23 February, 2020

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Ranjan’s ‘Wikileaks’ Style Exposures: Will They Fade Away Or Awaken Public Conscience? 

By Lakmal Harischandra –

Lakmal Harischandra

Film star turned ‘one shot’ politician Ranjan Ramanayake has rocked the political, legal and law enforcement establishments with the release of dozens of audio recordings following his arrest, followed by many exposures during his breath-taking address in the Parliament. His outright revelations have posed a major headache not only to the government in power but a big embarrassment to the UNP leadership, fighting presently for their own political lives. The most number of recordings are with the former Director of the Criminal Investigations Department (CID), Shani Abeysekera where many cases of political significance were discussed; and also with many of those in judiciary positions. His actions in recording his telephone conversations, obviously without the consent of the other party, as well as many apparent interference in the duties of police officers and judicial officers both on his part and those implicated in his revelations, have created disgust among the general public regarding the extent of corruption and dishonesty of those in authority at political and institutional levels of the government, as well as having drawn condemnation too. Needless to say, it has significantly undermined the remaining confidence the public has had in the political establishment, Police and the judiciary. What a debacle!

The audio clips revealed many recordings of conversations he had with parties at various levels. As some of these leaks indicate, if a small fry of the former Yahapalanaya regime like Ranjan has been attempting to influence judges and the Police and/ or interfere with the process; question arises in the public mind, what those of the top Yahapalanaya hierarchy would/ could have done in such regard in the process of justice dispensation. However, his address in the Parliament also revealed that he also has in his possession many other audio/video recordings too, regarding such interference in the dispensation of justice even by those at the highest echelons of the Mahinda Rajapaksa government too, as well as  details about drug barons and crime ring leaders within and without Parliament. Ranjan says he did not release them to the media; rather he accuses the Police of such wrong doing which if true is serious as well. He also says some of those audios clips are doctored as well. Thus, this Ranjan-gate has already opened a can of worms and a Pandora’s box, forcing many in the political and law enforcement/judicial levels to have nightmares and sleepless nights. The salutary effect amid the grim picture is that the people have seen the real picture of what transpires in the echelons of  power, justice and law enforcement. This calls for a total clean up in all aspects of governance and also create a credible political culture.  

This type of revelations in such blatant and open form, appears to be the first of its kind; which could be termed as a Sri Lankan version of a ‘Wiki-leak’. Since 2006, whistleblower website WikiLeaks initiated by Julian Assange has published a mass of information we would otherwise not have known. The sheer scope and significance of the revelations is shocking. Among them are great abuses of power, corruption, lies and war crimes. For example, the leaks have exposed dubious procedures at Guantanamo Bay and detailed meticulously the Iraq War’s unprecedented civilian death-toll. They have highlighted the dumping of toxic waste in Africa as well as revealed America’s clandestine military actions in Yemen and Pakistan, among many others. 

Yet there are still some who insist WikiLeaks has “told us nothing new”. Many leaks however revealed illustrates nothing could be further from the truth. It’s unsurprising that political leaders would want to convince people that the true criminals are those who expose acts of high-level political corruption and criminality, rather than those who perpetrate them. Every political leader would love for that self-serving piety to take hold.  But what’s startling is how many citizens and, especially, “journalists” now vehemently believe that as well.

It is seen that Lakehouse newspapers and Hiru/Derana TV stations as usual have slavishly started blaming both Ranjan for his irresponsible actions and also pointing fingers at the Yahaplana government only; forgetting the fact that Mahinda Rajapaksa government too were equally guilty if not more. Both sides are rotten to the core. Thus, the public should be wary of the official versions throttled out by the government linked media as well in the social media  blaming one side of the political continuum. It is interesting to note that some time back, both Nagananada and Ms Fernando duo became whistle blowers exposing  many acts of wrongdoings within the judicial system and the BASL. It is a shameful case of rather the whole political culture and the attendant institutions which are expected to uphold the process of justice and law enforcement, stinking to high heavens. There are many skeletons in the cupboard and scandals kept hidden, thanks  to secrecy laws and a corrupt system. This dire situation calls for an open public discussion about the prevailing cess-pits polluting  the temples of governance and justice dispensation without any restrictions on public debate. 

