Even as the Bellanwila Chief Monk, Ven. Prof. Bellanwila Wimalarathana Thera, appealed to the people on Wednesday to reject tainted candidates, so did President Maithripala Sirisena declare on Friday that the voters had a special responsibility cast on them to elect only qualified and untainted candidates to the next parliament. “People should use their intelligence, [...]


‘Hoot’ clue to who’s fit to get UPFA faithful’s hooray vote


Even as the Bellanwila Chief Monk, Ven. Prof. Bellanwila Wimalarathana Thera, appealed to the people on Wednesday to reject tainted candidates, so did President Maithripala Sirisena declare on Friday that the voters had a special responsibility cast on them to elect only qualified and untainted candidates to the next parliament.

Vijithamuni Soysa at the Moneragala meeting delivering his speech amidst a hail of hoots

“People should use their intelligence, knowledge and their experience of what happened in the past when casting their vote,” President Sirisena urged the nation at the launching ceremony of two books by Mahinda Samarasinghe held at the BMICH — the same venue where not even five months ago party political leaders had gathered to sign the PAFFREL March 12 declaration which placed a duty on political parties to give nomination only to those free of corruption, abuses of authority and anti-social trades.

But political party leaders hadn’t kept the collective promise they had pledged to keep on the March 12; and those who signed for the UPFA and the SLFP, namely, the UPFA secretary Susil Premajayantha and then opposition leader Nimal Siripala de Silva, had proceeded to grant nominations to those still dripping wet with the tar of corruption, flinging the March 12 Declaration they had solemnly signed contemptuously to the political winds of expediency. Maithripala Sirisena only signed it on June 20 when perhaps the power to withhold nominations had already slipped away from him to the Mahinda Rajapaksa camp.

Last week it was revealed that the UPFA had gone even further. Now it has come to light that the UPFA has not only entertained undesirable characters facing allegations of corruption on its nomination list but has included, as a prospective people’s representative in the hallowed House of parliament, the name of an IRC who has been convicted for financial fraud not once but four times.

Thus once again through the failure of leaders to present to the public’s selection a list containing only suitable candidates, fit and proper to bear the mantle of being the people’s honourable representatives in Parliament, the responsibility to sift the wheat from the chaff has passed onto the masses.

But how does one know who is good or who is bad? In this respect, diehard UPFA supporters, who will vote for UPFA even if a Marcos or a Mugabe was on the list, are lucky. They can at least now discern the wolves in sheep’s clothing from the goats in cashmere wool?

Mahinda Rajapaksa, who has stormed aboard the UPFA ship and taken command with help from the mutinous galley crew, may have unwittingly given a clue by praising the ‘hoot’ as a temperature meter to gauge whether one can stand the political heat.

Unlike UPFA candidate Janaka Bandara Tennekoon who went down on his knees and, begging for forgiveness, worshiped at the feet of Mahinda Rajapaksa publicly on a Matale stage two weeks ago to atone for the sin of having been a Maithripala minister for a brief spell, fellow UPFA candidate Nandimithra Ekanayake who refused to bend the knee and stood on his dignity, was welcomed with a hail of hoots and was unable to continue with his speech.

Five days later it was the turn of UPFA’s Jagath Pushpakumara and Vijith Vijayamuni Zoysa to face the new UPFA overture specially reserved for traitors at the Mahinda rally at Moneragala. The hooting began the moment each started to deliver their speeches and continued till they were forced to sit. In response to UPFA supporters vocalising the wild call of the scavenging jackal, found in all of Lanka its scientific name being Canis aureus naria which survives on the dead flesh of animals killed by others, Vijayamuni had to resort to Sinhala literature and recite kavi from the Colombo era to give answer with dignity.

This was then the ‘hoot’ reaction organised to humiliate all those who had breathed the Maithri air and who now came to grace the UPFA stage as UPFA candidates. And though Mahinda Rajapaksa was to say on the same stage that “the UPFA was united, that there were no factions in the SLFP and the party would go ahead as one entity to defeat the common enemy, the UNP”, it was abundantly clear that it was not. Ekanayake, Pushpakumara and Zoysa all said that the hooting was organised by their own party members and that they had known of it in advance but had still decided to brave the hyena laughter.

