Posted on August 31st, 2017


The Yahapalana election is still in the minds of the Sri Lanka public. Analysts see a clear connection between the 2010 election which featured Sarath Fonseka and the 2015 election which ousted Rajapaksa. They say that there has been US interference in these two Sri Lankan elections.

The US intervention, in 2010 was to help Fonseka win, said analysts. Wikileaks showed that US brought pressure on the Illankai Thamil Arasu Kadchi-led Tamil National Alliance (TNA) to throw its weight behind General Fonseka. The US also put pressure on the SLMC to join a coalition, comprising the UNP, JVP, and TNA. The US plan proved unsuccessful in 2010. However, a similar strategy succeeded in January 2015, observed Shamindra Ferdinando.

US Ambassador in Colombo, Michelle Sisson, among others,   had been ‘adamant’ that the 2015 presidential candidate should not be Ranil Wickremesinghe but a ‘common’ candidate, said Chandraprema. The first choice for President was Champika Ranawake, leader of Jathika Hela Urumaya, as ‘Buddhist candidate’. He was later replaced by Maithripala Sirisena. This shows that Jatika Hela Urumaya was a part of the regime change plan from the start, observed Chandraprema. JHU is supportive of US policy in Sri Lanka.

Ven. Maduluwawe Sobitha Thera had been ‘cultivated’ for years by Ravi Karunanayake and his perseverance paid off when Ven. Sobitha who had been a key figure in the Sinhala nationalist camp became the principle Buddhist figure in the Yahapalana campaign. It is doubtful whether the Yahapalana campaign would have succeeded without Ven. Sobitha to give it a veneer of acceptability among the Buddhist population or at least to reassure Buddhists that they would not be sold down the river by the alliance which included the TNA and the Muslim political parties, concluded Chandraprema. If not for Ravi Karunanayake’s cultivation of Ven. Sobitha thera, the Yahapalana victory itself may not have been possible.

Analysts have also focused on the role of the Bodu Bala Sena (BBS) and its leader Ven. Galagodaathe Gnanasara in the 2015 Presidential elections.  There is more information about this now. The BBS was formed after the monks were taken on a trip to Norway.  Norwegian government had also provided funds for Gnanasara’s trip to Europe, said G.H. Peiris. Gnanasara is likely to have received sponsorship and support from the United States as well. The BBS seemed to have plenty of money for their activities.  BBS may have had clandestine links with the UNP leadership as well, concluded Pieris.

Gnanasara was unknown to the public till there was this militant organization called Bodu Bala Sena, said Chandraprema. The monks of the BBS were not even heard of till they came onto the street. Suddenly the streets were full of monks surrounding and stoning Muslim owned establishments and attacking Sinhala Christians because there was a sandakadapahana in a church in the Kalutara district.  The high point was the Alutgama incident.   The hate rhetoric was anti Christian as well as anti Muslim.  This turned a large section of the Sinhala Christian and Muslim vote against Rajapakse. After the defeat of Rajapakse in 2015 the BBS became redundant and other bhikku organizations that emerged as carbon copies of the BBS also disappeared, observed Chandraprema.

The BBS is seen as a western ploy.  The strategy was to look at thought they were backed by Rajapaksa and then engage in activities that turn people against Rajapaksa. At least some of the outbursts of violence attributed to the BBS appear to have been stage-managed, said G.H.Pieris.  This type of destabilization, sponsored by the CIA occurred in Pakistan during Bhutto’s time. The assassination of King Birendra and nine members of the royal family in palace carnage in 2001, it is suspected, was also CIA plot.

At the Bodu Bala Sena press conference held in June 2017, it emerged that it was Champika Ranawaka and Ven. Athureliye Rathana who had pushed Gnanasara towards violence (prachandathwaya). Usually it is the monk that advices the layman, this time it was the other way round. Gnanasara’s training had started well ahead of time.

Gnanasara was one of the monks who had disrupted meetings of the Anti-War Front led by Kumar Rupesinghe and Dr Rajitha Senaratne in 2005/06. There was no need to send a monk to disrupt those meetings, said Chandraprema. There were plenty of laymen who were only too happy to do so. When the Anti-War Front tried to hold a meeting in Polonnaruwa, there had been more people waiting to disrupt the meeting than to participate in it! Yet Gnanasara was sent by Champika on such missions. Gnanasara was given ‘contracts’ by Champika, said Dilanta Vitanage. Champika used Gnanasara as his personal ‘hit man’, added Chandraprema.

