27 January, 2023

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The UNP’s Leadership Struggle; Ranil,Sinhala-Buddhist Racism and Rosy

By Uvindu Kurukulasuriya

…Continued from last week.

Uvindu Kurukulasuriya

After the 1994 elections, the UNP began to disintegrate. It was the end of an era and a shock to so many people who had been in power for such a long time. It was inevitable, since after a while the public just gets sick of a party, and after 1991 there was a sense of inevitability about the end of the Premadasa era. Gamini Dissanayake and Lalith Athulathmudali formed another party and the UNP’s grassroots started dying, people began leaving and the party was falling apart.

As I mentioned last week, people who consider Ranil as the losing factor should not forget the fact that the party’s entire senior leadership was either killed or assassinated and Ranil became the party leader with a parliamentary group and a working committee which were loyal to his opponent Gamini Dissanayake. So, it is not a simple challenge to build the party as well as develop a new political philosophy. People who believe that the UNP needs a Premadasa type leadership must not forget the fact that; in Sri Lanka there were only two instances when people took to the streets to rejoice over a death; one was when Prabhakaran was killed and the other was when Premadasa was assassinated.

I heard that the UNP dissidents were bemoaning the UNP’s loss of the Sinhala Buddhist vote bank and that they need to win it back. I think that is why their leader Sajith Premadasa is going around  donating large sums of money to Monks in Buddhist temples (if he is a transparent leader he must declare where that money comes from!)

Of course Ranil is not like that. I remember when we were discussing Lasantha Wickrematunge’s funeral arrangements in the funeral organising committee where Karu Jayasuriya and Ranil participated.  Someone suggested giving a speaking opportunity to someone like Ven. Sobhita. Ranil said we will do it as a layman’s (gihiyange) event. He did not want mix politics with religion.  Sure it is against his party’s history and its leaders’ philosophies. D. S. Senanayake said, “We are one blood and one nation. We are a chosen people. The Buddha said that his religion would last 5500 years. That means that we, as the custodians of that religion, shall last as long” (Ceylon Daily News 17.4.1939). It was the political philosophy of the nationalist Right. Ranil also shared the same philosophy in his early days. If you read his parliamentary speeches in the early 1980s especially after 1983 riots, one can find it there.  We all now know what the country paid for that nationalist Nazism. Do the UNP dissidents want to go back to that again to start a fifth Eelam war?

As Rajan Hoole cleverly analyses in his book “The Arrogance of Power”; these developments also affected the image and content of Buddhism as a partner in this millennial ideology. By becoming linked to an ethnic group and the power ambitions of its ruling class patrons, this brand of Buddhism lost its universal appeal and moral content. It became a one-issue religion – that one being the Tamil issue. Buddhist clergy speaking on almost any other issue are frequently heard with indifference and bemusement. But when it comes to the Tamil question, a ritual hard-line is expected from them and is duly given wide publicity in the media. The political leaders are then quick to point out that the Sinhalese are totally opposed to federalism. This is a unique role played in any country by the religious establishment.

When a political leader prostrates himself before a Buddhist-prelate, it is a public transaction viewed with cynicism by both. It is also a ritual that they both find useful. The prelate enjoys symbolic power at the sufferance of the political leadership. At the same time intransigence on the Tamil issue, which the practical politician is loath to own up to, is voiced for him by the Buddhist establishment. This ritual hypocrisy that has become part of the political culture has made the Tamil question more difficult to resolve.

If Ranil wanted to go back to that nationalist Nazism which the Rajapaksa led coalition preaches he has whole package with him. “The Revolt in the Temple” (1953) was an important piece of ideological writing by Helena Wjewardene’s son Don Charles Wijewardene (Ranil’s grandfather), which appropriated for the Kelaniya Temple and the ‘Sinhalese Race’ a 2500 year history, and likewise by allusion for the Wijewardene family, the temple’s recent patrons. The destinies of the country and the patrons of the temple were linked together by the writer in his eloquent slogan, “When Kelaniya fell, Lanka fell, when Kelaniya rose, Lanka rose.” (Ironically now Kelaniya has fallen Lanka has fallen – now it is Mervin de Silva and not Ruwan Wijewardene!) According to Jonathan Walters, “constitutes a blunt statement that the Tamils are a threat to that historic mission and lays out Wjewardene’s blue-print for a post independence Sinhala Buddhist state which has gradually become a reality.” Ranil only needs to upgrade his grandfather’s theory a bit and lay the foundation for another war with Tamils. Is that what those UNP dissidents want? Are they suggesting going beyond the Rajapaksa Sinhala-Buddhist racism? I do not think the country needs that.

