8 December, 2022

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So Far, No Good

By Sanja de Silva Jayatilleka

Sanja de Silva Jayatilleka

The new President, Ranil Wickremesinghe, recently selected and appointed by 134 Members of Parliament, is the main protagonist in an unfolding morality tale, political in category, a tragedy in the making.

Quite unlike in Hans Christian Andersen’s morality tale of the Emperor’s New Clothes, where no one dared to tell the emperor that he was naked, many have warned President Ranil Wickremesinghe that his style of governance, added to the method of his ascent, is a difficult combination to swallow, and is being rejected by the Aragalaya, condemned by civil society, and denounced by the religious community including the Catholic clergy and Buddhist monks supportive of the people’s protests. And this, after only a few weeks in those new clothes.

But then, he didn’t take long to soil them, not even 24 hours.

Old Bag, Old Tricks

Having forced President GR to vacate the premises, the People turned around to find that a far worse prospect had taken up residence without their consent. The new occupant had brought along with him an old bag of tricks which he promptly unpacked and unloaded on the people. Alarm bells rang when in the early hours of the morning after the swearing-in, troops swarmed on the Galle Face protesters and began beating them with sticks and wires. Hitherto treated mostly with politeness by the authorities who had been in negotiations with them, the protestors were taken by surprise as were the people. And predictably, things have been heading south from there.

A prominent Aragalaya activist popularly known as Ratta, never seen to be violent, and a sane, moderate voice on behalf of the protesters, was just arrested as he voluntarily gave evidence at the CID. A worrying testament to the growing irrationality that guides the new President. Who exactly has taken the reins of our government?

Having arrested several protesters in unorthodox fashion, the President is now in pursuit of a priest. Why is he after Father Jeevantha, the Catholic clergyman? The priest was a prominent protestor at the Aragalaya, representing the people of his parish who are the poor, the marginalized, the forgotten; those at the lowest end and therefore the most vulnerable to the ill-conceived policies of governments. The Wickremesinghe administration, as if it had nothing better to do in a country that is bankrupt and on the edge of a precipice, has seen fit to prioritize sending the Police from church to church looking for Father Jeevantha!

The Cardinal wasn’t amused. Nor were 1640 priests and nuns who issued a statement questioning the President’s sense of civil and political rights, urging him to cease and desist and to get on with the job of saving the country from economic disaster. He has one job, at this time of economic crisis. Is he doing it? Or is he determined to empty all of that bag of tricks before he gets down to serious business, so to speak?

President’s New Clothes

Since he ascended the throne, protesters have been pulled off planes and buses by law enforcement, and even abducted in (trademark) white vans. While the government’s focus has been on subverting the Aragalaya, an unusually high number of people have been shot dead in broad-day-light, mafia-style, and three dead bodies have floated in from the sea near the Galle Face. A student from Kelaniya claims that he was forcibly taken in a white van and questioned, threatened with planting drugs on him, and abandoned on a road after 3 hours of interrogation. This is going way worse than anyone expected. And not a dollar in sight for the economy, yet.

The President has been told that his conduct was utterly unbecoming and unacceptable. People have questioned his boldness (or rashness) in unleashing repression as an unelected president, only there due to a constitutional provision and the show of 134 discredited hands. They could raise those hands again for fresh elections but that would go seriously counter to their self-serving logic.

So, the President has been warned. The naked truth is that the new clothes don’t fit him that well, and he is acting strange in them. Sri Lankans, quiet until provoked beyond reason, have told him that this will not end well. There is no evidence that he is listening. Listening wasn’t his strong suit anyway. Over the 25 long years he has been in the business of politics, that endearing quality of just not listening ensured that most of his party left him and formed themselves into another one, doing much better at their first showing without him. At the same election, he lost his seat. And yet, here we are, all in misery, except perhaps the President.

The Next Deluge

The President having prorogued Parliament, is preparing to give the ‘Throne speech’ today, August 3rd. As the Americans say, “never mind what he says, watch his hands”. We have already watched his hands. A champion of human rights when out of power, is violating them like there is no tomorrow in a masterful display of hypocrisy, at the worst time for the country. Reputed to be the one hope for dollars due to his unsurpassed ‘external connections’, there isn’t any evidence of them. What is in sight however is a Chinese ship and an Indian protest, and the makings of a geopolitical disaster in our waters. The chance of economic support each of them may have meant to give us may sink in the Indian Ocean. A right Royal mismanagement of our international relations.

