No one should hide the truth and preach falsehood. We must not be afraid to speak the truth. To hide the truth and do something entirely different is to be dishonest. This is cheating oneself and the others. Let us discuss this. To say one thing and do something different is not acceptable. When a [...]

Sunday Times 2

Lest we forget the past


No one should hide the truth and preach falsehood. We must not be afraid to speak the truth. To hide the truth and do something entirely different is to be dishonest. This is cheating oneself and the others. Let us discuss this.

To say one thing and do something different is not acceptable. When a question is posed there are those who will give the correct answer, others the wrong answer and yet others who will avoid the answer. Even those who do not know recent history cannot forget recent experiences. If you have forgotten what you have done, then you cannot comprehend what is yet to come. For instance it is good to compare what you ate and drank and how you lived in the past with the present. What is to be done in the future? This is a good time to call to mind and ask whether we have people who can plan properly, develop the country and meet your expectations.

Mahinda Rajapaksa

The tsunami came on December 26, 2004. There was famine in the city of Visala long ago. Food became scarce. People became weak, helpless and many died. There was no one even to bury the dead. Evil spread far and wide. When hunger, sickness and evil began to spread in Visala, our Lord Buddha with other monks came there and preached the Ratana Sutta and averted further disaster. We had a similar experience in our own country. Those who are aware of this situation, must educate those who are not. If this is not done, our future will be bleak. This will be common to people of all races and religions. If not we can have white flags and corpses. I feel that all forms of evil are waiting to raise their ugly heads once again. We cannot protect the future of a country when jealousy, anger and hatred abound. Talking about what you cannot achieve is a waste of time. Those who governed the country and those aspiring to do so must be careful about what they are saying. Those who have given up power, those exercising power and the others aspiring to do so, together with all the living must think and act carefully.

Sri Lanka is a poor country as far as production is concerned. We have to still import even little things like needles and thread, apart from vehicles and food. We are yet to achieve greater heights in health and clothing. It is a useless exercise for us to argue and attack each other on these matters. We have to think of the future generations and not dwell on fantasy. We must be realistic and work for a productive future as a single nation with a definite action plan.

Ranil Wickremesinghe

The way that the weather has changed these days makes us wonder whether another tsunami would come about. Floods, droughts, earthquakes, lightning, fire, poison gas, accidents and even the wrath of the gods affect us all. As far as I can see there is an increase in the effects from what is evil. We can see that there is a likelihood of evil and suffering coming on all of us. Therefore, a time has come to lead exemplary lives avoiding consumption of meat, alcohol and drugs. We are coming to the end of the year. As we enter the New Year, let us be patient, tolerant and spread peace and goodwill. Let us light a lamp at home, reflect on religious teachings and live by them. Let us minimise our faults and weaknesses and try to save and protect ourselves. Health is wealth. Let us protect it with good eating habits. Meditation, giving alms and observing the precepts are common to all religions. Let us cultivate them. Let us not accept things as seen on the surface.

Politics is there to help to bring about a good life for all. In the course of time we have lost our sense of priorities. A good portion of our rice is lost. We are consuming imported rice. This alone is a bad omen. I feel that the ensuing months may bring many a calamity. We should be grateful for our past and without condemning it, let us cultivate goodwill and forbearance. Let all of us start on a journey of truth and righteousness. If we feel that there is a likelihood of evil taking hold of this country, let us spread goodwill around and cultivate forbearance and gratitude. What we sow today will give us and our children a good harvest in time to come.

I also wish to reflect on our political history. In 2002, when Ranil Wickremesinghe took over as premier our economy was in ruins. Some UNP MPs said that although our grandmothers still have a few coins with them, our Treasury was empty. In 2002 during Chandrika Kumaratunga’s Presidency, the Secretary to the Finance Ministry was Charitha Ratwatte, a relative of hers. Before the second Budget of that time, Charitha

Chandrika Kumaratunga

Ratwatte surprisingly declared that salaries of all public servants could be increased. Ms. Kumaratunga asked him how he could do this, and he explained to her how it could be done. Though she had the power she was unwilling to act on his advice. Instead she dissolved parliament in a week and formed a new government with the help of the JVP which then increased its seats. Though she made Mahinda Rajapaksa the premier, she had recently declared that Mr. Rajapaksa was ungrateful. Let me relate some events of the time, because I am aware of many details.

