28 July, 2021

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Travails Of The UNP: Why Press The Leader To Select A Successor?

By Shyamon Jayasinghe

Shyamon Jayasinghe

“….to ask Ranil Wickremesinghe to name a successor is absurd. This is not the prerogative of a democratic leader, since successors must inevitably be named by the party men and women. For this to happen, the aspirant must prove himself and forge his way up as a true leader of men and resources. He must have the ticker for that. The situation must also be ripe for him and this is a most variable factor.”

Isn’t this a ridiculous suggestion made by UNP back benchers-or whoever others maybe?

LTTE’S Devastating Blow to Our Leadership

One of the most devasatating blows given by LTTE Supremo, Prabhakaran to our national polity is his destruction of some leaders of considerable potential in the United National Party-Gamini Dissanayake. Lalith Athulathmudali. Even GM Premachandra who went in the blast. Lalith Athulathmudali was my Minister when I was Additional Secretary, Higher Education and Premachandra was my Minister when I was Secretary Labour & Vocational Trainining. I hadn’t worked with Gamini Dissanayake but I have studied him. Ranasinghe Premadass was the last such capable leader to be balsted by the LTTE although he did have a short stint as President.

Ranil Wickremesinghe’s Managment of Adversity 

The party has since suffered terribly without any proper backers for its current leader, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe. No politcal party leader is perfect;it is the expectation that other party members behind him will fill up for any defficiencies of the leader-covering up the latter all the time. This never did happen in respect of Ranil. In the many bad days and years in Opposition, Ranil had to face many tensions within the party, which had been then exposed to all kinds of manouvreings by the then President Mahinda Rajapaksa. Seventeen of his top ranking party MPs had been bought over to “to strengthen the hand of Mahinda Rajapaksa.” Ranil had two successive attempts in leadership challenge-one by Sajith Premadasa and the other by Karu Jayasuriya. Wickremasinghe was much more resillient material than his challengers thought he was and he trounced both attempts. He kept the Grand Old Party together over all the obstacles and impediments that a Party in Opposition in a country like Sri Lanka does experience. That was no mean achievement. He predicted a UNP win in 2015 even five years before that happened. And it happened, although under the restricted conditions of a persisting Executive President who can put in spokes in the wheel.

Resilience

Yet, Ranil is there. Everybody in the Opposition kept the mantra go on that “Ranil is a loser.” He is no loser but a terribly tenacious guy. Wickremesinghe’s tenacity has some elements grounded in Buddhist attitudes. It was the Buddha who showed silence when useless questions had been pelted at him (Pottapada Sutta). Likewise, Ranil Wickremesinghe remains silent when sterile brickbats are hurled at him.His strong point is his emotional management. Daniel Goleman who popularised the concept of emotional management gave numerous illsutrations how it works in his seminal work, “Emotional Intelligence,” where this skill (he called it EQ) had been decisive in the success of great leaders of Corportaions. It was not so much IQ, stated Goleman; but EQ that’s crucial. I see Ranil as an embodiment of EQ. People around him will call him names and shout at him but he managers to keep silent and cool and things happen to him. Not ruffled by blame or even praise, Ranil Wickremasinghe is the wise man in the Dhammapada.

I think the concerns of the United National Party and the Sri Lanka Freedom Party are also concerns for the nation.Both these groups of political forces have been at the backbone of our democratic stability.  It is in the interests of our nation to preserve these major parties. Democratic Parliamentary politics is essentially bipolar with an electorate that tends to swing periodically one way or the other. Third political forces find it an uphill task to break through this syndrome.Sri Lanka saw this with the old Left, which since cuddled up with the major parties. England has witnessed this and so has Australia with their respective Conservative and Labour Parties. Even the American non-Parliamentary set up sways between the Republicans and Democrats. Desirable or not this is the logic of the electorate.

