Have twenty nine election defeats in a row with another possible disaster in the offing made United National Party leader Ranil Wickremesinghe go off his rocker? Have the long traumatic years trapped in the tunnel of debacles with the promised light at the end never shining, made him give up the ghost? Turned this apostle [...]


Ranil’s adios to demos, aloe to revolt


Have twenty nine election defeats in a row with another possible disaster in the offing made United National Party leader Ranil Wickremesinghe go off his rocker? Have the long traumatic years trapped in the tunnel of debacles with the promised light at the end never shining, made him give up the ghost? Turned this apostle of democracy to an apostate of the faith?

Serious questions as to his sanity will be raised this morning when a troubled nation ponders over the out-of-character statement he made when he met members of the Organisation for Good Governance at his office on Wednesday to discuss ways and means of ensuring the restoration of the rule of law and democratic governance.

Ranil Wickremesinghe

“We have come to a stage,” he told the gathered delegation, “where this government does not care for reason or the laws of the country. It is so intoxicated with power that all democratic norms have been violated. The rule of law is flouted and constitutional rights of the people trampled with impunity. Corruption reigns at the highest levels of government while the masses are struggling to make ends meet due to the skyrocketing cost of living.”

And then, as reported in the Daily Mirror, he declared a call to revolt: “The lawlessness in this country can no longer be overcome through democratic means but through a well-organised struggle by all parties and civil society groups. One cannot expect good governance from this regime and therefore it is high time for all forces to get together and overthrow this undemocratic and dictatorial regime.”

“Lawlessness can no longer be overcome through democratic means? It’s high time to overthrow this undemocratic regime?”

But why, at this hour, should Ranil be calling for the overthrow of the Government through any means other than democratic when a perfectly legitimate democratic mean is just around the corner? With the general elections and the presidential election expected to be held in the early part of next year should not this be the proper and legit path to traverse to defeat what he calls ‘this undemocratic and dictatorial regime’?

After patiently bearing every familiar flop with fortitude, after successfully shielding off each and every vociferous demand to resign as UNP leader, after downplaying a host of political issues which his party could have exploited to pierce the Government’s shining armour and having looked askance when rights were frequently trammeled, what indeed has jostled him out of his sedated slumber to make such an outrageous statement unbecoming of his position as the leader of Lanka’s largest democratic political party, still possessing for all its defeats and defects, the largest voter base in the land?

While none can dispute his sovereign right to assess the prevailing situation in realistic light, the radical means he suggested to overcome Lanka’s present plight would have shocked the “Good Governance” members present at the meeting as it did the public when it was reported. Here was the imperturbable champion of democracy whose sole occupation these last few years had been spent practising the fine art of how to succeed in failure, now peddling the Leninist claptrap that the means, howsoever undemocratic, justify the end.

Tell me, what is the difference between Ranil Wickremesinghe, leader of the democratic United National Party condoning the use of undemocratic means to overthrow a democratically elected regime in the name of protecting democracy in Lanka and Galagoda-atte Gnanasara, leader of the Bodu Bala Sena, espousing violence as a justifiable means of protecting the Buddha’s doctrine of non-violence in the name of protecting Buddhism in the land?

Merely because his phantom leadership has failed dismally to capture the imagination of the masses, it does not mean democratic means should be given the thumbs down and abandoned on the highway. Why condemn the masses to a fate worse than having an undemocratic government flouting established norms to retain power by subjecting them to the further horror of having an undemocratic opposition as well, openly willing to transgress every rule in the book to grab power?

An opposition which, for no explicable reason, declares a sudden rush to take the low road at the eleventh hour, recklessly flinging long cherished principles to the winds? Or does Ranil no longer believe in the people’s verdict, no longer respect their judgment and is prepared to usurp without qualm their sovereign franchise to freely elect the government of their choice?

Ranil Wickremesinghe was born wrapped in democracy’s purple diaper, spoon-fed with the honey dew of liberalism, moulded by the chisel of enlightened company that graced his environs to leave him a true believer of the political philosophy as expounded by the Greeks as the best form of governance. He is an adherent not by conversion but by inheritance. Like the born Buddhist he is, he is a born democrat.