I think as the leader of the UNP he clearly understands that and he changed the party philosophy. But he does not have an energetic group to take that ideology to the grassroots level. He has an energetic bunch of no-good men and women who are thinking of jumping over to the other side. Though I am not a UNP fan, this is how I understand the UNP; Rajapaksa is about state and UNP is about society. The UNP needs to establish a good energetic team which is armed with all those arguments on protectionism versus free trade, privatisation versus nationalisation, trade union power versus consumer power and nationalism versus liberalism. You do not just go jumping over fences because your party has nowhere to go. You want to make an impression; here is a fabulously sexy, modernised United National Party.

Some people’s public image is so different from their private lives. Ranil Wickremesinghe is one of the nicest and kindest people you will ever meet as a political leader. I know Mahinda Rajapaksa well; he is only good for gossiping. But Ranil has an incredibly clever mind, one of the sharpest. One day in 1997 Michael Roberts presented me with his newly edited book, “Collective Identities Revisited” and since I was having a meeting with Ranil after that, the book was in my hand and Ranil remarkably gave me an introduction to the book. He is widely read and according to one of his closest friends, often he will win an argument even when he is wrong, which is just the most frustrating thing when you are a politician. But the difficulty is that in politics you have to be what you are. I think that is something he has to think about. I wonder why the Sri Lankan electronic media does not arrange a debate between Colombo educated Ranil and London educated Sajith Premadasa. Then the UNP membership as well as the country can decide who is better.

Former US Ambassador to Colombo E. Ashley Wills wrote in a leaked US diplomatic cable; “Wickremesinghe is also surprisingly knowledgeable about U.S. history and politics; he is an avid reader about the American Civil War, U.S. military history, and U.S. legislation.” So, now Ranil must be thinking about American President Lyndon Johnson’s explanation for not sacking his powerful FBI chief, J. Edgar Hoover, on the grounds that it was “better to have him inside the tent pissing out, than outside pissing in”.Before concluding this Sunday essay, I would like to ask a question: What is missing in the entire UNP leadership battle? For me it is the gender perspective. There was not a single woman nominated by either camp. There are seventy people in the UNP Working Committee (Members of Parliament 37 plus Non-MPs 33) only seven female members in it. Why do they not think about that? On the one hand they should think about women voters instead of the so-called Sinhala-Buddhist voters, since women comprise 52 percent of the population. On the other hand they need to give chance for their voices to be heard, that is what democracy is all about.

Why do they not think about Rosy Senanayake? Ranil should think  about making her the party’s deputy leader.  She is even a good choice for the UNP leadership someday.  I cannot think of anyone in the present group of UNP men who is better than her. One has to analyse how she became the leader of the opposition in the western province and how she faced the Sinhala-Buddhist Wimal Weeravansa type smear campaigns. Anyone who has followed her morning talk-show knows how intelligent she is; she is not just a beauty queen!

Last week; What is Wrong With Ranil? Did The UNP Win Because Of John’s Charisma Or John’s Smile ?

 

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    “When a political leader prostrates himself before a Buddhist-prelate, it is a public transaction viewed with cynicism by both. It is also a ritual that they both find useful. The prelate enjoys symbolic power at the sufferance of the political leadership. At the same time intransigence on the Tamil issue, which the practical politician is loath to own up to, is voiced for him by the Buddhist establishment. This ritual hypocrisy that has become part of the political culture has made the Tamil question more difficult to resolve.”
    exactly, most of the people dont understand this. Thank you

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      Good article. I too think Rosy should be given a chance. I have been following the inside problems of the United National Party with friends in Sri Lanka and have heard about a new entrant by the name of Eran Wickramaratne. This person I think is also leadership material considering his past successful leadership track records.

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    Of course Rosy is a possible option. why only they think of men? insightful article, thank you Uvindu!

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      Agree!

