By Rajan Philips –
The week that began with mayhem has ended in cynicism. Mayhem saw the ouster of Mahinda Rajapaksa as Prime Minister. Cynicism is the main ingredient in the appointment of Ranil Wickremesinghe as Prime Minister and the interim government that he and his beleaguered President are now cooking. The week saw the highs and lows, the terrible and the terrific, of Sri Lankan politics. It began low with drunken thugs streaming out of Temple Trees, and it is ending low with Sri Lanka’s most recycled politician returning to Temple Tress for yet another stint as Prime Minister.
The highpoint of the week belongs to the people of Sri Lanka and those who are protesting on their behalf. The low point is the home of those who assembled at Temple Tress and unleashed their thugs on non-violent protesters on Galle Road and at Galle Face. Members of parliament of every hue, with a handful of exceptions, discredited themselves to different levels. The Police lapsed even lower than its already low standards, while the army seemed restrained in its words and in its actions.
The President finally spoke to the nation, but said little or nothing new. He did not address the main protest demand that he should resign, and he did not give any clue that he understands the challenges he is facing and has the skills to deal with them. “This week, I will appoint a Prime Minister who commands the majority in Parliament and can secure the confidence of the people and a Cabinet of Ministers,” the President said.
Then he appointed Ranil Wickremesinghe, who commands no confidence from anyone.
The President, whether sincerely or deceptively, did go shopping for a Prime Minister after his brother’s panic resignation. Even Sarath Fonseka’s name came up for PM, but Mr. Fonseka rejected it. Sajith Premadasa was as usual caught in two minds – to accept, or not to accept. By the time he made up his mind and even wrote to the President, it was too late. The PM bus had already left. The comical pair of Sirisena and Weerawansa got their knickers in a twist over Ranil Wickremesinghe becoming Prime Minister and suggested three names (Dullas Alahapperuma, Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe and Nimal Siripala de Silva) as alternative candidates to stop Ranil’s appointment. That went nowhere.
The biggest reason Ranil Wickremesinghe won the selection for PM, in this highly competitive field of Sri Lanka’s best and brightest, is not domestic politics but external pressure. The IMF is said to have read the riot act through intermediaries to the President. The new Governor of the Central Bank Dr. Nandalal Weerasinghe (quite a straight-talking fellow, unlike his bootlicking predecessors), made it clear that he would resign if there was no political stability in the country in the coming weeks. Sajith Premadasa missed even that signal. He may not have been pre-qualified enough to the IMF anyway. The US and India, Sri Lanka’s principal banker and protector at the moment, would have added their voices of support for Ranil Wickremesinghe and their veto against others. Their emissaries in Colombo have welcomed the appointment of Mr. Wickremesinghe. No other appointment would have elicited such external enthusiasm.
Ranil’s Achilles heel is all local. He might have saved the President’s bacon externally, but on the domestic front they are each other’s albatross. Nonetheless, the national belief is that Ranil Wickremesinghe has stepped in or stepped up to save not Sri Lanka, but Gotabaya Rajapaksa from the ignominy of an abrupt exit or resignation. Objectively, that indeed is the case.
From his safe house at the Trincomalee naval base, the ousted Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa has already tweeted congratulations and best wishes to his successor. That is code for saying – we are relying on you for protection. On the other hand, and in the context of the main protest demand for the resignation of Gotabaya Rajapaksa as President, Ranil Wickremesinghe accepting appointment by the self-same President is a massive betrayal of the people and their protests.
In his first statement as Prime Minister, Mr. Wickremesinghe said, “I accepted the Prime Minister’s post to save the nation and to see that people of this country get three square meals while essential goods such as fuel, gas and electricity are available. I cannot do it alone and therefore I need international help. I also intend to obtain support of all MPs in Parliament to save the nation.” Or save the President?
With cynical equanimity, the Prime Minister went on to say that he would like to see the struggle at ‘GotaGoGama’ continue. “We will not lay our hands on ‘GotaGoGama’ in Galle Face,” he added. In other words, the new Prime Minister is allowing the protests to continue, including the demand for the President’s resignation, even as he is enabling the President to continue in office in spite of the calls for his resignation.