There will be a moral to this story, and it won’t be because the people didn’t dare articulate their discontent. It is becoming clear by the day that there will be ‘the deluge’. Another deluge, like the earlier deluge, is bound to hit the fortress of power, sooner rather than later.

Actually, the next deluge may be the solution. That it is coming, is beyond question given the conditions that are being created. And when they are ripe, we may see the story begin to end and the moral lesson emerge, hopefully to be learnt fast. The tragedy however, is already written by the 134 hands, and will be played out to the bitter end.

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Latest comments

  • 24
    6

    I may have to agree with the next deluge. It’s all about survival and not principles. Calling Ranil a champion of human rights is as good as Mara once upon time, knocking doors in Geneva. To me Presidency in Stupid Lanka is like a lethal Virus, where a cunning politician until then transform into a sociopath. Ranil soon after becoming PM started with his witch hunt,while pretending to support lawful protesters. It’s 3 months passed and there in not even a word about Mara and his cronies who unleashed violence against protesters. People who organized , attacked, killed and critically hurt people are free today. Nishantha continues to threaten arrested protesters with bodily harm.(loosing limbs and lives). For Ranil, it seems sitting on a F—–G chair, sleeping on Gotha’s bed, or using pool is a crime but Mara using state property/residence to organize violence is very much acceptable. What are we expecting from this A. Hole??

  • 22
    3

    A prominent Aragalaya activist popularly known as Ratta, never seen to be violent, and a sane, moderate voice on behalf of the protesters,

    Having arrested several protesters not violent
    1. One who retuned money was arrested
    2. Sleeping on flag was arrested
    3. One who entered the Presidential house arrested?

    Those made the country bankrupt are not brought to notice blameworthy they want to be in power because Power is of two kinds. One is obtained by the fear of punishment not for love of the country Which is effective and permanent than the one derived from fear of punishment

  • 17
    5

    I had a chance to quickly go through his policy statement and I was looking for the words “corruption, fraud. It was mentioned only once. He never utter a word how he is going to deal with corruption and fraud. He has mentioned to protect the special status to Buddhism. He never mentioned about Election. He also mentioned that he has plans to solve, economic crisis, finding solution to the Tamils problem, Up country Tamils Problem as usual. He has forgotten that he was prime Minister for four times in the past. At the age of 73, he is going to have a long term plan for 25 years. Very Long Plan!

    • 1
      7

      Ajith,
      “…finding solution to the Tamils problem, Up country Tamils Problem as usual.”
      ===
      Ranil talks about finding solutions to problems faced by Tamils but does not talk about finding solutions to problems and threats faced by indigenous Sinhala Buddhists who live in the NE and Vedda Eththo.

  • 7
    13

    Insurrectionists finally got the President they deserve. Why complain now? Ranil Wickremasinghe is not answerable to people. Because he was not elected by the people. He was elected by venal legislators and his election was facilitated by insurrectionists themselves.
    The insurrectionists “successfully” ousted the democratically elected President by undemocratic means and managed to replace him with a President elected by the corrupt Parliament controlled by corrupt Rajapaksas.
    The insurrectionists who defied the law now seek the protection of the same law. It is hilarious to note that those who supported insurrectionists to remove Sri Lanka’s democratically elected President through “undemocratic means” now talk about “democratic rights” of insurrectionists.
    The Constitution does not protect all types of “rights”. There are prohibitions, limitations and restrictions on “freedom of speech, freedom of assembly and freedom of movement”. For example, crimes committed during a protest such as trespassing, illegally occupying and damaging public and private property, protesting within a security zone, vandalism, theft, blocking traffic, etc are not considered as “rights”. The government has the right to arrest insurrectionists who committed, aided and abetted such crimes. Moreover, licenses of all lawyers who supported insurrectionists to oust the democratically elected President should be revoked.

    • 1
      5

      Champa,
      “Insurrectionists finally got the President they deserve.”
      ===
      The objective of those who hijacked ‘Aragalaya’ was to get rid of Mahinda Rajapakshe and Gotabhaya Rajapakshe, elected by the people in this country and bring Ranil who was rejected by the people from the back door so that he can finish the tasks assigned to him when he was appointed as the PM after regime change in 2015 using the support from ‘Pohottuwa’ led by ‘Black American’ Basil.
      I am not surprised if he has already signed MCC as he did with SOFA and ACSA without informing the Prime Minister, Cabinet and the Parliament.

