2 October, 2022

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Wickremesinghe/Rajapaksa – An Axis Of Evil

By Vishwamithra

“If I speak, I am condemned. If I stay silent, I am damned!”  ~ Victor Hugo, Les Misérables

The Economist, the prestigious global publication, carried an interview with Ranil Wickremesinghe, Sri Lanka’s first unelected president. It was dated August 16. Very heavy on the macroeconomic side with a little bit of details on the micro aspects, the interview, taken by itself, stands out as an intellectual insight into the economic life of a country whose sociopolitical rudders have been let loose by those who were charged with the responsibility of taking charge in the first place. Yet one wonders, in fact, one is justifiably exonerated, for finding fault with the main protagonist of this column, Ranil Wickremasinghe. 

Ranil may be telling the truth; his analyses might contain many a compelling factor to buttress not only his own argument but also to shatter his opponent’s. Each and every time he was in power with enormous opportunity and power to justify his stay in power and bring along prudent resolutions to complicated and complex issues, he failed. In terms of his arguments in the said interview, on each occasion, he had a President over him; or he did not have absolute power to himself when and where he could have chosen a different path to the resolution of the complex issues that have confounded the country today.

Nevertheless, Ranil Wickremasinghe apart, the Economist interview sheds light on a few salient features of the country’s economy whilst attempting to spell out the historical parallels that Ceylon had been facing prior to the present crisis. One obvious parallel is the one during Sirimavo Bandaranaike’s regime from 1970 to 1977 and the steps that JR Jayewardene and his able Cabinet of Ministers led by R Premadasa, Gamini Dissanayake, Lalith Athulathmudali, Nissanka Wijeratne and Ronnie de Mel. Ranil Wickremesinghe is making a vicarious attempt to identify himself with the economic boom of the JR-period; however, his mention that he was a member of that Cabinet would not fly in the context of the massive development-driven policies undertaken by the JR-regime. Ranil was just a passenger travelling on the footboard. And his contribution towards the boom in the eighties was zero.

Today Ranil Wickremesinghe does not have that caliber of Ministers; the likes of Premadasas, Gamini, Lalith, Nissanka and Ronnie are not among the living and the Party they represented, the United National Party (UNP) was totally destroyed by Ranil Wickremasinghe himself. The trust and faith that the likes of Gamini and Lalith enjoyed amongst their supporters as well as foes is not easily earned. Not only has one got to be consistently driven and ambitious; but one needs to be ‘learned’ and talented too. That is why Ranil Wickremasinghe always fell by the wayside. 

Ranil Wickremesinghe may have applied his heart and mind into the subject of politics with all he had; but that was not sufficient in the marketplace of politics, for that matter in any profession. When JR Jayewardene reined over Sri Lanka, Ranil Wickremesinghe, although closely related to J R (J R’s mother was Ranil’s maternal grandfather’s, DR Wijeywardene’s, sister), was a podian (puny player) whose strengths and weaknesses were well recognized and reckoned by the political-supremo whom we knew as ‘Yankee Dickey’, JR Jayewardene. Ranil was not even a member of the first JR-Cabinet. He was first sworn in as Junior Minister of Foreign Affairs, playing second fiddle to ACS Hameed, the Minister. Ranil’s effort to gain credit for the economic successes of the JR-era is apparent, yet shameful.

Ranil Wickremasinghe’s chief foe is not lack of understanding of the current economic plight; it’s his defiant refusal of accepted norms of clever and crafty public relations. Ranil has the unique ability to make enemies. Politics is all about winning men and women. Ranil does just the opposite: winning enemies. That indeed is a very sad commentary about a politician whose father, the late Esmond Wickremesinghe, was a wizard of political craft and maneuvering. Observably nothing has passed down from father to son!

Rudyard Kipling said: “Words are, of course, the most powerful drug used by mankind”. It is here Ranil Wickremesinghe has failed to make any impression. The words he chooses to express his ups and downs (he rarely refers to his downs) are not a product of a clever professional. He might be a voracious reader but none he reads seems to have gone into his whole makeup. There are leaders who could be called dogged, obsessive or even utterly obstinate. But recognizing such failings is one of the great qualities of a successful leader. In terms of such definitions of successful leaders, Ranil is nowhere to be seen or heard. 

Ranil’s failures are many and varied. But what has taken him down time and time again is his stubborn refusal to accept the obvious. When confronted by raw reality, he tends to look the other way and indulge in his comfortable pastimes and sulking away wishing the problems would go away because its immediate nasty aspects have been procrastinated. Life is not like that. Having remained his mother’s boy, Ranil’s comfort zone has always been in a corner away from the people who matter in the enterprise he has chosen to be engaged in. 