Ven. Hedigalle Wimalasara of the JHU had ‘handled’ Gnanasara on behalf of Champika Ranawaka in the run up to 2015. At the JHU press conferences, notes indicating what Gnanasara was to say were placed before him on the table. But Wimalasara thera would sit near Gnanasara and whisper in his ear, the notes would be forgotten and what was finally said was what Wimalasara wanted, said Vitanage. Gnanasara is undoubtedly the biggest disaster to befall the Buddhist community since Mapitigama Buddharakkitha and Talduwe Somarama concluded C.A.Chandraprema.

The Yahapalana government is now viewed with disgust. There are many charges against the government. Janaki Chandraratne noted that the number of Ministries had increased. Defeated candidates were given government appointments. Several key Government officials were sacked and replaced by Yahapalana supporters.  The Yahapalana leaders who were to eliminate bribery and corruption were immersed in bribery and corruption from the beginning. The Central Bank bond scam engineered with great precision only eroded the country’s coffers and also resulted in a drain of foreign reserves and investments.

The state of the economy, she said, was shown in the economic indicators, published in Central Bank Annual Report 2016.   The government debt and government expenditure had increased by 4.2% and 2.4 % of the GDP during the period– 2014 – 2016. Despite this dismal performance the government shamelessly continued to mislead the electorate that the Yahapalana negative performance is due to the previous regime’s debts. The government has not stopped its selling spree of nation’s assets. The Mattala Airport, Colombo Harbour, Trincomalee   Oil Tanks,  Sri Lankan Airlines are all listed as ‘White Elephants’ to be sold in the short term. This indeed is a national tragedy perpetrated by Yahapalana against the current and future generations of Sri Lankans, concluded Chandraratne.

Yahapalana supporters    say they are disappointed that Yahapalana has not kept to its promise of good governance. A contemplative look back at the past two years shows that the gains of the 2015 people’s rejection of the Rajapaksa brand of non-governance were frittered away as a result of major mistakes made by this Government, said Kishali Pinto Jayawardene. It is a complete betrayal of the trust and the hope placed by hundreds and thousands of courageous Sri Lankans who believed (against all expectations) that the country would take a turn for the better in 2015. As a result of this bitter betrayal, the possibility of another reform movement being accepted in the near future with sincerity and genuineness by ordinary people had dwindled to nothingness, concluded Kishali.

Satana television programme   of 31.8.16 was on corruption charges against the Yahapalana government. Sarath Wijesooriya faulted everybody except President Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, who he said were the best persons to run the country at the time. He criticized the media, doctors, citizens, government servants, but said the police were poorly paid and could not be blamed. He disparaged Rajapaksa as an uneducated person. Yahapalana is a concept, not a government, Wijesooriya said.  Yahapalana is the responsibility of all. There must be a proper ideology of Yahapalana, with good values.

Friday Forum” gave a long list of Yahapalana defects. After Yahapalana came siblings were appointed to offices of high profit, friends were appointed to high offices of state, and their misdemeanor were overlooked, said Friday Forum. The corruption, invariably involved with development, remains unchanged in the ‘Yahapalana’ government and continues to be associated with bribes and nepotism.  The examples of corruption after the last election are getting more numerous by the day, including scandals and breach of tender procedures associated with sugar, coal and road development, the Forum said.

Quick fixes were sought to problems which needed wide consultation with stake holders. There were glaring departures from established practices, by passing experience and competent public officials, whose advice and implementation capacity went unused. Large investment projects whose feasibility was questioned have been renegotiated. Advice from short term visitors are not suitable for problems of domestic origin.    Too large a number of ministries, also too generous additional payments to public sector employees and perquisites to MPs, concluded Friday Forum”.