The UNP, in particular, has been in real terms the Grand Old Party-the Master Party that has been responsible for most of the development work in our economy thus far. Beginning with the Gal Oya Development, numberless colonization schemes were establishe by the party since DS Senanayake’s State Council days- Minneriya, Kawdivulawewa, Giritale and so many. The colonization of the dry zones had been one of the great landmark achievements of our country. In education, we had the Maha Vidyalayas and Madyamaha Vidyalas. More recently, we had the Free Trade Zones, Garment Factories and the Mahweli Development Scheme. These were mostly UNP achievements. It is necessary that this party be intact and strong with new young leaders coming up to enrich it and take it forward.

How Leaders Emerge

The concerns of backbenchers, therefore, for leadership development are fair without doubt. On the other hand, my question is why place the responsibility of bringing up a new leadership rung rest soley on the party leader?

I began this piece with mention of the strong leadership rung of the UNP  that had been liquidated by the LTTE  intentionally. The leaders mentioned were those who forged their way largely alone by their sheer political skills and effort. They weren’t creations of any Party leader. Anyone with leadership potential and political will naturally find his or herself in this way. He must carve the path for himself and be creative at that. There is no template path for this as “paths are made by walking.” Witness Lalith’s idea of building the Mahapola project to the people. Witness Premadasa’s idea of the Gam Udawa. President JR did not ask them to do that. The idea occurred in their own minds and the spirit and will was there in them to show. Take the case of Premadasa. He began amidst social handicaps-unfairly considered as of low birth. Yet, by sheer dint of will, self-push, innovation and hard work Premadasa was able to reach the top echeleons of the UNP during an era when that party was known as a feudally-biased one.None could stop Premadasa’s meteoric rise. His son, Sajith, seems to think that power must fall into his lap and he seems waiting for that. A father’s laurels aren’t enough. I don’t see any other leader at this point in time who can command the heights of the United National party. Sarath Fonseka comes to mind but he is relatively junior in the party unless he could conquer that handicap, as Premdasa did, and get to the top. There are other very young leaders who need time.

Conclusion 

In this context, the cry for Ranil Wickremesinghe to back out is unrealistic and undesirable. Ranil is still capable of leadership even with his obvious faults-poor communication, poor PR and so on. The Opposition knows this only too well and this is why they have been gunning for Ranil Wickremesinghe.

On the other hand, to ask Ranil Wickremesinghe to name a successor is absurd. This is not the prerogative of a democratic leader, since successors must inevitably be named by the party men and women. For this to happen, the aspirant must prove himself and forge his way up as a true leader of men and resources. He must have the ticker for that. The situation must also be ripe for him and this is a most variable factor.

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Latest comments

  • 3
    15

    it is time you took a time out as we are tired of the stuff that you and dayan write
    one for and one against

    • 15
      2

      Nalmen, I see shyamon’s as a welcome change to the regular Ranil bashing seen and heard in the media. I thank that overweight heavyweight of a news channel for having openedv my eyes to the unfairness of the media and I am glad Ranil does not allow any of that to faze him.

    • 0
      1

      Nalmen: YOui can get thr same impact both sides.

  • 10
    0

    “For this to happen, the aspirant must prove himself and forge his way up as a true leader of men and resources. He must have the ticker for that. The situation must also be ripe for him”
    Absolutely. Totally agree.

  • 5
    0

    I like if Ranil stays the leader of UNP because Protestants and Civil socieity will lose their grip.

  • 6
    0

    You are right. It is more accurate to say Ranil bidded and the masses rejected. So a proper contract was never established between the two. Nothing is provable since we cannot prove a negative – so we will never know which side lost more.

    What is beyond reproach is his perseverance. As for all else in the UNP, there is only one man who has proven anything to a comarable level. That is Field Marshal SF.

  • 0
    0

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

  • 0
    0

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

  • 1
    0

    Shyamon,
    What do you think of succession planning? It is the prerogative of the leader to plan for his smooth succession.
    If a leader is unpopular, then of course he could delay taking a decision and let the time to resolve the issue.