Who is being clever?
Who is being clever here, Ranil or Gota? Those in parliament may want to ask Mr. Sambanthar, the TNA leader, for a sacred analogy to this question in Tiruvasagam, the celebrated volume of Tamil bhakti hymns. Quite mundanely, is Gotabaya Rajapaksa being clever in roping Ranil Wickremesinghe to take over the economic cross and risk political crucifixion? Or Ranil Wickremesinghe in agreeing to be PM on the assumption that he can be the virtual President, and hoping for legacy glory by saving the economy from total collapse?
I do not agree with the suggestion that Gotabaya Rajapaksa is being clever in handing over the poisoned economic chalice to Ranil Wickremesinghe. I would argue that the President has been desperate and not clever in reaching out to Ranil Wickremesinghe to rescue his presidency. Inadvertently, the President is also feeding on Mr. Wickremesinghe’s well known hubris that he is the most capable of all parliamentarians in Sri Lanka. And Ranil’s apparent belief that he is Sri Lanka’s Churchill. There is a big difference, however, for Churchill was not a worming partyman, unlike Ranil, and Churchill was invited to be Prime Minister by national acclaim with parliamentary deference. Ranil Wickremesinghe has neither.
I have not come across any credible voice of support for the Gota-Ranil government. Everyone who has voiced an opinion has only condemned it. The exception of course is the stock market that bounced positively to RW’s appointment as PM. But the stock market is not Sri Lanka’s political barometer, and more so in the current protest environment.
The situation in parliament is also not different, with every political party other than the SLPP refusing to join the new government, or be part of the new cabinet led by Ranil Wickremesinghe. However, no political party is likely to defeat the government by bringing a no-confidence motion against it. On the other hand, every political party or group has indicated that it will be supporting government initiatives to address the economic crisis.
In other words, the Gota-Ranil government may survive by default – without its majority tested in parliament, and with opposition parties extending responsive co-operation in limited areas of government action. But this arrangement of government cannot go on indefinitely, cannot govern extensively, and it cannot pretend that it is somehow insulated from the protest politics outside parliament that is not going to abate until Gotabaya Rajapaksa resigns.
Protesters at Galle Face Green have recuperated after Monday and seem even more energized and organized than before. Emergency regulations and curfew hours are not going stop the protesters. While the police have been literally hollering out to protesters the consequences of breaking curfew rules, the military chief has sent a contrary signal with his statement to the media that “as long as the protestors at ‘GotaGoGama’ are peaceful, there will be no problem”! And the Prime Minister has given his word that he will allow ‘GotaGoGama’ to continue.
The protesters have formulated a set of demands for the President and the Prime Minister. While the organizers are being criticized for not being more exhaustive and not ethno-nationally inclusive in their demands, there is no mistaking the alpha and the omega of the demand agenda – the resignation of Gotabaya Rajapaksa and his administration. A related and demand is that following the resignation, an interim government must be established for a period not exceeding 18 months “to steer the nation onto the path of recovery.”
How will Ranil Wickremesinghe respond to these demands? Or how will he advise the President to respond? So far, there has been no indication of the details of the current arrangement. There is no indication if the appointment of Ranil Wickremesinghe, is an interim arrangement or if he and the President are planning to finish their permitted terms in office. Neither of them has said how long the President will remain in office, how long will Ranil be PM, and when will the parliamentary election be held?
Nor have they said anything about the ‘reform agenda,’ many versions of which have been circulating as part of the search for a constructive political response to the protests and their demands. Every political party and persona, including the President, got latched on to the 13 Proposal presented by the Bar Association of Sri Lanka. Now, no one is talking about it. The President and the Prime Minister have said nothing about it, and the President made no mention of it in his televised speech.
