Foreign Affairs

Rattled Ranil Panics After Nugegoda: Summons Media Heads

By H. L. D. Mahindapala

H. L. D. Mahindapala

H. L. D. Mahindapala

The 100-day programme of the “My-three-pala-naya” had no plans to encounter the Nugegoda rally. Not so soon, at least. They believed they could sail smoothly into the imagined “ideal country” located, of course, only in mythical Maithripala’s Manifesto. But within 40 days the “My-3-planners” have been hit by a backlash that no new elected government had ever faced in electoral politics. It is Ranil Wickremesinghe who is feeling the heat of the increasing events going against his political ambitions. It is his Prime Ministerial seat that is at stake in the coming general election. Maithripala Sirisena has no such issues due to the fact he is ensconced safely in his presidential seat.

It is this turn of events that has created Wickremesinghe nervous. He is displaying signs of a panic-stricken, nervous wreck. He is hitting indiscriminately at anything that moves – from the Australian Prime Minister to editor’s who have criticized him. He has now summoned newspaper owners to meet him to hold the media in line with his future. He has even invited anti-Rajapaksa NGOs to this meeting, hoping to get their backing to suppress the press.

It is time that somebody started feeding him with valium sandwiches morning, noon and evening to calm his nerves. This champion of “free media” – don’t forget how he packed off Paul Harris, the correspondent of Jane’s Weekly and Day-to-day Telegraph for exposing his deal with Prabhakaran? – feels that the only way to manage the oppositional forces rising against him is to muzzle the media. To do this he has to cook up a plausible argument. Having promised the electorate that the media will be totally free he can’t be observed to have gone back on his word to suppress the opposition. He has to offer an excuse. And the excuse is : media is rousing communal feelings!

So has anybody seen the Bodu Bala Sena, or even Champika Ranawaka who raved and ranted against the Muslims and Tamils in his current tour of Australia just just before the presidential election, whipping up communal feelings after January 8 in the south? I was in the Monash University audience listening to Ranawaka predicting the finish of the Sinhalese with the Muslims and the Tamils taking over the nation within the next few decades with their powers of prolific procreation, cash and scheming politics. Even he is silent as if his mouth is stuffed with pittu now on the communal issue. Only Wickremesinghe has begun to see Sinhala-Buddhist communalists increasing in the newspaper columns. Obviously, he hasn’t read TamilNet and Tamils newspapers. He is quitehappy to appear the other way about Jaffna jingoism because it does not pose a threat to him. Only the alleged communalism of the Sinhala papers is noticed as a threat to communal harmony. Which is Wickremesinghe’s way of saying that raising Sinhala-Buddhist problem is a threat to him.

Apart from this, there are early indicators of Wickremesinghe cracking below escalating stress. As a manage-freak, with an obsession to gather all power into his hands, the perform load is bound to overwhelm him. There is no 1 else to blame except himself for painting himself into this tight corner. All of a sudden every thing has begun to get on prime of him and unsettle him.

Initial, he is the unelected Prime Minister with out a majority in the Property. His position is hanging in the balance with his major political partners in the SLFP threatening to challenge his authority with a no-confidence motion against a single of his most reliable partners, John Amaratunga. He wouldn’t have offered Police powers to anybody other than whom he can trust. Keep in mind Amaratunga is the loyal Police Minister who concocted the story of Army trying target Wickremesinghe soon right after he signed the deal with Prabhakaran – a ruse to leak the names of the deadly and elite LRRP forces for the LTTE to target them?

Second the function load is throwing him into a dizzy spin, with pressures from a variety of lobbies crowding him and pushing him into corners from which he can’t escape. His political IOUs are also coming home to roost. He is also struggling desperately to catch up with his 100-day time-table which he presented with President Maithripala Sirisena to the organization community to impress that the “My-3” team can achieve what they promise. With every single failure and falling behind his own time schedule he is beginning to look a lot more like a lame duck than a dynamic reformer.