When such a person is thrown into the arena that is full of nasty and powerful players who have built their respective reputations based on half-truths and outright lies, he or she cringes behind an ornamental veneer that plays a very powerful and comforting role in safeguarding the lack of charisma and steadfastness which great leaders inherit. Unfortunately for Sri Lanka, the Rajapaksa-founded imposter, which is Ranil Wickremesinghe, is in full and unbridled power of Executive Presidency today. 

As a matter of proven fact, the Rajapaksas chose Ranil to be their protector not because Ranil would bring in remarkable results but because he, Ranil, alone would be the ultimate shield against very corrupt and dishonest governance practices they themselves indulged in in the past two decades. Ranil safeguarded the Rajapaksas in the aftermath of the 2015 Presidential and Parliamentary elections. Now Ranil has no choice but to safeguard them even further in the wake of the disgraceful exit of Gotabaya Rajapaksa from the exalted position of Executive President. 

Ranil is President today and the terms of the 20th Amendment are still in play. The strengthening of the Executive Presidency is actually helping Ranil personally on the one hand and the Pohottuwa-mafia on the other in the context of any potentiality of weakening of Executive Presidency. So long as the Pohottuwa-mafia could muster 113 votes in Parliament, rest assured, no dismantling of the vicious and vengeful operations and conduct of those Ministers and other parliamentarians can be achieved in a real sense.

They have a man who would defend their vested interests at all costs purely because those vested interests are the same as those of Ranil’s and his close cohorts’. Sagala Ratnayake and Akila Viraj Kariyawasam are Ranil’s close buddies. Vajira Abeywardana is one of the most corrupt politicians the UNP ever produced; Ruwan Wijeywardene, though by birth is DR Wijeywardene’s grandson, has no achievement he could boast about other than his inherited pedigree. Ranil’s other cohorts such as Ravi Karunanayake and Arjuna Mahendran have already become yesterday’s devalued currency, but still may have some dramatic entry into this Rajapaksa-mafia-run administration.

Ranil certainly has a past, how ignominious it could be; his present is confusing and unclear but his future is as uncertain as the inconsistency of rainfall in the arid zones- no guarantee, no promise of arrival. However, the middleclass and the upper middleclass in the country have chosen to give another chance to this proven failure. Ranil’s inner motivation, which is driven by hatred towards innocent yet forthright and outspoken opposition of the youth in the country, has triumphed for the moment. At what cost to the country’s journey towards a dynamic equilibrium amongst competing forces of capitalism, socialism and middle-of-the road economic policies, may be seen in coming months.

Sustenance of rounding up of leaders of a mass movement has a very limited shelf life. The alacrity of the deterioration of the objective conditions in the country will decide the shape of the process and the final outcome. Self-absorbed and narcissistic leaders may enjoy a very temporary success at containing an uprising; but a day will dawn when the powers vested in the authority of the Executive Presidency would be redundant. Gotabaya Rajapaksa proved it beyond any doubt. The force of mass-power could be uncontrollable if timely resolution of all issues that have already caused irreparable damage to the lives of men and women have not been found.

Libraries of books and reels of videos would not be sufficient to learn what is called street-smartness. Is Ranil Wickremesinghe street-smart? Can the axis of evil comprising of the Rajapaksas and Ranil Wickremesinghe withstand another mass uprising? Will the suffering rural folks stomach it any further and ultimately capitulate to the systemic suppression of the government machinery? These questions still remain unanswered and the day they shall be answered may bring sunshine or perhaps gloomier weather? That day shall come, but when is the sixty four million dollar question.

*The writer can be contacted at vishwamithra1984@gmail.com 

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Latest comments

  • 4
    4

    Thanks, Vishwamithra,
    .
    This was The Economist interview that you refer to:
    .
    https://www.economist.com/asia/2022/08/16/an-interview-with-the-president-of-sri-lanka
    .
    A tape-script rather than a video.
    .
    Among the assertions that you make here is that Vajira Abeywardana is corrupt. I couldn’t remember much about the guy, so I searched and found that he has now become a MP. Seems funny. The UNP was awarded one National List slot from the August 2020 election; they’ve used that to get the Executive President with unbridled power, and thereafter another MP. Doesn’t seem right. The guy had been Chairman of the UNP, and he’s the man who had trapped the Bribery Commissioner who was doing good work; related here:
    .
    https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/a-churlish-churchill-a-godawful-grusha/
    .
    Some of these things we see, but don’t understand the significance of.
    .
    The NPP news conference today has Harini Amarasuriya speaking in English from 17′ 00” to 22′. 20″
    .
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f0IklIyNH-U&t=2s
    .
    No fireworks in this comment; just facts.
    .
    Panini Edirisinhe/ Bandarawela