At that time Hambantota was a multi-seat electorate. Four Rajapaksas contested along with a JVPer. Ms. Kumaratunga expected the downfall of Rajapaksa at this election. Since I was administering a technical college and a pre-school at Moderamune in Tangalle, I visited the area often. I met Mr. Rajapaksa during these frequent visits. He said, “Venerable Sir, both of us know each other from our young days, but there are moves to defeat me at Hambantota.” I inquired into this. There were far sighted intelligent businessmen in Hambantota. With their help Mr. Rajapaksa took the lead, and got the highest number of preferential votes. Ms. Kumaratunga had to make Mr. Rajapaksa the Prime Minister.

Let us also examine another historical event. When President Premadasa was assassinated, D.B. Wijetunga automatically became President. Instead of calling on Ranil Wickremesinghe who was loyal to the party right along, he invited Gamini Dissanayake, who had left the party and formed another party, to come forward and contest the Presidency. When Mr. Dissanayake was assassinated just prior to the election Mr. Wickremesinghe was again ignored and instead Mr. Dissanayake’s widow was given the candidacy. I am only mentioning the facts that took place at the time but not making any comments.

There was a time that the SLFP did not have a proper candidate for the Presidency. Vijaya Kumaratunga belonged to a different party. When he was assassinated Ms. Kumaratunga assumed the leadership of that party. She was a Bandaranaike but was in a different party. She re-joined the SLFP, the party of the Bandaranaikes. We see that Ms. Kumaratunga, too, changed political parties to suit the political requirements of the time.

Maithripala Sirisena

At that time Ven. Maduluwawe Sobitha Thera was a highly respected prelate in our country. He was a leading figure then as now. At the time I had discussions with Ven. Sobitha in my quarters. I told him then, “Ven. Sir, you are a person of great wisdom, and if you are thinking of the country, come forward and contest the presidential election”. This was long ago. Anyone can check this story from the Ven. Thera. Ven. Sobitha Thera could have taken the initiative then and not now.

Now, after the 30-year war had ended and Ms. Kumaratunga had lost one eye and a massive Tsunami had destroyed the country, let us look at the state of our country dispassionately.

Later when the Hela Urumaya party was being formed, Patali Champika Ranawake and a few others met me. I informed them then that there was no necessity for such a party. Ven. Rathana Thera is an elected member of parliament through this party.

Sometime back the Chief Incumbent of Vidyodaya, Ven. Akuretiye Nanda Thera came to see me. He requested me to accommodate aspirants to Dahampasal training and that we allow space in ‘Subodarama Nivasa” for training to be carried out. I agreed to this. I even provided meals. I did not know then that this project was an undertaking by the Hela Urumaya. Ven. Ratana Thera or anyone else, did not inform me of this.

Ven. Ratana Thera was a teacher at Hapugoda Pirivena in Kamburupitiya. He is a Southerner. He is well known to the people of the area. Ven. Omare Kassapa Thera, a consultant on education, and others should provide details about Ven. Ratana Thera’s programmes. Ven. Ratana Thera and others have come forward to protect the people. Can they provide that protection? What is their background? What are their plans? No one should be afraid to come forward and give an opinion. Ven. Ratana Thera has said his Borella premises will be handed over to the Government. But a greater portion of the property belongs to Dayakes of Gangaramaya. Neither the RDA nor Ven. Ratana Thera has compensated them so far.
Maithripala Sirisena, the Presidential candidate, is one of my close friends. But I have a big question mark about those who are close to him today. When Charitha Ratwatte wanted to increase the public servants’ salaries, Ms. Kumaratunga was not prepared to proceed. Can she implement this now as a Consultant to Maithri? How can those who did not allow Mr. Wickremesinghe to function as Premier help him now to become Premier and function? How can you import fuel and give it to the people without taxes? Can Ms. Kumaratunga reduce the prices of imported goods? Can she increase salaries by Rs. 10,000?

If Mahinda Rajapaksa who did a lot for development has not achieved all, can Ms. Kumaratunga intervene and achieve this? This is a practical argument.

Please promise what you can deliver. Do not promise what you cannot achieve or implement. That is my earnest appeal.

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