  • 5
    4

    Excellent piece. Thank you

  • 4
    3

    There is one and only one to Command the UNP. That is one and ONLY Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka Esq.

  • 5
    7

    UNP has no role play in terms of democracy, By well corrupted the UNP leadership has buried all basic values of norms of Democratic principles since 2015 January 8th.
    Is that UNP is most corrupted political Party since 1947 under the DS, Dudley, Kale John JRJ, Pemapala and RW.
    Its political roots that nature-policies ranges policies will ever-never change any time or any cost in near future whatever the circumantance by under RW- leadership.
    The party of UNP will manipulated policies time to time by vital interest of Western countries[USA & UK} and Indians. That is definite that UNP will misled millions of masses by name of “DEMOCRCAY”

  • 7
    6

    After all the UNP is a small gathering of Colombo wallahs and some confused villagers who do not know the meaning of a political party. What they decide in the so called central committee of the UNP is of no importance because at the elections people will give their verdict.This central committee is all Ranil appointees ( who has been leader for 25 years without success). That tells you about the quality of this UNP central committee and their political vision.

    Definitely Ranil who is such a devious and dishonest man should not nominate his successor. If the UNP is to survive they should allow open nominations even from the public

    The UNP and Ranil of today are such that Ranil is the only large scale fraudster in the world who can get angry when some body questions him about it.

    Hie ego is such that even his crimes are not to be questioned ! His serial defeats are not to be questioned ! The pathetic state of the UNP and the poor quality of its higher leadership is not to be questioned ! The repeated mismanagement of the country and economy is not to be questioned ! The reasons for the very short stays of Ranil as PM is not be questioned !Cannot believe that a once powerful political party can end up like this

    • 3
      2

      Kolla,
      “The UNP and Ranil of today are such that Ranil is the only large scale fraudster in the world who can get angry when some body questions him about it.”
      Who wouldn’t get angry when financially clueless idiots fabricate mythical bond scams simply because Ranil’s government does not burn down TV stations?
      Kindly explain what the fraud was, with facts and figures. If you cannot, keep quiet.

      • 3
        0

        OC
        There was a seriously flawed issue of treasury bonds involving insider information.
        There was no proper inquiry when the story broke out, and Ranil seemed not keen to pursue the matter seriously.
        The Governor CBSL was a foreign national hand-picked by him. Now he is at large. There are many things that Ranil has to come clean about.

        • 3
          1

          OC, even before Singapore citizen Mahendran was appointed governor central bank his son in law Aloysius resigned from Perpetual ! Who were they planning to fool? What about the breakfast meeting of RWS closest cronies the same day the fraud was committed ?
          In defending Mahendrans betrayal of his oath of office what about the ridiculous and casual claim by RW that funds were needed by the government ?What about James bond speech ?
          What about the hasty appointing of the joke called Pitipana commission ? What about scuttling the COPE ? What about the behaviour of UNP MPS in parliament during the Bond scam inquiry ?
          What about tasting Mendis Special arrack with pup Aloysious (RWs own evidence before Commission)
          Can you prove Rajapakse frauds-to the rupee ? Can you prove Mafia robbery to the dollar ? RW thinks we are fools.

          • 0
            1

            Kolla,
            “What about the breakfast meeting o../ what about the ridiculous and casual claim by RW that funds were needed../ What about the hasty appointing of the joke called Pitipana…/”
            Where are the FIGURES to prove your allegation “Ranil is the only large scale fraudster in the world who can get angry” ??
            Clearly you don’t have any figures and are only depending on hearsay.
            Here are some simple facts:
            The original scheme was to borrow 1 billion at 10%
            This became 10 billion at 13%
            Therefore the difference (loss?) is 3 % of 10 billion (300 million).
            You can refer the following more detailed analysis here:
            http://www.dailymirror.lk/78805/central-bank-s-30-year-bond-debacle-what-is-the-loss
            It is a simple calculation, and you don’t need bogus pundits like Faraz or Rusiripala to tell you. There is nothing hidden in this. All the information is public, unlike Mahinda’s commission deals.

