25 July, 2024


Unholy Silence Of Holies

By Ameer Ali

Dr. Ameer Ali

While the focus of the whole country is on the future of its struggling economy, and how President Ranil Wickremesinghe (RW) going to transform that economy into a competitive and innovative export-oriented industrial and technological power house to push Sri Lanka to First World status by 2048, there is one issue that seems to have strangely disappeared from making headlines since he became the president. This was an issue that annoyingly kept the pressure on and demanded speedy resolution from RW’s predecessor, Gotabaya Rajapaksa (GR). It was the issue of justice to the victims of 2018 Easter Sunday Bombing horror.  

After three independent different investigations with a final 22-volume report in 100,000 words the whole affair seems to have been swept under the carpet without knowing who the mastermind was. The Catholic Cardinal Malcolm Ranjit who travelled as far as the Vatican with his demand for justice and even threatened to take it to the International Court of Justice has surprisingly gone silent after RW replaced GR. Similarly, the Mufti of Islam from ACJU, who, at also raised his voice at convenience, and joined the Cardinal’s chorus, but on behalf of victimized Muslims, has adopted the same muteness. Is there a political motive behind their silence?

RW is still the chairperson of UNP, the nation’s oldest political party. He is also the most experienced and a scheming politician trying to resurrect the prestige of his party after its historic defeat at the last election. Having been chosen by GR and won the endorsement from a majority of parliamentarians, he is set to remain President at least until the end of 2024. He is no doubt trying to achieve (a) some semblance of political stability after the chaotic resignations an elected Prime Minister and a President, and (b) a modicum of economic recovery after the colossal devastation caused by mismanagement and a pandemic. To deal with the first he is trying hard to stitch a fissiparous coalition with SLPP as the dominant component, and with regard to the second he is totally depending on an IMF assisted program with all its stringent conditions. He should be counting on the success of these two to achieve a third objective, i.e., the rebuilding of his UNP. 

Historically, the Catholic church had been a staunch ally of UNP, and so was the Muslim community until SLMC and its breakaway group ACMC came into the picture. Now that these two ethnic parties have exposed their policy bankruptcy and fast losing support within the community, that RW in a master stroke has publicly rejected the controversial report of GR’s One Country One Law Task Force, which aimed at doing away with Muslim personal laws, and that he had indicated, while conversing with USAID Administrator Samantha Power, the possibility of releasing a few Muslim detainees who were arrested under suspicion of involvement in the Easter infamy, Muslim religious leaders under the guidance of ACJU may be willing to switch their allegiance back to UNP. All in all, it looks that old alliances seem to be resurfacing under RW’s presidency. That may also be true of Tamil leadership under TNA, which was previously part of RW’s yahapalana coalition. Thus, it is not unreasonable to suggest that the Catholic and Muslim religious leaders are intentionally keeping quiet about the demand for justice to Easter victims so that RW could be free of that headache and do what he is trying to do, i.e., resurrecting the UNP. If that is the case, it does not augur well for the reputation of the church and the mosque. 

In reality however, RW has only a limited space to fly within the SLPP-built cage, and he is virtually the president of the SLPP government. The bulk of his 28-member cabinet and 38 regional ministers are from that party. The overarching philosophy or ideology that unites all SLPP members and their party cadre is ethno-nationalism of the Sinhala-Buddhist variety. It was that pernicious ideology that brought Rajapaksas to power, and provided a cover to hide all their corruption and mismanagement, which ultimately bankrupted the economy. There is no way RW could hold them accountable for their misdeeds and mismanagement of public wealth.     

True, he has issued strict financial strictures to his regional ministers so that government expenses could be cut down. But there is no requirement for accountability or penalty for those who breached those strictures, which is unavoidable given the past record of those ministers. The need for accountability and end to corruption, were the twin demands subsumed under aragalaya’s call for systemic change. But these seem to be of no relevance in RW’s plan for economic recovery. Having been caged by SLPP, his hands are tied to pursue those demands even if he wished to. He therefore chose the short cut, to kill the aragalaya and punish its originators and supporters.

In the same vein RW would like to be left free of any more controversy in relation to the Easter infamy. Even to release those 22 volumes would open a new can of worms, which would jeopardize his plans to rebuild his own party while remaining beholden to Rajapaksas. If he is innocent, as he claims, of suppressing intelligence received from domestic and foreign sources, why then should he fear releasing the PCoI report to the public? Shouldn’t the Cardinal and Mufti keep the pressure on him to do so?  

However, in the final analysis, it is systemic change and not the re-emergence of UNP that would bring justice to all minorities. For more than seventy years every religious and ethnic minority in this country had suffered under an ethno-national majoritarian democracy. And rather than any particular minority it is the country that stood to lose most by this distorted democracy. It is that realization which propelled the youth to start the aragalaya. Theirs is a pristine goal that should not be allowed to die in the wake of RW’s betrayal and repression. Until the full impact of IMF reforms come into effect and start impoverishing the middle class through higher taxes and inflationary prices, the current absence of queues for fuel and price reduction for selected consumer items provide a deceptive image of an otherwise illusory recovery. Having learnt their lessons, the aragalaya youth would re-emerge with new vigour, strategies and wider support to face RW’s gendarmerie. Theirs is the future and the country needs them. Religious leaders have no choice but to back their cause.

