26 June, 2022


Volkswagen Falls Off Yahapālanaya, As Maithri And Ranil Hoodwink Public

Fibs, miscommunication and the blame game were the highlights this week, as the Yahapalanaya government under President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe fell flat on its face after it was exposed how they attempted to deceive millions of people over a vehicle assembly plant in Kuliyapitiya, which the government claimed was built with an investment of US$ 26.5 million from German automaker, Volkswagen.

However just days after Sirisena and Wickremesinghe laid the foundation stone for the vehicle assembly plant, Volkswagen officially denied that it had not invested in any plants in Sri Lanka in a statement issued to News1st. Following this revelation, Wickremesinghe in a bid to save face told an event in Horana that if the private media channel had asked him, he would have ‘revealed’ the truth. He also claimed that Newst1st had a grudge against him and hence was trying to taint his image.

Wickremesinghe also told the meeting in Horana that Volkswagen will be among several other brands of vehicles which would be assembled at the new plant; however the Times Online quoting Volkswagen Spokesperson Katrin Hohmann reported that the German automaker has not granted license to any Sri Lankan company to assemble cars locally.volkswagen-sri-lanka

Apart from holding the post of Prime Minister of Sri Lanka, Wickremesinghe is also the Minister of National Policies and Economic Affairs. Strangely, while, Wickremesinghe now denies Volkswagen’s role in the vehicle assembly plant, his ministry website which carried a news item on the foundation laying ceremony carries a picture of the Volkswagen logo in the article clearly indicating the automaker’s role in the project.

Another interesting fact is that even the Board of Investment (BOI) which comes under the government has carried an article on the event which also includes a quote from BOI Chairman Upul Jayasuriya who had said that the Volkswagen plant would be a major leapfrog for the country in the right direction.volkswagen-sri-lanka

However, since the controversy, the BOI is yet to issue an official statement to clarify the current situation centering the vehicle assembly plant and as to who the actual investor is and the brands of cars that will be assembled once the plant construction is completed.

State media including the Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation and the Daily News also carried news items soon after the event stating that Volkswagen invested in the Kuliyapitiya plant.

When the public took to social media and criticized deputy foreign minister Dr. Harsha de Silva for hoodwinking the public, Silva defended himself saying he never hoodwinked anyone and after initiating the possible investment with Volkswagen, and after maneuvering through difficult territory in terms of possible export, tax and other implications, both he and the then Ambassador of Germany Dr Jurgen Morhard moved out of the process and handed over the responsibility to the implementing parties in the government.

According to Silva, soon after Senok Automobile and BOI signed an agreement in August 2015, Volkswagen, after months of denial, had admitted to the EPA in the US that they had cheated on emissions tests on some of their diesel models in the US, which resulted in the German automobile company’s stocks crashing, and subsequently the senior management at the company being fired, while at least some 30,000 jobs were cut among billions of rupees lost.

“This scandal that rocked Volkswagen was a complete shock to everyone, obviously including us in Sri Lanka. Apparently Senok Automobiles who had signed for Volkswagen had attempted to save the agreement and continue with the investment as planned. However, at one point, I believe after much negotiations the Government had decided it would be better not to go with a dedicated Volkswagen assembly plant due to possible legal issues that could crop up due to the massive fallout from their emissions scam. This we knew today when the Prime Minister explained the sequence of events to us,” Silva said in his post.

He added that, given the BOI agreement had still been in place with Senok Automobiles for the original Volkswagen assembly, the company had rescued the project by agreeing with the BOI to go ahead to establish the plant to assemble various makes of European automobiles.

The deputy foreign minister however blamed the BOI saying that the BOI should have announced to the media the changes made in the contract with regard to the car assembly plant in Kuliyapitiya. “It’s unfortunate it was not done,” he added. (By Munza Mushtaq)

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  • 12

    Hoaxwagen Hoaxwagen Hoaxwagen.

    Sad to see even the economic expert twisting words and lying.
    Everyone knew for a long while now that VW was NOT going to put a tiny assembly plant in Sri Lanka.

    Everyone who knows knows Josephian Noel S******gam who minted money from the previous UNP Mahaweli regime with Kobelco was Senok and made many people rich including Top UNP ministers.