            Large-scale fraudster? Ha Ha.

        • 1
          0

          SJ,
          “There was a seriously flawed issue of treasury bonds involving insider information.”
          Yes . I think that was the main issue. Ravi K and Mahendran should also be in jail for providing info/ manipulation. However Sirasa went to town with one-sided kangaroo courts and invented various crimes such as “unwarranted profits”. Various other pundits have claimed that this “bankrupted the country”.
          At 300 million rupees a year? Seriously?
          The CB’s first governor was a foreign national too. So was the last Defence Sec.

      • 2
        1

        OLD codger: Why Ranil was clarifying and did not allow questioning As Ranil was not guilty. I heard you had been appointd by the govt to rebuttle comments.? One of you another arguments is that even the Chief PRelates know what happened in the bond scam. Some known source who overheard what Ranil said to the Chief prelates say ha had said ” Venerables theras. If I cannot beome the PResident this time, I won’t allow the country to be run”. He won’t commit suicide because he was caught.

  • 5
    0

    grand old party has become little old party with less than 30% of the national vote.

    Athulathmudali was killed by sirisena cooray without the approval of preme.

  • 3
    0

    Those who burn books today will burn people tomorrow….Hienrich Heine
    UNP/Ranil & Shyamon were you there in 1981 and thereafter in 1983????

    Is this the same UNP today ???????????? Does the current UNP leadership deserve to be there?
    UNP buries its basic values in 1981. Ranil was a party to it.
    On the other hand did Ranil reach there with a sheer dint of will ?

    • 1
      0

      Thondamany

      “Those who burn books today will burn people tomorrow….Hienrich Heine”
      Good Quote.
      Was Dr Gota and his hoodlums burning books earlier?

  • 2
    0

    In a US company when the CEO appeared before the President and said that he is retiring and he was asked wheather he had picked up the successor.He said “no.”The President said”you cannot retire,you are fired”

  • 7
    1

    What does it matter how many leadership qualities RW has if he has Not delivered the goods? A leader is judged by the results. If the results are not there, then either he must go on his own or he must be thrown out. True, Sajith tried once and Karu a second time to throw him out and both failed. That was a long time ago.

    RW has had enough time to deliver the goods and his best chance was in 2015. How Royally he messed it thanks to the company he chose in Mahendran.

    It looks the only way the UNP will move with RW as the leader, is downhill. The sooner he goes, the better for the UNP and for the country.

  • 7
    3

    Ranil is a born loser. Never amounted to anything so far..never will.

    It is the leaders responsibility to make his followers respect him. Respect must be EARNED it is NOT given.

  • 3
    0

    The fastest progress in developments happened under JRJ and the worst of
    civil unrest recorded also happened in his tenure , it was destructive . UNP
    lost Lalith , Gamini and Premadasa But the voters didn’t sympathise with
    UNP candidate Srima Dissanayaka ! In my opinion , it was not because of
    lack of sympathy for the losses but due to the need of a change in governance.
    They elected CBK . Ranil’s history as party and opposition leader starts here .
    Srilanka has a well tuned full-time politicised population that has a taste for
    fiery speeches on platforms . They somewhat see a power in them . That is
    what JRJ gave them and Premadasa followed ! And MARA took it a step ahead
    by finishing off LTTE by consolidating his grip and making Ranil’s life more
    difficult . Under such a circumstance , the party need to do all it could to stand
    up , including Leadership change if necessary ! Ranil himself taking that stand
    would have given the party a big boost undoubtedly and you can see that from
    Harin’s resignation from parliament and standing for a provincial council seat !
    Nobody wants to sit for exams the whole of their life until he succeeds ? If Ranil
    started to lead the party and opposition about twenty four years ago and he is 69
    now , what age did he start ? He has to work it out ! Angela Merkel at 63 is
    German Chancellor four the fourth time ! Macron of France is 40 and Trudeau of
    Canada is 46 and May of UK is 66 . Ranil must take steps to revolutionize party
    structure without wasting time leaving room for tension in the party and the
    country .