Former President Chandrika Kumaratunga has also presented a similar set of proposals to the political parties in parliament. Both proposals call for an interim government that will repeal of the 20th Amendment, restore an improved 19th Amendment, and abolish the Executive Presidency within a prescribed timeframe. The BASL proposal for the latter suggests 30 November 2022 as the deadline for the required constitutional amendment, and the abolition itself within 15 months. The BASL indicates 18 months as the duration for the interim government before parliamentary elections. The Kumaratunga proposal prescribes a maximum of six months, which may not be practical depending on what tasks are to be completed by the interim government.
When and how are Ranil Wickremesinghe and/or Gotabaya Rajapaksa responding to these and other proposals and, more importantly, the demands arising from protest politics? If either of them is thinking that Mr. Rajapaksa can continue as long as six months or 18 months as President, they are either daydreaming or they are not taking the protesters seriously. They can be cynical up to a point in allowing the protests to continue, on the one hand, and Gotabaya to continue as President on the other.
But such a cohabitation is both unnatural and unsustainable. One has to give way and it will have to be the President. Ranil Wickremesinghe will have to go too unless he publicly advises Gotabaya Rajapaksa that he should leave office within a specific timeframe, and that Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s only role as President now is to leave as President after an interim succession is put in place. For either man, there is nothing to be clever about in the current situation. Either you are honest and sincere, or you join Mahinda Rajapaksa in Trincomalee.
SS / May 15, 2022
And Who Is Being Clever – Ranil Or Gota?
They both have a satanic intelligence,
as they are both freemasons and both are tares (serpent seed of Cain) too.
But The Most High is more intelligent than these satanists, so no matter
how clever they are, they are going to get taken down!
Nathan / May 15, 2022
I don’t try to read minds. I don’t have the skill.
I listen to the words spoken. I read the words written.
“The US and India, Sri Lanka’s principal banker and protector at the moment, would have added their voices of support for Ranil Wickremesinghe and their veto against others”.
I have questions.
* Who is the Head of State at the moment?
* Will the US and India accept what Ranil will deliver, in this climate.
Jit / May 15, 2022
“…..Whose Saviour Is Ranil? And Who Is Being Clever – Ranil Or Gota?….”
1) Ranil is the saviour of Rajapaksha gang. He will scheme a safe passage or exit for them (for few yesrs, until come back one day with vengeance). He did that in Jan 2015 – MR safely exiting from the window in the midnight and boarding the helicopter Ranil so kindly provided with!
2) Again, Rajapaksa gang being clever….for the umpteenth time….[again] courtesy a world class political idiot who ruined his own party and always nourishing his [supposedly] political opponents – a world class robber gang!!
End of story!
Fakeculturebug / May 16, 2022
It is not “who is saving who”, but for a nation to save itself now.
Ranil may have arrived by default,design or to feed own ambitions
It is even in his streaks he to save the nations Royals.
He knows from his university days that he is not endeared by the masses and needs to survive.
He is no storyteller, actor, war hero, Hitler, dynasty that the voter will bring back.
After all there is also a trade union of politicians
The international community and lenders need to work discretely with all of this. They have seen it all, and even more in Sri Lanka
They need to lend to someone who is credible and has justice at heart.
And knows what such democratic lending stands for.
So hopeful, I say why not Ranil !
But I am already wondering what Justice has to do with his learned professor
…….and of course the same old 40 proverbial who wait in the sidelines.
Here we go again by courtesy Burns….. “the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry”
The fact of the matter is in the hear of man…..Redemption must lie elsewhere !
Fakeculturebug / May 16, 2022
….in the heart of man
nimal fernando / May 15, 2022
Now, can Ranil be the best thing ever happened to Sri Lanka, for those who, once he was the worst man ever walked the face of the earth? …………. Now, can Ranil be the worst man ever walked the face of the earth, for those who, once he was the best thing ever happened to Sri Lanka?
