CaptureWhile there is much uncertainty now about what will happen to the country, certain certainties are assured. Chief amongst them is the headlong destruction of his reputation that Ranil has precipitated in the last three years.

I do not refer only to his unashamed capers with regard to the bond scam, the continuing defence and harbouring of Mahendran and now Ravi, the snide attacks on the Auditor General and Nivard Cabraal without substantiating them, the blithe disregard for the massive loss the country suffered not once but thrice. What is also clear is his complete ignorance of economics, even though he used to masquerade as an expert in the field.

Indeed way back in 2003, when I begged him to stop the collapse of the English medium experiment that had begun in 2001, he said he could not work on that now since he had to concentrate on putting the economy right. He claimed then that no one else had the capacity to institute reforms, a position he seems to have moved on from now, with his recognition of the capabilities of the boy genius Akila Viraj.

But economics he thinks must continue as his preserve, and he has such confidence in the brilliance of his geriatric pet shop boys (plus Mahendran and Ravi) that he has not even bothered to find a permanent secretary for the Ministry he uses, in Basil style, to assert his control over everything and everybody.

Now however he has had to grant there is a crisis, which he claims is because of adverse weather. He fails to admit that, before the weather too turned on him, employment dropped between 2014 and 2016 (8.5 to 8 million), the surplus on Balance of Payments became a massive deficit (plus $1,369 million to minus $500 million), the trade deficit rose (from $8,287 million to $9,090 million), Foreign Direct investment dropped by nearly a third (from $1,635 million to $1,079 million), and our international credit ratings plummeted. We have sunk in indices with regard to the Ease of Doing Business and Global Competitiveness and Corruption Perception as well as the Rule of Law.

I do not suppose the President has any illusions about Ranil’s shelf life being over, but obviously he is frightened to act, in case he finds himself without a parliamentary majority. Sadly he brought this on himself by changing horses in mid-stream in 2015, breaking his work about ensuring electoral reform before dissolving Parliament, and then undermining the campaign of his own party by refusing to appear on platforms. He thus played into the hands of those in the opposition who are still thirsting for revenge on him, which is silly of them for it led to his disastrous dismissal of party secretaries on the eve of the election.

That he must make up for his blunder must be clear to him, given too the evidence that has emerged about Chandrika’s pet Duminda costing the country so much, while agriculture collapses. But it would be foolish of the opposition to demand the earth, as they did in mid-2015, which is why the President panicked. While they should refrain from supporting him while the present dispensation continues, they should grant that a Prime Minister not in the Ranil-Mangala mould could be acceptable, if he worked on the President’s manifesto, rather than bankrupting the country.

Some time back I thought they should settle on Thalatha Athukorale, who is much loved by the UNP but will not pursue the politics of revenge. But recently another figure has shown himself willing to dissociate himself from the prevailing dispensation. I refer to Tilak Marapana, who cut those determined to punish our troops down to size, in being positive about the work of Lord Naseby.

Maithripala Sirisena, who thanked Lord Naseby, but then found his appreciation suppressed by the Foreign Ministry, should take advantage of the fact that Ranil cannot object to Marapana, who is indebted to him for his political career. He will ensure that those in the UNP who cannot stand Ranil will hold their fire, but he can work to a national agenda, not current perversities.

Ceylon Today 12 Dec 2017