An open letter to Ranil Wickremesinghe
My dear Ranil
For a long time, I have been waiting to write to you. The several
personal letters under strictly private and confidential cover with the
further legend 'For the Leaders eyes only' has had absolutely no effect.
So I decided to go public.
The various elections, culminating in the farce, that was the
elections to the Colombo Municipality prevented me from penning this
letter earlier as I did not want to jeopardize the chances of my party
and our candidates, specially those of Mr. Sirisena Cooray. When I
mentioned to Cooray that I would be writing an open letter to you in the
same vein that I wrote to Mahinda Rajapaksa before the elections, he
cautioned me that I should not write or say anything against you. The
same advice was given by a top government law officer who you think is
anti-you because of his personal friendship with Mahinda.
Ranil, I am senior to you both in the party and in politics - May be
because I am an 'Old codger' at 63. In 1970 I was assigned to the
Elections Desk by your father who was my boss at Lake House at the time,
to work along with W. B. Mettananda of the Dinamina who was head of the
You were a student at Royal at the time and I remember how you used
to visit me at my humble lodgings at No. 7, Charles Place with your head
bent because of the low roof to inquire of me what seats we were winning
and what seats we were losing.
Can you remember Mr. Dudley Senanayake heading the Anti-Press Bill
march with the other Opposition Leaders with their mouths gagged in
symbolic protest when we were tear-gassed near Lipton Circus? You were
felled in the melee and had to be carried to the petrol filling station
owned by Sunethra Ranasinghe's father Mr. S. de S. Jayasinghe which was
at the Rosmead Place - Alexandra Road junction. One of the persons who
took first to the filling-station and then to the accident ward was
Abeyratne Pilapitiya of Kalawana, the ex-MP and ex-Governor who even
today is a UNPer though utterly disillusioned with your leadership. You
were so grateful to 'Abe' you held his hand and told him you will never
forget him. The very next day or the day after you ran into 'Abe' at a
function and you completely ignored him!
Even then you suffered from the grave disease of not recognising your
friends. Little wonder then that they detest you. The other day you
attended Denga's (Denzil Gunaratne's) Silks party at the Cinnamon Plaza.
Denga's sister-in-law Madhuri, is an ardent UNPer. She is married to
Bandula Dias, Vinnie Dias's (UNP ex-Deputy Minister and Uva Provincial
Councillor's brother). Madhuri's father was killed by the JVP, setting
him ablaze in his own vehicle. So when you showed up Madhuri was
jubilant. As usual you just breezed by like the tsunami and Madhuri was
telling all the UNPers at the Party - 'the leader came! the leader
came!. But not a cat took a notice of what she said and Madhuri came up
to me and said 'See Buddhika, nobody took notice of what I said'.
Ranil, that shows that you are getting the dose of your own medicine.
We helped you to be the Leader of the Party. When Gamini Dissanayake
challenged you to the leadership Nanda Mathew MP was one who spearheaded
Today you have lost him as well.
Everybody agrees that your integrity is unquestionable.
I have often compared you to a gold Rolex wrist watch which doesn't
show the correct time. When I walk on the road sometimes passers-by ask
me the time. When I respond they never ask, 'Sir' is your wristlet a
Rolex, a Roamer or a Seiko. 'If the cat catches mice, it doesn't matter
if the cat is made of clay,' is a famous Sinhala proverb.
You are like Rip Van Winkle - except that when Rip Van Winkle slept
only for 7 years you have doubled the time of your political slumber and
no wonder the mice are led astray without the 'Pied Piper'.
Sarath Kongahage was to be nominated for one vacancy on behalf of the
slain 'Ossie'. Nobody objected to this. But what went wrong was your ex-parte
arrogant decision to appoint Dinesh Dodangoda, a persona-non-grata as
far as the UNP was concerned. This 'Dinesh Dodangoda had his roots in
Dodangoda, a hamlet in the Ambalangoda electorate which I represented
(and which remains unrepresented by any MP of any political party after
me). His background was a strong anti-UNP background.
But you did not have the courtesy to ask me for my views as the
person who represented the area between 1989 and 1994. Nor did you ask
the District Leader Rupa Karunathilaka who was a parliamentarian at the
time. Mr. M. S. Amarasiri was aghast upon hearing of your decision. As
the then Chief Minister he too was kept in the dark.
What happened? M. S. Amarasiri too left you and we lost a man with a
wealth of experience behind him.
I made several proposals to you about the filling of the two
vacancies. One was to appoint the sons of the two slain leaders,
Premadasa and Gamini to fill the vacant slots. If Sajith was nominated
Sarath Kongahage would have gladly sacrificed his 'right' as he had done
in many an earlier occasion as he treated Sajith like a son. I also
proposed that if that proposal did not find favour with you to appoint a
young and educated youth whose parents have been killed by the JVP. You
went and appointed Dinesh and became the immediate target of vulgar
attacks even from those within the party.
