Anti-corruption crusader damned for temper outburst against govt. servant but critics ignore JO’s coconut curses on President Every man has his strengths; every man, his weaknesses.And in the case of film star turned politician now turned anti-corruption crusader, the 54 year old Sadda Vidda Rajapakse Palanga Pathira Ambakumarage Ranjan Leo Sylvester Alphonsu, his Achilles’ heel [...]


Rambo Ranjan gets mauled for exposing soil mining scandal


Anti-corruption crusader damned for temper outburst against govt. servant but critics ignore JO’s coconut curses on President

Every man has his strengths; every man, his weaknesses.And in the case of film star turned politician now turned anti-corruption crusader, the 54 year old Sadda Vidda Rajapakse Palanga Pathira Ambakumarage Ranjan Leo Sylvester Alphonsu, his Achilles’ heel lies in his inability to keep a short leash on his temper; in his tendency to blow a fuse at the slightest provocation and needlessly torpedo his ticker.

ACTION MAN: Hands-on people politician Ranjan on-line with the Divulapitiya Divisional Secretary, asking her why public complaints over illegal soil mining at Nelum Wewa site were not probed

And Negombo born catholic Ranjan – who, in one shot, cut short his long list of baptised appellations and dumped the family name Alphonsu also in the process, to assume the screen surname Ramanayake at the behest of a film director when he entered the cinematic world – this week gave another demonstration of the coarse art of losing cool.

If President Sirisena thought that he had made nine commissions, including the Bribery Commission, independent commissions under the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, he was wrong. There are ten. On his own, Ranjan Ramanayake, the UNP MP from the Gampaha District and Deputy Minister of Social Empowerment and Welfare, had already, like Napoleon Bonaparte, crowned himself as an independent anti-corruption commissar who takes orders from none but acts solely in the people’s interest.

These last two years, renouncing the Government offer to provide him with a Rs 40 million luxury car and travelling instead in – what his minister S. B. Dissanayake referred to as – an old Toyota ‘ kabala’ or jalopy -  he had notched a notable track record for attending to the problems of the masses with Superman  lightning speed and taking immediate action to resolve it. He has been no respecter of persons and has not flinched from naming those responsible for corruption even if they happened to be members of his own party. As he once said, “I have no friends to protect. Corruption is corruption. Whether they are UNP of SLFP members, it is irrelevant. I am a people’s politician. My duty is to expose corruption when I see it — and to help the people when they suffer an injustice. That’s my creed.”

No wonder then with such a demonstrated track record, the villagers of Akaragama sought his refuge and petitioned him as to the plight they faced. Illegal soil mining was taking place and it was harming the environment and blocking water to their wells. And it had been going on for the last four years. And despite complaints made to the Divulapitiya Divisional Secretary, nothing had happened.

Hearing this, Ranjan made haste, no doubt in his old Toyota kabala, to Divulapitiya situated in his Gampaha District to the village of Akaragama last Saturday. He went armed only with his cell phone. He was greeted by scores of slogan chanting villagers protesting the illegal soil mining in the nearby Nelum Wewa, protesting against the environmental damage caused to the area as result. He was led to the site of controversy.

Surrounded by villagers, including a Buddhist monk, he said he knew who was responsible. He named the SLFP MP responsible who in collusion with a UNP member and another had perpetrated the fraud. Having obtained a permit to mine only 500 cubic feet per month, Ramanayake alleged that they had mined thousands more; allowed only to cut one metre of the dune, they had cut more than ten metres. He declared, “I am not afraid of them, if they come to act like thugs, I will meet them as a thug”.

Then he took his mobile phone and called the Divulapitiya Divisional Secretary. Her designation makes her the deputy Government Agent for that area, the person responsible for the division. After introducing himself to her, he said that the SLFP minister and two others had obtained a permit to cut only a metre but had exceeded their allowed limit. This had been going on for four years. “Why haven’t you taken any steps regarding this?” he asked politely.