  • 13
    2

    If not Ranil then who?

    There is not a single person in Lanka who is fit to be the president.

    Let the president’s chair be empty ……… let a different man/woman sit in it every day ……… by the time every citizen has had his/her turn …….. the country would be a lot better.

    At least it won’t be any worse than now.

    Native, out of the box time.

    • 7
      1

      I couldn’t post this where I had to; the comment period has passed …….. so it’s here for SM


      Oh boy Sinhala_Man! …….. I’ve been trying so hard; thought you’ll never catch on!

      I don’t much care for praise ……… I love insults cause that’s when people are most truthful! ……….. I learn nothing from praise ……. but learn a lot from insults. So, thank you most kindly.

      We all try to impress …….. but some have more things to impress with. ……. The difference between ol’ nimal and others is, he has no qualms about admitting it.

      I leave modesty – false or otherwise – to lesser souls: small men. :))


      Forget Shakespeare, step into the modern world ……. listen to this https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gooI9E4KY4Q ……… that’s what I’m always trying to do; offer a confrontational alternate take and offend people.

      Thanks for getting offended. You made my day! I’m over the moon!

      Can’t write any more …… busy listening to Ranil’s great speech ……….

      • 2
        0

        Confrontational, offensive and in your face ……. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wPGWZjpYjEc ……… feel he is speaking the truth.

        Or should he adopt bourgeois manners like Ranil ……. join the robbers …… and stick it up everyone’s gaboozle?

        Pssss don’t tell anyone, it’s the people I feel sorry for ……… if I were in the same situation, I wouldn’t want anyone’s pity

        Native, do you get where it’s at? :))

    • 0
      3

      nimal fernando
      “If not Ranil then who?”
      ===
      Uruwarige Wannila Eththo. He is much better than this traitor.

  • 9
    2

    Let’s give him two months to get 5-billion USD from IMF, and 1-billion USD from China. If not, that 2nd Tsunami wave of the Aragalaya will be a very strong one indeed, with no way of him stopping it…how to stop the force of human nature suffering for so long and hard? Even torture and execution won’t stop it.

    • 7
      1

      Ms RTF

      SANJA AND DAYAN WEERAWANSE ARE NOT HONEST PEOPLE – they might be getting bored to stay further wihtin the country.

      VERY BAD PERIOD TO SANJA AND DAYAN THE KATUSSA. Whatever verbose text would be part of their articles, their motives are equally hidden so as those of Mahinda Rajapkashe.
      .
      1)Let’s give him two months to get 5-billion USD from IMF, and 1-billion USD from China.
      AGREE WITH YOU.
      If not, that 2nd Tsunami wave of the Aragalaya will be a very strong one indeed, with no way of him stopping it
      IN A COUNTRY WHREE NO LEADRES ARE AVAILABLE, WHY SHOULD WE DRIVE AWAY HIM ?WHY THAT EARLY ? CAN SAJITH PUTHA DO IT BETTER ?

      • 4
        1

        RTF,

        AT LEAST TODAY:

        WHOLE LOT OF PEOPLE IN THIS COUNTRY WOULD NOT CARE MUCH ABOUT STATISTICS.

        BOTH PEPOLE AND POLITICIANS ARE HIGHLY CORRUPTED. EITHER JVP/NPP SHOULD DO SOMETHING IN THE LINE OF REBUILDING THE NATION or STEP BACK FROM POLITICS.

        OR THEY SHOULD ENJOY THEIR CROWDS AS THEY USUALLY DO
        .
        2) how to stop the force of human nature suffering for so long and hard? Even torture and execution won’t stop it.

        IT IS REPORTED THAT ANY COUNTRY AFTER LONG DRIVEN WARS, ROSE UP BY SETTING THEIR NATIONAL GOALS. OUR PEOPLE STAY CRITICISING …. THEY WOULD NOT RISE UP:::::: IN OUR LIFE TIME…

        • 3
          0

          Sri Lankan media sleuths like the Sniffer Tin/Bull Team who hunt UK drug traffickers are still going after the most hated man in Sri Lanka, Mahinda Rajapaksa.

          The target of media fraudsters is the NEWS item to mislead the nation. None of us are interested in Mahinda Rajapaksa or what he is being told today, because we know that the man is a liar by nature.
          If we talk about the color of Geeta Kumarasinghe’s underpants, it will go viral even if the OIL crisis does not allow them to live today. Such an environment is created by Mahinda ET AL for their existence.
          .
          I believe, it is because of their lucrative commercial advantages. These people are like the fishmongers at the Negombo fish market… or at the Galle fish market.

