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The real Ranil

When Ranil Wickremesinghe became Prime Minister in 1994, I had the good fortune of coming face to face with for a second time, this time at a professional level, when I was introduced to by a mutual friend Mr. Lalin Fernando. This time I came to know first hand his vision for Sri Lanka and his dynamism to get things done. I also became privy to his zealous love for his country and his fellow Sri Lankans. His burning desire to make Sri Lanka a better place where all Sri Lankans irrespective of their race or religion could enjoy, good living standards and be treated as equals.

by Pradeep Amirthanayagam

(June 07, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) My memory flashes back to the Bonjean Memorial Hall at St. Joseph’s College, Colombo, where I was lined up as an A’ Level student with my fellow Josephian’s to receive prizes at the Annual Josephian Prize Day, in the year 1981, 27 years ago.

In walked our Chief Guest, youthful, unassuming and elegantly clad, Minister of Education, Ranil Wickremesinghe. During his address to us, I vividly remember how he emphasized the value of youth, and how well he enunciated that the youth of today are the future of Sri Lanka. He also stressed the importance of Information Technology, and its relevance to the development of Sri Lanka. What struck me most at the tender age of 18 was Mr. Ranil Wickremesinghe’s, simplicity and vision - The words he spoke that November afternoon, left me with a lasting impression that this indeed was a future leader.

One must take into context that at that time. Sri Lanka had a splendid selection of leaders - President J. R. Jayewardene, Prime Minister Ranasinghe Premadasa and Ministers Gamini Dissanayake and Lalith Athulathmudali.

Ranil Wickremesinghe has had the unique distinction of working under, and alongside these distinguished gentlemen which, has resulted in the polished article he is today.

On a personal note I must say, that on that Prize day, when I went up the stage for the fourth time our Chief Guest told me "Well done, you seem to be winning it all". Ever since that occasion I have closely followed his achievements during these past 24 years.

When Ranil Wickremesinghe became Prime Minister in 1994, I had the good fortune of coming face to face with for a second time, this time at a professional level, when I was introduced to by a mutual friend Mr. Lalin Fernando. This time I came to know first hand his vision for Sri Lanka and his dynamism to get things done. I also became privy to his zealous love for his country and his fellow Sri Lankans. His burning desire to make Sri Lanka a better place where all Sri Lankans irrespective of their race or religion could enjoy, good living standards and be treated as equals.

In 1995 after the defeat of the UNP at both the General and the Presidential Elections, Mr. Ranil Wickremesinghe set about re-vamping the party. It is in this backdrop that I got to meet him for a third time.

Ever since that day I’ve come to know him as a statesman in waiting. He has been in no undue hurry, patience was very much his virtue. Even in defeat he has become stronger - and that is what makes great leaders. The great Abraham Lincoln was one of them.

In 2001, he had the courage to negotiate a ceasefire - a ceasefire that has resulted in saving thousands of lives and also played a huge part in the economic stability that we enjoy today.

Mr. Ranil Wickremesinghe may be misunderstood at times for his sheer simplicity. He has no airs about him, he has the ability to walk with kings, yet not lose the common touch. He feels quite at home almost anywhere - Enjoying sipping his cup of plain tea or sitting cross legged in a cadjan thatched house and eating his meal on a banana leaf. Mr. Wickremesinghe has a great sense of humour. Even in the most troubled times he would break the silence with a joke or a wise crack.

Yes he is a dreamer! He dreams everyday of a Sri Lanka that is united and vibrant, a Sri Lanka that can enjoy economic prosperity and Peace.

He has gone through the mill like you and me. After his education at Royal College he entered the University of Ceylon and then the Law College. No foreign University for him, born and bred entirely in Sri Lanka - a true son of the soil.

My firm Christian conviction gives me the belief that here is a man who says NO to false promises and says YES to the truth, however hard it might be.

His absolute honesty and integrity are hallmarks of a great leader. He has never hoodwinked anybody by using cheap political rhetoric that could buy some votes. Consistency is his forte. This dear friends is the ‘Real Ranil’. The Ranil I have known for almost 25 years - A leader you could expect to deliver what he pledges - who will make your tomorrows better.

I would like to conclude with the words of John Galbraith:

All of the great leaders have had one characteristic in common: it was the willingness to confront unequivocally the major anxiety of their people in their time. This, and not much else, is the essence of leadership".
- Sri Lanka Guardian


rohanana said...

I am shocked to read this article as it can't be the same person we know that this writer is talking about.

Ranil is the quite opposite to what most things are said about Ranil in this article.