She replied that the permit is issued by the Geological Survey and Mines Bureau and that if he has a problem with that, to make his complaint in writing and she would forward it to the relevant authorities. The Buddhist monk interjected at this stage to voice his comment that written complaints had been made more than a month ago and when Ramanayake informed the Secretary of this, she said any complaints received had been directed to the relevant authorities. When he asked her whether, as divisional secretary responsible for the area, she didn’t have any authority to intervene when the terms of the permit were being violated in this manner, her reply was that it was a matter for the police.

When she was told that a complaint dated 3rd December 2016 had been sent to her, she responded by saying that she would have sent it to the relevant authorities. It became clear that she was only a mail box. Ranjan then asked her, “So your duty is only to send the complaints to the relevant authorities?” She repeated again she has no authority to issue permits to mine soil but Ranjan said he accepted that and was only questioning her what her duties were when violations of the terms of the permit were brought to her notice.

She said she had no staff to attend to these matters and to direct it to the Geological Survey and Mines Bureau. Ranjan then said this smacked of a case of passing the buck. He said, “when we ask the environment department, they say to ask the Geological authorities, when we ask them, they say to ask you and now you say to ask one of them. She said, “If you have a problem with that, put it in writing and send it”

And then the line goes dead. And Ranjan’s patience snaps. He calls her back and accusers her of cutting the line which she denies and tells him once again that if he has a problem to write and send it. This gets Ranjan’s goat and he tells her ‘problems are not there to be written and if your face is punched will you wait for a complaint to be lodged before taking action?” She says that administrative officers will not wait till people came to punch their faces and asks him to initiate an investigation if she has done any wrong. Ranjan says that he certainly will lodge a complaint at the FCID. He then says,” for the last four years you all have eaten and robbed from this and you all must be struck by lightning, ‘umbalata hena gahanna oney” and says the people will come to her office and rings off. But perhaps realising that discretion is the better part of valour, he does not carry out his threat to lay siege.

PEOPLE POLITICIAN: Ranjan Ramanayake, Lanka’s independent one man anti corruption commission

On the screen his histrionics may have won him an Oscar. But in life’s reality show, his play to the masses’ applauding gallery received the thumbs down from incensed elite critics, comfortably ensconced in the balcony. This was fresh raw meat served on a platter to feed the ravenous lust for vengeance his gang of political foes bore toward him for going out of his way to expose their corruption, sometimes even waking a nodding government, prodding them to keep their election pledge.

Like a pack of hyenas they pounced on the lonely lion and sheared him of his mane. All the good he had wrought on behalf of the people were mangled beyond recognisable shape. This was the opportunity that all who had suffered from the whip of his one man fight to stir his party and government to crackdown on corruption, had been waiting for, for so long: to give this muscle bound actor his comeuppance. And all because, he had, on the telephone yelled at a divisional secretary for passing the buck when complaints landed on her desk against illegal soil mining, and pronounced the curse “You all must be struck by lightning.”
Funny isn’t it, that the nation hardly heard such condemnation expressed with such vehemence from this same bunch of sycophant critics when the joint opposition members of parliament went from kovil to kovil, from shrine to shrine, grinding chilies on the grindstone of vengeful hate and dashing coconuts after coconuts with curses after curses upon Maithripala Sirisena, the people elected President of the country, and beseeching a host of nether world  gods to strike him down by lightning and the whole Yahapalana Government to be destroyed, to be wiped out of existence, purely because the President and the Government were intent on cracking down on corruption and exposing the guilty.

The Joint Opposition’s premeditated continuous campaign of perverse hate against the President and his government found no condemnation in the eyes of those who now hold the tempestuous sudden outburst of a single curse from Ranjan Ramanayake against a public servant, as a shocking instance of conduct unbecoming of a deputy minister.

But isn’t it the case that Ranjan did so, in the heat of the moment, only because, after listening to her repeated excuses of acting as a post box, he considered that there had been a dereliction of duty by that public servant whose only defence was to vigorously maintain she had done her duty by passing the buck to another department?  Even though she, as the Divisional Secretary, akin to the post as deputy Government Agent for the area, was duty bound to supervise all activities coming under her purview? Especially when it affected the environment?