When I was young, it seemed that life was so wonderful
A miracle, oh it was beautiful, magical
But then they send me away to teach me how to be sensible
Logical, oh responsible, practical
And they showed me a world where I could be so dependable
Oh clinical, oh intellectual, cynical
There are times when all the world’s asleep
The questions run too deep
For such a simple man
Won’t you please, please tell me what we’ve learned
I know it sounds absurd
Please tell me who the fuck we are
old codger / May 15, 2022
“Now, can Ranil be the best thing ever happened to Sri Lanka, for those who, once he was the worst man ever walked the face of the earth? ………”
This is Sri Lanka. When we have cheap petrol, we laugh at the price formula. When we have Dollars for 180 bucks, we say it’s too expensive. When we have enough food, we vote for someone who promises to ban fertilizer. When we have milk powder, we believe doctors who claim it causes cancer.
Need I say more?
nimal fernando / May 16, 2022
“This is Sri Lanka. When we have cheap petrol, we laugh at the price formula. When we have Dollars for 180 bucks, we say it’s too expensive.”
People always assume things ……. the economy ……. will remain the same.
Then they thought they could also add “Sinhala-Buddhism” into the bargain on the cheap …….. without paying a price
Everything has a price ………. there is no free lunch ………. except in Gota Go Gama …….. for the moment …….. :))
chiv / May 15, 2022
Nimal and OC , I have experienced plenty of crazy sh*it in my life and none can beat our Lankan politics and voters. Being closer to home makes it more confusing and difficult to believe. As I had mentioned, it’s embarrassing, when non SriLankans ask questions, for which I myself have no answers.
Thiha / May 15, 2022
The 6.9M voted the Rajapkashes into power for a second time. They did not care that their track record included large scale corruption, hieneous murder, Judicial rigging and a penchant for exacting revenge on anyone who crossed paths with them. Thereafter, they were happy as Larry while the Rajapkshes resumed their family business of robbing Sri Lanka while their newly newly minted Bappa took every single step he could to sabotage every single revenue stream that brought dollars to Sri Lanka. Only when the proverbial s— hit the fan that the 6.9M panicked. These are not jsut village idiots but Colombo’s middle classes who abandoned the UNP and jumped into the cess pool. The youth began protesting demanding that Goto go and the monies robbed be returned. But non of these morons had a clue of what to do to rescue the country from the devastation they themselves brought upon it. Instead of a solution they insisted that all 225 should also go. So now when a utterly exhausted Gota finally gets the only man with a TRACK record and a good reputation internationally to accept the premiership what do the 6.9M demand?? His ouster??
old codger / May 15, 2022
“So now when a utterly exhausted Gota finally gets the only man with a TRACK record and a good reputation internationally to accept the premiership what do the 6.9M demand?? His ouster??”
Sri Lankans are like that. They don’t know when they’re having it good.
Mahila / May 15, 2022
When you talk about the 6.9 million – I presume you are – please remember that though they outwardly look normal and and supposed to be very intelligent, clever and and knowledgeable, they have no “memory”, within the head!!!
So the poor souls cannot remember anything beyond a timeframe of 1 week!!
that’s why 6.9 M, elected Gota EP and MaRa as PM:
It is also contemplated that, for the same reason and same ploy, have Namal Baby elected in 2030 and NR will not contest the 2024 election, but give it on a platter to the opposition to fix all the maladies,, because it is too close to the bad memories of the ‘Aragalaya’!!
2030 means at least 8 years to forget the sins??!!
That’s why they dot like price formulas and Fuel Formulas?! Too complicated for them to master!!!
Thiha / May 15, 2022
Here are some of the most absurd solutions proposed by the protesters and other political parties. Pay the debt off by recovering the stolen money. The total debt is 51B USD of which some 30B USD is supposed to have been swindled. Not a bad idea but it takes years to investigate and recover stolen funds so what do we do in the meantime? Starve? AKD proposed to ask the international community of Sri Lankan expatriates to donate money. Even and election could be funded in this manner they said. If every Sri Lankan family living abroad chipped in $10,000 a month for two years AKD claimed Sri Lanka will have enough dollars to recover. Only an absolute donkey would come up with such a plan. There is a thing called the international community who would be willing to assist that the AKDs of Sri Lanka obviously do not trust due to their frogs in the well attitude.