Nepotism has reached a record level in a matter of 10 months, said another critic.  Ministers are appointing sons, daughters, brothers and family members without the slightest hesitation. What is particularly striking is the brazen attitude displayed.  One minister appointing his brother to one of the largest corporatism wanted to know what was wrong with this. Another appointed both son and daughter saying they worked hard for my election.  The total number of cabinet ministers, state ministers and deputy ministers exceed the number under the previous government.  And the numbers continue to grow.  The Ministries of higher education and Highways were joined.  The Finance Minister has no control over the state banks or Central bank.  Ministers complain that they have no financial allocation, not even an office in some cases.

Sunday Times BT-RCB Poll did street interview in Colombo and Galle in September 2016,  and found that there was high awareness among the public of the Central Bank bond scam, coal tender, Port city project. The survey recorded several  anti-Yahapalana  observations. ‘This government is corrupt. It is branding the former President as at thief, while malpractices are happening on a large scale ‘said one respondent.  ‘Yahapalana has helped the favorites of the politicos earn big commissions on projects without tender procedure, as in the case of the Kandy highway deal. The Kandy highway tender was given to a second party with ulterior motives, said another.

Respondents to this survey also said, this government is taking loans to repay loans and dancing to the tune of the lending institutions. This government accused the previous government of being rogues but within the first 100 days, the bond scam emerged followed by the coal tender. The corrupt from the other side have crossed to this side and they protect the system. There is no transparency or tender system of public projects. Norochcholai issue is the same then and now. This government is completing Mahinda Rajapaksa’s programme of work.  The development of Trincomalee under Yahapalana is unacceptable since it opens the doors to our resources being taken away by foreigners. Lastly, they observed, there is no strong leadership in the state   Mahinda Rajapaksa was a strong leader.’

The Maha sangha are also very dissatisfied with Yahapalana. The Maha sangha is a very formidable force in the country. The Maha sangha spoke out for the first time at Asgiriya in June 2017. This was soon followed by the Ramanna Nikaya also making a statement on similar terms.

The statement made in June 2017   by the Asgiriya chapter  of the Siyam Maha Nikaya headed by Most Venerable Warakagoda Sri Gnanaratana ,is one of the most important political interventions made by the Bhikku community in recent times said Chandraprema. Asgiriya Chapter statement dealt with many matters of national importance.

.Asgiriya referred to the various new laws that the government has been introducing that seem to be targeting the Sinhala Buddhist community, the government’s attempt to assume control over certain key Buddhist sites to promote tourism, the systematic encroachment on state land and forest reserves by certain minority communities,  the inflammatory statements made by certain minority community politicians with complete impunity and even reported attempts on the part of certain elements to eliminate the Sinhala race. The Asgiriya statement also contained an unequivocal warning to followers of other religions that the Buddhist way of life should not be disrespected. It is rarely indeed that one sees such a broadside against a government by such an important section of the Buddhist establishment, said Chandraprema.

The riskiest part of that statement was the part that pertained to Gnanasara thera said Chandraprema. Basically, what the Asgiriya Chapter statement said about Gnanasara thera is that they do not approve or condone his behavior but that they will not dismiss the issues that he has been raising and that the government should find out whether there is any truth in what that monk has been saying.  Asgiriya also took exception to Gnanasara thera being singled out while inflammatory statements had been made by members of other communities who had got off Scot free.  The Maha Sangha also took exception to people referring to Gnanasara thera only by name. It’s not just Gnanasara thera who has been put on notice but the government that is using him as well, concluded Chandraprema.

Then in August 2017,   Asgiriya held another media conference.   Asgiriya was opposed to attempts being made to bring a no-faith motion against Justice and Buddha asana Minister Dr. Wijeyadasa Rajapakse, said its General Secretary, Ven. Dr. Medagama Dhammananda Nayake. Ven. Dhammananda said the Maha Sangha throughout the history of Sri Lanka had always defended persons or organizations that protected the country and Buddhism. The attempt to bring about a motion of no-confidence against Minister Wijayadasa Rajapakse, who had spoken for the country’s interests, was an attempt to harass him, Venerable Dhammananda said. Also, a group of politicians with hidden motives were making an attempt to harm minister Rajapakse because he had exposed ill-effects of leasing out the Hambantota Port to a Chinese company.

