27 November, 2021


Reading Ranil’s Rhetoric 

By Sarath De Alwis

Sarath De Alwis

The statement of the Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe in parliament about bonds, made last week was a preemptive tactic to position himself and his beleaguered administration to deal with the report of the commission of inquiry due on 8th December.   

His use of the personal pronoun ‘I’ in ‘As I always say’ is explanatory and uncharacteristically less authoritative.

The choice of pronouns in political statements and speeches indicate the speaker’s inclination to share the responsibility with others – in this instance with the coalition partner and President in the first and with colleagues in the party and parliament in the second.

The pronoun ‘I ‘is not used lightly in political statements that are drafted and readout. The pronoun ‘I’ in such framed statements convey the speaker’s opinion. It makes the speech more subjective. Students of political rhetoric believe that ‘I’ makes the speaker personally involved and puts a distance between him and others involved in the subject. 

There is no doubt that the Bond fiasco has undermined the leadership of Prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe. The country demands a recommitted leadership.

Politicians engaged in image repairing do not say sorry for the errant act or misdeed. Political leaders are human. They make mistakes, commit blunders. When they do, a solid unambiguous apology and an acceptance of responsibility can help restore a reasonable level of trust between the leader and the public.

A general declaration that mistakes will be corrected, and the forward march will proceed as planned is a thin shroud that will not cover the enormity of the inequity committed.

The sense of inadvertence it implies is an insult to the intelligence of the man on the street although it may appeal to those living in penthouses.    

Mr. Ranil Wickremesinghe is not a monetary economist. He is not development economist. He is not the repository of all wisdom relating to central banking.

Yet he has by deliberate design concentrated all powers in guiding the nation’s economy in his hands. While insisting that parliament will have full control of public finance, he relies on a few self-declared experts who regard the national coffers their personal fiefdom.    

“As I always say, the President and I are committed to bringing in this new political culture. This is a new experience for our country. Some find it difficult to comprehend it due to complexities of this process. Due to its novelty, mistakes can be made, shortcomings may arise. We should rectify them. But we are not ready to sweep the errors and shortfalls under the carpet as was done during the Rajapaksa regime and bury social justice.”

The quoted passage reveals the mind and politics of Prime minister Ranil Wickremesignhe. He confuses power with virtue.   

His opening ruse “As I always say’ is intended to locate himself above the hoi polloi on an elevated grandstand. From those lofty heights he looks down on us ‘we the people’ whose public purse has been picked by one of the two ‘Arjuns’ or both.

A grand stand is not the best place to locate yourself in explaining a grand larceny.

The statement defined and framed the role of Prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe in the Bond scandal. It lacked clarity, lucidity, enlightenment and truth. If he achieved anything at all, it was his mastery in the opaque language. 

The intention was to repair and restore the image of Prime minister Ranil Wickremesighe. The principal issue was the bonds issued in the period post 8th January 2015. The explanation was a promise to probe, bonds issued and traded pre-January 8th, 2015. It is Koheda Yanne Malle Pol

Superficial in substance, laughable in its logic it was delivered in choking Sinhala. The Prime minster failed to answer the crucial question of what he knew and when he knew of the transactions between and by the two ‘Arjuns’. The strategic positions in our financial firmament held by the father in law and the son in law was entirely due to the personal bonds they had with him.

We dislodged the autocracy of Mahinda Rajaaksa on 8th January. The wizard of central banking abandons his lucrative practice as an investment banker, packs up his bags and leaves Singapore within the week. That needs some explanation.

Political leaders are human. They make mistakes, commit blunders. When they do, a solid unambiguous apology and an acceptance of responsibility can help restore a reasonable level of trust between the leader and the public.

Lest we forget, this explanation was made by the Prime minister on behalf of the government that promised to replace a corrupt regime with a government of integrity, transparency and accountability.

