3 August, 2021

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Rebuilding Of UNP Is Strategic To The Stability & Development Of Sri Lanka

By Shyamon Jayasinghe

Shyamon Jayasinghe

“Ranil has fought, won and lost and he can rise again from zero. He is a phoenix personified”

Ranil’s Return

Ranil Wickremesinghe, leader of the United National Party, is due to re-enter parliament shortly. I like to point out that this development is no ordinary event bereft of meaning. Set in context, Ranil’s return is a very significant political development.

Panic

It doesn’t surprise even an ordinary political observer why, upon the announcement of the party decision to nominate Ranil (RW) for the only slot this party won at the last elections, a panic has set in among the ranks of the prevailing opposition.

It is indeed both hilarious and ironical that the first to show worry and anxiety were the faction that split the Grand Old Party, dumped its leader as a good-for nothing and got into a new political outfit called the Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB).

SJB members are busy using social media to thrash Wickremesinghe left and right. “People don’t like him,” one guy, with a deceitful air of impartiality, tells us. He means, of course that he and his men don’t like RW. “He is coming to back up Mahinda Rajapaksas – on a deal,” says another, leaving its readers trying to figure out the need for Rajapakse support for RW to enter parliament. The one I saw just before writing this, quotes UNP veteran MP John Amaratunga as saying “Ranil apawa ravattuwa,” [Ranil fooled us]. Old John – always well-dressed – was the first to aspire for the vacant slot but Ranil thought otherwise. The latter had not done himself any good as minister during the Yahapalanaya days except being a bite for jokes.

The JVP has also saught to attack Ranil but that party is too well-known over the past as being content with the role of attack dog; uninterested in telling the electorate what constructive plans they have if they, even by magic, happen to win.

Such attacks only expose the felt experience of failure on the part of the parties concerned.They tell more about the latter than about the victim.

The Role of the United National Party in the Political History of Sri Lanka

The United National Party has been the central stabilising and development political force in Sri Lanka’s political history. It had its roots in the Ceylon National Congress and in the era of the Donoughmore State Council. Great work in the revival of our hydraulic civilization – the restoration of irrigation schemes, colonization schemes, creation of Madhya Maha Vidylayas and Maha Vidyalayas, in the development of agriculture, setting up of a university system, wide-range health services and excellent public service and judiciary had been achieved under UNP leaders.

The destruction of this Grand Old Party in 1956 by SWRD brought in the break up of our country, tribalisation, communalisation and finally war. The harmonious development of our society achieved by the UNP was seriously disrupted. An economy with surplus got into the red. The coming of socialism further destroyed our economy. In the guise of socialism wonderfully-run world class tea estates were uprooted; other utility services well-operated by sound managed companies had been taken over and brought down to the ground. “Janasathu kireema” was the popular slogan. What actually happened was that corporations were set up to run the businesses well run by the private sector and these corporations were politicised institutions that were made to give cover to disguised unemployment.

JR at the Helm

The return of the UNP with JR in 1977 restored a lot of what had been destroyed. The liberalised open economy and encouragement to businesses led to prosperity. The Mahaweli Development Scheme and the Free Trade Zones added further boost.

Impact of Proportional Representation on Party Hegemony

Particularly after the new Constitution under JR when Proportional Representation (PR) was introduced, smaller party units formed and rose as decisive role players in  the political fabric. Under the former First-Past the Post electoral procedure major parties held monopolistic control. That was a ‘winner takes it all’ system. It wasn’t technically undemocratic as small fish get swallowed up by the big ones.  Prevailing democratic thinking drove JR to change that system into proportional representation (PR).

Ever since that change, it had been the case of a big party acting as a major partner in a broader alliance. The change impacted also on the UNP as its one-party hegemony was lost thereafter.

Yahapalanaya Regime

The surprising political triumph of the Yahapalanaya alliance in 2015 was as much a personal victory for Ranil Wickremasinghe as it had been for Maitripala Sirisena who had come up as ‘common candidate’ on the campaign platform. The reason is clear: RW was outright named and announced as the Prime ministerial candidate and he and his party led the entire electoral campaign to gain power. Wickremesinghe got the highest personal poll in recorded Lankan political history-topping, as he did, 500,000 votes in the Colombo District.

