POHOTTU AS USA’ S PROXY Part 3B
Posted on June 6th, 2022

KAMALIKA PIERIS

As predicted, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has succeeded in re-establishing the pro-US Yahapalana government. The ‘Yahapalana 2’ puppet government  is now in progress, with Ranil Wickremesinghe back again  as Prime Minister, Gotabaya Rajapaksa  replacing Maitripala Sirisena  as President and Basil Rajapaksa as the key   strategist. Mahinda Rajapaksa is out once again.

It is important at this point to take a look at the political contributions of Gotabaya Rajapaksa, Ranil Wickremesinghe   and Mahinda Rajapaksa. Gotabaya Rajapaksa came into the Presidency with much good will and high expectations. The seven lakhs, who voted for him, expected him to function as a super-efficient President capable of taking Sri Lanka to greater heights. He was welcomed by the Maha Sangha.

He started well. He made a fine Sinhala-Buddhist speech at his inauguration. He faced the Covid threat. Pohottu government became known as a government that had successfully managed the COVID-19 pandemic. Half the country would have been dead of Covid, under the old Yahapalana government, people said.

Once Covid was settled, the Gotabaya Rajapaksa government began its move to weaken the country. Under Gotabaya Rajapaksa Sri Lanka declared bankruptcy for the first time in its history. It was not an inherited problem. It was due to Central Bank bungling which took place in the two years of Gotabaya rule.

Under Gotabaya Rajapaksa the economic life of the country came to a standstill. Gas, petrol, diesel and later kerosene shortages completely disrupted life in the country. Businesses closed. Families that had started to rise, becoming upwardly mobile, became impoverished. Life chances   if many were affected.

 All agriculture sectors were crippled by President Gotabaya‘s decision to completely stop the import of chemical fertilizer. Paddy cultivation was ruined. This chemical   fertilizer maneuver showed a hidden hand. President Gotabaya was merely implementing it. The speed with which he introduced it, as soon as he took office, shows that he had been coached beforehand. The suggestion that this was his own idea has been firmly rejected.

Gotabaya Rajapaksa was welcomed as President and got 7 lakhs of votes only because Mahinda Rajapaksa was not permitted to come forward for a third term. Had Mahinda contested he would have worn. This fact is forgotten today, it will be remembered later. Those who voted for  Gotabaya , a novice in politics and  first time President, would have expected Mahinda to guide Gotabaya behind the scenes. Mahinda did not do this. We are not told why.

Instead President Gotabaya Rajapaksa engineered the exit of Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa. Mahinda Rajapaksa was humiliated, jeered at  and chased away from Temple Trees during  the Presidency of brother Gotabaya Rajapaksa .This too will be remembered later.

Mahinda Rajapaksa is the only politician in Sri Lanka today, who has a well earned personal following. No other politician can  match this. People still remember, with gratitude,  that he  ended the war.  He    has many  significant  development projects to his credit as well.

Gotabaya Rajapaksa had asked Mahinda Rajapaksa to resign  from the post of  Prime Minister . Mahinda seems to have refused to do. Mahinda  would probably have pointed out that there was no need for  him, Mahinda  to resign, there was no call for him to do so. It was Gotabaya who was asked to go, not Mahinda.   A brilliant strategy, compelling to watch,  cinematic in its appeal, having plenty of  conflict, violence and chase,  was successfully carried out by a yet unknown agency, on  May 9th and Mahinda was forced to announce his resignation as Prime Minister .

Long before Mahinda Rajapaksa’s departure Sri Lanka  had got fed up with Gotabaya Rajapaksa and wanted him to  resign. Gotabaya Rajapaksa became very unpopular, very soon. The President has been unable to appear in public since the protests started, observed the media. He doesn’t even stay at his private residence anymore. He cannot work from his Presidential office either.  Galle Face protestors have blocked access.

But President Gotabaya Rajapaksa  made it clear that he is not going. He is staying. This indicates that he is supported by an external power. He will go when his handlers ask him to.  He was in a buoyant mood, reported the media on May 29th, working from his makeshift office on the first floor of Janadipathi Mandiraya. Only his personal staff worked there. His Secretary continued to use his Presidential Secretariat office and went there through a rear entrance, said the media.