President Sirisena recently reminded us that the first transgression was enacted within the first three months of his assuming office and installing a minority UNP government. His forthright observation was made at the second commemorative ceremony of venerable Sobhitha thero. The event was avoided by the Prime minister who did not wish to sit through the peroration of Professor Sarath Wijesuriya convener and present leader of the movement for a just society.

The findings and recommendations of the commission will determine the trajectory of the ‘Yahapalanaya’ coalition. Despite expedient protests to the contrary, the shady business of bonds has derailed the ‘Yaha Palanaya’ project that held immense promise to those of us , who longed for a land reconciled, at peace with itself and with a minimal semblance of a sanctuary of social justice.

Apology is alien to the nature of Ranil Wickremesinghe who has always held an overinflated view of himself. He was practically choking on the words delivered in Sinhala. He wisely opted to do it in the language that is not his natural lingo.

Reiterating the determination to go forward while confessing to mistakes and shortcomings is a smart way of offering a non-apologetic apology. It is smart because it appeases your own ranks.  It is smarter than the tactic adopted by Sujeewa Senasinghe who with his hands in the cookie jar was telling us that he only wished to learn the art of making cookies and was by no means trying to eat them.

But when a leader makes that to circumvent ethical impropriety, it portrays a leader missing the critical component of accountability. Telling us that “mistakes were made” is a poor substitute for what is implied unmistakably but dressed in jackal cunning. “Terrible things happened on my watch. But please other people did those dirty stuff and I cannot be blamed. Besides, more terrible things happened before my watch. Now let us see who is to be blamed more.”

The statement delivered in parliament, with no interruptions was a strategy to return to the party fortress with minimal damage and least cost to reputation and credibility.

Ranil Wickremesinghe is a leader who has survived for forty years in politics outwitting charismatic rivals. His charisma is bestowed on him by a faithful coterie of cronies and self-serving followers.  An explicable destiny has given him command of an established political party – the UNP with a solid voter base in our clientelist democracy.    

This special class of cronies are elite activists including a powerful set of oligarchs, active behind the UNP stage. The UNP stage is his home turf where he alone is the only soprano in town.

They have bestowed the charisma of a clean, resolute leader on him. That is natural. When a person seems to embody the qualities, they look for in a leader, they contrive to build a whole greater than the sum of its parts.

Ranil is a leader who treats the public with disdain. He treats his crony counsellors with great diffidence. He dominates his political colleagues. He assiduously concentrates decision making in his own hands.

That is how he arrived at his present disaster. He has not learnt his lesson. He does not consult the party. He manipulates it. He does not heed contrary opinion. He chooses to ignore it.

He lives in a make-believe world inhabited by aides who are eager to pander to his foibles. They are happy to keep the emperor clothed in imagined silk. They take decisions in the name of the leader. That in a nutshell explains the predicament of a Prime minister predoomed to a revolving door in high office.        

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  • 0

    This comment was removed by a moderator because it didn’t abide by our Comment policy.For more detail see our Comment policy https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/comments-policy-2/

    • 2


      What happened to your old photograph?

      That looked a lot better than the new one! They have started putting bad photographs of all the columnists; I don’t know where the editorial staff gets them. They did it to Dr Laksiri Fernando as well.

      Whatever the faults of the country, we should at least keep our columnists looking young and dandy.

      • 1


        I think the new one is more accurate and reflects the season I am in – autumn’ Besides my daughter decided a change was needed.

        • 2


          I thought you are a man for all seasosns but then I too agree with Nimal that your previous Photo was much better than the current one which somewhat depicts an air of Meloncholy.

