The Heir of Yahapalana Govt’s Failed Agenda
Posted on January 30th, 2022

By Shivanthi Ranasinghe Courtesy Ceylon Today

The Heir of  Yahapalana Govt’s Failed Agenda

By Shivanthi Ranasinghe

Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa’s response to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s opening statement of the second session of the ninth Parliament was thought provoking. Leaving aside his need to portray the Government as a failure, one must pay attention to the remarks he made vis-a-vis the military. That he makes his references to the military in his opening remarks itself makes this exercise important. 

The Opposition Leader notes that national security in its broad sense includes many aspects. The first element he declares is military security. Taking the recent incident involving the discovery of a hand grenade at All Saints Church in Borella, he builds his case that the military security under this Government has failed. 

Cardinal’s Misgivings 

Soon after the bomb was discovered, Cardinal Ranjith called a press conference to air his misgivings with the ongoing investigation. His contention was the Police did not seem to take into account a person who was in church that morning. 

Unwittingly, the Cardinal revealed certain facts the investigators were unwilling to make public at the time. Nevertheless, the Police were able to track the perpetrator — a septuagenarian, obviously disturbed by bitter memories. The Cardinal, perhaps embarrassed, has not retracted his accusations – especially as the perpetrator claims to have had suffered discrimination at the hands of the church. 

The Cardinal’s comments irked Defence Secretary General Kamal Gunaratne. However, the need is for both the Cardinal and the Government to work on their deteriorating trust issues. Both need to understand that our country is not at a juncture where we can afford to let our ego get in the way. 

Capitalising on the Cardinal’s apprehensions, the Opposition Leader claims that military security has failed. The military, however, does not play a role in this bomb incident. This is a matter entirely for the Police. 

Even the dastardly Easter Attacks came under the purview of the TID, SIS and CID. The role the MI played was minimal. Even the underworld uses bombs and worse. Still, it is the Police that must deal with it and not the military. Therefore, the reason for a learned man who takes mighty pride in his knowledge to state the military had failed on a matter that concerns the Police is curious. 

This accusation itself is absurd. During the past two years, the entire world was crippled by the pandemic. Sri Lanka, however, managed better than most countries and that was because of the enormous service rendered by the military right from the onset. 

For instance, Sri Lanka’s vaccination programme has been tremendously successful. For a short while, it was in danger of being foiled because of trade union actions. However, the military took over the vaccination programme and did a far more efficient job. Today, not even vaccine producing countries like the US or India has the kind of record Sri Lanka has achieved. This was only possible because of the military. Yet, not once during his long speech did the Opposition Leader acknowledge the strength of the military and the services rendered by them to our country. 

Therefore, we must understand the reason for Sajith Premadasa to attack on the military in the opening remarks itself. He may have broken away from the UNP and distanced himself from Ranil Wickremesinghe. However, it is clear that he has not distanced himself from the agenda the UNP undertook when forming the Yahapalana Government. 

The Yahapalana Grudge 

A defining feature of the Yahapalana Government was its relentless persecution of the military, mostly the Military Intelligence (MI). Entire MI teams were detained by the CID, which was then headed by the politically corrupt SSP Shani Abeysekera. In addition, the then Yahapalana Government tried its level best to throw behind bars the top military brass that gave leadership to end terrorism in the Island. 

Among this target list were incumbent President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, who functioned as the Defence Secretary, highly-decorated Major General K.A.D. Amal Karunasekara who functioned as the Director Military Intelligence, Admiral of the Fleet Wasantha Karannagoda who was the Commander of the Sri Lanka Navy and Admiral Ravindra Wijegunaratne. Both Major General Karunasekara and Admiral Wijegunaratne were ignominiously detained by the CID over charges built on flimsy evidence. 

For instance, Major General Karunasekara was arrested by the CID in April 2018 over the abduction and assault of a national newspaper’s Associate Editor in May 2008. Much publicity was given to the investigation team that flew to Australia, where he now domiciled, to get his statement. However, very little Media coverage was given to his statement itself, which stated the investigators were after the wrong men. Yet, it took months more before the CID reluctantly released eight serving and former officers of the Directorate of Military Intelligence. The case, after dancing in the Media for 18 months quietly slithered away. 

Ramanayake’s Treacherous Task

Likewise, all these cases that targeted the MI were projected as high profile despite the paucity of evidence. The investigators could not furnish enough evidence to even file a b-report. Yet, they were exposed to the full glare of the Media. They were thus humiliated disregarding the enormous service rendered by these individuals during and after the war to usher and ensure peace in the country. 

Interestingly, every single officer and man that was thus arrested had played a pivotal role in defeating the LTTE. Furthermore, some were still engaged in defending the country from attempts to revive the terrorist group. 

The LTTE’s international network is still very active across the world. This entity that propagated the LTTE ideology bought sympathy for its macabre cause by getting politicians and journalists to delve deep in to their pockets. They funded terrorist activities in Sri Lanka and India which still continue to haunt us.

The MI unit that shadowed these activities was arrested in 2015 over the disappearance of a supposedly tabloid journalist Prageeth Eknalogoda, who was unknown until his disappearance. To date, investigators do not know if his disappearance was voluntary or not. Apart from his estranged wife, who gained publicity and perhaps monetary assistance, no one else benefited from his disappearance. In fact, he only became famous because his disappearance is something of a mystery. Therefore, his importance to the MI or their need for him to disappear has not yet been established. 