Many revelations exposing political and governmental corrupt deals and decisions particularly in the West, did not result from the transparency of the governments involved. They did not result from the work of intrepid journalists working for mainstream newspapers either. They resulted from WikiLeaks. Daniel Ellsberg, the man behind the most significant leak in Pentagon history – the 1971 Pentagon Papers – spoke admiringly about how important the WikiLeaks documents were. In responding to a question about WikiLeaks and the power of “raw information in a democracy”, Daniel Ellsberg said: ‘I still put my hopes in it, and in democracy – our democracy. A democracy requires this information. Unauthorized disclosures are the lifeblood of a republic. That remains true. We can’t rely only on the authorized handouts from the government any more now than we could under [British King] George III’ 

Ranjan Ramanayake revelations and exposures brings into focus many priorities for the public. Firstly, the imperative need to up their game in public activism. Secondly, to take the campaign seriously, to clean up the stinking political and law enforcement/ judicial stables. Thirdly, lobby and campaign for systems in place to make the rulers and those agencies dispensing justice and fair play held to account without allowing them to hide behind secret screens. Fourthly, to raise awareness among the people not to vote for corrupt politicians and also to highlight public corruption without fear to bring the alleged offenders to justice. 

The culture of secrecy that holds the political and public service establishment in an iron grip is atrocious. Much of Sri Lanka’s decision making processes are shrouded in secrecy and civil society and the media have for long campaigned for a law on the right to information. Crucial decisions that impact on public life are made behind closed doors and public officers are reluctant to share information on these decisions or the basis for these decisions. Sri Lanka’s political culture has long been to deny information. Its transformation to a new information ethos will be painful. Moreover, the country has a long and sad tradition of theoretically excellent laws that have not been implemented with political vigour. 

Thus, while the Sri Lankan State maintains a culture of secrecy cemented through legislation like the Official Secrets Act, the RTI Act, operationalised in early 2017, is now used by citizens, journalists and civil society to raise vital questions around transparency, accountability and due process. However, two+ years since its operationalisation, has RTI legislation succeeded in combating and contesting the culture of secrecy that prevails? Sadly, the answer is NO although there are some positive developments. It is to be hoped that the RTI Act, will not fall into that same dispiriting category as in the past. Collective political will must be demonstrated in practically implementing the Act, but Sri Lankans, familiar with tales of woe rather than positive advances, may justly be proud of it.

Some legal regimes are comprehensive and extend the right to information held by national and provincial legislatures and the courts. There is little to suggest that the functions that legislatures and courts perform should exclude them from the ambit of a right to information regime. Both institutions perform public functions and greater transparency on the part of both these institutions is likely to enhance public confidence in their work. International standards suggest that both these institutions should be covered by right to information regimes.

Most laws that deepen democracy and enhance rights require constant vigilance and activism on the part of the public. A right to information regime will not work unless the public demand information and make use of the processes that are part of the legal regime. This would also entail building public awareness, training the public sector, designing effective methods of information storage, digitization and retrieval, and the strengthening of independent Information Commissions. Governance should be seen as a collaborative effort between the institutions of the state and the public. Right to information regimes strengthen collaboration processes between the state and the public. A model of governance that is founded on a principle of collaboration and partnership is likely to be sustainable and widely acceptable. It will empower both the governed and the governors.

Transparency should be the norm, and secrecy the exception. Public access to information and creating spaces for citizen participation in decision making processes at all levels of government are two major pillars of the Open Government Partnership (OGP), a worldwide movement which requires the governments to prepare a two-year action plan for promoting open government. Sri Lanka is the only country in South Asia that has joined the OGP. RTI law is not an end in and of itself, rather it is a catalyst to achieving good governance and transparency. For Sri Lanka, what will be required is a paradigm shift; from a culture of secrecy within the civil service and government bureaucracy, still an issue in Sri Lanka, to one of openness. This paradigm shift will be critical to the implementation of the RTI Act in full force. 