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      Rosy is not fit for UNP front line.She is a preacher woman with blind belief.
      Advice her to to read about British sciencetists.ex:Richard Dorkings.
      Don

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        Rosy is not fit for UNP front line as there are other senior women who can lead the party. Re belief she should read about british sciencetist. ex Richard Dorkings.She needs more experience with majority sinhala people and moderate herself before thinking of UNP front line.DON

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        Rosy is not with the common man, at 65, she still thinks she’s a teenager
        She wants to propagate Christanity in Sri Lanka

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

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        Agree with you 100% . R Senanayaka and J jayawardens are two people who works for the Vatican. They seem to think they are the represantatives from Vaticn Christian Pradesiya Saba in Italy. With any one of these two in a prminant place in the party, UNP should say good bye to ever getting elected in SL.

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      I agreed with the writer , Rosy is an interligent woman who has exceptional leadership qualities, her vision for some issues are argubely better than those from her male counterparts. But she needs time to mature politically further, for not to fell pits dug by power hungry bankrupt politicians.

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    with this post we can see the true face of colombotelegraph lol.

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      I agree with Bodinayaka completely. Colombo Telegraph is anti Sri Lanka/anti Sinhala and anti Buddhist. It is pro LTTE violence. Why do people like Uvindu hate the Sinhala/Buddhists so much? Why can’t writers such as Uvindu think like Sri Lankans, without causing division between people of different races and religions – who are capable of living peacefully in Sri Lanka, without any input from extremists journalists and extremists politicians, who are the root cause of this so-called “ethnic” problem in Sri Lanka.

      I challenge Colombo Telegraph to publish my comments. I have commented on several articles earlier, but non have been published. So much for “freedom of expression” practiced by those behind Colombo Telegraph. Shame on you! Who is your financier, by the way? Are you by any chance funded by Christian countries with an imperialist agenda, such as the USA/UK/Europe/Norway/Canada……. Sri Lanka’s tragedy is that there are enough and more “Kalu Suddahas” (brown outside- pure white inside) willing to tarnish the image of the country of there birth for dollars, pounds and Euros.

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    “I wonder why the Sri Lankan electronic media does not arrange a debate between Colombo educated Ranil and London educated Sajith Premadasa. Then the UNP membership as well as the country can decide who is better.”

    I totally agree with Uvindu on this one, though, as someone who is bilingual and has extensively debated on TV, radio and in print in both Sinhala and English, I suspect that the outcome will be rather different from what the writer assumes! :))

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      DR, WHAT ABOUT OTHER ISSUES THIS WRITER RAISES?

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    Dr Dayan, exactly, I agree with both you and Uvindu. that’s what country need to see!

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    Regarding Rosy, true she has some worthwhile qualities. But she had herself spoiled by defecting with power greedy opportunists. She let her integrity compromised and fame tarnished by irresponsible behaviour. We feel sorry that Ranil bring forward people with talent but they falter halfway due to defects in their own conscience.

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      We have had the colonial mentality from way before; Aryan colonialism
      People will not like the following, but also true; Buddist colonialism
      If Buddha is authorising this, then he is responsible for the state of the Vaddha
      Since he was born Hindu, I dont think he would oppose Tamils

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    arguments on protectionism versus free trade, privatisation versus nationalisation, trade union power versus consumer power and nationalism versus liberalism.

    This is what UNP needs to forcus write now. Breaking the party means weeker opersition. Loosing a leadership race doesn’t qualify to start a new party which could be branded as loosers.

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    Thank you Uvindu for this insightful article, this is clearly make us think alternatively. I just started to think about this women factor, you very cleverly raise it and yes it is Rosy, I cant see any one apart fro her. Ranil sould make her DL. keep it up Uvindu.

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      This is correct and I agree. Rosy should be given more prominence for a all the reasons outlined in the article.
      The only perceived drawback being her religion ( I re-iterate PERCEIVED due to the bias of our society).
      Rosy and Dayasiri should be made deputy leaders and given the 3 years that lead up to the next election to battle it out and prove themselves. This is assuming that a dark horse doesn’t make a last minute bid for the job of leader !
      BTW if Rosy is sixty five I must be 103 !

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    If Rosy is given prominence it will be the end of the Buddha Sasana. I am very concerned.

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    Uvindu’s analysis is useful. It merely confirms that Sri Lanka is a country for Sinhla Buddhists where power will be held only by Sinhala Buddhists. Whether a state built on such majority power can survive as a single country will be seen in the future.