Mahila / May 15, 2022
“If every Sri Lankan family living abroad chipped in $10,000 a month for two years “
I am sure they think that the expatriates and Diaspora homes, grow this kind of plant to produce USD in potted plants, in their Lounge??!!
Very commendable thinking!!
Only thing that beat it to the goal post is the Organic fertiliser concept of Gota??!!
Very original thinking and Home Gown Solutions (HGS)!!!
Good luck and all the best to achieve the target; Sure I will be there, to give you a “Pat on the back”, when you succeed!!!!
Jack / May 15, 2022
I am addressing those people who say Sajith or Anura kumara should have accepted position of PM.
If they would have accepted the position today without conditions very same hypo critics will be critical of them for serving gota,
Their condition was there should be some time frame on which Gota should agree to quit. Without that Rajapakses will come back and do the same old corruption.
All these people should understand there in no need to save country from destruction from anyone but from GOTA , maninda and their family.
Ranil Wickramsinghe without any people mandate took the position to save Rajapkse family. Idiots (Sorry for my language) should understand your favorite Ranil in not saving any country.
Jit / May 15, 2022
“……..Ranil Wickramsinghe without any people mandate took the position to save Rajapkse family. Idiots (Sorry for my language) should understand your favorite Ranil in not saving any country………….”
Jack, spot on!! You have summed up all what I wanted to say…
Ranil came (or rather invited) in to save the Rajapaksha family. That is his top priority.
The whole country is aghast and watching how come a man just getting 20k votes become the PM!! And waiting until he gets gas cylinders next week ……OMG!!!
While people are tasered with this political gimmick gun, R gang and Ranil is busy appointing their stooges to the cabinet…
Same old wine in a new glass……
PEOPLE, STOP WATCHING……GO BACK TO GGG AND FIGHT UNTIL THIS TRAITOR RW PLUS THE R GANG IS CHASED AWAY FROM THIS LAND FOREVER….!!!!!!
RBH59 / May 15, 2022
Whose Saviour Is Ranil? And Who Is Being Clever – Ranil Or Gota?
Both are Owners Saviour Clever in the past and leading country to Bankrupt. and in future
weakens a government as inflation.We have one asset, and that’s people.
Ranil says he like a doctore the file is opened today what the use of Doctor there is no medicine to cure the persons so how can runil be saviour the sick now will be paralyed when the medicine comes.
AYATHURAY RAJASINGAM / May 15, 2022
Who is clever – Ranil or Gota. Both have not spelt about the implementation of the 13th Amendment and also about the development in agriculture to defeat the inflation. Merely borrowing & heaping loans will not solve the present burning problems. Increase of production is essential to arrest the growing inflation. Strictly speaking, both are scratching each other’s back.
shankar / May 15, 2022
the picture shows that both ranil and gota have a mutual admiration and liking for each other.
Nathan / May 15, 2022
I have an argumentative question. At times, I choose this avenue to find relief out of my boredom.
I copy from the Title here: Who Is Being Clever – Ranil Or Gota?
My argument(s) begin now.
What it takes for someone to be Clever? Does it require Ingenuity and / or Shrewdness?
Cleverness is the quality someone has when they’re funny and smart or inventive.
A clever person chooses his words carefully. Uses polite language.
If you have not got the answer yet, you are not clever.
Ajith / May 15, 2022
Whose saviour is Ranil?
Definitely Ranil has proved that he is the saviour of Rajapaksa family.
Who is clever, Gota or Ranil or Both? Both are clever because Both proved that they continue to cheated the people, particularly Buddhist Sinhala people for more than two deacdes and still they are confident that they can cheat Sinhala again. Gota, Mahinda and Ranil borrowed from large sunk from China, India and West but they together made SRI LANKA FOR BANKRUPTCY. They made BUDDHISM to love VIOLENT.
Raj-UK / May 15, 2022
Ranil is a seasoned politician & seems to have inherited his uncle, JR’s, political acumen to survive in the political wilderness of SL. Comparatively, GR is an amateur, bungling in every way but 6.9m believed him as a tough military strategist & a patriot, irrespective of his corruption allegations. However, as the saying goes, you can’t lie forever, the truth will come out. It is now clear that it was all hype & even questions his real contribution to ending the war, although, many would still disagree with me.