Mr. A. C. S. Hameed threw a rope at me during this time thinking that
I would hang. He told me that if he was asked to name 5 persons who had
slaved for the party since our defeat in 1994, I would be amongst those
five. He said he was canvassing for a Eastern Province, Mushin to be
nominated to one of the vacant slot in the National List, and if he
failed in his attempt then he would sponsor me.
I did not 'bite'. Nevertheless I thanked him. Where is your Dinesh
We even lost Sarath Kongahage, a versatile politician who was an
asset to us. Our loss is today Mahinda's gain.
Ranil, I was a mere student when I joined the UNP's All Ceylon Youth
League. I was the Founder General Secretary of the first ever UNP
Students' Union. The UNP Youth League under the able leadership of
Jinadasa Niyathapala became the strongest youth movement of the day.We
even lost Niyathapala who was 'Guru' to many a UNPer.
I can go on and on listing the various people 'lost' to us because of
you. It takes years to make a man but only a few seconds to break him.
You have broken many a man by your arrogance and total lack of concern
for your own supporters.
The UNP under you has become like a 'Colombo 7 Club'. The die-hard
party cadres lament that your band of 'super kids' have taken over the
Ranil - Not that I love my party less but I love my country more. If
those newspaper reports about your crying over the shoulders of a
shapely diplomat, complaining about Mahinda baiting your MPs are correct
then you should be ashamed of yourself.
If the shepherd cannot look after his flock no point in finding fault
with the wolf. The sheep are so disgusted with their shepherd that they
voluntarily go to the wolf.
Ranil, 'Poaching' MPs is not anything new. Your father, Esmond
Wickremesinghe together with his right-handsman of Lake House Denzil
Peiris did the same in 1964. Except for a few like C.P., others were
paid what would have been millions today to cross over to the UNP to
topple Mrs. Bandaranaike's government.
So, why cry foul now?
Everything is fair in love and politics - of the former you know very
little and of the latter nothing at all!
In 'poaching' our MPs, Mahinda Rajapaksa is not without fault. There
is a way of doing things. To invite a man to discuss national issues to
his abode and rob him of one of his men is not the done thing. Not
mentioning a word of it to you Ranil is teeming with bad faith on the
part of the President. That is to say the last!
Susantha Punchinilame was planning to desert you when you penalised
him even before the courts pronounced in verdict in the infamous Nalanda
Ellawala Murder Case. On the night of the funeral of the Ven. Balangoda
Ananda Maitri Maha Nayaka Thera, a key SLFPer who is a senior Cabinet
Minister today told me that Susantha was not the culprit but a man who
is a Deputy Minister in the Government even today.
I went to the Welikada Remand Jail to see Susantha and he told me
with tears in his eyes, 'Uncle our leader hasn't shown the interest that
Jeyaraj (Fernandopulle) showed on me'. I advised Punchinilame not to
fall prey to Jeyaraj's traps.
Then Asoka Wadigamangawa was being hounded by the 'Thalagoya' at
Anamaduwa with killing of UNP supporters etc. and at Siri Kotha you
crossed him in the stairway and completely ignored him.
The man came to Sujatha Dharmawardene's room downstairs and
completely broke down wailing that if 'Premadasa was living he would
have taken him under his wing!'
Ranil, even today most of the leaders in the Party are utterly
disillusioned with you. Like me they will not desert the UNP. We cannot
satisfy our anger with the nose by cutting our face. Our endeavour is to
clean the face of dirt and soot and make it more 'lookable'.
Those who remain in the party today expect nothing from you. They
know that as long as you are the leader we will not have a Government of
your own - that's why. Mahinda Rajapaksa is no spring chicken. He knows
that his greatest strength is your weakness. As long as you are the
leader of the UNP Mahinda feels politically secure.
True, some of the defectors went looking for plums of office. But
still others went expecting nothing.
Mahinda has excellent P.R. You cannot run the country only with P.R.
That was why I suggested to Mahinda to get you on to his 'Chinthana'
Bandwagon. I told him that it would benefit both men. Mahinda is weak in
foreign relations and your forte is that. Also if the Leader joined the
Government, then there can be no defectors. I also gave a character
certificate about you to Mahinda saying that you are not a 'Jara Miniha'
like the JVPer with a penchant for high living - ala odel! I told the
President that you would never stab him behind the back.
Mahinda called me both before and after the Presidential Elections
and offered me a post of 'Advisor'; I declined the offer but accepted
his invitation to lunch. Ranil, I tell your the man has a touch of
Premadasa in him.
Even if you do join Mahinda which I strongly urge in the national
interest, you should never leave the UNP. You have a wealth of knowledge
which could benefit a future leader. So you must remain with us and
groom up a young man to take the reins of leadership.
Ranil, just because you went to Royal does not make you a leader.
In fact your motto bears ample testimony to this fact.
'Disce Aut-Disce de' ('Learn or Depart!)
You have not learnt so...
I have absolutely no ill-will in writing this letter.
It is not merely bona-fides but uberwae-fides that prompted me to
write to you.
May the noble Triple Gem bless you.