Having come to power, the common alliance led by the UNP did reasonably well on all fronts. Independence Commissions helped keep crucial institutions like the judiciary independent. Judges gave indictments even against the government. An air of freedom for the individual reigned. Foreign debt was under some control as regular payments were being made. We had good relations with the IMF and the West. We won GSP Plus.The economy was set to boom with the encouragement of business and free enterprise. Small development projects were spread througout villages under the Gamperaliya program. Young persons were encouraged to invest in businesses with the generous allocation of loans under the Enterprise Sri Lanka Project. The North got is first international airport. Relationships with the North were far from sorted out but definite measures had taken root and the sun of North-South cordiality began to emerge in the sky. Racist and communal outbursts had been kept down. The Freedom of Information Act was passed.

The special focus of yahapalanaya was on economics.There was sound fiscal management and and a move out of an import economy toward exports and foreign investment was noted. Several measures to grant relief to individuals got into place. Salary rises of Rs 10,000 were granted. Pregnant women were given a nourishment pack (Poshana Malla). In education, computerisation in schools was introduced with laptops given to students. Free Wifi was set up in many public places. In health, medicines were halved in price. Free stents were available to heart patients. The ambulance service called Suvaseriya was inaugurated at Ranil Wickremesinghe’s initiative; it is now highly popular although some JVP leaders had warned the patients who get into those vehicles that they can get electrocuted.

The above constitute only a patch of the many achievements under Yahapalanaya.

Party’s Destruction

Unfortunately, Sirisena got hooked by the opposition camp to get back to their fold and to try and break up the UNP. What happened to the party later at election time was a product of Sirisena’s seedy attempts.

The upshot of this U-turn development was that the UNP was defeated badly at polls. Party members got disgusted with the infighting.

Re-entry of Ranil

Given that the Grand Old Party has a historic role to play it is important to take up from this point and rebuild the UNP without a Sirisena to sabotage the party.

The re-entry of Ranil Wickremesinghe to parliament is strategic to the overall strategic need to rebuild the UNP. There is a video going round that shows the considerable work and achievement of Wickremesinghe over 40 years in parliament. Ranil never publicises what he does and this is a political deficiency. He is a spiritually developed, good man who bears no hate for his political foes. Hear evil, but speak no evil. At a recent video interview Ranil was asked why he does not react to harsh personal attacks like those delivered by Sirisena. Ranil’s response tells the man: “that is my way” (eh mage heti). He is still fit and his brain is the only working brain among political leaders in the country.

Ranil has the personal integrity and the philosophy. He has the solutions for the unity and prosperity of our country; but he needs the men and women around him-like the Athulathmudalies and Dissanayakes- who can do the political fighting as he is no shouter-fighter. He is a soft taskmaster but the electorate wants something more dramatic.

There is Fonseka out there and there may be others of worth who can be co-opted. Young man Harin Fernando has great political talent and can be coaxed to join the party.

Ranil has fought, won and lost and he can rise again from zero. He is a phoenix personified

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Latest comments

  • 18
    5

    “Ranil has fought, won and lost and he can rise again from zero. He is a phoenix personified”
    When did you join SLPP? There is a close association between Ranil and Mahinda because both are cunning criminals who robbed this nation. They help each other only to keep their power and protect them from corruption.
    The country need to move away from family rule to people rule.

    • 11
      1

      ….He is a phoenix personified…..
      A phoenix is an imaginary bird that, according to ancient stories, burns itself to ashes every five hundred years. Ranil has burnt himself in 43 years (1977-2020). A record, you say ??

  • 20
    3

    Ranil is a spent force who should retire from politics for good. The only job he performed with zeal was to protect criminals, aided and abetted by Maithripala Sirisena and Sagala Ratnayake. If he had done his job properly, we would not have fallen into this abyss now.

    • 9
      2

      Dear Captain Morgan,
      .
      Not only do I fully agree with you, but I also appreciate your honesty and consistency.
      .
      We must each decide how far we will each go to oppose knaves, but harking back to what you once told me, is it not obvious to you that we must have a few people who will openly declare where they stand – and never mind the consequences.
      .
      I really didn’t think that people could get as cynical as this!