Yahapalana is unique in that there are three Presidents active in it, Maithripala Sirisena, Chandrika Kumaratunga and Mahinda Rajapakse. Most countries only have one.   Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe’s 40 years in Parliament was celebrated by a special session in Parliament in August 2017. Those who spoke were         Rauff Hakeem, Rishad Bathiudeen, Palani Digambaram, Douglas Devananda,  R.  Sampanthan, Mano Ganeshan, Nimal Siripala de Silva, Kabir Hashim , Gamini Jayawickreme Perera and Gayantha Karunatilleke. The  TNA was present. The  Joint Opposition   and JVP  boycotted the  function.. Conspicuous by his absence was Maithripala Sirisena who was in Anuradhapura taking part in official function.

Prime Minister Ranil  Wickremesinghe  is criticized on all side. When Ranil  Wickremesinghe left the country for discussions in New York one commentator said,  on social media  ‘don’t come back, stay there’.  Ryp Van Winkle said ‘Ranil I think many will agree with me when I say that you must  be the most ridiculed politician this country has had. Your critics have lampooned the way you speak, the way you dress and even the way you clap or wave to the people.’

There are plenty of requests for removal of  Ranil  Wickremesinghe from the government . The LSSP demanded the immediate resignation of  Ranil  Wickremesinghe  as Prime Minister  or his removal by the President, because in December 2016, he  was in the process of implementing the once halted programme of ‘regaining Sri Lanka.   The real meaning is ‘recapturing’ Sri Lanka  and it is part of promoting US domination in the world, said critics.

Others want Ranil  Wickremesinghe taken before the Bribery and Corruption Commission. Vasudeva Nanayakkara wanted the FCID to probe  Ranil  Wickremesinghe  over his decision to bring Indian oil company IOC to Sri Lanka to compete with Ceylon Petroleum Corporation. At presents LIOC earned huge profits.

Joint Opposition  lodged a complaint with the Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery or Corruption (CIABOC) and the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) against Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, Minister of Development Strategies and International Trade Malik Samarawickrema, Economic Advisers to the Prime Minister R. Paskaralingam and Charitha Ratwatte over alleged loss of Rs. 5,000 million to the state coffers owing to a questionable coal tender.

.According to the tender procedure Noble Resources Company had been selected, but the tender was awarded to Swiss Singapore Company, which was in the fifth place on the list in violation of the tender procedure on the order of the Economic Management Committee headed by Prime Minister Wickremesinghe. The state had incurred a loss of Rs. 5,000 million due to purchasing coal through Swiss Singapore Company.

But the greatest  criticism is about Ranil  Wickremesinghe ‘s   connection to the Central Bank bond scam. The Central Bank, where all these shady deals happened, was under the Prime Minister. Without his knowledge, it is unlikely that Arjuna Mahendran could act unilaterally in favor of  Perpetual Treasuries, said observers. There was his disgraceful defence of Arjuna Mahendran in Parliament despite the findings of the Committee appointed by him, said Laksiri Fernando. Ranil Wickremesinghe’s responsibility for the bond controversies ­cannot be ruled out.

One of the  email messages  from Perpetual Treasuries  that emerged in the Bond scam investigation  said as follows,  Reminder: to request Hon. PM and RK to get a copy of the Monetary Board meeting papers, need to be submitted today.’ Another email referred to meeting with PM tomorrow with a US Treasury [official]” . It is  not difficult to imagine the identity of this person said observers.

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe was directly involved in the Treasury bond scams and he cannot absolve himself of the responsibility for them, said the JVP. The Central Bank has been under the Prime Minister. He is the one who appointed Arjuna Mahendran to the post of Governor of the Central Bank. Therefore, he should take the blame for the bond scams. He cannot say his hands are clean. The entire country is aware of his involvement. We demand that he too be summoned before the presidential commission investigating the Treasury bond scandals. . If Mr. Wickremesinghe is clean, he himself should come before the Commission and give evidence.

Former Cabinet Minister ,Ravi   Karunanayake ranks among the top leaders of the Yahapalana cabal, along with Sirisena, Chandrika Kumaratunga, Ranil Wickremesinghe, Mangala Samaraweera, Champika Ranawaka and  Rajitha Senaratne, said Chandraprema. Ranil, Ravi and Malik Samarawickreme are a very close group within the party  in the government. They are almost like a ‘kitchen cabinet.’