    For the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs to spin this the way he did was sad; but at least we know he was not involved. It is rubbish to say SL will be liable for legal issues if it assembled VW. That is a load of crock only LOW IQ UNPers will believe. SL had NO legal bindings on the VW scandal that criss crossed the world with their fake Diesel emissions scandal in US, then across Europe and also in South Korea. But VW was in trouble 2 years ago and cutting losses and sales were sliding downhill fast in their biggest market as well(USA). So everyone who reads WSJ or other world media knew this to be rubbish. 26Million is not enough to have a large scale or even a medium scale assembly plant. Noel gets free power, roads, lights to his land in Kurunegala and probably greased a few palms of the top UNP leadership or fooled some of those. For example we know last time RW was PM his siblings wanted to do that SL to India Ferry and got involved with unsavory characters and that was even before the war ended.

  • 5

    We know NS went after MR and MR even took him to the UN with him. He became really tight with Basil R and MR to be a wheeler dealer. As soon as MR lost, he got a hold of RW and his brothers and pushed for this. The land is Selva’s land. He gets a tax break/tax holiday and promises to invest 26million USD. How? Where is the money? Is it MR’s money? Why was he so close to MR and even went to UN? Why is he close to CW now?

    So this is another bring in spare parts and call it new car kits and assembling. This sort of venture existed under CBK’s regime when Jeyeraj Fernandopulle allowed this to happen depriving the govt. of revenue. They brought in used parts, assembled cars, claimed they were brand new and put old number plates on them and sold them. DUTY FREE import depriving government of revenue. They put a stop to it.

    This is an outright lie. ” would be better not to go with a dedicated Volkswagen assembly plant due to possible legal issues that could crop up due to the massive fallout from their emissions scam. There would be ZERO legal issues to SL. And RW says he knew this, but blames the media

    So How can they say they will assemble different Western European models? That is bullshit. We all know VW will not let BMWs be assembled or Peugeots. So this is again a scam where they will bring in duty free auto parts from various unsourced unverified suppliers/vendors and assemble cars of different types WITHOUT LICENSE from the manufacturer.

    Owa gihin kiyapung Konde bandapu Cheenonta. ඕවා ගිහින් කියපන් කොන්ඩේ බැඳපු චීනුන්ට!

    Selvanayagam Adida Selvanayagam now goes that old song where it originally said Rasanayagam adida Rasanayagam.

    But in the long run, if it does create even 500 jobs while providing free govt services and land to a wheeler dealer is it ok. What is so queer is how RW has so many of his close strong heterosexual men in top positions as Ministers.

    So my stance is these buggers got caught lying. Specially that very strong macho Akila who is so close to RW went around attacking MR and even Eran W who also prematurely ejaculated lies. But IF it creates jobs assembling cars from Ghana or spare parts or stolen parts from body shops of various models not authorized by manufacturers, so be it; Sri Lankans deserve inferior cars and illegally obtained parts. WHO will send car kits to SL from different manufacturers. This is like the scam during CBK’s regime but on a larger grander scale. Jayaweywa. If heterosexual UNP government ministers can create 3,000 more jobs than MR in Kurunegala Akila should be made PM.

    Hoaxwagen Hoaxwagen Hoaxwagen.

    • 4

      Konde bendapu ceenoo Are now tying all of us in knots.!! Just say it is us, Sri Lankans who are being allowed to be fooled.

  • 6

    Eelam Tamil connection must be investigated.

  • 4

    Desperate Lankan: I too agree that this Government was brought to life to get rid of a “DESPOT” and congratulations to the PEOPLE. But, that does not necessarily follow the Leaders of this Government who solemnly pledged to establish “Good Governance” can commit any blunder and put the country at greater risk of pushing it to a economic and social disaster. That is exactly what is going on now. This Volkswagen Project was first announced by Dr. Harsha de Silva. He being a well educated and a young promising politician should have had at least been equipped with a MOU from the Volkswagen and the BOI confirmation of the proposal. That is what we expect from “Responsible Politicians”. Neither was available and the PM had the audacity to announce the name of Volkswagen at the ceremony. Then, subsequently made a vain attempt to retract the announcement. Has he had not the little of the “upstairs” to consult the relevant authorities before making such irresponsible announcements. I personally do not expect it from him, because in very many times and many of other matters he has failed and had become very erotic and “Dictatorial”. Do you, living in a country like Germany and very much aware and accustomed to democratic and responsible Governing agree with a Prime Minister like ours. I doubt it. As you do, I too do not belong to any or affiliated to any Political Party; but assess each and every move of matters relating to Governance in it’s own merit and demerits in the National Interests.

    • 4

      So what hope we have for our country with this type of leaders at the top? Truly shameful and disgusting.

  • 6

    well I am not sure what Munza Mushtaq means by Ranil & Maithri hoodwinking the people really means in the context of the writter’s articl.