  • 16
    3

    “Ranil has fought, won and lost and he can rise again from zero.” Yes, but when he rises again, his Old Royalist friends likeCharitha Ratwatte and others will be the guardsmen at the entrance. Sagala, Akila Viraj and other “kollas” will be given places. He will continue to be soft on the Rajapakses. Conscious that people don’t see him as Sinhala Buddhist, he will promote people like Wijedasa as he did last time. He cannot relate to people. True, Sirisena was idiosyncratic and had an inferiority complex but he could have handled him better. He is very brainy when in opposition. But when in Government, his old traits show up. He does not talk to his own MPs who yet like to interact with him. He is well-read, very intelligent. He certainly has a huge role to play in overthrowing this regime. But let us not give him power. Not that there are others. We have a huge leadership crisis both in the government and opposition. But we have to overcome that.

    • 10
      1

      I agree with you about Sirisena. Your analysis of why he became unacceptable is spot on.
      .
      When, during the “62-day coup” I also said that Ranil must be reinstated as Prime Minister, but I added that Ranil should not get it into his head that we were personally enamoured with him, and that he had to hand over to a younger successor after a week spent as PM just to show Sirisena that he couldn’t act in that arbitrary fashion.
      .
      Sirisena could still be considered to be a villager with a modicum of honesty in his make-up.
      .
      Of course, no way that I could bring myself to vote for any of these crooks. I think that we must asset that – even if it leads to disaster for us personally.
      .
      The citizens of Sri Lanka appear to be such asses – how I wish I didn’t have to say that!

      • 1
        1

        If not for Sirisena, Ranil had left politics for good in 2015.

        The problem is racist voting at parliamentary elections. While all minority parties supported the common candidate in January 2015, just 7 months later they had once again crept into their mono ethnic racist camps. That’s what gave Rajapaksas a fighting chance.

        Same in 2018 LG election. If the fools stayed together, they could have beaten SLPP (55% to 45%) – a bigger win than the 2015 presidential election. But once again all minority parties went back into mono ethnic racist holes and JVP and SLFP too left the swan alliance paving the way for a ferocious Rajapaksa comeback.

        (UNP+JVP+SLFP unity was not sufficient in 2018 to beat SLPP. They needed minority votes island-wide. But didn’t get.)

        Rajapaksas will thrive as long as Tamil and Muslim racist parties are there.

  • 14
    2

    Do you know of any other politician like this in the civilized world? Chaps who have this pathetic record and still don’t give up ?

    I suppose the country must be especially stupid to deserve this kind of leader. As long as Ranil is around the Rajapakses cannot be defeated. How much ever bad they may be , people see Ranil as worse, a hypocrite and a devious man.

    I think we also don’t have any intellectuals , only a pseudo lot, who talk big but are only mental slaves who either worship Rajapkse or Ranil

  • 15
    2

    ………..Ranil’s return is a very significant political development…….
    It is only significance is that it displays the shamelessness of a man having destroyed everything, still clings to the single thread left of his battered clothes.
    ………..Wickremesinghe got the highest personal poll in recorded Lankan political history-topping, as he did, 500,000 votes in the Colombo District……
    And in 2020 the whole UNP only managed 30,875 votes (2.61%) in Colombo. Oh what a fall, Humpty Dumptly.
    Talking of “ highest personal votes”, in 2020 Mahinda got 527364 votes in Kurunegala, a smaller electorate than Colombo, hence higher percentage.

  • 13
    2

    Shyamon Jayasinghe wants a leadership to cater to the Colombo English speaking elite like Ranil.
    Dayan J wants someone raw like Sajith Premadasa to cater to the Sinhala Buddhists.
    Kumar David/Ameer Ali wants someone on the left, preferrably JVP with Sinhala appeal.
    I say there needs to be a real alternative, none of these.
    Only then can there be any real solidarity between people and progress.

    • 2
      7

      nk,
      .
      Could you be a bit more specific about “real alternative”?
      .
      I’m by now totally committed to the Kumar David/ Ameer Ali possibility.
      .
      I’m Sinhalese, but not anonymous like you!
      .
      Panini Edirisinhe

    • 4
      1

      Are the initials ‘nk’ significant. I wonder !
      The idea you have expressed seems so close to the view of ‘NK’ himself.

    • 1
      1

      Not possible. Since 13th amendment all voters wear their race cap before voting.