The shocking revelations and the problems highlighted in Ranjan-gate are not just random cases; rather they appear to be systemic. Whether MCC, or SOFA, Hambantota or Sanghrila deals are all shrouded in secrecy and public appears to be getting used to giving the rogue rulers a free hand. These shroud of secrecy that hampers oversight and enables systematic corruption are harmful to a democratic process and could be lifted only by public activism and a responsible media. The bigger victim is the public confidence in the process of justice and the rule of law . It is clearly public duty to take these revelations seriously and act without any delay to hold the government and its agencies to account without allowing the government in power and its’ slavish media to take them on a ride as they usually do. Public spirited civic bodies and Sri Lankan chapter of TI should join hands to get more information under RTI to initiate a comprehensive round of inquiry into these Ranjan-gate exposures and bring those offenders and corrupt politicos and officials to justice. These exposures should not be allowed to fade away. Nothing short of a complete overhaul of the country’s political culture and law enforcement/ justice system would bring back the public trust in the government and its’ associated agencies. The radical reform of the regulatory framework for public life is an important step in re-establishing the public esteem of political life.

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Latest comments

  • 19
    0

    Don’t worry about fairness in an unfair world. Humans deserve privacy, but not animals.
    ..
    Irrespective of the ethical standards, what he did was not for his benefit. He was courageous enough to swim against the deadly waves.
    ..
    He’s barely surviving the situation, and it’s time we spoke on behalf of him. Don’t be the gentleman type who only knows to criticize, but instead fuel the fire of righteousness.
    ..
    Sometimes you need to use fire to purify the area. He did the same in a controlled manner. The government jumped into the fire and created the chaos.

    • 3
      0

      Surangi,
      .
      This is from my phone. I haven’t read the article yet, but I did read the previous good article written by this author.
      .
      I have now got to make some very important (for me) phone calls. The most important is to Dhilo , Bishop of Colombo. However, before that I’ve got to make a few more checking phone calls. After all, when one is doing potentially dangerous things, one has to be cautious.
      .
      Was it because you were being over cautious that you didn’t comment on my own article? No problem. Many don’t understand that the alma mater can be saved only by facing upto our own sins. You should make up for your lapse by reading Jeevan’s article about St John’s Jaffna.
      .
      I will get back here when more relaxed.

      • 1
        0

        Dear Suranga,
        .
        Please forgive me
        for the sex change that you may feel that I forced you to undergo. If done by me, it was inadvertent. Please pardon me. It may be a correction made by Android – the fellow is too clever by half.
        .
        This may be the right place and time to tell you that if you were puzzled by a certain “incompleteness” in the article, that was forced on me by three guys who read my first draft. They said that readers would get the feeling that the article was in bad taste. What to do? Sometimes all Sri Lankans criticise “nepotism”. When they see the opposite, they say either “personality clash” or family dispute.
        .
        https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/some-thomian-pharisees-are-adamant-on-the-need-to-cheat/
        .
        Well, I think that I have said enough to whet the appetites of those who love scandals. No, I don’t consider you to be one of those. But I think that “tomorrow” (the time now is 2.09 am on Thursday, the 23rd of February) – so I really mean “at a more godly time today”, I must decide whether I am to reveal all or not. That is to say, I must give Bishop Dhilo, and the man whom he cheated on to the Board of Governors in 2012 and 2016, one final chance for each of them to cry “surrender”!
        .
        That’s “sportsmanship”, dear Suranga, but I fear that neither of them (each has a “077-******** mobile number) will understand that concept.

        .
        If there is indeed a God above the starry skies (actually there’s light rain in Bandarawela right now), may he look down on all Sri Lankan rogues with compassion. Amen.

      • 6
        0

        Embrace diversity. Find common ground. Start making a communal goal. Build hope and unity.
        ..
        Only way forward is this.

    • 3
      0

      To some extetnt, it can have an impact. But I am very pessimistic. Not many would not even think about the danger before the nation. For them, current PM to have spoken with RR in 6 tapes is nothing. People are just so stupid. They are made to be slaves. Such an indifference you woul dnot even get to see in today s africa, where there had been poor states until very recent times.

      I understand RR s arguments because, he did not see any other options than go for taping and filming in order to collect lot more proof materials. It is also true, that only biased tapes and videos are being telecasted by PVT TV channels not respecting anyone.

      How come TV channel be held and treated with that much of IMPUNITY today. MPs and parliamentarians do enjoy impunity but the level of MEDIA institutions enjoy to abuse the rights before their own viewers are thousands times more. It is clear nothing seems to tame LOCAL media but “RATEs” how come ?

      • 1
        0

        Media, Clergy and Politicians are the bad eggs for sure.
        ..
        Media thrives on unpleasant news. This creates uncertainty and fear. Politicians thrive on uncertainty and Clergy thrives on fear.
        ..
        They make a good team for sure.