    But how I see the whole scenrio is, For onething like any Car maker The Volkswagen had some bad times and may be after all it is The Volkswagen who may be realy financing the whole project , but atlast Ranil is learning how the majority of sri Lankan think, if he admits it is Volkswagen , then the JO will go to town knowing how they can teasily twist most of Sri lankan minds to make them forget thier case on past rule. I see this as a smart stratergy , end of the day what matters right now is away to repay the huge loan we owe the world and rid the burden off the people of this country and also if it is going to provide employemnt why not?

    It is now time to question not just the government ,but more importantly the people in the oppesition , do they have an alternative to repay the loans in hand? why topple the government? why not show the people how sincere they are and work with the government and prove to the people their sincerity and worthiness, if they do not have an alternative then they need to shut upand let the government complete the process, somebody need to take the country out of the deep shit we are in ,people who do not understand the depth the country is in loans ,should first do thier homework.

    Another issue is the car importers worry of plant hampering thier business , I do not buy that, it is clear only Eurpoean cars will be assembled , who this who import japanese cars ,that too domestic Models which is a huge issue to the customer most of the time due to the lack of spare parts.

    Only those importers who are involved in ilegal business ,like dealing in stolen Vehicles and those who bring in vehicles cut in pieces as spares and joint them here to sell need to worry .

    The others have no issues , and why not become sub agents for these vehicles and save more on foreign exchange and promote them to locals?

    Yes Yahapalana is an issue to those who do not lik to do do clean busniess ,they g out of the way to sling mud to even at those clean.

    • 1

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    • 3

      Name dropping is a way of spinning statements for the Politician. We have evolved our minds to accept brand names of the west even a lowky garage mechanic knows the difference. Most certainly a Volkswagan is more acceptable than a Maruti or some unknown home brand like the Upali Mazda ..As for the lament about why a strong opposition that put facts before the voters .well that is the way voters get educated in a democracyand its not for them to reveal plans of solving economic and social issues of today ..its the party in power . ..Our Voters were always a free thinking lot with a vote bank that were mostly capable of reading the lines and concluding despite all the spinning of if not for us slogan , .. So we need a strong opposition and bi partisan agreement only if the country is threatened by war.But the lament today is where is the opposition? the few voices of the old school and a JVP whom we cannot trust for they may be just opposing to back the government in a negative way . Sum total and the bottom line .. Kolombata 4WDand Sedan of continental fame hot from the European producers car yards while apita factory rejects may be not even the peoples wagan.

  • 5

    Sure, the government bungled this Volkswagen thingy big time.

    But if the money is not spent by the government and private investors are willing to take the risk why should the people care? It’s not the public money that’s wasted.

    If this “factory” thingy gives employment to 5 people even as sentries/watchers and no government/public money is spent at least it’s a step in the right direction. I say, it’s better than any “employment-creation” efforts good buddy Mahinda ever did.

    What’s in a name? Even if this damn factory produces one single push-bike, it’s more than what the Rajapakses did for creating employment.

    Even if they get workers to dig holes and then another group of workers to fill them that would be better employment than what the Rajapakses did.

    If you want to see monumental waste of public money and where nothing even remotely resembling work/employment is done, take a drive around Humbanthota.

    Gotta give credit to good old Ranil for attempting to create some real employment even in the form of a hoax!

  • 3

    RW himself said that it was the social media which was
    very much behind the overthrow of the DESPOT regime and
    the formation of YAHAPALANAYA . Now , he doesn’t know
    that he has been roped in with a world brand name by
    someone so tight with him and his coterie . He let
    himself to be fooled or he himself is part of the
    hood winking of the gullible masses of not only
    Kurunegala but also the whole country . This is not just
    a local blunder of a prime minister of the country,
    rather , exhibition of a shameful and cheating behaviour
    before the world community . Just forget about another
    five years . How on earth you promise to the people that
    there will be investments from wealthy nations while
    they themselves are struggling with their economies ?

  • 7

    The world is in turmoil. Everyone is anti Globalization in the west. Trump opposes TPP and also NAFTA. He is already threatening (and some it seems to be working) American companies for going overseas. SL is another of the poorer developing economies that has to compete with nations like Vietnam with a highly disciplined workforce, cheaper energy costs and yes with Oil(that is why Conoco Phillips is there). SL is of interest to the US because of its strategic location but it will have to go directly to Trump to sell its case.