But the telephone conversation was not to end there. The storm broke the following day when the staff of the Divulapitiya Secretariat took to the streets in protest over the treatment their chief had received at the hands of a deputy minister who, unlike his parliamentary colleagues, had answered  the call of duty and ventured to offer his help to the public he represented. As Ranjan Ramanayake said when he addressed the villagers, “216,000 people in this electorate have voted for me. And I cannot ignore their summons for help.”

The Divisional staff demanded an apology from him for daring to address a public servant in the manner he did. But Ramanayake has refused to apologise and has even told the president that he has nothing to say sorry for.

Was he right in intervening in the public interest as he did? Was he wrong in going a wee bit overboard in the pursuit of the public’s welfare? Especially when he is the Deputy Minister of Social Empowerment and Public Welfare plus the MP of the electorate?

Government servants are not the most endearing of servants to the public at large. Often many assume the countenance of being the masters of the public and their highhandedness in dealing with and callous disregard to the problems faced by the general public, are well known. Often members of the public are sent from pillar to post and needlessly subjected to great inconvenience. Many leave government departments exasperated at the officials’ attitude, and curse them in the worst oaths imaginable. At the same time, no MP or minister has the right to descend to the gutter and pronounce curses on anyone, be he or she a public servant or the president of the country.

But hasn’t the molehill incident been made to a mountain of controversy? For all his anger flare ups, Ranjan Ramanayake is not of the same mould as the obnoxious Mervyn de Silva who tied a Samurdhi officer to a tree and said it was the traditional punishment meted out by kings of old to errant officers of the state for being absent from work. Ranjan on the other hand has often come to help the public in their hour of need and, as is his right, has taken to task the public officials involved.
Even as the Divulapitiya scene showed, he maintained the proper procedure and said he would be lodging a complaint against the secretary in question with the government agency authorised to conduct investigations. He did not storm her office with his body guards. He did not attempt to browbeat her into submission with an unmanly show of physical might and refuse to leave the office until his demands were met, unlike the UNP’s Action Man Two in Kalutara, Thewarapperuma.
Nor did he have anything personal to gain in the matter. He could have easily washed his hands off and left the villagers to their fate. But he saw it through.  After giving a call to the Geological authority, he was successful in getting their assurance that soil mining work will be suspended immediately until the matter is fully probed by them. On Friday the Geological Survey and Mine Bureau announced that after investigating Ranjan’s claim that there had been illegal soil mining, it has been found that those involved in the operation had indeed exceeded the allowed limit.

Ramanayake has appeared on the public stage as a fearless champion for clean government. He has acted independently and has exposed corruption on either side of the political fence. Last year he flew into a rage when a media personnel made a jibe at a media meeting held at his Rs. 1000 a month rented house. He stated: “I have not imported ethanol, I have not dealt in drugs, I have not taken a bribe from anyone. I was offered Rs. 500 million a few years ago to cross over to Mahinda’s side. I refused.  I did not jump like others. I do not bow my head to anyone.”

“My mother and father are dead. I have no wife. I have no children. I owe no one on this planet even a single cent. I still don’t have a house. I live on rent. When I was offered an official house at Laurie’s Place, I refused. I don’t have a car, I am only using a government owned car. I have never robbed. So go and tell what you told me to those who have robbed. Don’t come to tell me. I am not beholden to anyone. I have never robbed, never done dirty things, never played games. If I did, I would not have to live in this kind of house.”

Ranjan’s stoic and austere lifestyle, coupled with the immense public service he visibly does, has, however, never ceased to amaze other politicians. His Minister, S. B. Dissanayake told the media, “I don’t know why but Ranjan is like that. He has refused to accept the BMW the government offered him and still goes about in an old Toyota kabala. It may be his karma. “

And commenting on the Divulapitiya incident on Wednesday, former President Mahinda Rajapaksa had this to say and said so with a sneer: “Ranjan does not know a 6 or a 4 of anything. He is an actor. But he must realise that he is now a politician. And he must behave like a politician now.”