      When JR and Premadasa won presidential elections (only UNPers to win it) they did not get TNA support (to say the least). Ranil and Sajith always got it and disaster struck. They lost a good 15% of votes for just 5%.

      Analyze how UNP won 1982 and 1988 presidential elections and you will know. Both of them always lost Jaffna to win the election. Ranil and Sajith always won Jaffna and lost the election. (Sirisena was never a UNPer).

  • 15
    2

    Shymon, as to those high votes for Ranil in Colombo in 2015, we all know this is a devious logic. Do you think the vote was for Ranil personally ? Every person who voted against MR style of government in 2015 gave one vote to Ranil. In our system this happens with every party, the JVP, SJP, the leader gets one vote.
    Had Ranil contested a a single seat under the old first past the post system he would have lost !

    The rascal was exposed with the Mahendran case. I would wage any bet all your predictions will fall flat. Over in Australia you must be comparing this man to leaders there or even Greek mythological creatures.

    Over here we think he is a devious , shameless whimp who connived in the biggest bank heist

    • 1
      3

      D.S,
      “who connived in the biggest bank heist”
      Really? If you know that much about it, let us know exactly how much money was robbed, how much the state lost, and who made profits? Please don’t refer me to the media. It’s a simple calculation.
      Hyperbole is one thing, but even the famously incorrupt Singapore government isn’t convinced that Mahendran is guilty of anything. Doesn’t that suggest something to you?

  • 11
    2

    Shymon, I dont know how you judge other people’s brains, but you conclude that Ranil has a super brain. All we can do is examine what he has done and what he has written or said. I have heard that there is a test called IQ test. What is Ranil’s score, do you know ? A lot of tricksters, are glib talkers and they act and talk in order to impress their foolish audience.

    John Amaratunga is not saying he should be sent to parliament. If he is a joke as you say, why did Ranil give him so many ministries ? May be Ranils brain working ! All that John is saying is that Rani promised him the only seat that the UNP pathetically qualified for ( not voted into) and that Ranil said defeated persons should not be appointed to parliament.

  • 4
    0

    In the wake of Ranil’s comeback to Parliament, it appears that Shyamon is overjoyed and daydreams the comeback of the UNP in his armchair. In politics nothing is impossible. But achieve an objective one must be skillful and analyze reality. In this regard it is relevant to ask as to why Harin Fernando, the man Shyamon recognize as man of capacity and expects him to join Ranil, became a part of the SJB? Not only Harin, many of the capable Elephantines embraced “Telephonism”. People in Down-Under may only see the impatience of Sajith but people who are in the country know that the grassroots thought Ranil was no good though I recognize the potential of Ranil. What matters is the people who tread the soil whose vote and support are vital. Accordingly, the change in heart. It is the considered opinion of many that had there been no split in the UNP, the total membership of the combined UNP in parliament if much less than that of the current SJB membership in parliament. Ranil must change his style and be more people centric aspire the dreams of people like Shyamon. The question is Will that happen?

  • 7
    0

    Ranil led the UNP for 25 yrs. Achieved nothing. Two Presidential elections he did not contest knowing he will lose. So we put up Gen Sarath Fonseka and Sirisena. 2015 people were dejected with MR and voted Yahapalanaya in with the promise to jail MR crooks. There were water tight cases against the entire MR clan. Ranil stopped the investigations and cut a deal with MR. When he fell out with Sirisena, he should have come out and said he is not called into the Security meetings. We could have avoided Easter attack- if he took a strong position.
    Ranil initiated the Central Bank Bond scam. If you have not won an election for 25 yrs and the mess Sirisena made.
    Knowing GOTA is coming and failing for 25 yrs, he should have handed the party to Sajith or others. This led to Sajith breaking away and contesting separately. UNP was humiliated and could not win even One seat. Even at that time he did ot resign. If SJP and UNP contested together GOTA would not have got 2/3 majority.
    YOU RUINED THE COUNTRY

    • 0
      0

      Well said, Sam.
      .
      That was a good article you wrote on COVID mismanagement.
      .
      https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/doomsday-looming-where-are-we-heading/
      .
      I notice now that there had been an article even before that. You certainly have the ability to sum up by focussing on what is most important.
      .
      You’re also unusual for a Sri Lankan in that you don’t unnecessarily advertise that you’re a doctor.
      .
      I hope that there’ll be many more articles from you. I’ve been a teacher myself, now retired. What is proved by our allowing such a lot of unsatisfactory politicians to reign over us is that we just haven’t educated our people sufficiently to THINK clearly. What matters more than political philosophy is the ability to pick effective leaders.
      .
      Panini Edirisinhe