Ranil Wickremesinghe  (b. 1949) was first elected to Parliament from the Biyagama electorate in the 1977 Parliamentary elections. His uncle JR Jayewardene became Prime Minister in that election. Ranil was new to Parliament but  JR made him Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs then  Minister of Youth Affairs & Employment  in  October 1977.

In the 1982 referendum when ,JR  obtained undated letters of resignation from his MPs .  It was Ranil Wickremasinghe who had distributed   the letters, which the MPs signed and    returned. (Rajiva Wijesinha. JR Jayewardene’s  racism”. p 40)

As Minister of Youth Affairs & Employment Ranil  started the Sri Lanka National Guard and the National Youth Services Council (NYSCO), which provides vocational and career training to school leavers. In 1989,  as Minister of Industry  Ranil established the Biyagama Special Economic Zone.

Ranil Wickremesinghe was Prime Minister from 1993 – 1994, 2001 – 2004, 2015 – 2018 and 2018 – 2019. In 2000 and 2005 he contested for President  and was defeated. He has been the leader of the United National Party since 1994.

Ranil Wickremesinghe was appointed Prime Minister  in the present  Pohottu government  on 12th May, 2022. This was his sixth term as Prime Minister , incredibly with just one seat, his own,  a bonus seat,  in the 225-member Parliament,  observed Shamindra Ferdinando.   The electorate  had rejected not only him but also his entire party, said Rienzie Wjetilleke.

The appointment was  received angrily in certain political quarters.  ‘Meka deal ekak ‘said  Ven. Omalpe Sobitha with  Cardinal Malcolm Joseph agreeing. This can only be interpreted as a corrupt political deal, added  FUTA. Ranil Wickremesinghe  has come in through the back door without anything resembling a popular mandate, said Rienzie.  Wickremesinghe has given a  breathing space for the President to continue in office, commented analysts

Whether Ranil Wickremesinghe is the person the country needs today, is  highly debatable, observed Shivanthi Ranasinghe. It was to save the country from Wickremesinghe’s US tilted   Yahapalana agenda that Gotabaya Rajapaksa was elected to power in the first place.

Ranil Wickremesinghe is not the solution, said the Intellectual Forum for People”.  Ranil  is not a competent administrator.  That is well known. The  problem will not be solved by appointing   him.

Federation of University Teachers’ Association (FUTA)  soundly  condemned the appointment. FUTA pointed out that  according to the Constitution, the President must appoint as Prime Minister the Member of Parliament who in his opinion is most likely to command the confidence of Parliament.”  The UNP has only one seat in Parliament.

 Wickremasinghe has an extraordinarily poor electoral track record with the highest number of consecutive electoral defeats for his party, continued FUTA. He was unable even to secure his own election at the last General Election.  Ranil Wickremesinghe has been implicated in the infamous Central Bank fraud, either directly or via its covering up, to name only a few of his disqualifications. He stands for precisely what the  public seeks to eliminate from this country’s political framework,  concluded FUTA.

Rienzie Wijetilleke had plenty to  say about  the appointment of Ranil Wickremesinghe . There was a time when the elites of Colombo thought of Ranil as a visionary leader, a man of integrity. Someone that will put the country before his party and the party before himself. Nothing could be further from the truth, said Rienzie. His rambling speech in Parliament served as a reminder that this is a politician with literally zero charisma. Nothing in RW’s past suggests he has anything new to offer in this situation, Rienzie concluded.

Ranil Wickremesinghe has  taken many decisions which have come under heavy criticism.  He wanted to celebrate the 500th anniversary of the   arrival of the Portuguese to Sri Lanka .

Defamation was  a criminal offence in Sri Lanka and provided for a two-year jail term under the Penal Code. Ranil Wickremesinghe’s   government repealed this in 2002.  Sri Lanka is the first and only country in the South Asian region to have done away with the law of criminal defamation,  said critics. Sri Lanka is the only country in South Asia with no protection for its citizens for criminal assault on  their reputation.

It is well known that Ranil Wickemesinghe’s name was  associated with the Central Bank bond scam by Arjuna Mahendran. Within the first week Wickremesinghe wanted to appoint Arjuna Mahendran as the Governor of the Central Bank. I wasn’t happy because Mahendran was a citizen of Singapore. However, Wickremesinghe insisted that Mahendran was the ideal person and since I  did not want to create a conflict, within a week of coming to power,  I agreed.,”  Maitripala Sirisena said.