*Dr. Ameer Ali, Murdoch Business School, Murdoch University, Western Australia

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Latest comments

  • 9

    Dr. Ameer: you must read the book: “The ISIS is US: the Shocking Truth behind the Army of Terror”, regarding the invasion of Iraq and the setting up ISIS to do regime change in Syria, ISIS attacks in Sri Lanka and Caliphate bombings all over the world to keep the military business industrial complex of the biggest Rogue state in the world going.. in the name of fighting IS terror?!
    The Ranil Rajapakse regime is US backed and Brokered to deliver Sri Lanka into the waiting arms of the Washington Consensus and its colonial Club de Paris (a.k.a. Paris Club). Hence Sam Power’s visit to Lanka with Ranil reading out his school boy report on the State of Lanka to his school mistress Sam Power! Sri Lanka is today again a colony of the West with the US citizens Rajapakse Family and RW running the show, but there are also formidable Asian forces challenging Western hegemony in Sri Lanka which could become like Ukraine!

    • 3

      Dinuk, were you invited for the dinner, Julie. C attended, at recently appointed , state tourism minister Diana Gamage’s private residence. Apparently Sushil . P , Ravi . K, Dr. Senaka . S were present. Was there, Hoppers in the menu list ???

    • 4

      Ranil was not quite as planned.
      But he is a bonanza that the US did not even dream of.
      He will on occasion be pulled up for this or that breach of HR etc. You can count on him to deliver before he leaves– not for us but for US.

      • 3

        Newly appointed state minister for Tourism, Dyana Gamage, says to promote tourism we need whole night “wining, dining and partying until wee hours”. There is no entertainment in dormant Colombo city after 10 p.m. There is no night life, hence she wants to develop “night economy”for extra $. She also suggested converting island of Mannar to entertainment zone. She should consult Dinuk for advise. Not sure , about our pseudo SB / prelates opinion. Hope she didn’t invite Julie . C for this (advise). If not for hefty fee, she sure can consult Trump , the casino guru, “counting on him to deliver for U.S before he leaves”. RETARDS.

  • 7

    “Sri Lanka is today again a colony of the West with the US citizens Rajapakse Family and RW running the show,”

    sri Lanka is not only today but also throughout the history it is a Colony of West, East, South and North. Rajapaksas and Ranils are only recent heros who compete each other to become colony of West and East. Sri Lanka is a product in the market for sale by our rulers.

  • 9

    I am in total agreement with Ameer Ali save for one stand.
    ‘That may also be true of Tamil leadership under TNA, which was previously part of RW’s yahapalana coalition’.
    TNA was NOT a part of RW’s government. TNA was in opposition.
    Let me add, lest I am misunderstood and misquoted later on.
    TNA went along with with Ranil. They did not oppose anything and everything of what Ranil did. As representatives of a minority group their hands were tied.
    For that reason, TNA was not a true opposition in spirit.

    • 4

      “TNA was NOT a part of RW’s government. TNA was in opposition.”
      Strictly, it was part of the government seated on the opposition benches.
      Even members of the cabinet would have disagreed among themselves, but the leader of the opposition— never a word of dissent.
      “As representatives of a minority group their hands were tied.”
      Who tied the hands?
      Did it not have a choice to refuse the post of LoO?

  • 8

    Mr. Ranil has now come to the end of his road in politics. Even the ardent U.N.P. supporters would not support him hereafter. He is only dancing to the tune of Rajapaksas just to remain in power. In this process, he has exposed his true behavior of cowardness and disappointed the entire nation, who wants justice, fairness, and rule of law equally applicable even to the Rajapaksa family; which has not only ruined the economy but also became billionaires owning assets in many other countries by frauds committed in Sri lanka.

    • 3

      Regardless of the tunes that he is dancing to, he is winning back members of the SJB.
      Do you expect otherwise?

  • 3

    If Rajapaksas are really serious about SL peace and prosperity they should cease hostilities to the minorities in SL. They should bring back the wealth stashed in rest of the world. If NGR is really care for SL he should bring his son back to SL. Sajith Premadasa needs to indicate his willingness to bring an end to the Tamils

  • 2

    This is a bila club/or golf,
    Even the current prez woudnt have thought
    Or the rest if 224 …..they got perks and pensions, 3 cars ….and home in Colombo,
    But.these clergies put pirith nool to anyone thats what Buddha ‘s principle

    What a lockdown for every poya ,one school principle english though private, poya falled on Thursday she said have Friday off too have long week end
    Arresting the people to.try to flee for.save for their lives and.family

    But patriotic fled the country to save his life and the wife,but good that US lottery visa, so his son is in secured country the with.same rights

    Who is goimg to serve the country, Ratwatte, Ganapiila, Soorawamsa, Johnston, racist Runawaka,

  • 4

    Malcom Ranjit was never a sincere Bishop’ for all Srilankan Catholics. He was/is a Bishop only for the Sinhalese Catholics. He never cared for the Tamils or even the Tamil Catholics when they were massacred in their thousands, before/during/ after the war. Not a word of sympathy was conveyed to the Jaffna citizens at least via the bishops of Jaffna. However, with the bombing massacre in the churches elsewhere he rose up from nowhere and shed crocodiles for the victims, continuously for months. Threatened the then government of action ‘beyond borders and boundaries, flew up to Rome, roamed about in the vicinity of the ‘Arch Bishops’ palace, and returned with more vigor and vitality to initiate action against Rajapakses, Srisenas, and the like. But with the rise of Ranil Rjapkses the threats wielded by the arch

  • 2

    Bishop ceased and he is in his true form.

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