The country has indulged Ranil Wickremesinghe a tad too long. Several years ago Wickremesinghe was a feature of the Batalanda Commission. For reasons best known to President Chandrika Kumaratunga that Commission simply faded away almost into oblivion – save for a few media outlets in the know as to the consequences of that event in the history of Sri Lanka.
More recently the country indulged the new President after he did the seemingly impossible and defeated the war-winning President. They did so to obviously let him get on with the promise he solemnly assured us he would and when he appointed Wickremesinghe to the premiership not many raised a voice that took umbrage with the fact that at the time of his appointment his UNP had secured just about 40 seats – way below any majority.
The first 100 days are usually heady stuff for any new government. Wickremesinghe unfortunately headed the Ministry that was to cause the greatest amount of consternation in contemporary Sri Lankan history – the fraud at the Central Bank which saw a special Presidential Commission hold his own choice for Governor of the Central Bank accountable for the significant departure from procedure that saw the nation lose out to the tune of billons of rupees spread over thirty years.
The unforgivable aspect of that fraud was that the premier appeared to have dragged his feet and defended his friend and choice for what seemed like an eternity.
It was on the 17th of March 2015 that the premier made a statement in parliament acknowledging that it was he who wanted the system of awarding bonds changed. That decision was either patently to assist his friend and his friends’ son in law to in effect rob the Central Bank and captive funds or it was spectacular stupidity. Either way the political downside for the UNP was one from which they have yet to recover. It would be fair to say that it is unlikely that Wickremesinghe will ever shake off the bondgate scam.
In the latest controversy – there have been several over the near four years – the premier’s silence on the malicious statement in the Hindu newspaper attributing an assassination plot against President Sirisena is simply mischievous. To others it is vexatious in the extreme and that includes chunks of his own supporters.
The matter of the development of the East terminal at the Colombo port cannot be far away from the epi Centre of this controversy especially when his Minister of International Trade is his other close confidante and friend of several years, Malik Samarawikrama.
The public with global information available at their fingertips is far from being naïve and foolish as they may have been in the past. Thanks to social media platforms and other fora, the public’s information has never been more accurate and up-to-date.
It is also unforgivable that nearly four years into the business of governance (we cannot possibly say good governance because we have not had any of that) the premier has overseen a government that has failed to deliver housing for the most needy and vulnerable. Those are the people who were affected by the Tsunami and still waiting, those affected by the conflict that ended in 2009 and are still waiting and of course those who were summarily expelled from Mannar by the LTTE and have lived for over thirty years in makeshift accommodation in the Puttalam area and are still waiting. All for homes.
Yet the Premier has now overseen the cancellation of a USD 300 million award to a Chinese company for 44,000 homes just ahead of his visit to India where he is now. The public now note that this particular project will be awarded to an Indian corporate and obviously the premier will present this in the bag of goodies he takes with him to India.
But all the time the homeless are waiting and are being used as nothing more than pawns in the political game that the premier is playing not only with India and China but also with President Sirisena and of course with the Rajapaksas. It is unforgivable that the premier so does given the suffering of the masses now exacerbated by the mismanagement of the economy from day one onwards.
A simple investigation by the CID will reveal the names of the Ministers who supplied false information to the Hindu journalist – but the premier is silent on that issue too.
God only knows what is in store for us in Sri Lanka with such ineffective leadership
The probable unlawful killing of Jamal Kashoggi inside the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul has shocked the world not because he was a journalist but because of the sheer audacity, temerity and barbaric manner in which he appears to have lost his life.
Who could be so appeased that Jamal Kashoggi had to die in the manner he almost certainly has died? Who was so much in need of appeasement that no expense or risk was spared to achieve their ends?
Surely the barbaric nature of this murder was committed by none other than barbarians themselves. It is astounding that the rich can throw their money around and peddle influence in the way the perpetrators of this crime are continuing to do.
The world will be hoping perhaps against hope that the Saudi Arabian Crown prince – the de facto leader of the Kingdom – would not be involved in any shape or form in this crime. After all Jamal Kashoggi was an outspoken critic of some of the Crown Prince’s initiatives. The world has been led to believe that the Crown Prince is a progressive sort and has much welcomed wide angled vision.
It would be a significant pity if the Crown Prince was indeed somehow or other, connected to this grisly murder.
As for Jamal Kashoggi the world stands as one for you. Saudi Arabia has lost a real son of the soil and the world of Journalism has lost a remarkable media personality who practiced his science in one of the world’s most dangerous zones.
Even in death Jamal Kashoggi has proved that Saudi Arabia is a very long way indeed from the liberal, progressive society that MBS dares to dream about.