Third, cracks are building within his personal ranks and his partners and he does not how to prevent these exploding forces from running out of control.

Fourth, in his koka-tath-thai-laya Manifesto he has bitten more than what he can chew. The rosy optimism of delivering promises on time is fading by the day. Ven Sobitha is now batting on the sidelines promoting the thought of postponing the delivery date to two years.

Fifth, he wants to type a national government ONLY with him at the head, with out giving too a lot power to the other parties, even though they are in the majority. His obsession with energy with each other with his paranoia is compelling him to poke his fingers into minute information in the administration which is spinning beyond his control incrementally. It is impossible for him be at the best overseeing the massive picture and micro-handle the specifics at the bottom simultaneously. Nor is he. at 65, that healthier or physically robust to carry that work

Sixth, his gimmickry of presenting a “seeni-bola” price range has come and gone with hardly any effect on the electorate. He has currently lost two Ministers – Faizer Mustapaha and Prof. Rajiva Wijesinha (possibly). And counting. There is no new blood to give a shine to his regime. He has fallen back on the tired old fogeys that led to his fall the last time.

Seventh, he lacks the charisma of a leader who can win the self-assurance of the people or a credible mandate from the electorate. He is in a really vulnerable position of based on manipulating a couple of ith-thas (pawns) at the leading. He is now screaming his head off saying that he can decrease Mahinda Rajapaksa’s majority. Is not this one more sign of his becoming on the verge of a nervous breakdown?

Final but not the least, an election is hanging over his head like a sword of Damocles and he knows that there will be hardly any individual to pick up his severed head.

His anti-Sinhala-Buddhist paranoia too is unsettling him. His initial reaction is to summon Sinhala newspaper editors and accuse them of rousing communal feelings. He has blasted them as “suck-killi-yas who cleaned Mahinda Rajapaksa’s toilets”. Not stopping at that he has decided to have a go at the media owners. He aims to tighten his grip on the media from the top and summoned the newspaper owners.

The reality is that the media has been subdued sufficiently and the state media has been cowed down. The media that ttaked him aggressively when he was in the opposition has turned to play his type of music. The state media, as per usual, has turned 360 degrees to be the Master’s voice. For instance, an NGO apparatchik like Luxman Gunasekera has returned to The Sunday Observer to resume his anti-Sinhala-Buddhist campaigns.

The nervous and paranoid politics of Wickremesinghe is revealed when he first blasted the Sinhala editors and then followed it up with summoning the newspaper owners on far-fetched charges of rousing communal passions without having uttering one word about the most damaging racist attack coming from Northern journalists, academics, NGOs and politicos. The most provocative statement to disturb communal harmony was the anti-Sinhala resolution passed by the North Provincial Council resolution on February 10, 2015.

Not since the Vadukoddai Resolution was passed on May possibly 14, 1976 has such a vicious, twisted, racist attack been unleashed by the North on the South. It is to the credit of the Sinhala-Buddhists that they have restrained themselves and not gone on the rampage. When the Tamil leadership passes a resolution projecting the entire Sinhala race as murderers of Tamils and accusing the complete leadership, which includes Wickremesinghe’s blood relatives, as genocidal barbarians, it was his prime duty, as the Prime Minister, to defend the nation and its wonderful leaders.

Which prime minister in the globe would not defend his/her nation against such a sweeping denigration of its image? When, for instance, Prime Minister Dudley Senanayake, in passing made a remark that people in Sri Lanka had not died of starvation like those in India. Indira Gandhi reacted furiously and Dudley, becoming the gentleman that he is, apologized in parliament explaining that he did not mean to denigrate or insult India.