  • 15
    0

    One man’s fight against a system built around corruption at the highest levels for many years. May he win for the sake of the country and future generations.

    • 7
      0

      Steve,
      If this happened in an advanced democracy, many politicians have resigned by now. But, this SL and therefore, what can be expected is to roll the heads of Gvt officials who are stubbornly independent while nothing happens to politicians. If it does, then, MaRa & Mahindanada must have resigned by now! As far I’m concerned, Ranjan has revealed nothing new. The sorry state of bureaucracy where honest, efficient & independent workers rarely get due recognition is the one of the main point of concern in Ranjan’s conversations. This is a well known fact and has been recognized as the major reason for the failure of Gvts. The corruption among politicians is also well known but the fact that the corrupt politicians getting most votes suggests that the voters like them better!

      Therefore, about your question raised in the title, my answer is that, except for the big noise, nothing much will happen in the long run. Once the noise died down, things will regress back to as before until another Ranjan shows up sometimes in the future. In the same way Wiki Leaks didn’t change how secret world of politics works, Ranjan-Gate won’t make any lasting changes either. That is b’cos cheating & finding short-cuts are in our instincts!

  • 0
    0

    Owned mistake are amended and finding fault of others now what happened Secret Operations, is Revealed the one case is that the bomb on the Indian star musical show Sharukan this what happens when some party try become pure don’t find fault, find a remedy. Those who find ugly meanings in beautiful things are corrupt He will continuously fight because criticize by creation not by finding fault. Revelations and exposures brings into focus many priorities, other countries are focusing or Identifying and making policies that effectively. Look at the news always with hatred talks. Get a survellance of any government member And from the conversation data, they can target anyone they want.”

  • 2
    0

    Steve,
    If this happened in an advanced democracy, many politicians have resigned by now. But, this is SL and therefore, what can be expected is to roll the heads of Gvt officials who are stubbornly independent while nothing happens to politicians. If it does, then, MaRa & Mahindanada must have resigned by now! As far I’m concerned, Ranjan has revealed nothing new. The sorry state of bureaucracy where honest, efficient & independent workers rarely get due recognition is the one of the main point of concern in Ranjan’s conversations. This is a well known fact and has been recognized as the major reason for the failure of Gvts. The corruption among politicians is also well known but the fact that the corrupt politicians getting most votes suggests that the voters like them better!

    Therefore, about your question raised in the title, my answer is that, except for the big noise, nothing much will happen in the long run. Once the noise died down, things will regress back to as before until another Ranjan shows up sometimes in the future. In the same way Wiki Leaks didn’t change how secret world of politics works, Ranjan-Gate won’t make any lasting changes either. That is b’cos cheating & finding short-cuts are in our instincts!

  • 1
    15

    His involvement with the judiciary and law enforcement is secondary to me. I hold him an utterly despicable man for his act of recording the conversations with women who trusted him. I know of no other instance of breach of trust of this magnitude. You can see how he brings around them to listen to his warped perversions. I feel immensely sad for those women who were trapped. Suddenly family room fell silent for reasons you know. Spit on his face if you happen to encounter this sadist.

    Soma

    • 4
      0

      Soma,
      Wrong is wrong. How can a woman not faithful for her husband if she say bad about her husband to Ranjan. We all can remember all the Buddhist turned against him when he got videos about some Buddhist monks drinking and dancing and abusing children. Mahinda Rajapakse used that as a weapon to cheat Sinhala Masses as anti Buddhist by UNP. UNP lost the presidential election partly because of this. We cannot just ignore these videos and recordings. A proper international investigation is necessary to investigate the authenticity of the tapes and recordings and if there is any politicians or civil servants misused their power they should be punished whether it is Prime Minister or President.

  • 1
    1

    Now, CT has only useless Tabloid news, satisfaction for a moment.
    It looks, Sri Lanka is in some very remote area In the world, in a poorly developed continent and far away from the human civilization. Every body knows, Mahinda Rajapakse’s inauguration in 2005. In those, a book was written saying the former President to be a CHORA RUJINA. Then Mahinda Chintanaya was another such govt and Maithripala and Ranil govt came to repair those and it began the Bond Scam within 50 days of the govt. Now this govt came. Unfortunately, it can not separate from it’s past. What ever talked it looks it is the same work. Not much improvement and looks like a multi-colour show. Ranjan’s action is just a side show. It shows the nature of the Party politics in side the parliament and the life of parliament. In sri Lanka, not only parliamentarians, every one is accustomed to live that pathetic life.