Ravi Karunanayake, we are told, had paved the way for Maithripala Sirisena to contest as the common candidate by dissuading party leader Ranil Wickremesinghe from contesting the presidency in 2015. It was also through the political party owned by Ravi Karunanayake, the swan party (nobody remembers its name) that the common opposition candidates had contested the presidential elections in 2010 and 2015.

However, Karunanayake got into trouble in the Yahapalana government .There is enough evidence to politically determine that there had been a shady deal between Ravi Karunanayake and the businessman Arjuna Aloysius, said observers. The President must remove Ravi Karunanayake,  from the Cabinet forthwith. Karunanayake resigned but not because of the Bond scam.

Ravi  Karunanayake, was part owner of  the firm, Global Logistics, with T.V. Lakshmikantha, Lakshmi Shankar, wife   Mela  and daughter Onella. The Chief Financial officer of Global was  B.H.I. Sinniah. A  penthouse   had been rented for the Karunanaykes by Arjun Aloysius, paying Rs 10 million as lease payment. The apartment  was subsequently bought  by the  Karunanayakes  using 70 million of Lakshmikanth’s money , suspected to be black money since it was held in cash in the Global safe.

Ravi Karunanayake was defiantly proud of his decision to resign from his portfolio, asserting in Parliament that he was doing it for the sake of the government and good governance. Critics stated that there was nothing to be proud of,  Karunanayake  had no alternative but to resign. Thereafter, Karunanayake met a group of supporters outside his own home (now under reconstruction) along Parliament Road and later drove to his apartment. A group of  over 30 UNP parliamentarians,  had gathered at his apartment at Monarch Residencies. Premier Wickremesinghe arrived there and spent over an hour. The UNP is the same old political outfit, inheriting the corrupt-power practices of JR Jayewardene and Premadasa times, said critics.

There is a deep revulsion against Yahapalana regime..  Yahapalana knew it  had to do something to mop up the  anger and dissatisfaction.  JHU’s Athureliye Rathana  who  was  firmly with the government,  said he wanted to build a ‘movement’ which would work with different groups such as NGOs, civil society groups, and apolitical entities. Many people like to be a part of something outside a political party. I could bring together different groups on one platform.

The public  now heartily wish they had never voted for Hansaya .They are now  looking for an alternative. Yahapalana ‘s western handlers anticipated this as well  and  have kept two other political parties, on standby,    so that western control can continue. The two parties are Jatika Hela  Urumaya (JHU) and the JVP. The JHU had sent its special agent Ven. Hedigalle Wimalasara thera to infiltrate the anti-government movement that has been taking shape by joining the anti-SAITM protests. Ven, Wimalasara in fact is now a familiar presence at such protests.

Of these two parties, the JVP is older and has a higher profile. JVP leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake  who is also Chief Opposition Whip  is a highly visible, talkative MP.  He makes it a point to speak forcefully in Parliament and the television news features him regularly. He speaks well and  has the ability to project.

JVP speaks for and against Yahapalana government, depending  on the subject. There is no point in toppling the government as there is no better alternative, Dissanayake   said. Who  will take over? It is better to develop a group to take over power rather than toppling the government.  We are in the process of educating and directing the public to develop such an alternative group concluded Dissanayake.

The JVP was an enthusiastic supporter of the new electoral reforms that were introduced by the government at the committee stage. However, JVP  questioned the role of the Prime Minister in the bond scandal. Dissanayake also  told Parliament  that police had given protection to thugs who attacked the striking workers of the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC). Union leaders  were arrested, taken to the Welikada police station and assaulted.  He wanted the government and the IGP to take action and also inquire into the conduct of the Welikada OIC.

It is necessary for Yahapalana to start thinking of the next Presidential election. President Sirisena  says he intends to contest the Presidential election of  2019.An  assertive poster of Sirisena,  hand raised with finger pointed upwards, appeared in May 2017.  There is now a question of who will vote for him in 2019, said Chandraprema.