  • 4
    11

    Will the US Ambassador try to get the approval for the MCC project? Yes, Julie Chung is the third US Ambassador to do that. When her predecessor Alaina Teplitz tried the same, she was stopped by former President Sirisena. She wasn’t even successful in persuading Gotabhaya to accept the proposal.
    Julie Chung has reportedly said that Sri Lankans were misled about the MCC project. Oh yeah, we were ‘misled’ to believe the US was keen on improving our infrastructure. It is not even an economic corridor. The US Ambassador should talk about the MCC project without concealing its vital facts. I can prove that “1.2million acres” required for the MCC project “for 200 years!” is to open a Bio-Lab in Sri Lanka. How many Sri Lankans are aware that the MCC project contains a proposal to have approximately 35%-40% of Sri Lanka’s “future population” be settled in lands under the MCC project? Why? The Pentagon-funded nazty Scientists want to use our blood to experiment their lab research.
    If Ranil tries to approve the MCC project, he should be removed and a new President and a new PM should be appointed. Am I the only one who enjoys this “system change”?

    • 9
      4

      Champa Nangi,/Aunt,
      .
      Long time no see.

      We were compelled to think that you were honey mooning to Putin…
      .
      Is that topic fully died down to you as of now ?

      Best Choice to you would have ben WIMAL BURUWANSE…. to the same manner, you now make every effort to panic the nation.

      Without being open to International Community how would you the kind of sons /daughters of bitches would allow SO CALLED INVESTMENT flow in to the country ?
      :
      Do you want PEOPLE TO STAY suffering forever ?

      • 3
        3

        Chimpa, the Lankan Nazi , why don’t you restructure debt with China first as recommended by IMF and the U.S.

    • 2
      3

      world’s number one human butcher, USA whole world knows this. Kick out, Ambassador. These Ambassadors are well trained by the CIA.

      • 2
        2

        Nazi Perera does that make you number two ???

    • 0
      0

      Champa,
      Good morning.
      Happy to see you back in stride! Welcome, with your valued views of this universe!
      “Am I the only one who enjoys this “system change”?”
      The bigger question is what the “system” is you want to change in the “SYSTEM CHANGE”??
      Is it that you want the EP, PM, Leader of the House, Opposition Leader changed frequently – say every week, month, to suit someone’s whims and fancies??
      No good at all!
      If so then will lead to instability in governance – Anarchic and ‘Rudderless’!!??
      That’s why it’s important for the electors and Importantly the Aragalaya and people like you to make up your mind, as to who in the parliament who is appropriate and suitable for the post of Executive President and PM and other important positions, well in advance!
      Then, stick to it!!
      Donors and IMF may consider SL a ‘Failed State’ and offer any bridging Finance??!!
      Then deprived of much needed assistance, Grant, Aid to overcome the present crisis!
      Unfortunately, SL cannot do it alone, with the meagre resources at her disposal?!!
      Also the MCC is a ‘Dead Duck’; less we worry about is the best??!!!
      Don’t fear the toothless Tiger??

  • 2
    2

    I’m going to direct you to these four YouTubes, all of them in Sinhalese. Non-users of Sinhalese (i.e. those whom we label as “Tamils”) will have to rely on translations. My sympathies are with Tamils, but in this matter not much can be done.
    .
    This is Ranil at the opening of Parliament on August 3rd, 2022:
    .
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rqJbKAW4oBQ
    .
    This is what he stated four days earlier at the Dalada Maligawa in Kandy.
    .
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DV28lzhy8Eo
    .
    Neither speech cuts much ice with any of us; we have to reject all that is contained in them, and counter them with these arguments:
    .
    This is AKD’s response to Ranil in Parliament, 3/8/2022:
    .
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ULN7qQbezZc
    .
    And this is Omalpe Sobhitha Thero on 30/07/2022
    .
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UFeyWfF0DC0
    .
    None of us wants to encourage clergy of any sort to play active roles in politics, but it would be unwise not to listen to them.
    .
    And then, there are the various young people representing the Aragalaya, whom few of u can easily identify at this time:
    .
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J7yR2oLL2Zw
    .
    This is the view from the South. A person like me forms my view of Tamil perspectives by reading what is available in English.
    .
    I know that this is an unexciting and humdrum comment; it’s going in like this partly because I’m tired, but also because we have to got to counter the specious arguments put forward by Ranil and his 134 Parliamentarians.
    .
    Panini Edirisinhe of Bandarawela

  • 1
    0

    Ranil is bothered about how long he can manage the Presidential position, whether 3months or up to the end of its term. His presidential address to the house members indicates his plea to everyone and every party in Parliament. His promises are numerous that couldn’t be completed within two years. Therefore, he needs every party or the majority of the house to support him. However, it all depends on Mahinda Rajapaksa hardliners and how long they can allow him until they prepare to face the next election !!