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    Uvindu, I gleefully endorse every word you have stated about Mr. Wickremesinghe. Even though, at certain times I get frustrated with him, that’s the ONLY reason (everything you’ve stated about him and much more) that keeps me away from criticizing him, no matter what.
    I know that his brain is way better than the Wikipedia or any other given encyclopedia that one could ever come across.
    He is absolutely conversant and thorough (to the point in facts and figures pertaining to varius entities) in any given subject, would it be economics, law, politics, arts, movies, sports, literature…… you name it.
    There is no other brain in the country, that could match RW’s brain, and he is witty at the same time.
    Sajith cannot even hold a candle for Ranil (if you know what I mean)…. That’s the bottom line. Sajith is from a totally different calibre.
    But, combined (the combination of RW & SP), Ranil and Sajith has the utter capability of filling up tremendous vacuums that the UNP is suffering in the present times. Sri Lanka would do well with the combination of both the aforesaid calibres.
    In local politics, we need the “thug type” (not as bad as the murdering type, drug dealing or womanizing type thug) as well as the “gentlemanly type” to fill in the local society’s aspirations, which ranges from the earth to the sky and in between, how many different layers of people do we need to satisfy….? I’m just being realistic.

    Full “Hi Fi” Colombo 7 part daagena Lankawe politics karanna behe…. Chandi part daagena karannth behe….. Madyama prathipadaawen giyaanam, honda mola combine karala wedak karanna puluwan ape ratata….. If you know what I mean.

    But, there is a problem somewhere down the line. You know, Sri Lankans are a unique category of people. More than reality and feasibility, they love to taste and be fooled by the icing of the cake.
    So, when it comes to that reality, with regards to the Sri Lankan masses, Ranil fails drastically.

    He is not an actor. He is not a pretender. He is not liar. He does not go and carry infants for the camera like MR does. The grassroots does not understand Ranil as a person, let alone his political ideology. On the least, they do not even try to.

    I remember, within that notably brief period as Prime Minister, how he boosted up the economy of the country, which was otherwise in the graveyard, thanks to CBK and her government’s disastrous conducts. He always applies strategies and takes time to do what is truly needed in the long run of the nation, instead of decorating the cake with icing on a shot term basis, which a majority of Sri Lankans like to see to fool their tastebuds with.

    I love Ranil by all means. He is the only gentleman in local politics, whom I’ve seen and studied since I was in 6th grade or so. Other than Ranil, Gamini D was the other political figure I’ve always respected for obvious reasons.

    But, and that’s a BIG BUT now, he (RW) needs to figure out and form a strategy to mingle with the grassroot-level populace of Lanka, and open their minds/brains. Or at least, he needs to find the right people to do it on his behalf. Not the kind that back-stabs him all day long.
    Or else, it is only the Colombo (so-called) high society that shall assemble around him. It’s not gonna be of much help any longer.

    You may think what I’m gonna say next is unimportant or irrelevant to a certain degree, but in my understanding – it’s not….. * RW needs to improve his posture. That’s like one of the initial lessons that we were taught in kindergarten. To F_ _ _ING SIT STRAIGHT for God’s sake…. LOL !!!!
    Ambalayek wage thunata nemila waadiwelaa, ponnayek wage “off-beat” clap karanakota, brain eka kochchara thibbath wedak nehe, balan inna saamaanya minihekuta pawaa epaa wenawane…. Once again, I’m being very honest and realistic about RW…..k….

    But, I love him and I respect him…. That shall never change…. But,at the same time, taking into consideration, the reality in another aspect, I cannot disagree with what I truly feel, as well as my conscience.

    Rosy too is somewhat intelligent, even though she makes her share of “blunders” here and there., at given moments in time. She at least tries her best, and had acquired a wide knowledge in the subject “government” via reading as well as indulging in politics, over the past two decades.

    Hmmmmm… yes, I too agree with the notion of increasing the women base, with regards to the political arena in Lanka. WOMEN ARE SMART AFTER ALL… YOU KNOW…. THEY JUST KNOW EXACTLY WHAT TO DO & WHEN TO DO IT……….