  • 5
    0

    There is no doubt UNP has to be rebuilt but with whom at the top and who are the senior office bearers? Ranil is a slave of Mahinda and protected the Rajapakse Family while promising the voters that he would take action against the family crooks. Ranil also waited until 20A and the Chinese Port City Bills are passed and then enter the Parliament through the back door, violating his own promise to the voters that he will not appoint any losers of seats to the Parliament. These clearly show the true character of Ranil who is not at all suitable to lead UNP. Only reason he is still the leader is because of the dictatorial constitution of UNP and the crooks like Ravi Karunanayake supporting him.

    Its time the UNP members should take a stand to kick both Ravi and Ranil out of UNP before supporting to build the party. If not UNP will be known as a Crooks UNP Party.

  • 4
    0

    Mr Jayasinghe
    I had faith in RW but not anymore. Certainly, he is honest & better educated, compared to the current lot but he has failed in his responsibilities & duties as a PM. Maybe he thought Sirisena, being a village yob way out of his depth, could be controlled but he should have never agreed to CBK’s proposition to play second fiddle to a slimy, despicable punk if he had any self respect or leadership qualities. RW was loyal to his corrupt cronies instead of the country he had pledged allegiance to. The final straw was when I saw his interview with foreign media after the Easter bombing, saying ‘wot to do, I was not informed’ with a stupid grin on his face.
    SWRD realised the winning vote base was with the rural folk & successfully played the race & religion card. Although CBK belongs to the Colombo elite, just as RW, the Bandaranayaka name is associated with the socialist rhetoric, as does the Rajapakse clan. Sirisena & Premadasa snr. were also appealing to the ‘common man’ as ‘one of us’, despite their unsuitability in terms of education & competence to hold the high office. Premadas jnr, with his international education, seems a better choice but so far, has not contributed anything significant in all his political career & is still riding on his old man’s wave.

  • 6
    0

    The best characteristic of the best governments/democracies around the world, is high turnover of leaders. When leaders lose, they go into retirement or into another vocation/career.

    In SL – and many other unsuccessful countries/governments – they hang around like a bad smell.

    At this juncture, it’s hard to trust any Lankan politician ……. but feel, to break away from the SLFP/UNP two-party alternate governments of the past …….. the JVP deserves a chance. Of late, they have been fighting for the right causes.

    • 2
      0

      Nimal, my sentiments exactly.

      I think it’s the difference between genuine desire to serve the citizenry versus self-serving opportunism. When politicians weasel their way in even when almost completely rejected by the electorate, some repeatedly, they tend to be career politicians who like the game of politics.

      What business has Gotabaya got being a president of anything!

      The Rajapaksas, Ranil Wikremasinghe, Sajith Premadsa and the likes of the past (e.g. CBK) seemed to feel entitled to political leadership and reverence in this country. Their party members seemed to be inescapably rooted in the entitlement that their leaders exert.

      I too think JVP of today seems to have the genuine desire to serve the citizenry with the right causes in mind.

  • 2
    2

    Foolish to blame Ranil. It is not Ranil’s fault alone. The concept of “united national” is dead in SL today.

    People are divided into ethnic camps. Even Tamilian and Muslim parties within the SJB (that were within UNP) keep their mono ethnic identity after election to parliament. Gone are the days when there were Tamil UNP MPs who had no other party affiliation. Not any more. UNP still has a few Muslim MPs who are UNP only (or SJB only) members. But very few. Before 13th amendment all Muslim MPs were with the UNP alone (and a few in SLFP alone). 13th amendment brought racism into parliament more than ever.

    Heavy ethnic polarization made the “united national” brand obsolete. This is why the UNP died.

    Imagine you preach unity in a country that is hell bent on disunity? Will you succeed? No chance.

    The problem with Ranil and Sajith is they get TNA support for presidential election. A disaster. UNP winners (JR and Premadasa) never did that!

    Blaming Ranil for everything is missing the woods for the trees.