Democracy was a diadem in his family heirloom, a hereditary bequest embedded in his mindset that could not be divested. To think contrary to its dictates was unthinkable and it certainly wore well on the lapel of his bespoke western suit that was the standard attire of all who frequented the plush parlours of privileged birth.

With such an impressive stock of blue blood throbbing his veins what has made him lean towards shedding his democratic tuxedo and donning the khaki and red beret? After returning home in May from his four weeks crash course on how to topple governments at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Maryland, Virginia one would have expected him to be bloated and bursting at the seams with even more democratic blah-blah than before but here he comes and talks radical babble as if he had, instead attended neighbouring Cuba’s Faculty of Political Science at the University of Havana for the politically failed.

Or is it nearer the case that it is all to do with the company he has been keeping recently, the strange bedfellows disaster had forced him to hob-nob with, whose only hope of gaining power is definitely not through the ballot?

For the JVP and the DNF which form the ragbag coalition of the decimated opposition know full well their hyped up boasts of being parties to be reckoned with are but the stuff of their pipe dreams. For all their self congratulatory hailing as being the third or fourth force in the political firmament what did each party receive at the recently held provincial polls? Less than a lousy five per cent of the overall vote. They have certainly come a long way. The JVP from its gun toting, blood shedding days and Sarath Fonseka from his fading martyrdom but it’s a long, long way to Tipperary for them and they know they will never reach it. All these hikers can hope for is to hitch a ride on someone else’s limo be it even in the boot.

The JVP, having burnt its fingers twice trying to topple democratically elected governments by terrorists’ methods has forsaken the gun and taken up contesting elections only because there is no other choice for it. But it knows in its hearts it will never drink from the cup of power and savour its intoxicating nectar by merely going through the motions of being a respectable bourgeoisie political party and will not be too averse to shed the façade and exploit undemocratic means if given half the chance

And as for the DNF, ah, how often Sarath Fonseka must have dreamt daylight dreams of a military takeover with him leading the corp and dispensing summary justice to his enemies on Galle Face Green. But even he knows, the people would not tolerate it, would not suffer the undemocratic overthrow of a democratically elected government still enjoying massive people support.

But to both these parties’ credit they have not, despite the frustrations they must be enduring, called for the undemocratic overthrow of the UPFA government. They have at least, ostensibly demonstrated their willingness to tread the beaten track, even though they know it’s futile.

So why has Ranil Wickremesinghe, the one who has the most credible and reasonable chance of winning the presidential election out of them all and his party the general elections, jumped the gun and broken rank and made this audaciously irresponsible suggestion that lawlessness can no longer be overcome through democratic means and that it’s high time to overthrow this undemocratic regime?

Has he finally come to the end of his tether? Has he realised his days as leader of the UNP may be numbered? That having recklessly used up the 29 lives of a failure like a feline does its nine, certain defeat and thereafter oblivion face him if he loses again at the presidential election next year?

Only he will know the answer. But for the rest of us to rest assured with the belief that there is still some semblance of democracy in this country, it will go far if he comes clean with his private perceptions and future plans as the leader of Lanka’s oldest political party which has always proclaimed itself as the standard bearer of democracy and affirm unequivocally that the opposition UNP remains committed to the ideals of democracy whether in office or out.

Despite the manifest failure of the party he has led for the last twenty years to stir the masses to vote them into power; Ranil still commands enormous respect as an honest politician and as a gentleman to his fingertips. He should not become the spendthrift of his admirable image and squander it in vain. Nor get his hands dirty and his mind soiled by the company he must perforce keep.

The road to democracy is long and arduous. There are no short cuts. Those who do opt to take the expedient route always end up at a location far worse than from where they had begun, at a destination far removed from the place they had intended to reach. That has been the lesson of history. And it is time that Ranil Wickremesinghe learnt it.

‘New wine in old tube’ mystery 


What nice thoughts of care and concern over the stretched purse of the voting public occupy the mind of Petroleum Industries Minister Anura Priyadhashina Yapa when he declares that the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation would pay the demurrages for the ships anchored due to the breakdown of the tube carrying crude oil to Sapugaskanda Oil Refinery and that his Ministry will not burden the people by increasing fuel prices as a result.

