Harim Pieris’ Roadmap for the UNP with no mention of the Bond Scam
Posted on December 7th, 2019

By Bodhi Dhanapala

A version of this article appeared in the Island Newspaper, 6th Dec) Harim Peries (HP), writing to The Island on Dec 5. about “The UNF loss and looking ahead”, gives a road map for the UNP. It should make strange reading to most Sri Lankans except those who, by a Freudian slip, have pushed out of their minds some of the most important matters that led to the collapse of the UNP.

In his essay, HP has not mentioned anywhere about the bond scams, the first of which was carefully planned by first placing the Central Bank under Mr. Ranil Wickremesinghe, and then handing over its governorship to a Singaporean National that he personally endorsed. The parliament was dissolved to prevent the submission of the first COPE report, and a second bond scam, which was even bigger than the first, was carried out by the UNP the following year.

Then came the clash between the Prime Minister and the President, mostly because the PM tried to run the country with a coterie of cronies to the great annoyance of a rather simple minded President; who felt slighted after having been elated by simple gestures like the “Queen shaking hands with him even without gloves”! Sirisena realized that he was being duped by a Cabal which gave him doctored Sinhala translations of key documents which said quite different things in English.

It was this personal friction that ultimately led to the President looking at the UNP leadership with vengeance. His setting up a Presidential inquiry into the bond scam was for the fortunate outcome of that falling-off among thieves. It was the revelations from those inquiries that rocked the country and revealed the depth of the canker of corruption that has cut into every vein of the UNP and the legislature. A top leader of the UNP had to claim that he did not know who paid the rent for a luxury penthouse he lived in, and allegedly paid for by scam money. Every UNP leader had been to that Penthouse, and probably knew about its secret. These same people added footnotes to the COPE report on the Bond Scam to undermine it, and many were probably beneficiaries of the bond scam. To satisfy an angry public, the Penthouse Minister was gently removed from the Cabinet, but not from the top of the UNP, and then quietly brought back to other Ministries, where he had access to even more trade deals that allegedly yielded even more commissions – so the public felt. Premadasa said nothing and Harim Peiris says nothing.

Mr. Harim Peiris says that “There was a surprising renaissance of sorts after the October 2018 constitutional putsch and the resultant very short lived UPFA administration, which was subsequently deemed ultra vires the constitution by the superior courts”. How does Mr. Peiris know that “there was a renaissance”? True, the western diplomats in the Parliamentary gallery applauded. But no public vote had been taken. In fact, Mr. Peiris himself says “SURPRISING renaissance”. Indeed, if there was a renaissance, it was only in the minds of the Colombo-centric individuals who even believed that a counting of the second preference vote to Anura Kumara Dissanayake will clinch the presidential vote in favour of the UNP’s Premadasa who will come neck and neck to Gotabhaya. That was their level of (mis)understanding of the political pulse of the country.

Mr. Harim Pieris has not recognized the repugnance generated in the minds of the public by the acts of Mr. Mangala Samaraweera in Geneva, and in the country where he has claimed that Sri Lanka is not a country for Sinhala Buddhists. All Sri Lankans have equal rights, but the total amount of Taxes collected from the country comes mostly from the Majority areas, and it is those taxes and their fair-minded policies that paid for the war, the cleaning up of the North and East, the re-development of roads, infrastructure, and appointing a provincial council after a lapse of three decades. Most of those people who fought the terrorists were the Sinhalese, with invaluable help from the Muslims who were also victims of Tamil terrorism. The UNP leadership mocked the war and tried hard to hand over power to the terrorists; and joined hands with the TNA who was proxy to the LTTE.

The UNP, with Ranil, Sumanthiran and Jayampathy writing out the constitution under the aegis of their Daispora and Washington gurus, gave the appearance of being ganged up against the majority community. They believed that the key to electoral success is in winning over the minorities. Of course, they had no wish to grant anything to the minorities either. The draft constitution was disowned by Mr. Wickremesinghe himself and the UNP, with the TNA and Jayampathy holding their baby. The president could complain, in many instances, of his being duped by the Ranil-Mangala cabal.

The upper-class Tamil lawyer-politicians anchored in Colombo have misled the Tamil electorate since the 1930s. The UNP hopes to profit from the power of the Periya Dorai forever. There are visible cracks among the Periya Dorai clan. Furthermore, even the Periya Dorai distrust the Muslim leaders like the upstarts from Mannar. And then, we saw the likes of Mervyn de Silva and Sajin Vas Goonawardena on Premadasa’s political platforms, addressing meetings! Were the UNP organizers crazy? Were they working hard to undermine the personal popularity of Sajith Premadasa, as against the UNP activists and MPs, many commission “kakkas”?

The tragedy of the UNP is seen not in what Harim Peiris said, but in what he glossed over and couldn’t say. He says that the objective of the UNP in the coming months should be to prevent the SLPP from getting a 2/3 majority. More realistically, the objective of the UNP should be to at least get 21% of the votes, given that Sajith got 42% as a personal endorsement.

How can the UNP do even that?

The UNP should declare “Mea Culpa”, and hold its own Bond Scam investigation and purge every scammer from the party, from the top man to even those with a mere grain of suspicion. It must re-start with a clean Tabla Rasa. Criminal action against them is a matter for the police. Furthermore, the UNP should purge the party of men and women whose hearts and allegiances are in Washington, well knowing that some of them hold Samantha Power as their “Ishta Devathaava” or Guiding Angel, having even rejected the Triple Gem. Does Sajith have the strength to do it?

The UNP should purge from the party those men and women who cannot think and feel in the vernacular. There are those who know only the misinformed idiom of the Geneva script and the Swiss Ambassador’s mindset that led Mr. Mock to mock himself and the diplomatic corps.

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