          Anyway I suppose you have no choice on the matter when your Daughter thinks otherwise perhaps

    • 0

      Its not only Ranil. The entire GOVIGAMA Criminal alliance comprising the Wickremasinghes, Bandaranayakes, Rajapakses, Sirisenas, Wijewardene Mafia Moghuls (SLFP/UNP) are all historical criminals, and a curse to this nation who have mastered the art of thieving and creating unrest among the population to keep the people below the Political Power Pyramid fighting for stupid reasons and the very reasons the GOVIGAMA Gangs create through their many RACIST entities (JHU, BBS, Ravana, Mahasona, and all its affiliates etc). The GOVIGAMA MEDIA (Wijeya, Upali, TNL, Swarnavahini, Mawbima, HIRU, Deanna etc) are controlling the minds of the majority Sinhala people by feeding them hatred and for their “divide and rule” techniques employed to keep the population fighting forever and ever. In the meantime, the GOVIGAMA criminals join hands with the BIGGEST THIEVES in the human history, the JEWS (US/UK/EU etc) , to steal maximum from the country and its unsuspecting DUMB population through the Jewish Bankers (IMF/World Bank) money borrowed on interest with the promise of developing the country. But, what they do is, they corrupt the entire system to syphon off BILLIONS OF DOLLARS that will be paid by the general population, and then the LOOTED money end up in their personal savings in the Jew owned banks back again.. GOVIGAMA CRIMINALS are the only internal and external threat the Sri Lanka population has been facing for the last 7 decades. With these CRIMINALS holding onto power of the nation, this country will not prosper nor will it ever see a peaceful time for the future generations….ever!

  • 0

    This comment was removed by a moderator because it didn’t abide by our Comment policy.For more detail see our Comment policy https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/comments-policy-2/

  • 0

    This comment was removed by a moderator because it didn’t abide by our Comment policy.For more detail see our Comment policy https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/comments-policy-2/

  • 3

    an excellent analysis of a flawed personality
    the problem is that no one in the party dares to take him on and there is at the moment no one capable of replacing him. sajith tried and failed no one else tried after that
    despite gomins pleas the country is stuck with him and MR

  • 0

    We do not know what the Commission of Inquiry will announce on 08 December. One thing for certain it will not be the unexpected.
    The lethargy over investigating other past wrong doings has reached ‘rigor mortis’ stage. Time to investigate is NOW.
    It should be very very clear by now that Lankan politics evolved around two individuals at the start and reached a stage of two groups.
    The language/religion-divide was exploited by the groups to the detriment of the country. Unfortunately this divide will be exploited again.

  • 3

    Mr. Alwis,
    Don’t beat about bush with fancy words and long winded speeches!
    Ranil, Ravi K and his Royal College Cronies need to be impeached. Period.

    President Sirisena should follow the Saudi Prince, Bin Salman’s example and incarcerate the Bondscammers, the Rajapaksa brothers sons and their cronies and the pump and dump boys who played the stock market with Arjun Aloysius, Tax dodgers whose names are in Panama Papers etc. until they all return looted funds – in order to pay for Sri Lanka’s gigantic National Debt, rather than selling off strategic national assets.

  • 9

    That a person like RW has become a leader, a leader of a big political party, a prime Minister several times tells more about the kind of people we are than him.

    He is a man who treats others like nonentities and that he has a right by birth for leadership. As his leadership is inherited he need not show results but just claims leadership on what he is-born to “elite” ( meaning a family that exploited his fellow beings in the 19 and early 20 century when they were innocent) ,went to royal college , travels to all the countries( esp Western countries) and has a special relationship with those leaders etc. Those who swallow all this follow him.

    The reality is the Western leaders must be wondering how such a unmanly and dishonest person and one who crawls before them ever became a leader of a country

    He loses every election. The once mighty UNP has to now hide behind people like Sarath Fonseka and Sirisena.The UNP vote base has gone down from 50% to 25%.

    He once appointed a taxi driver as mayor of Colombo. He appoints people like Ravi K, Malik, Sagala,Maropone to high positions. Then of course Mahendran.

    His false arrogance is perhaps a deep psychological need to keep people away so that they don’t discover what a pompous fool and a crooked man he is.

  • 0

    I find it amusing that our well known customer has gone soft with his vocabulary , three tries by JIM but still it is soft, try hard friend. Never say never.