But, alas, if he is still hanging on waiting for some sort of applause to accompany his statement made on Tuesday he will be disappointed. Not because the public do not appreciate his love and concern but because they have been fibbed off for so long by successive ministers both in the petroleum and power ministries by such bogus assurances, that they will rather wait for their fuel and electricity bills to arrive in the coming months before bringing their hands together and giving a rousing cheer and hailing Priyadharshana a jolly good fellow.

The minister also said that the damaged tube line was temporally replaced with an old tube and pumping had resumed without any further problems.

“We have replaced the broken tube line with an old one, which had been abandoned for about 12 years, he said, “and now we can pump the crude oil from the three ships, which are containing 90,000 metric tons of crude oil each in the Colombo Port, and the pumping is being done and it will be completed within ten days.”

Doesn’t it strike you as rather odd that an old tube, abandoned twelve years ago, should suddenly be found in peak condition to pump 90,000 metric tons of crude oil without a hitch or a leak now? If after 12 years of being put away it is still in prime form then doesn’t the question arise as to why it was condemned and then abandoned twelve years ago? Doesn’t it smack of graft?

Minister Yapa should immediately initiate an inquiry as to what exactly happened 12 years ago. Those who took the decision to abandon a perfectly usable tube, if alive, must be questioned and bought to account.

The minster must appoint an independent committee to probe and determine whether a multi million rupee asset of the government owned refinery was condemned as useless merely as a ruse to enable the powers that were then to order a new one and earn millions as commissions. The team should inquire whether the real reason why Lankans have to pay more for their fuel even when world market oil prices hit new lows are mainly due to the large scale corruption existing in the Petroleum Corporation..

And also assure the burdened public that the real reason why the fact finding UNP delegation who went to the CPC on Thursday were blocked by employees was not to prevent them from discovering that mass corruption still exist at the CPC turning it into a white elephant because the gigantic golden cow is being milked dry by unseen hands with the illegal produce still freely flowing in the pipe line to unknown pockets.


Search your soul before appealing


Today the people of Tangalle must hang their heads in shame that a man they elected to the area’s Pradeshiya Sabha and saw appointed as chairman is a murderer and a rapist, convicted by a Lankan Court of the offences and sentenced to twenty years jail.

But even more so must the UPFA nomination board members who picked him as a candidate for the election hang theirs in ignominy for having presented him as one fit to represent the Tangalle people, one suitable to hold public office.

This episode should awaken those who sit on these nomination panels to the need to carefully filter possible mavericks, thugs, drug dealers and other undesirables when choosing the candidates, to sift the grain from the chaff. If not, at the end of the day the voters’ choice is limited. They have to choose amongst the best out of the worst.

It must also raise the question why a normal murder trial was allowed to become the focus of international attention, why questionable delays in arresting the suspects, filing charges and commencing the trial were allowed to occur which resulted in the world condemning Lanka’s selective law enforcement policy based on politics.

Finally it must also raise the plausible doubt that had it not been for British demands, justice to the murder victim British Kurram Sheik and his raped Russian girl would never have seen the light of day. And the people of Tangalle would still be saddled with Sampath Chandrapushpa Vidana Pathirana as their Pradeshiya Sabha chairman, free to dispense his own savage laws without judicial check.

Passing sentence, High Court Judge Rohini Walgama, in a moving statement, said she did not consider sitting on this case as a duty but as an obligation entrusted to her by God and urged those found guilty to look deep into their conscience before appealing. It is a fitting observation she made which applies to all who go against the moral code and suffer the belief that their wrongs will go unpunished, that nemesis will not visit their homes. They should search their souls deeply before they think of appealing against justice which had been meted out to cleanse the injustice which they themselves have committed on the innocent. The attempt to repeat the same injustice by resorting to manmade courts to undo what the heavens have ordained will only double their folly and make worse their tears. That is the quintessence of divine justice.



Share This Post


Advertising Rates

Please contact the advertising office on 011 - 2479521 for the advertising rates.