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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2708

Ranil’s Pronouncements Debunked No Sooner They are Made

By Keith Amarasiri in Long Breach

Sri Lankan media reacted quickly to the recent statement by Opposition Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe that there was press freedom under R Premadasa. Of course, not today, was the implication. It is an accepted practice in politics that all pronouncements from leaders must be thoroughly researched. That was generally so most of the time. Ranil Wickremesinghe for some inexplicable reason shoots his mouth with the least amount of foresight or even some semblance of veracity. " The problem with Ranil Wickremesinghe is that he believes that the press is party to his avowed goal of bringing down the government.  Presses have their own agendas but they are not appendages of the Opposition. " " The problem with Ranil Wickremesinghe is that he believes that the press is party to his avowed goal of bringing down the government. Presses have their own agendas but they are not appendages of the Opposition. "

Ranil nodded when the US ambassador in Colombo said that elections to local governments in the East should not be held as the area had many armed people. Ranil has completely forgotten that armed groups had dominated Sri Lanka for 30 years. The elections were held and completely negated what Ambassador Blake and Ranil said. We could go on about his recent pronouncements getting ridiculed no sooner than they were spewed out.

An editorial in one of the leading daily papers said ‘nothing but the good about the dead—Chilon said. But, we may find it difficult to do so as regards all departed political leaders, the fallout of whose actions continues to haunt us. A critical view should, therefore, be taken of the past leaders and their doings, whether they are dead or alive.

It is worth reproducing the editorial here. “Opposition and UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe speaking at a ceremony to mark the 15th death anniversary of President Ranasinghe Premadasa, he eulogized his late leader. If one were to go by his assessment of President Premadasa, then one would mistake the late leader for an infallible man or a paragon of virtue. He was far from that. He, like any other leader, had his strengths and weaknesses. And his style of governance which radically departed from that of his predecessors and successors needs to be kept in perspective.

The Opposition Leader has lashed out at the media for publishing ‘vituperative and revengeful’ attacks on the late President Premadasa, while keeping mum on flagrant human rights violations by the Mahinda Rajapaksa government. He is entitled to his views. But, it is our view that the Rajapaksa government is taking enough flak from the press, editorial concluded.”

The problem with Ranil is that he believes that the press is party to his avowed goal of bringing down the government. Presses have their own agendas but they are not appendages of the Opposition. Ranil has not relied on a group of well – seasoned researchers about what to say and what not. He exhibited poor judgment when in the midst of a major battle to free the East from the Tigers stating that “Thoppigala is a jungle” –glitches that will for ever be mark his legacy.

He organized a demonstration outside a foreign bank which was bent on giving a development loan to the country. No Opposing has ever announced its intention not to honor a loan taken by a previous government. But Ranil did. He was pressurizing the bank not to give the loan. What Ranil wanted was that the press should go hammer and tongs against the government come sun or rain, so that he will be able to achieve his goal—capturing power.

Another weapon that Ranil has misused is to feed the Human Rights watch-dogs with stories with marginal or semblance of human right violations in them. Sri Lankans are aware that these watch-dogs will die a natural death if government acts with propriety all the time. We know that even the LTTE is championing human rights these days!

According to one newspaper “human rights have become a bludgeon in the hands of foreign powers to be used against governments in the developing countries is only too well known. Some human rights outfits are mere appendages of political parties. They function as pressure groups until their political masters get elected. What Ranil has fallen into is the trap that human rightists have laid. Some of them are fronts for the LTTE. Once again this is what the editorial stated: “The LTTE fronts are also masquerading as human rights organizations with the objective of protecting the human rights of the inhuman terrorists who get caught in the southern parts of the country.” Ranil by association has become a willing accomplice to this conspiracy.

The media in refuting Ranil has recaptured the excesses committed by the Premadasa administration that gave the media hell many a time. His tirades were unstoppable. The Island reported that “they had reliable information that during the late 1980s, some members of his government conspired to destroy our press with a rocket attack, which was later abandoned due to strong protests from the late Minister Ranjan Wijeratne.” Many journalists were persecuted and harassed beyond repair. Ranil knows well how in 1992, goons set upon a group of journalists covering a DUNF protest opposite the Fort Railway Station. It was disgraceful behavior by the government of Premadasa. Ranil knows that it was during that time that Richard de Zoysa was abducted and assassinated. Worse still, a senior Ranil cohort stooped to the level of insulting him posthumously in Parliament in a bid to justify his assassination.

We can also state that Premadasa had some exceptionally good work done during that time. Ranil Wickremesinghe’s habit of rushing to say whatever that comes to mind when a more sober assessment seemed fair is a telling indictment of a leader gone desperate. All leaders have a learning curve; Ranil’s never seems to curl up.

- Asian Tribune -

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