently attack innocent unarmed groups of protesters who were asking, not only for cooking gas, fuel, medicines but also for a total overhaul of the corrupt system that the current set of rulers was hell-bent on embracing. A habitual sinner committed his most heinous sin on his fellow men and women. The people of Sri Lanka may someday forgive Ranil Wickremesinghe for his usual stance of safeguarding the Rajapaksas, the most corrupt clan of rulers the country has known, but they would never pardon him for what he did in the wee hours of Friday morning, July 22.

The threat is not in the horizon, it’s here, right now. In the form of armed forces clad in their fighter-fatigue, armed to the teeth and armored to protect against any assault by the would be-protesters that never materialized, the threat manifested itself in the most horrendous fashion. At the receiving end were some unarmed protesters who were anyway planning to leave their usual protest ground, Aragalapitiya the following afternoon at 2pm.

Is all lost and or in vain? That question can be answered only by a few members of the current political leadership in the country and many protesters scattered all over the land. And to that was added a most emotional and worthy appeal by Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka in Parliament the other day. Fonseka’s appeal was not only to our youth; he did not mince his words about what would come if the security forces took action to quell the legitimate protests.

Sarath Fonseka did not stop there. He announced the date of the third wave- August 9. Whether his appeal for a third wave would materialize in grand terms, one would not know. In the absence of any relief at the fuel pump, cooking stove and medicine and food prices, one could fairly predict that sizeable crowds would gather once again.

But Ranil Wickremesinghe cannot be held responsible for the economic catastrophe the country is currently facing. Nor can he be accountable for the imprudent fertilizer policy of Gotabaya Rajapaksa. Yet he remains one, if not the most, unpopular political figure in the country. His sins are many but the total sum is incalculable. From day one, Ranil Wickremesinghe, barring a very few remarkable moves such as the attempt to bring about reconciliation between the LTTE and the then government, has been engaging in deal-making politics. He has treated this noble undertaking, politics, as an arena where one makes transactional deals in order to achieve desired ends.

On the other hand, one cannot expect Ranil Wickremesinghe to be an empathetic. But he certainly had more than many opportunities to be professional in his approach to politics. His dogged demeanor and callous disregard for others’ suffering has bogged him down in a sociopolitical rut, he had to achieve his lifelong ambition of being President through the backdoor of Parliament and that deed itself is extremely rare if not totally absent in other democracies.

Nevertheless, Sri Lankans now have to live with him at least for a short while until his days also come to an unexpected end like those of his predecessor, Gotabaya Rajapaksa. The world that watched Ranil’s manipulations and administrative maneuverings during the peacekeeping stage during 2021 era with keen eyes, will be watching him again with keener eyes. The difference is that while during the 2021 period there was a head above him, that of Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga as President, now he is the President but those who are below him are ironically not looking up to him but looking down upon him as to whether he would look after those who are responsible for installing him in the seat of supreme power. Who is more ruthless, those who elect or those who select, would be utterly significant to watch.

Ranil Wickremesinghe is not occupying an enviable position. His seat is much hotter than one could imagine; his fear and pain will come and only then will he realize that he did not do enough when he was asked by hundreds of thousands of our youth today. When he feels that fear and pain, it might be too late, because he did not dare. I am reminded of that great Russian writer Fyodor Dostoevsky who said: ‘Power is given only to those who dare to lower themselves and pick it up. Only one thing matters, one thing; to be able to dare!’ Good things come to those who dare, whether at the beginning they fall and fall again; they’ll find a way to rise again, because they dare.

*The writer can be contacted at vishwamithra1984@gmail.com    

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Latest comments

  • 9
    4

    Ranil being appointed unilaterally as PM and then President by the 134 dick heads is un acceptable.
    Further more the violent approach taken by Ranil is very foolish.

    The country will be pushed more and more towards anarchy and isolated by the international community.

    The chances of getting a substancial loan from lending agencies will also be low.

    The violent repressive tactics is suicide for the country.

  • 8
    2

    VM,
    Well said! None could better that!

  • 11
    2

    Like Jagath Asoke said ……. and in his own roundabout way Gamini seconded …….. it’s hard to decide if Ranil is a pimp or a whore. ……. Or a pimp who whores himself.

    It’ seems, some segment of society feels a sense of entitlement ……… like Gamini’s “gentleman” Presanna Ranatunga with a suspended jail sentence ……. talking in the parliament yesterday how the Aragalakaruwas behaved in a very Asielitha (or is it Asielachara? ) way.


    Native, what have you got to say about your behaviour?