    • 1
      3

      Manel Fonseka, please note:
      .
      The tape script for the words spoken by Hanini Amarasuriya in English appear in the YouTube of the NPP news conference that appears above.
      .
      Here it is again:
      .
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f0IklIyNH-U&t=2s
      .
      “Listen” from 17′ 00” to 22′. 20″
      .
      Panini Edirisinhe (NIC 483111444V)

  • 6
    4

    Ranil should exclude Rajapaksas from the Cabinet of Ministers. Gotabhaya had the guts to do that. I hope Ranil does the same. Rajapaksa, who are accused of corruption, money laundering, nepotism, drug smuggling and stealing from the public coffers shouldn’t be given any ministerial posts.
    Some jokers say people still support Rajapaksas. For their information, people rejected Rajapaksas and the 225 in Parliament long before the insurrection. I write comments based on my own principles. I stopped supporting them a long time ago.
    The insurrectionists did not belong to one group. Several groups funded by foreign agents, NGOs, INGOs, Catholic Church, a section of Rajapaksas and various other elements were part of the insurrection. However, they were united by their common goal to rob Sinhalese Buddhists of their right to elect leaders of their choice. Anyway, their master plan went awry as Gotabhaya unexpectedly appointed an Acting President before leaving the country.
    Now, jokers Basil and Namal Rajapaksa have requested Ranil for a safe return for Gotabhaya!!! What are they up to? I think they are planning a “spectacular publicity stunt” at the airport similar to that of Mahinda worshipping the tarmac which was also pre-planned.

    • 7
      2

      Chimpa, “I stopped supporting them a long time ago “, How long was it ?? I guess one week, one month or since running away, without informing you ?? As I mentioned before Gotha is a real bad news to any, who comes into contact with him. First there was explosions in Thailand , today Supreme Court suspended ex military chief from PM post. Gotha took Lanka to Geneva and now made us bankrupt. By the way Chimpa, rumor is that, he has burned all the cash and has no choice other than returning (which I do not believe is true, its just to gain sympathy from stupid Lankans.) If few weeks of his stay his so costly imagine the money wasted on Rajapaksas until now (lodging, security, travel, wining and dining …….) and in future, for Gotha to stay.

    • 8
      2

      Champa,
      “Ranil should exclude Rajapaksas from the Cabinet of Ministers. Gotabhaya had the guts to do that”
      Which planet do you live on, Champa?
      Just asking for a friend.

    • 7
      0

      C
      “Ranil should exclude Rajapaksas from the Cabinet of Ministers. Gotabhaya had the guts to do that.”
      Interesting.
      But to exclude them properly, should not GR have excluded himself by stepping down before he was forced to.

    • 2
      2

      Champa & Others,
      .
      That “we” are sick of this Parliament and want elections is true, and it may be taken to apply to a majority of people in the country.
      .
      However, please be careful with this statement:
      .
      “people rejected ……………… the 225 in Parliament.”
      .
      Use it as a slogan, by all means, but ALWAYS remember that it is only a slogan.
      .
      That most of the country is sick of the Pohottuwa MPs is more or less true. However, I have respect even for a few of them. For instance Professor Charitha Herath.
      .
      So, let’s say we reject a great many MPs, but please, not all 225. I’ve not bothered to analyse and count, but I may have respect for anything upto 50 MPs, possibly something much fewer. That’s for me. For the country as whole, ‘we’re” sick of the very idea of MPs as a group of people, but I’m very grateful to a few.

      .

    • 2
      0

      “Gotabhaya had the guts to do that. “
      Champa,
      When was that? it is he who appointed all Rajapaksas into his cabinet. It is he who appointed a criminal Monk to lead the “one country, one law” policy. It is Gota he who pardoned murders like a military command and one who murdered another MP. He appointed Ranil because no one else prepared to protect all Rajapaksas from all the crimes committed by Rajapaksas. We all know who you are and what you are.

  • 3
    1

    Ranil is still in shock about getting to the top. Such minds never return to human normal ever. But normal citizen Gota’s return should not be a special event without even full term qualification for a pension. Citizens long for a government which will not rob or suppress them.

    • 5
      1

      dtg
      What we have is still at least nominally a law governed system. How can RW breach rules?
      RW is in no shock. We are getting shocks in small doses.
      The other day I wanted to post a letter, I did not have a Rs.15 stamp at home. So I went to the PO.
      I was told that postage was Rs.50 from a week or so ago.
      How come I missed it? Usually such a boost in price would have met with a lot of media protest.
      I asked the lady at the counter if they will get a pay rise to match? Laughingly, she said “Ne Sir!”
      Figure out for yourself who is in a state of shock.

      • 1
        1

        SJ,
        “RW is in no shock. We are getting shocks in small doses.”
        No, he’s quite confident. Look at the way he jacked up kerosene by 300% without even pretending to do it in small doses.
        The media must have missed the postage hike because petrol went down by a few rupees at about the same time.