  • 2

    The last two paragraphs of Sarath de Alwis’ piece encapsulates
    the essence of Ranil Wickremesinghe-that he is a devious
    manipulator and and not a statesman like leader. He has an
    acute complex and is allergic to any views other than his and
    his cronies.

  • 3

    Sarath, now await the Australian domiciled “Expert patriots” to comment and attack you. Those on the largesses of the Dole in a free society will now express their compassion and care for the nation they denied. They are Australians not Sri Lankans.

  • 0

    A brutally frank assessment of Ranil.W. Ranils father Esmond, though not in the rough and tumble of politics was essentially a behind the scenes politico of the UNP, in a bygone era. After all he was a Lake House son-in-law.

    [ Some ] People also had their reservations about that great PM, Dudley. He was of-course the son of a famous father. Perhaps, it is an advantage to be the famous son of a father rather than the son of a famous father!
    But in death Dudley became the famous son of a famous father!

    Ranil W. started at the top; Born with a Silver spoon. He was barely 30 when he was a Deputy Minister, thanks to his uncle JRJ.

    It is true motivated horses run faster than Pedigreed horses; Premadasa is a classic example.
    Whatever it may be my choice is a Pedigreed horse, who should be egged on to move that blooming Arse!

  • 0

    When Ranil Wickramasinghe was a powerful minister in the government:

    1982. That ultimate crime, the most shameful event that ever took place on this soil, of burning down the Jafna library. Did he demand that culprits be brought before the law?

    1983. Watershed event in race relattions. Innocent Tamils were butchered, property looted and burnt, hundreds of thousands fled to India (still languishing in refugee camps) Did he demand that culprits be brought before the law?

    1989. Deadly “bheeshanaya” . Nearly 50, 000 Sinhala youth (who cares?) caught and killed some burnt alive (including Wijeweera). Did he demand that culprits be brought before the law?

    He was a great proponent of many evil things that shaped the landscape of this country. Politicisation of Civil service, Abolishing civil rights of Sirimavo, Cursed 1978 JR constitution, the referendum etc. etc. And the list goes on and on.

    He`engineered the break up of CBK government by bribing the then general secretary of the party S.B.Disanayake and some other cohorts to cross over.

    He secretly negotiated with Sarath Fonseka while he was still in uniform and lured him to contest for presidency. Which mortal would refuse that?

    He secretly negotiated with the Grama Sevaka while he was still the general secretary of SLFP and lured him to contest presidency. Which mortal would refuse that?

    Finally gods saved this country from his deadly agreement with VP. What would have been the level of blood letting and race relations in this country if that was in place today and LTTE still alive.

    Anton Balasingham called him the Twentieth Century Fox.

    Deserves Noble Price for engineering the greatest bank robbery in history like no other.


    • 1


      My Elders tell me it was well above your estimate of 50,000. Lets agree for argument sake, what did you do to bring justice to them? Remember your liberator, human rights champion, the man who took the state to UN, a huge friends of Palestinians, … Dr Mahinda Rajapaksa (LLD) was running the show for 10 years and you didn’t find it important enough to demand justice for the dead. What a hypocrites you and your fellow Sinhala/Buddhist fascists are.

      Why were you maintaining deafening silence when Chandrika’s three commissions had already identified the perpetrators of 30,000 killings? Whats wrong with you fascists?

      Were part of the gang which burned down Jaffna Library?

  • 0

    “Ranil Wickremasinghe who has always held an over-inflated view of himself” I agree fully. If you observe him at functions whether it is the village or the city, when he is offered a Bulath Hurulla, he in more than 90 out of 100 instances looks away from whoever offers it. The Sinhala tradition is that you always give prominence to the person who offers it and smile with the person sincerely. Ranil Does the opposite. Even if he is in a gathering attended by a Head of State or delivering a speech he has a habit of scratching his head, face or any open space on his body. It looks dirty. I think although he was born a manor he lacks that tidiness. When he talks in Parliament he always look at other invariably asking for support I think.

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