  • 1
    0

    Prime Minister missed a golden opportunity or did he ignore it taking for granted that he would not be vanquished and ultimate leadership of the country would be offered to him on a platter. Yes he could have if only he had the presence of mind to remind himself of the aspirations of the people and the good governance he vowed to establish. His first address to the UNP caucus should have been a strong warning on the need to refrain from all illegal activities, corruption and misappropriation and to conduct themselves with sterling honesty in the discharge of their duties. That would have certainly sent a clear signal to the President and his group as well. With all the experience of the PM he did not have that bit of wisdom and today he himself is being subject to disgrace and many are of the view that there is no smoke without fire. UNP could have dictated a few terms to The President lead SLFP. Today almost everything has gone hay wire and PM has to play on back foot while the criminals and racketeers are having a field day. This is indeed lost Paradise. There is still a flickering light which can bring hope if the UNP acts with circumspection.

  • 4
    0

    You use “our leadership”.. But should it not be “Your”, considering YOUR PM is Turnbull?
    I hope you are denouncing your Australian citizenship and coming back home. Will you lose the Welfare benefits Comrade?

    So let Lankans who suffered and lived in SL all this time, decide their future. I support Ranil Haamu. He will be our next President not YOUR Prime Minister in Canberra.

    Thank you from Fredrica Lane, Wellwatte, close to Money Exchangers who bring a lot Of YOUR Australian dollars too but not as much as Euros from Eelam Tamils in France and Germany or not as much as Canadian dollars but we do get YOUR AUD as well.Right now we give YOUR AUD 118 LKR. Thanks for contributing.

  • 1
    0

    Why is that wrong doing of immeasurable corruption and frauds that totally denied by UNP leader of Ranil Wicks since 2015 January 8th?
    The Ranil of Wicks of UNP said they did every -thing recent past for Prosperity and Development of People of all Sri Lankan? Can we believed that Ranil Wick said in May Day rally?
    I do not understand what type of “Development” and “Democracy ” is that UNP leaders meaning of in his speech in UNP May-day political rally ?
    In fact more than that RW’s side, in UNP- May Day that they will remain in political -power another 20 years ? By voters consent or by power of gun point? Or backing of foreign -power ?

    Why was that UNP leadership looted CB Bonds scam of trillions of Rupees by helping Perpetual Treasuries earn govt. funded of public money by an appoinmented of Arjun Mahandran as Governor of Central Bank of Sri lanka?
    What has happen to CB ex-governor who escaped to Singapore?
    Warrant issued by Court to Interpol red notice arrest Arjun Mahadaran is hide in Singhopareen-citizen? What will happen future of UNP and Our country under the rule of UNP current leadership of RW?

  • 0
    0

    Shyamon Jayasinghe: Now Ranil will read the titoe of thisarticle and think “Ah people are asking to me to stay put and not resign because that is natural philosophy. He got the answer he was looking for. He has money now he wants the president’s chair.

  • 0
    0

    On the other hnd, Maithripala sirisena think he also has momey and he is also ready for the fire and Ranil would come back after two by elelctions.

  • 1
    0

    Till the day RW decides to hand over the reins of the UNP to Ruwan Wijewardena we can go on speculating who the next leader will be.

  • 1
    1

    Ranil is the best out of the worst. Unfortunately, even the caliber of the best is appalling. But then that is the fate of this country. With a national average IQ of 79 what do you expect?

    Another thing I am curious about is this: Does Ranil read Colombo Telegraph? At least those articles about the UNP and about him (including the comments)? He could learn so much that would be useful to him and to the country.