  • 0
    1

    Wikileak style or Ranjan is or is it simply mental patient screwed it up for all the criminals and Fraudsters in the Diyawanna Oya. Disgusting. All are naked kings. Just one person resigned from the parliament, that is also because Neo-liberal camp and the socialist do not go together except for PRO-minority anti-majority constitution was edited. I heard, some who got the bond scam profits of Rs THREE MILLION are keeping, in case, they ask it back.

  • 0
    1

    Speaker Karu Jayasuriya said, he would be releasing the Forensic report of Bond scam from 2005 = 2015. I think the some one from the govt phoned and Made Solicitor General Overrides the Speaker. So, they escaped one from UNP.
    Spending 90 million to a useless (This is about Parliamentary frauds with the help of the private sector) forensic report, that it self is FRAUD. They could have assigned the govt accountant department (Auditor General) to carry out it, and if need by hiring good retired accountants. Instead, some minister may have got 50% of the expenses.
    It looks both the UNF and UPFA are equal the way they acted during their governing times. Proceeds were divided among both the opposition and the govt.
    I heard, the govt accountant had been asked not

  • 2
    0

    it won’t awake public conscience as the majority of the public don’t have a conscience and therefore are destined to live in a third world country.Their one ambition in life seems to be to fly away to a first world country instead of trying to make sri lanka a first world one.

    as for ranjangate fading away,nope it won’t fade away because the shit has indeed hit the fan.

  • 0
    0

    Refreshing to know there are people – who can’t be bought and are not interested in fawning before the high and mighty, for personal gain.
    A sort of modern day ‘ Samson’ ..?!
    ( Book of Judges).

  • 2
    0

    Sri Lanka today is the laughing stock in world. Honest. Politicians are as scarce as hens teeth. Where will all this end ? Is frightening to even think of, as Lanka sinks deeper into the third world. Looks like the Devas and Gods have foreseen the Pearl of the East.

  • 2
    0

    Public conscience ?????? Lakmal are you kidding or what. If our morons had even little bit of it , we would not be in such pathetic state, in the first place.

  • 1
    0

    Mr. Lakmal Harischandra: “………..or Awaken Public Conscience”? This country is called “Sri Lanka” and do you or have you ever heard this term “Awakened Public Conscience”. That “Public Conscience” was “DEAD” for the last long decades and “Buried” . So don’t ever even call that to be “AWAKENED”. You will never succeed.

  • 3
    0

    Whether it is ethical or unethical my salute to RR. As he said do you think majority of 225 and the Top Executive are following ethics? Under their white clothing lies utter dirt. If those come out common people will have to jump in to the Indian ocean to avoid the stench. RR’s just words on the tapes, he hasn’t taken any bribe, killed anyone or looted public money. I respect his courage to stand up for poor people against corruption knowing very well he is swimming against the current. He truly is a relative of Vijaya Kumaranatunga, he has that gene. He is an example to young generation, not to become like Namal R. (got his law degree through GL) or Yoshitha R. (got to Navy and then to London Academy through the father) who looted the country, killed people who didn’t agree with them, abuse power etc. RR is a cynosure as he has his own talent in very many ways; he is like Imran Khan who wants to fight corruption.
    When I saw the way RR and Hirunika spoke, I thought we still have a hope for the future. They are the National Treasures, not the dirty politicians who sell their souls for money to this side and that side.

  • 4
    0

    If Julian Assange was hounded for his brave battle against “official secrets” under which corrupt-to-the-core US/EU politicians hid, it will be no wonder that the Sri Lankan hero RR who had the guts to reveal the dirty stink within the judiciary, legislature and executive would be hounded, perhaps “mysteriously” killed or something unfortunate done. Lets all hope he survives and gains strength to reveal more of the stink that the vermin in parliament attempt to conceal.

  • 0
    0

    On the other side of the kadjan fence in the north as a Jaffna man,I view the barrel bombs of 1980s filled with human excreta on Jaffna town, multi barreled heavy artillery barrages , NERVE gas and Cluster bombs on Vanni people, innocent unarmed people mowed and crushed alive to death with heavy bulldozers are more atrocious than the secrets revealed by Ramanayake tapes.

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