17 April, 2024


Up The Creek Without A Paddle

By Sarath de Alwis  –

Sarath de Alwis

Sarath de Alwis

Do you know Prime Minister? The City is a funny place. If you spill the beans you open up a whole can of worms. I mean, how can you let sleeping dogs lie if you let the cat out of the bag? Bring in a new broom and if you’re not very careful you find you’ve thrown the baby out with the bathwater. If you change horses in the middle of the stream, next thing you know you’re up the creek without a paddle.” ~ From the BBC comedy ‘Yes Minister.’

This piece of convoluted logic offered in the BBC comedy by the civil service Mandarin Sir Desmond Grazerbrook to his Prime Minister, nearly sums up the predicament of Prime Minister Mr. Ranil Wickremesinghe. I say nearly because he is not only up the creek without a paddle but is in a near state of undress.

When the Bond issue was first discussed in Parliament, the Prime Minister very authoritatively asked the house “Who amongst you can claim to understand the issue of bonds by the Central Bank?” Implied in that hoity-toity hoopla was the presumed superiority of the governing class of Charitha, Malik, Roland et al. Thanks to civil society activists, two years after, the ordinary folk far removed from the magical orbit of the governing class, now know that ‘Maha Bankuwe Bandumkara’ are an instrument that determines and facilitates government spending and the cost of it.

Ranil WickThe Prime Minister has misconstrued Mark Twain’s dictum that truth is so precious that we need to economize it. His studied maneuvering to downplay the enormity of the scandal has backfired.

First, the government attempted to bury the truth with a handpicked committee of three lawyers who were also members of the UNP ex co. Even to this day the fact that the Chairman of the Bank of Ceylon whose role in the first transaction is yet to be revealed is also a member of the UNP ex co is carefully swept under the green carpet. What the lawyers committee did with its halfhearted efforts of subterfuge resulted in something that was not anticipated by the cabal that determines the economic policy of the government. It helped it to grow underground gathering so much power, that it has now become impossible to contain the inevitable explosion.

The people will soon learn how much Perpetual Treasuries paid for these bonds in the primary market and how much the EPF paid to Perpetual Treasuries in the secondary market. It seems that the Auditor General has been kind enough to include a chart that will help ‘yakkos’ like this writer to comprehend in a visual form the transactions between the company in which Arjun the ‘beau fils’ has a stake and the Bank under the care of Arjun the ‘beau-père’.

On Wednesday 29th June President Sirisena announced that he will announce the name of the new governor later in the day. On Thursday 30th it is reported that the President is still in consultation with the Prime Minister to decide on an interim Governor.

The truth of the matter is that the political survival and credibility of the Prime Minster is inextricably woven in to the process of determining who will be the next governor.

Hannah Ardent was a pretty smart observer of human nature. She is best remembered for her idea of ‘banality of evil.’ Evil takes many forms. What Hannah Ardent proposed was that what perpetuates evil is the willingness of ordinary people like you and I to collude in evil and to follow evil. Corruption at the highest level of governance too is evil.

She argued that evil is all too frequently the product of normal people accepting the tenets and prescriptions of a morally corrupted system. What we discuss today is institutional corruption. We can see it. Yet our government refuses to see because they do not consider it as corrupt. They have a good reason for their intransigence.

The text book interpretations of corruption is about bad people doing bad things for personal gain. That is what we read about in reports of investigations by the FCID.

We are eager to point our moralized fingers at the ‘Ratharans’ and Jonnies. But should we not broaden the definition of corruption to include Oxbridge types who write rules and prescribe norms that create an improper dependency of a vital institution on a few handpicked primary dealers?

Hannah Ardent has given us a lesson. We should focus the flood lights of exposure on people doing bad things because the system is either broken or rigged.

Ranil Wickeremesinghe was not interested in ‘yaha palanya.’ What he wanted was his ‘palanya’ instead of ‘Mahinda’s palanaya.’ To him Maithripala Sirisena was only an acceptable candidate to shoulder the burden of a surrogate mother who would hand over the baby and retreat behind the 19th amendment.

He is just as much an absolutist as was Mahinda though he lacks the natural Mahinda charm of sugarcoating absolute rule with popular acceptance. Absolutism is accepted by societies such as ours but it is the popular perception of the person at the top of the political hierarchy that determines its endurance. The power dynamics of the Sirisena Wickeremesinghe government has reached a crucial point.

The President is on record that Arjun Mahendran is not indispensable. He has now arrived at a point where he has to decide if his Prime Minster is indispensable.

I recall a conversation I had with Dr. S.A Wickramasinghe when he differed from his colleague Pieter Keuneman on the Communist party remaining in the United Front Government in 1975. He said gravely ‘It is not about pragmatic politics. It is a matter of class’ Does Maithri and Ranil belong to the same class?

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Latest comments

  • 16

    Ranil Wickramasinghe is like the Emperor in his new clothes.He now stands Naked in public notwithstanding the self affixed label of Mr Clean.

  • 16

    RW is so pathetic, a man utterly alien and unacceptable,only good at retaining a stranglehold on the UNP.Even when he went to the Central Bank recently he tried to patronize the officers there by saying let us talk about the economy ! Here is an ordinary lawyer telling a whole lot chaps who probably are Phds in economics how to discuss the matter !

    Somebody should tell him he is no expert on anything but a pompous know all.

    Simple logic, as long as you hold the UNP leadership sooner or later power will come to you like in 2015 after 20 years.

    But that is not how you play parliamentary politics .In British politics if you lose you leave. Ranil as leader of the UNP led it to more than 20 defeats but did not resign.
    From a man so lacking in self respect can you expect anything better ?