The question arises whether Sirisena ever had any vote base among the Sinhalese other than the UNP vote base. No election has been held so far, to test his base among the Sinhalese. Sirisena knows that the mass of people following the Joint Opposition will never support him.  For instance UPFA Puttalam district MP Sanath Nishantha threatened to move courts against  President Sirisena if he removed him from the party. He will not accept President Sirisena as Chairman of the  SLFP, he said. Sirisena  contested the election from a different party, against Rajapaksa then leader of the SLFP.

Champika Ranawaka and President Maithripala Sirisena  are interested in using the Bodu Bala Sena to split the Sinhala Buddhist vote  once again at the next election in 2019,  said Chandraprema.  The latest spate of anti-Muslim violence unleashed by the Bodu Bala Sena has been orchestrated by elements within the Yahapalana government. They are trying to win over the  section of the Sinhala Buddhist vote which has been gravitating heavily to the Joint Opposition.

Gnanasara thera created legal history by obtaining bail on three occasions in the course of a single day. In one case he was formally arrested and a statement was recorded from him and he was presented before a Magistrate and released on bail all within minutes. The police had amended their report so that the offence for which he was to be arrested would be made bailable.

Gnanasara will never perform unless he has patronage from powerful places. He had patronage when the Rajapaksas were in power and the same elements are protecting him under the Yahapalana government, said Chandraprema. And chief among his protectors is obviously President Maithripala Sirisena himself. No minister would be able to give protection to Gnanasara without at least the tacit acknowledgement of the President. A Yahapalana stalwart, Ven. Ulapane Sumangala was present at the Fort Magistrate’s court when bail was granted to Gnanasara Thera.

The reason why Gnanasara  has the same immunity under this government that he enjoyed under the Rajapaksa government is because the same elements under whose patronage he functioned under the previous government are protecting him under the present government as well. The link is the Jathika Hela Urumaya, said Chandraprema. Champika Ranawaka and Maithripala Sirisena are in this together.

Ven. Magalkande Sudaththa  who has emerged as the second in command of the BBS, hinted that Gnanasara may contest the next presidential elections in 2020. Gnansara’s candidacy is a very real possibility, but  Gnanasara is only a  tool in this game being played by ambitious politicians. The people to watch are his handlers, continued Chandraprema.

Mahinda Rajapaksa lost in 2015,  not because the Muslims defected en masse to the other side but because he lost a proportion of the Sinhala Buddhist vote. Rajapaksa  did not have much Muslim votes to begin with and the difference was not made by more Muslims voting for the other side. The difference was really made through the displacement of a crucial minority of the Sinhala vote and that is what is obviously anticipated this time around as well.

By doing nothing when Muslims are being thrashed or intimidated, there is the risk of antagonizing a part of the Muslim vote as well. But the calculation obviously is that the Muslims will be more apprehensive of bringing a Rajapaksa government into power than giving Sirisena another term. After all, Gnanasara had even greater impunity during the Rajapaksa government.  Tami, Muslim and Christian votes will keep the Yahapalana government going.

Champika Ranawaka  wears the white cloth and banian ‘national suit’ and puts on a demeanour of being a devout Sinhala Buddhist upasaka mahattaya with a manner of speaking to match, said Chandraprema. At one point, he and several other members of the JHU actually took temporary ordination and they were seen with shaven heads walking single file with eyes cast on the ground as monks are supposed to walk. While playing the role of an upasaka mahattaya who eschews violence he sends monks to engage in violence.

Gnanasara and monks associated with Champika will be going on the rampage either against the halal symbol or cattle slaughter or against Muslim owned businesses or in Alutgama and Champika and his JHU cohorts would be sitting behind a table dressed in immaculate white and justifying in calm and measured terms what the marauding monks were doing, continued Chandraprema. That was  what we have been seeing since 2012 when all this started. This shows absolute unscrupulousness and cynicism and a willingness to use anything and anybody to achieve a political purpose.

The fact that Champika had no qualms about using Buddhist monks as storm troopers to achieve his political goals shows that he is a type of politician never seen in this country’s post independence history.  Whether there was anybody like that even in pre-colonial history is doubtful, concluded Chandraprema.  (Continued)


  1. NAK Says:

    Pa Cha now is politically destroyed,Kaput,Finished. All he can do now is to hang on to someone that is either Sirisena or Ranil both of whom themselves have become political also rans.

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