Subsequently, recorded telephone conversations between former MP Ranjan Ramanayake and SSP Abeysekera revealed the political motivation behind these arrests. Ramanayaka, who is currently serving a four-year prison sentence for contempt of court, claims that he had never stolen from the public. 

Be that as it may, the role he played was far worse in persecuting opponents of the Yahapalana Government. From his own recordings, he exposed the political favours he promised judges and his manipulation of the CID’s functions and investigations through the Director of the CID himself. 

Thus, it is extremely distasteful when SLPP MPs as Agriculture Minister Mahindananda Aluthgama and Geetha Kumarasinghe support the SJB’s call for a presidential pardon for Ramanayake. Perhaps MP Kumarasinghe’s sympathy stems from the fact that they are both from the same profession. Minister Aluthgamage is keen to prove that his battles with Ramanayaka are over. This level of immature reasoning distracts the actual damage caused by Ramanayaka. 

Premadasa, too, speaks of Ramanayake as a comrade. He is yet to condemn Ramanayake’s attempts to corrupt our law enforcement officers for political gain. Premadasa never visited any of the officers or men or their families during their incarceration visited Ramanayake in prison. 

Ramanayake’s efforts to persecute the MI must be analysed. The investigators did not have sufficient evidence to pursue the case. As in the case of Eknaligoda, it’s not clear if a crime took place. Yet, Ramanayake’s dedicated task was to ensure that investigators and judges breathed life into the persecution.

Killing the MI

The Yahapalana Government came to power on the promise to prosecute the corrupt. The failure to do so severely discredited that Government. However, persecuting the military was not part of that promise. In fact, then President Maithripala Sirisena even claimed his Government saved the military from possible prosecution from international courts. 

Yet, the persecution of the military continued – even though it contributed to that Government’s growing unpopularity. The public openly rallied around the Major who was order to pay Rs 2 million as compensation to the family of a terrorist, who was shot dead as he tried to escape arrest. Notwithstanding all these factors – lack of evidence and public disenchantment – the Yahapalana Government continued to engage in its agenda. 

The shocking conclusion is the Yahapalana Government was never interested in delivering justice to the victims, alleged or real. They just gave the excuse to hound the MI. Exposing the identity of an MI officer is the best way to end their career. One who works for the MI or any other intelligence unit does not operate in uniform but in anonymity.  They must blend with the environment as needed. Until the very public arrests of these officers and men, even their own families did not know their role or responsibility. 

As their identity got exposed, their active networks and ongoing operations were compromised. The roles they play in these operations are built over a long period of time. Thus, it is not possible for one to be replaced with another. Even former officers and men became targets because their actions played a direct role in the LTTE’s downfall. The turning point of the war was when the MI became an active component. The intelligence they gathered and their unique strategies hampered the LTTE. 

As such, the LTTE international network is bitterly angry with the MI. The anger of this network is useful to the West’s and India’s geopolitics that sees use in keeping Sri Lanka destabilised. Keeping the country’s national security weak and dumbing down its intelligence is important for this side of geopolitics. Having come to power on the shoulders of these wicked elements, the Yahapalana Government was beholden to discredit the military and weaken its intelligence. 

The Yahapalana Government was not an unwilling participant. The UNP opposed the war against terrorism, even to the extent of informing every international lending agency that they will not honour the loans given to fund the war. Hence, when terrorism was defeated they too were politically massacred. Their only way out is to discredit the war itself and criminalise those who rendered a great service to the country. Therefore, persecuting the MI and other efforts to imprison Military leaders was very satisfying to these discredited politicians. This was a bonus to the agenda set by their handlers. 

Power over Patriotism 

Premadasa is a victim of the LTTE. His father was assassinated by the LTTE, despite the support he gave them. He, more than any other, should be grateful to the military for ending that era of killing and destruction. 

Yet, even when he met the UK Minister of State Foreign Commonwealth and Development Affairs, Lord Tariq Ahmad of Wimbledon, he failed to set the record straight on the alleged war crimes. Lord Ahmad is one of the main British politicians leading the persecution against the Sri Lankan military. He categorically had refused to take into account the records compiled by the British Home Office by the then British Defence Attaché Lt Col Anthony Gash simply because it does not fit the narrative against 

Sri Lanka. 

It is truly a sad state of affairs that the regime changes have an heir to carry their mantle – even after the resolute defeat of the Yahapalana Government. 

ranasingheshivanthi@gmail.com

One Response to “The Heir of Yahapalana Govt’s Failed Agenda”

  1. dingiri bandara Says:

    When our own so called political leaders, betray our brave and dedicated intelligence officers and other members of the armed forces that was responsible for eradicating the military wing of the most ruthless terrorist group in the world, how can a country progress. R Premadasa gave weapons to the LTTE, Ranil W betrayed some of our bravest and the best intelligence officers. Even Sarath Fonseka betrayed our armed forces although a dedicated (I believe } military man. We are lucky have loyal ,dedicated and brave members of the armed forces. The UNP has forgotten in what fear people lived before the LTTE,within Sri Lanka was defeated. R Premadasa’s son should should be ashamed of himself.

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