Wising up to the warped plan and knowing beforehand the same howls were in store for him, State Minister of Finance and UPFA Kalutara District candidate Mahinda Samarasinghe demonstrated that discretion was the better part of valour and announced last Friday that he would not be climbing aboard the Mahinda stage as he had been informed there was a plan to boo him.

He said: “I have not done anything to be hooted at as I have only engaged in clean politics. If people hooted at me, media will report that the public hooted at me, not that it was a planned action by several individuals.” He also called for an investigation. ‘The party should conduct an investigation into the matter. Such incidents would only reduce the number of votes due to the SLFP,” he said.

But Mahinda Rajapaksa would have none of it. Politics is not for the faint of heart, he declared this week. “It is part of the package and one should be able to withstand such pressure and such eventualities in politics,” the former President said. “I have been booed and even stoned at political rallies in the past but I braved those incidents. If one was scared of facing such situations, one should leave politics.

It must be admitted that at least Mahinda Rajapaksa practises what he preaches. By his decision to descend from the presidential pedestal installed as he was thereon as the twice elected president of Lanka apart from being self crowned king in his own mind, to ground zero level of a mere parliamentary candidate in the manner of a retired Inspector General of Police applying to be employed as a police constable in the Kurunegala police station with ambitions to end up as the Sri Jayawardenapura OIC, he has visibly demonstrated that his hide is of the required thickness and derision-proof leather vital to weather the heat of the nation’s political stove.

Though he has not unfortunately addressed his mind to the question as to the compelling reasons why he has been booed and stoned at in the past, which he will no doubt ponder over after August 17, it is still admirable and a credit to his persevering nature that, in the lust for a return to power, he should bear the masses silent hoot, with aplomb and still wear the face of narcissism without a cringing spasm of diffidence. He is truly Lanka’s most consummate politician and his success so far has been spurred by his inordinate conviction in that one tenet that success favours the brave and shuns the faint hearted.

As for Ekanayake, Pushpakumara, Vijayamuni and nearly Samarasinghe, six months inhaling the Maithri ozone seem to have infused in them a trait of boldness and given them an iota of self respect never found in the last nine years. What a pity that they haven’t still cottoned on to the unfailing fashionable credo to stay cool in the Rajapaksa shade that stood in good stead for the last nine years, and gone down on all fours and, like Janaka Bandara Tennekoon did last week before the public, worshipped the slippered feet of Mahinda Rajapaksa. Then flowers would bloom instead of hoots howled.

So now you know. If you want to know who’s who in the Rajapaksa’s UPFA pack, and who’s not, let the hoot provide the clue.

Is UPFA now against 19A?
On Monday former President and now UPFA parliamentary candidate for Kurunegala, Mahinda Rajapaksa signed an agreement with a group of civil organisations collectively called the Jathika Ekamuthu at the Vihara Maha Devi Park Open Theatre.

The agreement which was inked with the blessings of the former Jathika Hela Urumaya leader Ven. Ellawela Medhananda Thera contained five conditions. The first was to “Rectify false amendments of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution”.

Apart from the fact that it is nothing more than just another promise which cannot be kept by Rajapaksa even if he reaches the heights of power he dreams of, since it requires a two-thirds majority to amend any part of the Constitution, it serves to reveal the Rajapaksa mindset and may well be the spring board of a new campaign to bracket the 19th Amendment with the much decried 13th Amendment and call for their repeal.

Vague as political promises generally are, it does not specify what articles of the 19th Amendment need to be rectified. Though it does not require the services of a seer to divulge to the public that the former twice elected president’s topmost ‘false’ article needing ‘rectification’ will be the two term limit on a person’s eligibility to contest the presidency after having been twice elected to the office by the people, what can possibly be the other offending articles in the 19th Amendment which are classified as being ‘false’ and require rectification?

Is the UPFA against the establishment of constitutional councils? Is it also against the establishment of independent commissions? Or is it against the entire 19th Amendment and want to abolish it whole?

The 19th Amendment has been described as one of the most enlightening pieces of legislation ever to have been brought to amend the 1978 Constitution. It was hailed by the nation as one that would not only dramatically reduce the far flung ambit of presidential powers but would also strengthen the pillars of democracy. It ennobled the free spirit. It was the only amendment to the Constitution that was brought and passed for the benefit of the people; to enhance their right to live free.