    • 4
      2

      Nimal, there are more Gentleman like Wijedasa, Manusha, Prasanna, SLPP/UNP fake media /propaganda, Ruwan and few more, started painting Aragalaya as extremist,drug abusers/ offenders/criminals …… Nishantha as usual maintains him self by stating “he will break the limbs of protesters”. Nimal check the credentials of recently appointed advisor to Ranil, Dinouk Colombage, just BA , experience in social media analysis and combating extremism ,middleman in real estate deals and organic home gardening. Ranil will try breaking up Aragalaya because they are determined to expose the true character of politicians. Rajapaksas do not care because they have no character to lose. Whereas Ranil over decades has been building his “Covenant Hose Gentleman character” and will hate to see it, destroyed by Aragalaya kids.

      • 5
        2

        Covenant House I guess.
        ‘Covenant House is the largest privately funded agency in the Americas providing shelter, food, immediate crisis care, and an array of other services to homeless and runaway youth. In addition to basic needs….’ (https://www.encyclo.co.uk/)
        *
        RW, given his loyalties, should fit in well as one “building his “Covenant Ho(u)se Gentleman character”.

        • 2
          3

          You got it. A far-sighted politician, to know the needs of his stupid citizens.

      • 4
        1

        “Nimal check the credentials of recently appointed advisor to Ranil, Dinouk Colombage, just BA , experience in social media analysis and combating extremism ,middleman in real estate deals and organic home gardening.”

        chiv,

        I’m just disgusted with all what has happened ……. it’s just Ranil ego ….. to prove he isn’t a failure …… more to himself than to anyone else.

        He has to bribe everyone in sight to get to where he wants

        No one gives a toss about the people and their suffering …… this has been the case whoever comes to power ……

        Lankan “power” only understands violence …….. 9th of May has more significance …….. than many realise …..

  • 7
    2

    “Good things come to those who dare, whether at the beginning they fall and fall again; they’ll find a way to rise again, because they dare.” I do hope that Ranil W will dare to bring in SYSTEM CHANGE —
    such as
    1] Bringing in a new constitution that is acceptable to both minorities as well as to the Sinhala buddhists.
    2] Selecting people from other political parties to make up a CABINET that can deliver SOLUTIONS to our current economic as well as political problems.
    3]Dissolving the Parliament at the time it is possible constitutionally in order to get rid of corrupt ones.
    4] getting /listening to the Aragalaya members and SL expatriates.
    5] granting dual citizenships to diaspora in order attract more investment etc.
    6] making spreading ethnic and religious hatred ILLEGAL.
    7] tracking the money looted by the politicians.
    8] making the President post a ceremonial one
    9]making the country SECULAR
    10] making all three languages as official
    I can go on and on

  • 7
    3

    Thanks, Vishwamithra for those constructive references to 2001, 2004 (Boxing Day Tsunami), 2009 and 2022. Typos relating naming of year in penultimate paragraph – never mind.
    .

    Those aware of our duty to think realise that although it was necessary to defeat the LTTE, the vanquishing was using unnecessary brutality. Tiger atrocities? – well, terror was a weapon that they used to achieve political ends. It was no fun for us Sinhalese, but it is important for us to realise that there was a purpose, albeit horrible. I was happy when the news came that Prabhakaran had been killed. I remember exactly where I was, and how I responded. I will tell you that tomorrow – after the inevitable racist taunts have come.
    .
    There was no excuse for them to eliminate all other Tamil groups – that was espousing typically Lankan selfish desire for power monopoly. The Aragalaya was also wanting truer democracy, not this sham of old people (I’m a few months older than Ranil) wanting to dominate. We have to rise, peacefully, against the curfew that Ranil will impose on August 9th. I have to do it for my grandchildren.
    .
    Panini Edirisinhe (NIC 483111444V) of Bandarawela

  • 5
    3

    RANIL IS NOT FRIGHTENED ABOUT ARGALAYA GUYS.HE IS FRIGHTENED ABOUT SOUTHERN MHINDA PRABA RAJAPKSE AND DANCING TO PRABA RJAPKASES TUNE AND DOING EVERY THING UNDER THE SUN TO PLEASE PRABA RAJAPAKSE.

  • 10
    3

    Ranil’s sins started in JR time. It was extremely aggressive when Batalanda torture housing complex started. LTTE brought an end to Valaithodam’s mass murders. At that time, TNA as well as Sinhalese hated UNP to the bottom. So, for a long time, he was revenging TNA for associating with the CBK. Chandrika proposed War for Peace and won Tamils votes and Sinhala Votes. Ranil formed a minority government. He split the LTTE. He formed UNP rowdy gangs with Deva & Karuna, in Tamils’ area. He burned the Constitution 2000. He said Chandrika was trying to extend her term, that is why he did that. But he never burned JR’s 1978 constitution which JR used to sit in power for 13 years. He stopped signing for the Rome Accord and made the Ceylon legal system as one of the most corrupted ones in the world. He fired Mangala saying that he signed for resolution 30/1. He went to TTH on the night of Jan 9th, 2015, to save the Royals. There he saved many illegal documents and more than 100 computers employed for fraudulent acts. This he did after people voted for his team thinking they were going to save them from the Royals. Not a White Van murderer. But Ranil is Traitorous, and Untrustworthy.