    Give these guys a break. Now that there is so much press freedom, everyone writes anything they feel like: this includes me! I used to write critical of some CBK policies during her time and got into trouble. I was totally afraid to say anything during MR time but also was so grateful they ended the war; I only wrote once about Nelum Pokuna. See reference here.


    So give them a chance; if this succeeds, so be it; so many people will get jobs and training. If it fails, then the Opposition has a right to expose it for what it may have become.

    They have to compete in a bad climate globally. HE President Sirisena said GSP plus will be reinstated this week. So if it is so kudos to government diplomacy. Let us not tear down Harsha or Ranil or anyone please. At least not yet please.

    • 1

      Mano Ratwatte

      We have read your articles and comments really grateful the mother Lanka have people like you all.there are lot of individuals try to safeguard beauty and the passion we have as Sri lankans.

      Trouble with the lot of them are all(most) abroad.so the hands are short,but Mr N Kodituwakku you may knows lot of him doing very hard job to pin down these rowdies.to make people aware what is these white barrels in parliament upto.but sadly ordinary people are stunned.

      Not only we thamils,muslims,christians,far wirst the majority of good Buddhists and the clergies hands are being tied,in orther word trigger on the head,thats the reality.

      What is the way out,why can’t we all stick together as one nation and safeguard this lovely nation.we all lived together and still living together,why these complications.

      Go to the rurals any part of the country conditions are polling,s schools to hospitals heart breaking,lot of the population don’t have clue or not to bothered about the govnt.

      Msost of them rely on their own god for their survival.

      We had Jan 8th whole lankans can’t forget the date thinking the miracle but sadly same old …..

      Why can’t we all as Sri lankans make a good way for generations and initiate.

      God save our nation

    • 1

      Selvanayagam or Rasanayagam, if they can bring in substantial FDI and create even good 500 jobs – all legally and transparently – Govt should give them all necessary support. It matters little if the land is Noel’s or Joel’s or if they get water and electricity at lower rates. South Korea became a giant industrialised country because of the vision, ability and sweat of patriotic businessmen. These men are now recognised annually in Korea on a day dedicated to the business community. In every free-enterprise system there is bound to be some corruption. Who says there was no corruption in Russia or China in the earlier years under strict communism. North Korea and Cuba too. Let us remember it is the larger garment makers in this country in the private sector who bring in much of our foreign exchange earnings. Fortunately, the contaminated, smelly hands of political leaders have so far spared them. It is time power-energy, the Port of Colombo, Airlines, road and rail transport, health are gradually privatised to save the unbearable losses incurred by the State in running these. Workers in these industries should be given attractive salaries, retirement benefits etc., to ensure they are not captives of capricious Trade Unions.

      Frank N. Stein

    • 0

      RW company do have their full rights and power to stay
      their course and of course people appreciate what they
      have done to date since they arrived . But the time
      ahead is crucial for everyone including My3 and Ranil.
      What happened to the much hyped garment industry ?
      More than 70% of the industry were in the hands of
      corrupt henchmen who knew nothing about business and
      it was a kind of business that travels looking for
      cheaper destinations and now their eyes are fixed at
      Vietnam . The theory is that you take advantage while
      it is at your feet and not after its gradual
      disappearance like in Turkey , Egypt ,Tunisia , Taiwan
      and Korea . This is what is going to happen to the
      middle east remittances and the signals are already out!
      This year Saudi starts to tax all foreign non labour
      jobs and from next year the tax increases four folds !
      Go round the country , see for your self , how many
      tutorials teaching managerial studies have mushroomed
      at exorbitant costs and how curious school leavers
      flood in to gain certificates ? Developed world is
      getting rid of such jobs with technology and we are
      doing the exact opposite ! On one hand we are planning
      and already building highways and on the other hand
      discouraging car imports with huge taxes and are these
      going hand in hand ? An English man came to Srilanka on
      holiday last year and asked me why we have a huge
      highway and no cars on it ? The next mourning from him
      was that he should have brought with him some good tea
      from England ! We are a country of tea and quality tea
      not available in plenty and everywhere ! How long has
      it been since we have tea ?Very basic and simple things
      we couldn’t achieve after all being one of the world
      leaders now and the best once upon a time . Are we not
      ashamed ? Is it the case of Mercedes in Germany ? Fiat
      in Italy ? Peugeot in France ?

  • 0

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  • 5

    I think people are incensed because, yet again and like the bond scam, there appears to be a fraudulent land deal involving public assets to an individual or a company behind this saga, and that there might be a substantial backhand to the politcians involved. Substantiating this fear, the government too has been telling stories that are short of the truth , and they have been very cagey about revealing the truth; even the answers given to the media after they discovered and questioned the PM have been evasive and childlike. What pathetic answers from a PM; even the responses from Minister Silva has been off the mark.

