Minister Ranawaka lambasts Rajapaksas at NDF Rally | Sunday Observer

Minister Ranawaka lambasts Rajapaksas at NDF Rally

Pic: Hirantha Gunathilake
Pic: Hirantha Gunathilake

Minister of Megalopolis and Western Development Patalee Champika Ranawaka speaking at the New Democratic Front (NDF) rally questioned how their opponent, Gotabaya Rajapaksa, plans on disciplining the country when he lacks it in the first place.

Speaking at the maiden rally of Presidential hopeful Sajith Premadasa, held at Galle Face on Friday, Ranawaka reminded the gathering many acts attributed to the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) Presidential Candidate Gotabaya Rajapaksa that contradicts his own slogans which his campaign now builds on.

“Gotabaya Rajapaksa promises a disciplined society. How can you expect discipline from a person who has obtained his passport and the identity card by circumventing procedures and manipulating the system?” Ranawaka questioned.

Accordingly he promised the DNF candidate is placed better to ensure a disciplined society. Rebutting the patriotism claim Ranawaka questioned as to why Rajapaksa only decided to get the citizenship after declaring his candidacy if he was a true patriot.

“Today the opposite camp is talking about patriotism. But the presidential candidate of that camp was only interested in getting the citizenship of this country when he decided to run for the presidency. If he cannot come forward as a Sri Lankan, if he still intends to maintain his roots from Los Angeles and who continues to maintain his immediate family in the US and as a person who has taken an oath to fight for the US sovereignty, how can he identify himself as a patriot?” he said.

Ranawaka then took on several allegations that directly point at Rajapaksa at the packed Galle Face Friday afternoon.

His ability to build the country with proper management too was questioned when he failed to maintain the positive turnover of both Sri Lankan and Mihin Airlines.

Gotabaya Rajapaksa was the Chairman of the Mihin Lanka domestic airline and was also on the Board of Directors of Sri Lankan airlines, with his brother in law.

The national carrier which was handed back by Emirates with a 14 billion profit continued to under-perform till it turned into an entity with a 250 billion loss.

“What management of the country does he speak of when he couldn’t even salvage the national carrier?” Ranawaka asked the crowd. He further jogged the memory of the roaring crowd to a time where four members of the Rajapaksa family from 2005 to 2015 controlled 97 per cent of the national income. Where all important ministries were kept under their preview; no one else was given these important ministries.

“Their management was such that before they were defeated in the election, all governmental departments under them were in massive debts,” he said.

Speaking of the government’s borrowings he said that Mahinda Rajapaksa had claimed that the Yahapalana Government had obtained loans of 20 billion and had questioned what was done with the money borrowed. While stating that the actual figure borrowed was 22.3 Billion dollars he explained that over 75 percent of those borrowings were used to settle the debts obtained during the Rajapaksa regime which was taken at high interest rates. He also explained how projects during the Rajapaksa regime for which money was borrowed did not yield anything to cover the expenses. Infrastructure that is of no use such as Ports with no movement, Airports with no planes coming in, Convention Centers with no people and cricket stadiums without any matches.

“We have to now payback for it through the milk powder, rice and fuel; all born by the public of this country through indirect taxes,” he said. Speaking of the Rajapaksa trend of “family-economy” he said that 269 of extended family members were appointed into various positions in governmental departments. Ranawaka said it is important for the people to separate war heroes from a military junta that existed within the forces, before going to vote. He also spoke how six acres of the Sri Lanka Army where the head quarters were maintained, at no1, Galle Road was sold outright at an undervalued price and claimed that it was from the commission through this land transaction, that they bought the Tangalle Bay Hotel.

“The army was dislodged and was sent to a new place where the annual rental cost itself was over 5 billion rupees. How are they eligible to call themselves war heroes?” he said.

The Army headquarters is only second to the Pentagon and the Red Square. By now the expense on this project has come to 64,000 million rupees despite initially quoting the cost will only be at 8,000 million rupees.

“I visited the site for inspection back in 2015. I spoke to a junior soldier there and he said that the area tiled in the office comes to 21 acres. This is not something that the country or the economy can handle,”he said.Ranawaka said, that this decision is justified by saying it was made to enhance the security of the country, it is important to see who was given the contract.

“It was given to one Muditha Jayakody who is another relative of the Rajapaksas. He was given a commission of 1 percent which amounted to 640 million rupees for the Army headquarters,” he said.

It was this same person who went to Gampaha courts and said that it was his money that was utilised to build the Malwana house for Basil Rajapaksa and the Oruwala office as well as the mansion at Brown’s Hill in Matara. Therefore, Ranawaka placed before the people that it was important to decide whether they are war heroes or a military junta?

“They earned a commission from the land which was owned by the Army then for the second time they earned a commission through the Army headquarters that is still under construction,” he said. Speaking of the controversial Avant Garde he said that the Navy earned 18,00 million rupees in 3 years by providing maritime security services until it was infiltrated by a private company owned by associates of Gotabaya Rajapaksa who approved the transferring of the business to the private entity while he was the Defense Secretary. Ranawaka claims that in three years the commission earned through this company was 10,000 million rupees.

“This government returned it to the Sri Lanka Navy which has now managed to earn 8,000 million rupees. This is the money that the Yahapalana Government has rerouted to the pockets of the people,” Ranawaka claimed. Speaking of the controversial MiG deal, he indicated that Gotabaya Rajapaksa during his tenure as the Defence secretary largely worked for the detriment of the forces misusing its resources.

“The Sri Lanka Air Force a renowned Air Force in the world that has served the country was also cheated though the Mig deal. More money was embezzled through another private company to buy Mig fighter jets for the Airforce,” he said Referring to the main culprits behind the MIG deal and Avant Garde he said these fraudsters are now waiting abroad till the 16 of November to return to the country when their Presidential candidate Gotabaya is appointed as the President.