    • 1
      1

      Great Mallaiyuran,
      .
      You’re now writing in a more direct style than earlier.
      .
      You now seem to have all your facts at your finger-tips. And those facts point only one way – get rid of these fellows who have no conscience about using us shamelessly for their own purposes.
      .
      Panini Edirisinhe

      • 1
        0

        Sinhala_Man,
        Mallaiyuran seldom draws my attention. You may wonder why that is. He knows his onions, for certain. If only he could make his comments brief, I’d be his fan!

  • 7
    2

    This is a story of how a snake slithered into power despite have no majority vote, nor a mandate, to become leader of a country. How can we have any hope or faith, that these clowns are in power because they want to help us and the country? This has been a huge power play, with manipulations and deals with the devil, that will go on for a long time by all our politicians, the ruling family, and the President who has been a total failure, ALL the times he was in power in the past.
    It is always the people who get screwed.

  • 9
    5

    “In 2001 he challenged the most feared terrorist army and its most formidable leader, Prabhakaran to come to the negotiating table. Why did he not show the same mercy and understanding towards the Aragalaya and its vociferous but non-violent leadership and participants? “
    The answer is quite simple. Prabhakaran only wanted a third of the country . He didn’t chase the President out of his residence. Those who hijacked the Aragalaya were only stopped at the gates of Parliament.
    Non-violent? Really? Is murdering MP’s and burning their houses non-violent? What was the logic of beating up Kumar Welgama? Certainly the Aragalaya was non violent to start with. But those who think it is still the same are deluded. It has been taken over by the likes of Lahiru Weerasekara. These simple souls should not forget that Sajit Premadasa too was beaten up at Galle Face, but Sarath Fonseka was feted. Surely we can read something into that?

  • 8
    1

    Why did he not show the same mercy and understanding towards the Aragalaya and its vociferous but non-violent leadership and participants?

    It is not rocket science? It is simple.

    Ranil wanted to build an all party consensus government and tame the opposition in the political front and simultaneously strong arm measures against the street protests to bring them under control once and for all..

    Rnail wanted to out-manoeuvre both the political opposition and the mounting opposition in the streets as a prelude to taking the proposed unpopular prescription recommended by IMF as well as commonsense economists such as reducing government expenditure , sell out loss making government enterprises, curtail subsidies and other welfare measures to all but the vulnerable groups.
    Ranil has no way out, but to take strong unpopular measures in the short run for long term reward.

  • 5
    5

    If Ranil Wickremasinghe is genuinely interested even at the age 73 in resolving the problems of this country, he should go in front of people to get their mandate to govern this country. Ignored that path but he used the opportunity to go through the loopholes in the constitution. He is not the choice of the people but the choice of external powers. He is answerable to people but to those who installed him for their purpose. The immediate outcome is the racism. Now people have barred from taking about poverty or protest but in favour of racism and corruption.

    • 6
      3

      Here we go again with the same offensive image!
      CT, why not use it on every article or even make it the CT logo?A

    • 4
      3

      A
      Now all the parties are queuing up behind the President elected by most of the SLPP, some of the SJB, some of the TNA and several other MPs to accept posts in an all-party government.
      Whatever its composition of the APG, it will be the Family that pulls the strings.
      *
      You are a gem mine. Your latest:
      “Now people have barred from taking about poverty or protest but in favour of racism and corruption.”
      Keep us amused.

  • 6
    3

    Now RW doing the ground work for Gota arrival,in parliament they comfortably passed the emergency law,that means they can arrest anyone put them in jail without any charges any period. Arrests being starred.
    If Gota comes with ships of gas and fuel for half price he will be cheered.
    Sangam wanted gas chambers, it could be done only by capable Gota.
    Asked for changes, has any same old cards pack. See how Govnt wanted to protect the founding father of racist SWRD’s statue. The route cause.
    What sort of a man fiddle the Tsunami fund and got caught,they voted prefer thugs thrives murderers thats the choice of super 69.
    Aragalaya should have occupied the parliament and brought the new Govnt with new faces with all greed.
    Before Gota flee even asked the Govnt servants to flee.
    What a 74 yrs of plundering. They also dragging us with them to the sinking ship. For a long time we begged leave us alone, we looked after us with fair leaders.
    Still Stalin should convince TN over populated and can’t accommodate the rest of N/E so take as territory. We are trapped with ruthless.
    69 is happy with the shape, apart from only temporary short of gas and fuel.

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