    Now the Chairman of Bank of Ceylon is Ronald Perera, son of infamous Paul Perera known for strong arm tactics during the JR regime ,and once got some thugs to bash up a doctor in public for eloping with his daughter ( at the time Paul was a minister)

    RW thought Ronald Perera would be a good Chairman for Bank of Ceylon the biggest bank in the country !

    RW thought Ravi Karunanayake will make a brilliant Finance Minister for the country !

    RW thought Arjun Mahendran will be the man to restore respect and integrity at the Central bank !

    Is RW fit to be the prime Minister or even a leader ?

  • 7

    Nice photo. The name’s Bond, Ranil Bond.

  • 7

    Here are Ranil’s order of priorities.

    1. Look after “personal friends” who can rise to the occasion.

    2. Then members of his own family.

    3. Former Royal College Students better known as FRCS

    4. Then comes the interests of the country and that too when
    the need arises.

    He has his PhD in devious manipulation and can survive for some
    time by leaking cooked up stories to newspapers of his choice. But
    he cannot survive for long. He gets discovered. He is vicious and
    cannot even force a smile. God save Sri Lanka now!!

    They all said MR and family were robbing. Very true. What has
    happened now. Isn’t some of the big robbers are now in Ranil’s

    • 1

      I’m disappointed but I disagree. His first order of business is promoting and protecting his personal physically close English speaking and pink lip friends even in the cabinet. But at least there’s no more bias against queer people. There are 7gay ministers of varying degrees of TG traits and bi sexual traits. That’s an incredible achievement for social justice

  • 6

    Shall we just impeach him, but without removal? He will be allowed to continue, but with civil society democratic rules in place (otherwise there will be yet another bad dog up there and we’d have to start all over again).

  • 0

    The UK will survive because the monarchy denies anyone the power to sabotage the government of HM The Queen.
    But, politicians are different.
    They are only temporarily needed, and fade away, like Cameron will, when their usefulness is over.
    The Monarchy is overall powerful because it denies power to those who would misuse it.

  • 2

    When Ranil Wickramasinghe was a powerful minister in the government:

    1982. That ultimate crime, the most shameful event that ever took place on this soil, of burning down the Jafna library. Did he demand that culprits be brought before the law?

    1983. Watershed event in race relations. Innocent Tamils were butchered, property looted and burnt, hundreds of thousands forced to flee to India (still languishing in refugee camps) Did he demand that culprits be brought before the law?

    1989. Deadly “bheeshanaya” . Nearly 50, 000 Sinhala youth (who cares?) caught and killed some burnt alive (including Wijeweera). Did he demand that culprits be brought before the law?

    He was a great proponent of many evil things that shaped the landscape of this country. Politicization of Civil service, Abolishing civil rights of Sirimavo, Cursed 1978 JR constitution, the infamous referendum to extend the parliament with 2/3 etc. etc. And the list goes on and on.

    His contributions to the present pathetic state of race relation and the polity are unmatched.

    Finally gods saved this country from his deadly agreement with VP.

    What would have been the level of blood letting and race relations in this country if that agreement was still in place today and Prabakaran ruling 1/3 of the country?

    Here we are talking about reconciliation, impunity, rule of law …with Ranil Wickramasinghe piloting the plane.


  • 5

    “Up The Creek”

    after 18 months looks more like up the arse.

  • 3

    A very good piece extremely well written by Sarath de Alwis. Excellent read.

  • 0

    [Edited out]

  • 1

    An article with logical facts and well written, and to the point. Thank you very much Mr. Sarath de Alwis.
    This is the only way to re-educate these arrogant feudal crocs who call themselves political leaders of Sri Lanka. They don’t care about the general masses at all; they want to look after their class only. It looks like that UNP is not a party of nation-friendly Sri Lankans! Not anymore!!

  • 0

    Sarath de Alwis,

    Thank you for this excellent and witty article.

  • 0

    Ranil/My3 government is a bitter but a good lesson for those who do not know what is good for them!

  • 0

    Excellent article as always.

  • 0

    Kathirgamar, Radhika, Indrajit, Sripavan, LTTE IGP, Mahendran all have their apparent weak points and they are being the sacrificial objects of the Sinhala Government.

    When Krishanti Rape/Murder case was in court, the accused Soldier Rajapaksa gave very accurate details of whom and who killed Tamils and where the bodies were. Chandrika closed down the case and imprisoned that state witness. That is what happened in Pillaiyan’s case too. Rajapaksa received Presidential Amnesty, it is unlikely with Pillaiyan. Mahendran saved his master and now going to pay the price.

    Ranil went to New York to meet UNSG so as to protect Old Royals. He refused to sign ICC accord. During the elections (Both – EP and general) they all promised that No Leader, No Commander and No soldier would be prosecuted. On the morning of election after, he went to Temple Three House and promised Old King to protect from any investigation. He openly claims that stopped the UN Electric Chair. Ranil was so mad with Mangala to let the UNHRC resolution 30/1, which requested to investigate all war criminal with foreign Judges and Lawyers, to go through. Ranil edged as the head of Impunity provider to criminals.

    If Mahendran escapes, Ranil will not have escape route. One thing he can do is turning the hat off and put Mahendran in trouble. It more and more seems to be Mahendran will answer to 12 years of two terms’ looting by serving in prison. If Mahendran is ended up in prison, the pride service of protecting his Sinhala Masters will end his career internationally. That is a very good chance to happen with Sinhala Jury.

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