  • 2
    1

    Old Codger, you mean that father in law and son in law did not make windfall profits ? Why did that phone fall into a swimming pool in Singapore ? All state banks kept away and instead gave money to Perpetual to make money.The interest rates were made to suit Perpetual.

    Aloysius told his CEO I will ask PM for the minutes of the Monetary Board ! Maybe Mahendran and Aloysious wanted to help the country !

    Ranil and Mahendran calculated that most people in this country are old codgers and will think there was no loss-the perfect crime !

    • 1
      1

      Deepthi,
      You have avoided answering. How much did the state lose? The BOC gave PTL a loan which was paid back with interest.Come on, that’s a simple enough calculation for a 30 year bond. It may be true that most people are NOT old codgers, that’s why they keep believing what they have been told to believe.
      Making profits is not a crime. But Ravi K is definitely guilty of accepting a bribe.

  • 1
    0

    Ranil W. is entering Parliament on the National List, after his resounding defeat at the polls. In the process he has thrown overboard the Principle that defeated candidates should not be taken on board on the National List. This was his stand previously with respect to other defeated candidates.

    RW has eroded whatever image that he had built,over 40years in politics.
    Damn shame he has not been advised properly about his standing in the Public image especially after his rejection at the polls.

    Sir. John quit and retired after he led the party to defeat in 1956.

    I dont see any significant political development,as Shyamon says.
    He will sit in Parliament as a Loner. Perhaps, in that context it would be significant!

  • 3
    0

    Shyamon Jayasinghe was not known as a writer with any political philosophy or policies or principle or even an object. After King’s arrival, he was hiding for some time. Now Ranil has tipped his reemerge to Shyamon, TNA’s Sam-Sum, Tissaranee Gunasekara et al, so their heads are restarting to appear in politics. The sorry status of Shaymon is he has not been informed by Sakuni Ranil that Ranil has been christened as a full Chinese communist, recently. A stunning grade of speech was released by Ranil about how the Chinese Communist party contributed to world civilization and taking 1.5B Chinese to heaven to swim in milk and honey.
    In fact, this was written even before the Old King’s speech in that he made an amazing claim that it was not Keppetipola Disawe who led the Uva–Wellassa uprising, but it was Mao Zedong. (Un believably low-class politicians, who seems has completely exhausted their anti-Tamil politics and anti-Muslim politics facing strong opposition from EU so they are finding a new one, that is flattering Communist China, for their commission)

  • 3
    0

    The Ranil idiot doesn’t know the status of the real Buddhist of Tibet and Uyghur Muslim under China while democratic Chinese nations like Hong Kong, Taiwan & Singapore are thriving. The Singapore Chinese, are like Up Country Tamils, only imported workers of Britain a few centuries ago and kept under control by Malays.

    Yesterday, the health ministry chief left it to blame for reporting the death numbers of Covid. Lion has put down one by one all the hard-working donkeys, and stealthy hyenas. Now it is inviting the fox to share his meat so the IC will not protest for HR violations. Fox is known for giving the Lion Share to Royals. He even left his parliament one year earlier (probably expecting this clamorous return.)
    “The surprising political triumph of the Yahapalanaya alliance in 2015 was as much a personal victory for Ranil Wickremasinghe.” Further, Ranil, who was waiting to offer full protection to the Royals family, went morning 4:00AM to Temple Tree House to oversee a secure departure for Royals.

    We had good relations with the IMF and the West. We won GSP Plus. The economy was set to boom with the encouragement of business and free enterprise. Is that because of the flourishing economy and relationship with the IMF, he sold the Hangbangtota Harbor to China?

    • 0
      0

      Mallaiyuran,
      .
      I like it that you’re talking sense here.
      .
      Thanks also for making it easier for us to read by paragraphing. We must sink superficial differences so as to save future generations of the trauma we have suffered recently.

  • 5
    1

    This sevalaya Ranil will never, ever any good to SL except dividing people and bring in more chaos to already ruined SL. This shameless soul is not wanted by any, he lost badly, and totally failed as politician and ruined UNP and how can he ever rise as the phonex. He can’t even raise his penis, so ineffecient he is, then how can he ever beome the Phonex. It is another and usual SL dream. The sinhalese ruined this country by their rabid racism and greed for power and a predilection for looting. It still the same and then how can ever this country could lift its head.

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