Envision, for instance, the reaction of India if any southern provincial council had passed a resolution condemning Prime Minister Narendra Modi as a genocidal murder for what he did in Gujerat? Regardless of whether accurate or not, is generating such an accusation in sensitive instances conducive for reconciliation or easing the tensions in between Indian and Sri Lanka? So is NPC resolution aimed at promoting reconciliation? Or is directed at confronting the Sinhala-Buddhists with the sole aim of destroying communal harmony? Isn’t Wickremesinghe’s silence a deliberate act of giving consent and encouragement to the anti-Sinhala-Buddhists who are vilifying the nation for their political gain?

If the Sinhala-Buddhists have been the type of genocidal killers as stated in C.V. Wigneswaran’s resolution would they have rescued 300,000 Tamils fleeing from the Tamil Pol Pot? Would 23,000 Sinhala soldiers have sacrificed their lives to liberate the Tamil young children from the gulags of Tamil Boko Haram? Why has Wickremesinghe been silent on this internationally considerable and nationally sensitive situation? And why was he swift to turn his wrath on Sinhala editors and threaten newspaper owners by summoning them? As opposed to this, why is he purring like a pussy cat in the lap of Wigneswaran and the NPC? Is it simply because he got their votes to get into energy? Is Wickremesinghe appointed to play the function of the Prime Minister or Prime Traitor?

Please note that the NPC resolution was sent to the UNHRC, demanding action against Sri Lanka primarily based on the accusations listed in resolution. Any Prime Minister, who has any respect for his folks, would react forcefully, being aware of the significant consequences that would flow from such grossly distorted and concocted lies. The silence of a prime minister on a essential issue like this is completely unacceptable by those folks yearning for peace and reconciliation.

At a time when Western leaders in liberal democracies are demanding from minorities threatening the values of the majorities total acceptance of the national way of life, language, and laws Wickremesinghe has no right to be silent when “his nation” (I hope he agrees?) is condemned as a genocidal state by an additional neighborhood which has benefited most from sharing the riches, benevolence and welfare applications of the nation.

It is inconceivable that Prime Minister Wickremesinghe can stay silent on a critical situation like this. His silence can only imply that his uncles and grand-relatives were all murderous barbarians as stated in the resolution. Apart from, Wickremesinghe as well was a portion of the leadership that is accused of getting genocidal murderers. The only missing part in the NPC resolution are the atrocities committed at Batalanda. Could this be the explanation why he is silent on the NPC resolution? Is it with this record that Wickremesinghe proposes to contest Mahinda Rajapaksa in the coming election and reduce his vote by 5 million?

More importantly, will the media owners cave in and go along with Wickremesinghe? They have a duty by the readers and not by Wickremesinghe who does not even have a mandate from the folks, or parliament to be the prime minister. To counter Wickremesinghe’s media offensive they can politely hand over a copy of the “My-3”s” Manifesto highlighting the segment on free media. They can even go further and cite the guidelines of the International Democratic Union of which he is a Vice President.

The most incontrovertible argument against Wickremesinghe’s demand for compliance on the grounds of communal harmony comes from the West which is waging a life-and-death battle to defend free media against Islamic fundamentalists. The appropriate of the media to express freely, even when communal harmony is threatened, is exemplified in the case of Charlie Hebdo, the French satirical magazine which has inflamed passions on both sides. Employing the Charlie Hebdo stand to defend media freedom, even above communal harmony, the media owners ought to unmask Wickremesinghe’s fake hijab of taking cover behind communal harmony. He ought to not be permitted to import ISIS fanaticism duty free of charge. He can not market communal harmony by imposing his dictatorship only on the journalists of the south. He should begin with the NPC politicians 1st. He must begin very first by asking the NPC to apologize to the nation and withdraw its resolution. Communal harmony is a two-way procedure. It can not be attained by suppressing the media of the south.

The media owners need to not tolerate Wickremesinghe’s higher-handed action to study the riot act to them below the pretext of defending communal harmony. That is a bogus problem, as pointed out earlier. They need to attend and listen to him very carefully. If Wickremesinghe threatens them they can stroll out. For as soon as, they can be guaranteed that the people will be with them.

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