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    Uvindu, I am glad to read this. I always thought that it was in UNPs interests to appoint someone like Rossy to deputy post. thank for highlighting this important matter.

    yes ranil has excellent qualities and i think we do not need more sinhala Buddhist policies to reach to all the people of sri lanka. UNP should be a broad church where all people are embraced and welcomed.

    I believe that UNP should be robust about presenting its polices friendly to all in sl. yes it is up to new bread of UNP people to create a sexy, modernized UNP which has a wider appeal. we must be able to defeat pathetic racist and nationalistic ideas of people like wimal weerawansa and JHU. Al though i am a sinhala Buddhist I do not totally agree with some of the nationalistic policies carried out by Sajith. we must fight for what is right and not what is popular. it is easy to appeal to gutter politics.

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      Rosy Senanayake to lead UNP? were you under the influence of dopes when you wrote this Uvindu? Rosy knows no politics, she barely understands politics. She is a very good actress so she can pretend and keep showing off as if she is a ‘great’ politician. An actor who plays the protagonist in a movie does well than the real life character, but does well here means ‘acts well’.

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        I agree with Preethi. Rosy is a forward woman and good at projecting herself and is a good talker. But her knowledge of politics is NIL. She is utterly vain and spends most of her time at Ramani’s salon grooming herself. I myself have observed her arrogant behavior personally. Has anyone seen Rosy without makeup? Can you imagine Rosy, with her designer jewellery and expensive clothes leading the UNP? Where? To a “Born Again Christian Utopia” perhaps?

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    Well.It is a Great article …..Yes we do agree with you as well….

    My only concern is that , Why peoples are blaming only RW for loosing such election for last 16 Years.So where was our people who was in bottom line? What they have done for Victory? RW is not a looser .People who was around , they have not supported hime , Like Sajith ..He is just Pcs of shit and he will not even become minister ever in our country.

    How ever, Evry thing has happened now ? Wanna say something about rosy….She is the one who distrying the party along with sirasa as she is the one who coordinating with xxxxxx mahendrd in sisrasa.She looks to be good on the bed but not on the ground to win shinhales votes.

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    I agree fully with you Uvindu, Mrs Senanayake should be appointed as a deputy Leader of the UNP.Otherwise the women representation should be incresed proportionately.Look at the women representation of the National Parliament and the Provincials in CANADA. Hon.Chris Clerk is the Premier of British Columbia. I suppose Dr.Marina Raffai Thaha from the Central Province. We can’t see any Tamil women representative and the CWC must think twice.
    On May01,1993 afternoon I was sleeping in a house near to Eriyagama(belonged to an Army personel) and suddenly heard fire crackers about 1/2 an hour.You are very correct and you speaks the balanced truth.

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    Thanks Uvindu.Good stuff. Lession learnt .Upto Ranil.
    Jay.

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      Great article. People like Uvindu are greatly skilled at aping western journalist and think they are being objective and fair; they do not realise that what they consider as objective is actually conforming to some standards set by so-called ‘western democracies’. The sad thing is that these people do not even realise that the west change and set standards to suit their political needs. So for these apes, talking about Sinhala or Buddhism is inevitably racist. It is a really sad symptom of people growing up in a colonial mindset, despite being nominally independent since 1948.

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    We have had the colonial mentality from way before; Aryan colonialism
    People will not like the following, but also true; Buddist colonialism
    Mark the local on Uvindu the western !
    Published on ‘super’ indigenous technology

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    Great one! Yes Ranil Should lead the party and Rosi and all cans be a back for him ……Thanks for uvindu.

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    Uvindu has made a good analysis based on the current situation of the UNP. But what purpose it is going to serve.Both Ranil and Rosy, and so are many of the leading figures of the UNP,are old enough. You cannot accept this ageing people to continue to lead the party and form a Govt. What is necessary is to focus attention on the ‘liberal minded’ young men (cannot include Sajith for his Sinhal-Buddhist leanings) so that the UNP, which as a party has held some values, could be revamped and correct the fate of the country which is moving towards tragedy.

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    Oh My God ! if old Rosy gets to be the priemier or the president of this country having lead the UNP to power we all will have to change our religion to Christianity , to even to be able to get a job. That will be the second coming of the ‘Catholic action’. Rosy would no boubt want JJ as the foreign Minister atleast if not the prieminister. OMG may the good god save us the followers of Dhamma (racists) from this impending disaster. Amen.