  • 0
    0

    First of all my argument with your topic that ” Why press a leader to select a successor.” In any formidable and strong organisation, its the duty of a leader to work with a deputy to take over in case of any unforeseen incident in the interest of the organisation. In Sri Lankan politics none of the leaders of any ruling party has named a deputy to steer the country as they were suspicious of any capable person around them for undercutting them but not on leading the country forward,.
    You talk of lot of leaders like Athulathmudali and Gamini Dissanayake. You are silent on what really happened to Gamini Athukorala who could have steered the UNP back into what it was before this disintegration after Ranils leadership.
    Today Ranil is the best politician in the country with knowledge and international connections, However is reluctant to let go of his greedy corrupt buddies and engage the young and honest to take the country forward. His executive committee of past royalists (just the name of the school they attended} sadly consists of deal makers, bribe takers, commission kings will contribute to drag down the once grand party of UNP to abyss. As long as they remain the executive committee UNP can never achieve a come back and let any young aspiring honest and genuine leaders to take over.
    The only option left for the back benchers who want a change is to come out and speak about corruption in the government, the benefits given to politicians at the expense of the tax paying public and gain the public cofidence. They can get together and engineer for a vote of the next policy statement on the 8th of May and vote against the policy leading for a change of the present Ayahapalana regime of schemers, deal makers, corrupt leaders and protectors of crooks.
    It is time for a change.

  • 3
    0

    Pity Shyamon starts with the ‘blame LTTE’ song.
    Shayamon have you forgotten that Lalith A waited till the 1983 pogrom ran its planned course. Was Gamini D’s presence in Jaffna when Jaffna Library bibiliocide was executed, a coincidence?
    .
    SLPP used the language/religion-divide in the recent LG elections. UNPers are clamouring to toe this line. Easy way out. Should RW/MS cave in? The answer is obviously “No”. Seventy years of ‘slide-back’ is too much.

  • 2
    0

    There is a belief that Lalith and Premadasa were not victims of the LTTE.
    Now that the LTTE is no longer around, there must be someone around either here or abroad, who were associated with them,
    and who were privy to their actions who could settle this once and for all.
    The LTTE were made the scapegoats which apparently they did not mind, to demonstrate their efficiency!
    How would it have been possible for the LTTE TO ASSASSINATE Lakshman Kadirgamer in a high security area and make a getaway effortlessly. There was of -course some chap who was caught and is awaiting trial!

  • 0
    0

    There are lot of things going on with Ranil. Ranil think he can not be removed by what ever means. The way Yahapalanaya has got money, 92% are paid as debt. They expenses for UNP electorates per hour is said to be Rs 3 million. See the expenses for the local govt bodies. Besides, Ranil gets support from two most influential countries.

  • 0
    0

    Lalith very probably not an LTTE victim.
    Premadasa, I would say 50-50– but then the LTTE has done many stupid things that proved suicidal.
    High security is not absolute security.
    There were many foul murders by the LTTE for which there is still no tangible ‘proof’, like Rajini Thiranagama’s for example.

  • 0
    0

    There is a saying in Tamil that termites think if the rain has not fallen they would have built their hill to the sky. The falling rain erode their hill, in their thought. If the rain is not there they would not be able to get the clay for their hill.

    One or two murderous barbarians were murdered by LTTE. SWRD, Athulath Mutali, Sri Pathi were murdered by their own (Disregard what JVP did like Vijaya). It was done by Junius Richard’s Kandy March caused SWRD’s murder. When SWRD was murdered, SLFP was very young and vulnerable juvenile which was dependent on one man. But just one family of SWRD brought the party to the high peak, when last February the party was reduced to Zero by GLP’s Slap Party. Slap Party achievement is, again depends on one man.

    The most prosperous community before the freedom, Tamils, which produced Ponnampalam Brothers, SJV like statesmen, remains as Genocide-d community by Sinhala Political leaders. All their hopes and prospects are gone. It has not just lost Raviraj, Pararajasingham like leaders, but about 300,000 civilians by these murders Sinhala leaders. …… But let us look where Tamil community was before Sinhalese started to murder them as a whole community, rather than individuals. The country was kept as the richest in the hemisphere by the work of the Up Country Tamils and Tamil government Servants.

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