Ranil Wickremesinghe  had wanted to extend Mahendran’s term in spite of accusations relating to the 2015 and 2016 Treasury bond scams. Ranil said that there was no loss to the government in the bond scam. If at all, it was only a question of a potential conflict of interest.

The Bond scam case is proceeding. In 2021  Attorney General requested the Colombo High Court to proceed with  the case in absentia. They said that Former Central Bank Governor Arjuna Mahendran was hiding in Singapore. Attorney General’s Department was working with the Attorney General of Singapore to  get him back.

 Perpetual Treasuries Former Director  A.G. Punchihewa was residing in Malaysia and it was practically impossible to bring him back to Sri Lanka under  extradition.  In 2022 Attorney General al was asked to reply to the submissions of the defence who denied   everything and wanted the case thrown out.

Ranil Wickremesinghe is remembered for signing the Ceasefire agreement of 2002, which gave the LTTE control over the north and east of the island. He had no constitutional authority to do so.  He had assumed  the legislative powers of Parliament.  The Agreement was implemented without Parliament being informed .  Many army and police died during the ceasefire, which allowed the LTTE to flourish, said critics. 

Wickremesinghe advocated a policy of appeasement, thereby jeopardizing the entire security apparatus, said analysts. The LTTE brazenly exploited the situation to its advantage. Prabhakaran stepped up training, recruitment of fresh cadres. The government did nothing. The LTTE intensified protests opposite security forces bases, restricted/interfered with police and military movements. Wickremesinghe dismissed intelligence assessment as regards the rapid LTTE built up.

Prime Minister was  sober and balanced in dealing with the service commanders after the CFA was signed, said Austin Fernando.. Others disagreed. Wickremesinghe told a hastily arranged Temple Trees meeting, attended by senior officers responsible for intelligence services  that their assessment of the LTTE training 6,000 cadres at the onset of the CFA was wrong. The Premier contradicted his own intelligence.

The then Defence Advisor Senior DIG Merril Gunaratne, who had been among those invited by the Prime Minister, had the strength to stand by his report, based on information provided by all services. Obviously, Wickremesinghe hadn’t been in a mood to listen to anyone who questioned Prabhakaran’s motives though the continuing LTTE build up was evident, noted an analyst.

Ranil Wickremesinghe’s  name is  connected with the  Millenium City raid. The Directorate of Military Intelligence (DMI) had a  top secret  unit at Millenium City. This   was raided and  exposed. In spite of strong protests by the Army, the UNP went ahead with this. The exposure led to the deaths of several operatives. The LTTE also hunted police officers engaged in anti-terrorist operations. When Defence Advisor Merril Gunaratne blamed the LTTE for the killing of Inspector Thabrew at the Dehiwela police station, Premier Wickremesinghe questioned  Merril’s assessment, noted an analyst.

Ranil Wickremesinghe   has admirers and supporters. In the popular imagination, Wickremesinghe remains our most intelligent politician today, commented Uditha Devapriya. Ranil Wickremesinghe  stands as the last representative of the old elite”.

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has to be respected not only as a leader, but as a true democrat who has come forward to do his duty for the country at a critical hour  said Chandra Edirisuriya. Under his surveillance normalcy is likely to return to the economic life of the country before long. Ranil Wickremesinghe has achieved much with only just about a couple of weeks in office.

The appointment of Ranil Wickremesinghe as Prime Minister is bringing relief to the people who have been suffering for quite some time owing to the grave economic crisis. Placing him at the helm of financial affairs by appointing him as the Minister of Finance as well is another wise move enabling him to connect with countries eager to help Sri Lanka at this difficult hour, continued Chandra Edirisuriya.

The country is forging ahead economically. The major economic powers of the world are rallying round  Ranil. Even the G 7 countries are going out of the way to help Sri Lanka to tide over its present economic crisis proving that Ranil Wickremesinghe is a man to be reckoned with, said Chandra.

The economic crisis is easing rapidly with fuel queues getting shorter hour by hour and day-by-day. The supply of cooking gas is improving and with the opening of the Sapugaskanda oil refinery, having been shut down for nearly three months, will improve the situation further. Fertilizer imports that need only about US$ 160 million are to begin soon, concluded Chandra Edirisuriya.

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