  • 4

    The main problem seems that the voters have no choice, other than electing dishonest, fake and selfish people as politicians. It’s all because none of the educated, honest, sincere hard working, real patriots are not coming out or engaging in politics.
    We have plenty of intelligent, educated people to run our country but sadly none of them are eager to take part in our present political condition. Today the politics are in the hands of thugs and dishonest people and they will not let other good citizen to take over the ruling.

    We are governed by selfish, unprincipled, dishonest leaders since independence. They had no vision or genuine interest in developing the nation or looking after the citizen. But they only promoted division and discrimination for their greedy political ambitions.

    Until and unless the younger educated generation of unbiased, honest people enter the political arena, our country will continue to suffer.

    It’s very difficult to predict the dawn of that day…

    • 0

      @Bruz,completely agree with you. When I was in the 6th standard,age 9, our arts teacher told us to draw and water color a “Balu Porayak”, ie flock of stray dogs fighting in a street. I was hopless in arts, but one clever student in the class very accurately reproduced one. Coincidentally, whenever I think of our MPs and Ministers, and the Parliament I cannot help reflecting back to that image.

  • 4


  • 6


  • 6

    Now Italian tyre company Marangoni says its not investing in Sri Lanka directly.

  • 0

    Get Gunarsa to storm the those embassies if he can’t sort it out,then Gota’s white van/motorbikes squads will get the answers.

    You foreign folks this is Sri Lanka the beauty.

  • 0

    Which regime is responsible for this hoax?

    Air conditioned Three wheelers to be introduced” ITN Sinhala News …
    Video for The latest fully air conditioned Three wheelers
    ▶ 0:44
    May 1, 2010 – Uploaded by yahaluwa
    In the first month, 500 air conditioned three wheelers will be introduced. … BMW Rikshaw in Pakistan (fully …

  • 1

    This is what the PM says

    A divergence from the original plan, he said the reason for this was due to the emission scandal and other related matters that rocked the German automaker last year after the signing of the agreement in August the same year to set up the assembling facility.

    He further said that the government decided not to limit the facility to Volkswagen exclusively in order to make sure that the project doesn’t hit a snag due to any possible law suits that may crop up as results of the reported crises.

    Absolute rubbish. Sad part is Dr. DeSilva also parroted this rubbish. They good hoodwinked. VW is broke and not expanding. You cannot simply have an “assembly” line if you do not have a license to assemble recognized Automobiles with approval from the manufacturer. No legal matter would have arisen if VW assembled cars because they claimed the legal matters were sorted out. VW is in big trouble globally. If they read newspapers and web articles on economic affairs they would have known this that even Simple Simeon knew in 2015. Law suits bull puckey.

    So once again they lied.

  • 0

    Senok Automobiles are the local agents of Volkswagen Company. It is likely that V W were interested in this investment. The dishonest practice of hoodwinking the US authorities on the environmental performance of some VW , resulted in the payment of heavy fines. The consequent steep drop in sales and profitability, made it impossible for V W consider any capital investment in Sri Lanka.

    The Statement issued by V W denies any equity investment in Sri Lanka, but indicated the possibility of providing technical collaboration, no doubt to produce V W brand cars in Sri Lanka. This is good business.

  • 2

    Just for information of the youth who were not aware of white vans in Sri Lanka.
    White vans were introduced during Mr. JRJ time. Every government used after that. Please study about 1986 to 1989 UNP government and thugs killing about 60000 JVPers, many journalists and innocent people suspected of JVPers. [Edited out]

  • 1

    Harsha de Silva is a totally opportunistic politician with a big mouth. he should take responsibility for his stupidity.

  • 1

    leslie k

    “Harsha de Silva is a totally opportunistic politician with a big mouth. he should take responsibility for his stupidity.”

    He is a proud Southerner and a Sinhala Buddhist. That alone qualifies him to ……….. to be a stupid bigot, can get away from anything.

    Please read:


    “I am telling to the world. We (UNP and myself), will not allow anybody to take President Rajapaksa or any other leader to International court about War Crimes, We will not allow the President whether he won or lose to be tried before war crime tribunals,” Dr. de Silva stressed.

    “I am a proud Southerner and a Sinhala Buddhist. I have no desire whatsoever to align with the Tigers and betray my country,” the MP stressed responding to the accusation against him from the government Minister.”

    Nov 24, 2014,
    ColomboPage News Desk,

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