        • 0
          1

          Evil is an intricate, cacographic, arrogant fascist. Nobody ever drew a perfect picture of Evil because he is not visible to the naked eyes of anybody. Here are a few sentences that show how Old Rowdy used Modayas mind for his election: ” The one who fears a ghost will not build his house in the cemetery”, “The known Devil is Better than Unknown Angel”. He is very clearly saying that the Modaya crowd is his dowry. Can you write something here about Evil exposing himself with? He is a troll living inside a dark culvert; nobody showed him, but all knows that is where he is. In that last two decades, 7 times he came out of that dark tunnel and raided the people’s residences lying in open areas.

        • 0
          0

          OC
          The postage went up by a similar ratio, but the lady at the counter told me far fewer people use the postal service now. Only businesses that need to deliver hard copies use it. that too may change steadily.
          All my services bills/receipts are by phone or e-mail or by hand.

    • 0
      1

      Ranil became the PM to save the country. Now he is playing the traitor role. Is he the President for IMF or Sri Lanka?

  • 1
    2

    Runaway bridegroom, rather fearing to anybody else, he was fearful of Savage Indra. Snake knows the route of the snake. (“Paampin Kaalai Paampariyum” ). That is why, unlike Old Rowdy, he did not take Rapist Army protection. He was fearful of his family too, especially Old Rowdy. He got rid of Old Rowdy King using the protest and expecting that action may cool protestors. While he was going though, main, there external pressures (China, India and West and IMF) it was so unexpected for him that Old Rowdy had concealed prisoners in his TTH Manson, drugged them and launched them on protesters. (You may remember Ambassador Alina, who brought Old Rowdy from his Coup Prime Minister position, warning that if his family members (referring Hitler getting citizenship release from America) get help from America to contest for EP. America and India supported to Ponny & White Flag murdered against Old Rowdy). So, he had to immediately get rid of Old Rowdy, irrelevant of what is going to be his own future. After that he was promoting the speaker for the next senior position.

  • 1
    2

    But Old Rowdy had been on a mission to bring Evil to his position, as he had some enlightened vision of what was about to come for him. He did know that Old Democratic Countries see him as one of the most dangerous enemies in the world than anybody else in the entire world, and they were giving pressure to Hitler let him go out of any diplomatic immunity so he would have to face some kind of justice system (local or external). Every foreign nation embassy in Colombo knows that there is no match for Evil, in the dirty Aappa diplomatic maneuverings. Hitler explicitly says that he is not a communist, unlike the other SLFP’s henchmen parties. He may have preferred some different techniques to defeat UNHRC in 2021, rather than Communist’s direct withdrawal, which by the guidance of Old Rowdy, who was the pressure of Old Beauty Queen on these matters, who in turn was fearing facing a court for Tajudeen’s murder. So, Hitler’s loss of war to bring Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena as Prime Minister has made him create the new and worst enemy of him, The Evil Emperor.

  • 1
    2

    There is a saying in Tamil that when the sculptor tried to make Lord Ganapathy’s stature, it became like a monkey. The problem of Hitler is his horoscope reader Gnanakka reads only charts but does not do exorcism to oust evils out of the houses. That is why he has fallen on the leg of his second enemy Old Rowdy to thaw the Evil so he can return to the Wildlife Sanctuary. The Evil Emperor must achieve many things before the September-October UNHRC session. He knows Japan will not support any action against Langkang. So, he wants to get Japan to influence the UNHRC countries to defeat the West, one more time. But he is lying to the public that he wants to ask Japan to convene a meeting between China and India to give him a loan restructuring plan. India has already offered its fullest support for the IMF loan. Now, the question is, is it true that China is going to come and help Langkang, because Japan is asking it to do so?

  • 0
    0

    Next political drama willbe enacted when the national government and cabinet are formed. It will be interesting to see who is in and out? Also who will be the patriots and traitors? Aragalaya activists(not all) had a clear reading of where the country is headed, what went wrong over the last 70 years with the elitist ruling class including Rajapaksas, where we are at today, and what needs to happen? Ranil and the military junta was able to turn the tables and discourse within a few weeks by imposing emergency laws, arresting activists and leaders, detaining some, labelling them as terrorists rather than freedom fighters (aragalayists). State power and media are used to do all this including Gazzette notifications. “Regaining power” agenda of the deep state is in full swing including a 100 day program and law and order talk. The agenda is not only to suppress aragalaya leaders and activists but the civic and political rights of all who desire freedom at last from the grip of the ruling junta.

  • 2
    0

    Brilliant analysis! Clearly, the Rajapaksas are biding their time to make a comeback and who better to be President in the interim than Ranil. He is now engaged in clearing the way for them and will take the blame. When the time comes, he will be cast aside and soon forgotten.

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