What can that possibly mean? How does one behave like a politician? Does it mean that one must wear a false front, say things one does not mean, make promises one does not intend to keep, take full advantages of the perks and privileges offered by the government without a blush, be corrupt and not expose the corruption of other politicians whatever the party colours they wear may be but take whatever measures necessary to  conceal their crimes?

This week the Sri Lanka Administrative Services Association (SLASA) demanded Ranjan to apologise by Friday afternoon. They threatened that if he failed to do so, the entire Gampaha administrative staff would go on strike. They were no better than Lanka’s doctors. Like them the inconvenience they would be causing to the public was not of their concern.

On Friday Ranjan Ramanayake reiterated his refusal to apologise saying he has done naught to apologise. He stood his ground and stated that instead, he would be going to the Bribery Commission to lodge a complaint against the Divulapitiya Divisional Secretary. The SLASA, after convening a meeting on Friday evening, announced that they will defer their decision till Sunday.

Ramanayake has won four Sarasaviya Most Popular Actor film awards and bagged the Slim Nielsen People’s Actor of the Year, for the 10th consecutive year in 2016. Having made his debut as a hanger-on in Dr. Sunil Ariyaratne’s film ‘Christhu Charithaya, he now finds himself crucified for committing a ‘blasphemy’ against a member of the Administrative Service.

But is this uproar justified? Has the whole incident been blown out of proportion? In the course of genuinely serving the public, is it not natural for tempers to flare in frustration when met against the rubber wall of bureaucracy which bounces all complaints to another similar wall? Hadn’t ministers of the past regime acted with the madness of power and hadn’t their acolytes followed suit?

Following the Divulapitiya incident, the Geological Bureau has now confirmed that there had been illegal soil mining and that the permit holders had exceeded the allowed limit. But, alas, for Ranjan no bouquets of praise for exposing the soil mining scandal. Only a mountain load of brickbats for an angry burst of tongue which slipped out of frustration in the heat of the moment. Another instance, perhaps, of the madness in our times when the good is interred beneath the soil whilst the minute bad is harped upon in the air?

Considering all this and more and the mad rush of those politically motivated to condemn him out of hand for having given  vent to his frustration with one turn of accursed phrase, Ranjan Ramanayake will, no doubt, be reminded of a film in which he played the main role. Its title will lead him to conclude that the madness they displayed in power had not lessened but, out of power, had only made their “Pissu Double.”

One word of advice to Ranjan though. Consider this a wakeup call. Keep your cool. Zip the temper. And keep the heel well sheathed.

How obeisance to Chandrika won MR his presidential day

CHANDRIKA: Mahinda knelt

The unfailing way to a woman’s heart is not through diamonds or even through chocolates. The cheap but effective way, it seems, is through flattery or obeisance. Simply falling down at her feet in grateful thanks for her favours.

Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga in an interview published in the Daily Mirror on Thursday recalled how during her tenure as president, Mahinda Rajapaksa had been nasty to her mother Mrs. Bandaranaike. But despite that, she said, she gave him a ministerial portfolio in her cabinet. He had been so grateful that he had come and knelt before her.

She said: “I knew about his mistakes. He created many issues for our party. He caused my mother great distress with his actions. When Mahinda was given a portfolio in my cabinet and after swearing in, he came and knelt before me and said “Thank you” and when I asked him what it was all about, he said that he had never expected him to have been appointed to the Cabinet. I knew why he was saying so, because he created many problems to my mother, and I told him it was not necessary to thank me but not to get into rash activities hereafter against the party or its leadership. I never expected him to become so bad. Giving him nomination was the worst mistake I made in my life.”

But if, as Chandrika says he did, Mahinda did indeed kneel down at Chandrika’s feet and pay her due obeisance, it would have been the most successful thing Mahinda ever did. He had stooped to conquer and conquer he did. It opened the gates and set him on the road to the presidency.

Flattery wins always. Whether expressed in word or deed, it can melt the most stubborn heart and douse hell’s fury in a woman scorned. No wonder the traditional romantic way of asking a girl to marry is for the man to kneel before the girl and make his proposal. Once granted, it’s rarely she would find him in that posture again. And make her regret giving her consent for the rest of her life.

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