By W. Vishnu Gupta –
The Sri Lankans should remember, Mahinda Rajapaksa’s favorite monthly outing was held in Kandy until April of this year, during that jaunt he did not miss the chance to visit Dalada Maligawa, Asgiriya and Malwathu temples while pretending to be a follower of “Puncha Seela” of Buddhism. Now, he and his cohorts are not welcome in these hallowed places of Buddhism and most probably, given the adverse circumstances faced by his clan, family members must be seeking refuge in the “RW” and pray every morning “Ranil Saranam Gachchami. In the meantime, Ranil must be chanting “Constitution Saranam Gachchami” and hope “Aragalaya” does not come looking for him.
It appears that the constitution of 1978 was scripted by Ranil Wickramasinghe’s uncle HWJ with the sole purpose of securing presidency by the oligarchs and shielding corruption forever. It was never meant to ensure that the power of Sovereignty belongs to the people. Consequently, Jayawardene-Ranil combo and Rajapaksas knew the constitution will be their ultimate refuge in a political crisis and hence they ensured judiciary is filled with their cohorts; for examples appointment of former Chief Justice Mohan Pieris, Sacking of Shirani Bandaranayake, paying less attention to the fundamental rights petitions filed by Nagananda Kodituwakku, civil rights activist. the purported illegal appointment of Ranil as a National List MP was challenged in July 2021; however, the judiciary seems to have ignored the seriousness of this case and send it into the Bit Bucket or the Memory hole. Therefore, people may pay a heavy price, Ranil has already become the Acting Executive President and supporters of Rajapaksa Oligarch have vouched to make Ranil the next Executive President until November 2024. Obviously, 74 years of corruption would have corrupted every institution including 225 legislators, majority of the state officials, religious leaders, and many citizens of the country. Because Corruption always breed Corruption. Hence, it is safer to assume that the constitution appears to have created many technical loopholes allowing the dreaded, deceptive charlatan political leaders such as JR Jayewardene, Premadasa, Chandrika, Mahinda, Gotabaya and Ranil to act according to their personnel whims.
Aragalaya was the Kick in the Ass of …
The “Aragalaya’ of apolitical citizens has effectively challenged the validity of the constitution and it ought to be. Most likely, (225+1) and the judiciary did not realize the people will understand that their sovereignty is supreme but not the authority temporarily accorded to the government. When Sri Lankans and the International community understand that the SRI LANKA is controlled by a failed Government, the message should be clear that the Executive, Legislature and Judiciary have failed. Therefore, the attempts made by the judiciary, BASL, Legislators and Ranil to hide behind the flawed constitution will be futile. It is commendable at least a few legislators; Dayasiri, Sumanthiran, Hakim, Shanakyan, Kiriella, Maithree, have acknowledged that sovereignty of people is supreme and Ranil should resign immediately without exacerbating the current political and economic crisis further. The despotic behavior of Ranil since assuming the responsibilities as Prime Minister and later as Acting President should not delude anyone, because the script of the ongoing pollical crisis was written by none other than the duo Mahinda and Basil, masters of deception.
– The Rajapaksa dynasty dominated Sri Lankan politics until April when street protests against fuel and food shortages began to slip out of control. President Gotabaya Rajapaksa fled the country early on Wednesday, leaving no one from the once- illustrious family in a position of power. (Reuters July 13, 2022)
Aragalaya was precisely the KICK in the ASS that the Executive, Legislature and Judiciary was required to pay attention to the people, these three institutions have become irrelevant in the last few decades. The priorities and deliberations of these institutions, maintained by the state were (are) misaligned with the aspirations of people.
Dilemma of Rajapaksas
Right now, Rajapaksas are a pariah family in Sri Lanka, scared to venture out of their well protected hideouts, as it was witnessed, since 2005 and until May 9th, 2022, every male member in this family acted as “Teflon Dons.” The excesses and financial crimes committed by the family is openly reported in the social media and other traditional media outlets local and international, they can run and follow the route taken by Gotabaya, but there won’t be any haven for Rajpaksas to enjoy the ill-gotten fortune stashed away in many countries. A few countries like Singapore, Dubai and Maldives may still offer some safety for them. The following is appended from an article published on May11th 2022 in Colombo Telegraph under the caption; “You May Run But no Place to Hide.”