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    This article while touching lots of ideas is not the facts on the ground. The Tamil Parties are still holding the government to ransom. They travel round the world with the democratic loop hole spreading all lies and half truths. UNP is not different. Every time Ranil goes abroad we know another privilege Sri Lanka is enjoying abroad is cut back. Now it is to the Tamils to influence its followers to take more democratic approach. The idea that no national party should be based on cast, religion, or ethnicity should be mandatory to this notion of one nation. The Tamil people want to benefit from both sides by crying discrimination on one side and also gets plum jobs in the government. During Prbhakaran they orchestrated this very well. The resources they got from Diaspora were solely used for weapons purchase while crying foul to the government saying their people are suffering. The government had to provide food, education, medical services while the ealimist danced blasting more bombs. The issue surrounding Srarath Fonseka is a good one too. If Sarath Fonseka were to get elected I wonder where Ranil could have been. Sarath Fonseka was following JVP mandate to rule the country. Anyway main problem is with the Tamil people to negotiate in good faith for a unified beautiful land.

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    It’s not surprising that UNP is divided clearly between two classes; christian liberalism and Sinhalese-buddhists. The author and most who commented here supports the former while majority of people in this country supports the latter. As long as the former clan is dominating, there is no future for the UNP.
    The author seems to be ill-informed, mostly on historical aspects of Tamil issue. He is, with the whitephilic (like Ranil/Chandrika-like) mindsets, quick to blame at Sinhala-Buddhists. But, they love to hide the fact that Sinhala-Buddhists and Tamil-Hindus had lived together with no ethnic issue over at leas a millennium until early 20th century. Even Sinhala-Buddhists kings had marriages with Tamils. They used to use Tamil as a respected language among elites. Moreover, Sinhala-Buddhists had no issue having Tamil kings. Every Sinhala-Buddhist live today is still sympathetic to our last (Tamil) king Sri Wickrama Rajasinghe.
    Instead, British are the culprits who deserve the blame. They changed the proportional balance in the ruling societies as a strategy to suppress potential uprise of people (after 1818). When British decided to leave, Tamil who held unproportional stake of gov scared of their positions. They poisoned the ordinary Tamils against Sinhala-Buddhists. This as a whole drive Sinhala-Buddhists crazy. The same strategy is still followed by British, now together with USA, in Iraq and Afghanistan. These countries will never be peaceful for decades.
    What we have witnessed in 1983 was the brake-point of the tension when the majority is threatened. These whilephilic mindsets cannot recall systematic ethnic cleansing in North and East to drive out Sinhalese before 1983. We can see the same scenario every day basis in Africa. Now, someone esteemed of his “education” and with whitephilic mindset will tell that this kind of ethnic issues are possible only in barbaric, uncivilized, racist, (you name it) etc countries like ours. But what they don’t understand is that their heroes like Americans, French, British, etc are far worse than us. In particular, USA is afraid of its dominant position of the world and hence propagating campaigns against countries like Iran, Russia, China. They will oppress any who go against the white dominance. This is exactly the same as our problem but in a different form. Those who live in white countries know how they treat us, an issue I can illustrate with examples over pages.

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    Thumbs up Uvindu for your article. It is a grate article. I hate sinhalease buddist attitude. These sinhalease buddist ppl should vanish from this world, then only this world would be a beautifull place. they have a fucked up attitude. They always go with a man call Buddha and think their beliefs are true.

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      What about the born-again Christian fundamentalism practiced by Geoge W Bush and Company and the US in general, where they appear to believe that its God’s will to eliminate all Muslims on sight? Torture and murder Muslim leaders of Arab countries? Murder Muslims and then American soldiers urinate on the dead bodies!! What a great White Christian ideology to be practiced by soldiers all over the world!

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    Good article

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    A CHANGE IN THE UNP LEADERSHIP IS MANDATORY, it is evident from 39 election routes. A world record for a party and its lacadasical Leader.
    The people will deside who should lead next we need not be king makers, but Mr Wickremesinghe must step down or the UNP IS FINISHED

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    PLEASE CORRECT IT SHOULD READ 29 ELECTION ROUTES

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    Ranil Wickremesinghe is a curse to the UNP as his demented leadership is just destroying the party, He nust be nade to step down by the membership before the UNP goes into a political abyss

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