I was introduced to this Ranil by late Mr. Gamini Athukorale when I returned to Sri Lanka to help UNP and I was asked to work in Ranil's seat in that election. Then I was again introduced at my cousin's daughter's wedding and we were the only two seated in that table. I tried many times to talk to him but he completely ignored me and even the "Yes" or "NO' was said looking away as if I was ugly to look at or I had some sort of disease. Since I never wanted to be part of this man or his party as long as he is the leader.

Now lets look at few things about his love for the country. When late
Mr. Gamini Dissanayake was the presidential candidate in 1995 where was this man? Why didn't he support Gamini? Was it because he loves his country so much or because he loves himself and his ambitions? Look at Obama and Hillary. Hillary has accepted the defeat and giving full support to Obama. That is diginity, respectability and put your country and party before yourself. It is an insult to compare this man to Lincoln as Lincoln never lost as many elections and he would have never hang on to power like Ranil.

Why did Ranil signed the so called CFA in secret? He has never being able to explain what is in it or what are the benefits or dangers of it. This so called CFA has resulted in Terrorist LTTE ruling North and East as they wished without any respect to law and order of humanity and we don't know how many LTTE has killed during that period. What we are going through is the result of Ranil's CFA and for all these lives sacrificed today, UNP and Ranil must take responsibility. He has never condemned LTTE for their atrocities but he is the first to give a press release condemning any killing by anyone other than LTTE. I challenge this writer to show me proves when was the last time Ranil has condemned LTTE brutality. Even yesterday at Kolonnawa he has told the government to negotiate with LTTE. How can he be a good leader when he can't understand that to negotiate you need two parties and that one is not willing. Why didn't he negotiate with LTTE when he had the power? DO you remember what he said when East and Toppigala was taken over by the troops? Is it a real leader or a person who loves his ambitions over his country? Doesn't he behave like a dictator as thee leader of UNP?

Everytime he opens his mouth it is beneficial to the opposition and in my view the present government is kept in power by his mouth.

So, don't give this crap to mislead people as majority of the people knows what a stupid man Ranil is and who is trying his best to destroy that once great party 'UNP'. I hope UNP has the will and power to get rid of this man and his stooges for ever and give new life to UNP and throw this corrupt government out.

Ranjith said...

I agree what rohanna said. Becasue of this Ranil, Chandrika ruled the country without any vision. She still think of coming back to power on the back of Ranil. If Chandrika or any Bandaranayake get power again, it would be a disaster. Ranil should definitely retire from politics to safeguard the country. Then only UNP can come to power. We had great leaders like DS and Dudley who had a very good vision without betraying Sri Lankan. None of our former UNP leaders would have singed that CFA with those blood thirsty LTTE.

Society and Health said...

I respect Rohanna's view of Mr RW as a human being. My problem is about him as a politician. When he was elected to power he signed an agreement with the LTTE without discussing even the basic framework with his party, the cabinet, the executive, the parliament or the people. In my book that is not democracy, statemenship, consensus building or features of a visionary. As a politician he betrayed the trust on him, and that is uncompromisable.
Whether other politicians have also betrayed our trust is not the issue here. HE did it. Period.

Dark.Force said...

It is true that individuals form their opinions about other individuals on their personal encounters. But if someone forms his or her opinion about a leader of a country based on his or her personal experience, it is a sad situation. The main problem with Sri Lanka is Sri Lankan's petty mentality about her leaders, her heritage, her place in the global village and, even, her national problem. The chauvinists who hate other minorities, call everyone else who love greater humanity. not just Sinahalese or Tamils or Muslims, a 'Traitor'. In current context, all others who donot support the extreme views of Sri Lankan Governemnt are 'traitors'. Even a few monks and their supporters go mad with hate of minorities and incite hatred among peoples. Some people shamelessly drive wedges between Sinhalese and Tamils, Sinahalese and Muslims, Tamils and Muslims and Buddhists and Christians. They do not realise that the Buddha was all kindness and love. Peploe do not realise the little Human Rights issues we ignore as thay only affect our next door neighbour, a Tamil. We donot realise that the same darkness mat descend on us, too. We donot realise that we help make another Mugabe or horrendous dictatorship. I have never spoken to Ranil or have never voted UNP.
I am sure if I talk to him, he would not even bat an eyelid. I 've read that men of few words can still be great leaders. Anyhow, I like his vision for the country, a vision which looks at a country which equally love all comunities,all religions including a power-sharing arrangement with Tamils. I like him for his honesty ,as Pradeep says, to come out and say that he likes a peaceful solution. I like him for his flexibility and 'loving kindness' (which some so-called Buddhists do not have in their hearts) even to talk with LTTE. His love for the country was greater than petty minded nationalism or faked patriotism. He wanted a united Sri Lanka where all communities, consisting of 'Humans' could live together. The biggest obstacle was LTTE. He was even prepared to sit with them and negotiate a mutual agreement irrspective of its flakiness. It is a fact that LTTE took adavantage of the cease-fire to arm themselves. But if we had right vision on our side, we, together with International Community, to force LTTE to change. There had been a lot of victories on the land. But the main vitories were also achieved by people like Late Laxman Kadiragamar with his brilliant diplomacy. Rajive Gandhi assassination on its own could not shackle LTTE. Even if September 11 changed the world, LTTE could have portrayed itself as a liberation army. But late minister shattered their image. That had a domino effect to put a lid on funding sources and now to a full scale war without much resistance from LTTE. Ranil is a global man, not an islander. His journey was stalled by a scheming opposition and now we all blame Ranil. But in his time,neither the innocent people in the south, nor the Tamils in the north got killed because of an unnessceary war.
Even though Ranil is perhaps not a great politician, but certainly he can stand tall among many petty politicians of present day Sri Lanka. He truly is only 'Global Politician' of Sri Lanka that I know of.

