Has Ranil Missed the Bus?


UNP Leader and President Ranil Wickremesinghe addressing the nation from President’s House, Kandy on Sunday said to forget about the wrongs of the past and look at the future.

But if Sri Lanka doesn’t look at the wrongs of the past that has led to the worst socioeconomic crisis that is facing the country since independence and doesn’t take steps not only to rectify the same, but also to punish the offenders responsible for plunging the island into this crisis, how may the country be assured that there won’t be a repeat of such grave misdemeanours in the future too?

 If citizen Silva robs Rs 100, he’s jailed, but if the highest in the land is responsible for squandering millions of US dollars and is not made accountable, where then is the law? Ranil has missed the bus.

 Wickremesinghe owes his position to the SLPP. SLPP has 145 MPs in the 225 member House, while the UNP has a solitary seat. SLPP is led by former President Mahinda Rajapaksa (MP).

Wickremesinghe was elected President not by the country’s 12.3 million electors who voted at the last Parliamentary Poll held on 5 August 2020, but by Parliament’s 225 legislators at a secret ballot held on 20 July 2022, with the support of the majority of SLPP MPs upon the resignation of Mahinda’s younger brother President Gotabaya Rajapaksa (SLPP) on 14 July after a peaceful uprising of the masses led by record high inflation and shortages, sent him home.

 Wickremesinghe was previously appointed Premier by Gotabaya on 12 May 2022 upon the resignation of Mahinda who was Premier up to 9 May 2022, but resigned on that day due to similar mass protests as above. Upon Gotabaya’s resignation, Wickremesinghe was first made acting President before being elected President by Parliament on 20 July to fill the balance two years left of Gotabaya’s term.

However, the Opposition who likens the above protests that ousted the two Rajapaksa brothers to similar protests that took place in Iran 43 years ago in 1979 that ousted the corrupt Shah of Iran, like protests in the Philippines  that ousted President Ferdinand Marcos in 1986, followed by the “Arab Spring” of  2011 that saw the ousters  of Tunisian President Zine El Abdine Ben Ali,Libya’s Colonel Muammer Gadaffi  and Egypt’s President Hosni Mubarak, are instead calling  for a fresh Parliamentary Poll and not an “All-Party Government” as also espoused by Wickremesinghe from Kandy on the grounds that the current SLPP Government has lost the masses’ confidence.

The next Parliamentary Poll is due in another three years time in 2025. Wickremesinghe is due to present his policy speech to Parliament on Wednesday (3 August).

 But TNA spokesman M.A. Sumanthiran speaking from Jaffna on Saturday said that such an All-Party Government should not end up being yet another SLPP Government.  The current Cabinet, except for two renegade SJB MPs, which party comprises the main Opposition with 54 seats, consists of all SLPP MPs, including present Premier Dinesh Gunawardena. TNA, a minority party from Jaffna, has the third largest number of seats with 10 MPs.SJB hasn’t responded to Wickremesinghe’s invitation, though in the past they have had rejected such invitations.

Currently, Sri Lanka is facing its worst socioeconomic crisis since independence in 1948 due to a lack of  dollars in the country because of mismanagement by the Rajapaksas leading to a multiplicity of grave socioeconomic records such as fuel shortages resulting in at least one fuel queue death per month since last year;  shortage of cooking gas;  hours-long daily power cuts due to insufficient dollars to purchase the expensive diesel to provide  uninterrupted electricity supply to the masses as the cheaper “coal electricity” plant built by the Chinese at a cost of $ 1.35 billion sans tenders during Mahinda’s Presidency is more often only partially operable.

 Fishers being unable to go out to sea because of the lack of fuel ; schools and Government offices being operable only for a few days of the week due to this same problem; shortages of food, including milk powder and medicines; high cost of living and inflation; bribery; corruption; nepotism and cronyism.