  • 2
    2

    The US has attacked Sri Lanka’s democracy for the third time. As mentioned before, the US Ambassador is directly involved in ousting the democratically elected Sri Lanka’s President through usual American shenanigans. Time will tell how long her success will remain.
    I don’t give any support to restore the lost term of Gotabhaya. But, I will give my full support to restore Sri Lanka’s democracy attacked by the US and get back our free and fair electoral system where legitimate Sri Lankan voters, not the US, have the final say.
    On a separate matter, I remember an offer from Russia to facilitate Sri Lanka to re-export Russian products which could easily be done by using the “foreign-to-foreign shipment” concept. On the battlefront, I think the resumption of Ukraine grain exports from Port Odessa is a personal achievement for Mr. Putin in many ways. And, he seems to have bigger plans beyond Ukraine. So far, Ukraine has “successfully” attacked its own people and destroyed its own infrastructure using HIMARS. Europe will have to decide whether they will be in 24 hrs of darkness and cold in the coming winter or “kneel down” (copied from the US Adviser on Sanctions against Russia) before Russia.

    • 3
      1

      Champa,
      :are you mad ? I am enamoured to know how you would come with next nazi theory.
      .
      Why do you always think they attacked our democracy? Do we have any democracy other than being elected to that underworld (Sri Lanka Parliament)?

      Are they democratic?
      have they ever made use of their elections to work like real lawmakers compared to any civilized parliaments ?

  • 0
    1

    Champa,
    Good morning.
    Happy to see you back in stride! Welcome, with your valued views of this universe!
    “Am I the only one who enjoys this “system change”?”
    The bigger question is what the “system” is you want to change in the “SYSTEM CHANGE”??
    Is it that you want the EP, PM, Leader of the House, Opposition Leader changed frequently – say every week, month, to suit someone’s whims and fancies??
    No good at all!
    If so then will lead to instability in governance – Anarchic and ‘Rudderless’!!??
    That’s why it’s important for the electors and Importantly the Aragalaya and people like you to make up your mind, as to who in the parliament who is appropriate and suitable for the post of Executive President and PM and other important positions, well in advance!
    Then, stick to it!!
    Donors and IMF may consider SL a ‘Failed State’ and offer any bridging Finance??!!
    Then deprived of much needed assistance, Grant, Aid to overcome the present crisis!
    Unfortunately, SL cannot do it alone, with the meagre resources at her disposal?!!
    Also the MCC is a ‘Dead Duck’; less we worry about is the best??!!!
    Don’t fear the toothless Tiger??

    • 1
      1

      Mahila,
      “Is it that you want the EP, PM, Leader of the House, Opposition Leader changed frequently – say every week, month, to suit someone’s whims and fancies??”
      You beat me to it! Congratulations.

  • 0
    0

    a country without memory or gratitude is bound to fail. as Sri Lanka has done time and time again.

  • 0
    0

    SO FAR SO GOOD! – For the “6.9 Million PLUS”, the “Majority of whom are “Sinhala Buddhagama” voters including the ‘Saffron Clothed Brigade” one of whom even performed “Miracles” bringing a Cobra from the waters underneath the Kelani river. He even handed over thousands of “Devotees” who visited to see the “Miracle” lotus buds (Pohottuwa) to invoke the blessings of a “Diyasena” to be crowned. Later, that “Saffron Clothed” and another of the same “Group” were”Blessed” with a high position called “Chancellor” of a Higher Seat of Learning.

    Now it is the other way round. Another SET of “Presidential Advisors” have come into being including a “Trade Union Leader” while his associates are been arrested for participating in “Aragalaya”. Who knows? It could be on the advice of “Director General Trade Unions” who was seen all the time with Aragalaya along with those now under arrest.

    Isn’t it SO FAR SO GOOD?

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