On the other hand, Ranil is honest, educated & internationally accepted & some of the criticism may be unjustified but he supported his cronies, even going soft on his political opponents, & failed to uphold the pledge to serve SL as PM. At the moment, maybe, apart from Karu J, there is no credible candidate acceptable to the international community & we need international support to get out of this crisis. So, to the question who is clever, certainly Ranil can run rings round GR but as for the saviour, I think it works both ways. Hopefully, it would be a better partnership than with slimy Sirisena, who sabotaged every every move of the govt. I am sure RW understands that this is his last chance to redeem himself & will do a better job
Mallaiyuran / May 15, 2022
Last time, Ranil removed Mangala from FAM as a punishment for signing the Resolution 30/1. Communist Deniesh revoked that, later. (Remember Communist Dinesh, he was the opposition leader as the Chief of Joint Comedy Club and paralyzed all Yahapalanaya projects to force it to kneel down in 2019. Then GLP was appointed as FAM to damage control and thaw the proceedings at Geneva, by Royals). While these were going on Ranil sold the Hangbangtota harbor as the solution to debt eradication. He paid a $250M penalty on Colombo Pong Ching & $15 M on Pahaddu Tower. He stayed out of the IMF as much as possible. At the end he hit a limit so that he cannot proceed any further. He wished if he could hand over the government to Rowdy Mahinda with the excuse of a coup. He had given numerous promises to fool all and keep all of them cool. TNA signed for defense increases every year while even many outside of Langkang opposed those increases. He tore off TNA. He promised constitutional change when he had only 115 members. He was in cross with the West and no FDI was coming forth, which is the only viable solution for low wage, exchange striped countries. The classic example of fooling the world’s investors is that he attempted to dupe Volkswagen to open a factory in Langkang.
Mallaiyuran / May 15, 2022
He too borrowed and spent. By borrowing Mangala was showing an increase in Dollar reserves at the Central Bank. But the real growth of the economy hit lowest while Mangala and Ranil were playing in full swing. During Yahapalanaya, none of the ministers could translate the word economy from English to Sinhala or Tamil. That much is the familiarity with Economy. Ranil made dangerous deals with China using Malik and Mangala, the terrible twins. He gave a 1 million Visa to China for the Industrial zone. He signed projects with China that were taking all water and electricity from Ceylon consumers. The worst Modayas of Yahapalanaya made free trade agreements with Singapore but declined one with India. This comes from Ranil’s pigheadedness where he believes that Lankawe, not just above Singapore, but even to the First World, in his words, Colonialist and Neo Colonialist. Ranil has no Idea of how to resurrect the economy. Abandonment of knowledge & experience to hoodwink anyone. He is the classic example of pompous Lankan leadership, the masters in Appa Diplomacy. His appointment is only on pure security set up for Royal. The Royals need time for their comeback. One the other side, protesters are only asking for the change of this dirty culture. Here the doctor has given Imodium for stomach pain; it is diarrhea medicine.
shankar / May 16, 2022
let ranil and gota have their last hurrah
VanguardII / May 18, 2022
Let’s hope this is the opportunity for these clever persons to do the following:
– kick MCA and SOFA down the road forever – not a time to implement these when there is social unrest, it will make the IMF loan look like a bribe
– Implement 100% solar power my creating a ‘fast track’ system for solar power for homes
-Raise taxes to meet expenses
-Price petrol and diesel at their market rates
-build industry to convert cars to electric cars
Then be clever enough to avoid the countermeasures by the US, and Arab States which are unhappy that things are not going their way.
Pon Lanka / May 20, 2022
Both these guys are conniving to keep Rajapaksas coming back to power and also to avoid either Sajith or other young progress forces taking control and if that happens, they have to face severe punishments for all their mismanagement, looting, and cheating of innocent voters during the past 30 years.