Unknown said...

They come in different forms and different colours. It’s natural that any minority community always tends to align with fuzzy figures from the majority community in furthering their ambitions for undue positions and prosperity in return of political favors to such felons.

Ranil is a lost human, right from his birth. Had there been any such leadership qualities these so called admirers such as the writer of this article would have gone through the ceiling, elaborating from RW’s achievements during his school days. Name any such from widespread hodgepodge he would claim approbation, be it academic, sports, extra curricular so on and so forth. None. By any chance if the writer is bold enough to say that RW is brandishing an LLB from Colombo campus in an era when the rural youth were hurdled in to backward countryside I feel sorry for his circle of academia.

The life either created as this Josephian believes according to his faith Christianity or the pragmatically challenging Darwinism that speaks of a scientific evolution, The Man is bound to act in a manner that facilitates his genre to prolong if not a negative upshot of defunct and extinct. Notwithstanding the negativity under any inappropriate practice amounts to negation of the title one is entitled to claim right to if he or she is not standing by this simple edict. Please look at this man RW through your plain eyes throwing away the prism.

You may find solace in a very loose hypothesis that personal life has no bearing upon one’s political career. In the contrary it’s all the more significant because the primary object of politics is making a society that is intertwined with nature that promotes right thinking, right action, and right result. I leave the basics of these tenets at the door of the Josephian.

Nonetheless, I have neither remorse nor resentment on the writer because Ranil is the chosen Messiah who would have nearly delivered the Eelam on a platter to the satisfaction of Amirthanayagam thanks to great majority of Sinhalese who are civilized and tolerant enough to let the hypocrites in the form of intellectuals to live among them with all the freedom. So keep on writing hosannas to reincarnate Don Juan though Ranil has passed the Use by Date.

Hermann said...

I cannot understand this special affection the writer has for Ranil Wickramasinghe and the general UNP stalwarts in JRJ era. As a human being Ranil may be of different value which I am not privy to comment as my knowledge of him like that is poor. But as a politician he is a disaster the country ever had. Starting from JRJ who sold the country in big time and put us in this debacle, Ranil was no better by signing the infamous CFA. JRJ who originally mooted the Sinhala should be the official language of Sri Lanka originally in 1954 at Sinhala Maha Sabha, later disassociated with that idea when Bandaranaike carried it 1956. However, he was the villain who broke Bandaranaike-Chelvanayagam pact resulting in a Federal constitution by the infamous 1000 bikhu march to Kandy. Then what did Ranil do as a junior minister in JRJ cabinet? He and the famous trio, Lalith, Gamini and Premadasa supported JRJ to create a political monarchy under the present constitution. It was all good during JRJ, but when Premadasa took over naked Lalith and Gamini went to courts to challenge this monster created by them. Then Chandrika and now MR both wield power under that constitution. Who is responsible for unaccounted power giver to the president? It is UNP and the stooges who supported it. To make matter worse Ranil signed a CFA selling srilanka to the terrorists. It is worse than Bush going to war with Iraq on false pretences of WMD. If the writer has made his fortune during Ranil’s regime I do not have much to say. Like what is happening with JVP, there should be drastic changes coming in the UNP, not bringing in baggage like SB Dissanayake and Mangala Samaraweera

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