“They have stashed away illegally gotten wealth and assets in many countries according to the recent media reports, among them are Japan, Singapore, Seychelles, Uganda, Dubai, Cayman Island, UK, Australia, and the USA. However, the developed western countries, especially the USA, UK, France, Australia, and Japan may not be very receptive to the idea of providing haven for a bunch of looters who bankrupt our country. Also, Seychelles may not be a very attractive option because Mr. Ramkalawan the current president, defeated the political party of MR’s friend James Michel in 2020. Likewise, Uganda may not be safe for Sri Lankan looters either because it was revealed in January 2022 that Uganda risks being blacklisted by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) if it does not tackle money laundering by May 2022. Therefore, only Dubai, Singapore and perhaps Maldives are the places left to seek refuge, unfortunately geographical location, size, and terrain of theses countries, may not be suitable for those who have committed financial crimes and other atrocities in Sri Lanka, especially for their children and grand children”
It is a big dilemma for Rajapaksas, “to leave or not to leave” Sri Lanka, it is a precarious situation never expected by the brotherhood of power, no western country is safer for them as they are accused of plundering wealth of Sri Lanka and the other countries will be wary of welcoming them, perhaps Saudi Arabia may be willing to let them in as they have offered safe haven to Idi Amin and his family of Uganda in the past. Until a promising refuge is found to the women, children, and grand children of Rajapasas of Giriwapattuwa, they will use every trick including massive bribery schemes to manipulate the legislators to support Ranil Wickramasinghe who wants to hang on to power. Furthermore, they will use every nefarious strategy to undermine “Aragalaya.”
Enemies of Aragalaya
Already the enemies of Aragalaya have come out of the woodworks to distort the non-violent campaign that the world witnessed. It is alleged that JVP is engaged in a campaign to discredit apolitical members of Aragalaya, one of the Youtubers; Sepal Amerasinghe has come out swingingly attacking certain members of Aragalaya, In addition certain social media has accused Namal Rajapaksa of placing moles within this non-partisan movement. Finally, the opportunistic moves made by politicians such as Sarath Fonseka are bound to undercut the impact of Aragalaya focussed on removing Ranil. It is not a secret that AKD has received substantial financial backings from Malik Samarawickrama, former Chairman, and minister of the UNP government, also AKD thrived under the cordial relationship he maintained with Ranil during 2015-2019. Therefore, JVP’s action in Polduwa Junction on the 14th evening is questionable is somewhat mysterious because folks of Aragalaya have never resorted to violence against the security forces. On the other hand, JVPers since the inception have been surreptitious and never hesitated to employ violence to achieve their political objectives. Besides, AKD would not have dared to kick the ASS of Executive, Legislature and Judiciary. The other enemy of people, Rajapaksa clan has always used dubious tactics to achieve power, hence placing moles within Aragalaya movement should not surprise any Sri Lankan. However, the words uttered by Sarath Fonseka, a megalomaniac who wants to claim the pound of flesh for himself is laughable as those utterances don’t conform to the principles and policy guidelines announced by the folks of Aragalaya. Hence enemies of Aragalaya should understand ideals of Aragalaya are more meaningful than the political ambitions of JVP, they are not sinister compared to that of Namal Rajapaksa’s family aspirations and personnel vendetta of Sarath Fonseka.
Aragalaya ought to succeed in chasing Ranil Wickramesinghe and Rajapaksa clan from Sri Lankan political landscape forever. When Ranil and Rajapaksas are gone there won’t be any place left for the lethargic judiciary, crooked administrative officers, and fraudulent businessmen in the country. Then only the Sinhalese, Tamils, and other minorities irrespective of their religious background (Buddhist, Hindu, Moslem, and Christian) will be able to live harmoniously without conspiring to kill each other. Those who wish a better future for their children should embrace the ideals of Aragalaya and wait for a new political and economic order to emerge very soon from the present crisis.