Under Mahinda Rajapaksa’s new de facto leadership of the UPFA, do the UPFA members of Parliament who, together with the UNP-led Opposition, voted for 19A overwhelmingly and had it passed with a majority of 212 out of 225 votes with only one UPFA member voting against it barely three months ago, now ready to throw it overboard merely because Mahinda Rajapaksa has agreed to ‘rectify false articles of the 19 Amendment’?

Will it not be better for the former president who is seeking the votes of the Kurunegala electorate to clear the air on this issue and state the articles he considers false in the 19A?

Is he not under a duty to spell out to the voters whose vote he painstakingly seeks exactly what his stand is on the 19th Amendment? What are the ‘false articles’ in the 19A he promised Ven Ellawela Medhananda Thera — who did not vote for the 19th amendment — and the 61 civil organisations’ front the Jathika Ekamuthu he would rectify?
And perhaps it will also be better if the UPFA Secretary Premajayantha and the SLFP Secretary Priyadarshana Yapa categorically state on behalf of UPFA and SLFP members whether it is now the declared policy of their respective parties that the 19A must be dumped?

The people await answer. So may President Sirisena, the chairman of both UPFA and the SLFP, be waiting to learn whether his party under Rajapaksa’s thumb is now set on undoing his magnificent achievement and is determined to roll back the times and deny the people their freedom gains?

Why SR maybe ideal UPFA candidate?
Abhaya Ranasinghe Arachchilage Chandana Weerakumara has all the qualifications he needs to have been on the UPFA nomination list this year. Like many UPFA former members of parliament who are now UPFA parliamentary candidates vying to re-enter it, this forty something man has no A’ level qualifications to brag about. Yet, to his credit, he is presently studying for it and has plans to sit the A’ level examination in the arts stream shortly, it was reported this week, which is more than can be said of those who received UPFA nominations.

Chandana: Self named 'King of Kings'

He has been a highly successful English teacher but will be sitting his A’ levels in the Sinhala medium, like some UPFA members who boast Sinhala chauvinism as their only qualification through which they hope to receive the Sinhala vote but ape all things foreign in private.

He is also a charismatic con man and will promise the world though unable to deliver. Like some UPFA candidates who promise the sun when it is out at night. He is a self publicist. Starting from the alias he uses which means ‘king of kings’ his vision of himself borders on megalomania. One of his TV adverts to promote his English classes carried the slogan “I was born to teach”. He would go to any length and stoop to any level to be in the news and promote his image to the utmost, even as some UPFA members vying to enter parliament are quite prepared to do and indeed do.

As a plus point to fit the UPFA bill, he has also been accused of massive financial fraud and of robbing thousands of the Lankan public of over a billion rupees. Like some of the UPFA members are accused of plundering the nation and robbing billions from millions of Lankans. Instead of being a disqualification it may actually have been an ‘open sesame’ to enter the UPFA nomination cave.

So what’s the hitch? Why isn’t this UPFA natural on the UPFA candidate’s list, possessing all the credentials that go to make the ideal UPFA candidate?

Well, unlike some of the UPFA candidates he is not only facing serious allegations of corruption and fraud but he has actually been proven guilty in court and has even been sentenced to prison. But it’s not for the fraud charges but for bigamy.
So what’s the problem, you may well ask? After all a court conviction, nay, even repeated convictions have not prevented the UPFA from nominating an IRC as one of its candidates for the forthcoming election, now has it?

The problem is that Abhaya Ranasinghe Arachchilage Chandana Weerakumara is better known as Sakvithi Ranasinghe. He shot to notoriety with the collapse of his finance company, S.R. Property Sharing Investment Co Ltd. He attracted depositors by promising attractive dividends. In 2008, Sakvithi scam was busted and he fled to India. Police finally arrested him in 2010. The collapse of his company causing over 2000 depositors to lose over a billion rupees also triggered the collapse of the similar finance company Golden Key.

Thus the problem is that Sakvithi is presently in jail and serving his sentence. Not for fraud but two years imprisonment for his bigamy conviction. To his credit it must be said he was a man of his word when it came to love. At least he kept his promise to the girl he ‘pledged his troth’ and married her even if it cost him his freedom. Next year he’ll walk free, provided he is not convicted of the financial charges.

Well, if the present UPFA gang manages to receive the voters’ consent this year and returns to rule irrespective of all the corruption charges against some of them, who knows, Sakvithi might be in line for the next election in 2021 with a winning shot, knowing full well the Lankan voters had descended to such a level themselves that only rogues are fit to represent them.

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