Edward Upali in Canada, via Email Memo to Thuppahi, September 2019**
In his opinion piece on the Presidential Stakes Jehan Perera (JP) evaluates three of the more likely candidates at the next Presidential Election in Sri Lanka (SL). However, I have some concerns relative to the criteria he uses to evaluate the prospective candidates. It is a common practice in Problem Solving, to use the same criteria to all alternatives and score them to choose the best solution. However, JP who claims to be a lawyer by training, appears to use several sets of criteria /attributes to evaluate three prospective Presidential Candidates.
It is obvious the method used by JP would not yield an objective assessment except by some happy coincidence. I understand that it is his opinion, but I would suggest that such opinion pieces should at least appear to be honestly derived rather than ONLY be an advocacy piece for Ranil W and the Millennium Fund of the USA.
A). JP’s Evaluation of Gota: JP appears to have summarily dismissed Gota’s nearly 10 years’ experience as the Secretary of Defence and some 25 years’ of Service in the Armed Forces.
JP says ‘’ On the one hand, he is known as being one of the primary architects of the military defeat of the LTTE, once believed to be an undefeatable politico-military force and enjoying local and transnational support. On the other hand, as a former army officer and public servant, his performance as a politician is untested and unknown”
It is also well known that as a Public Servant, Gota has dealt with foreign govs, including China, India, Maldives, Pakistan, UK, EU, & the US (first version of SOFA & Intelligence Sharing Agreements), in his capacity as the Secretary of Defense for nearly 10 years. Recently, Ranil W acknowledged that SOFA is nothing new, and was first agreed to by Gota. I would assume that such negotiations required political skills as well as a good knowledge of the foreign govs.
Also, during his tenure GR was able to clean up Colombo and beautify many urban areas that were eye sores from ore-independence. The clean ups in Colombo were done in spite of a hostile UNP lead CMC.
I would also believe that GR is very familiar with Jaffna & the North & the East (he served as an officer in Jaffna during the war; also there were possibly several attempts to assassinate him during his time as the Secy. of Defense) and was instrumental in restoring communications very quickly (railways, bridges, electricity, water supply, etc.) to the former LTTE controlled areas, after the war. LTTE in their wisdom, had completely destroyed these services at the time, and buried numerous landmines.
So is it correct to say, Gota’s performance as a politician is unknown as JP asserts? My view is Gota has so far done far more in the N & E than any of the other Presidential Candidates.
In any case, in 2010 UNP nominated Sarath Fonseka (SF) as the UNP Presidential Candiadte, who had served through out only in the armed forces, and had no political experience. So on what basis was SF nominated as the UNP Presidential Candidate in 2010, if Gota”s qualifications are deemed insufficient & unknown?
If as JP says, although Gota”service in the Armed Forces as well as in the Public Service, are not useful for the Presidency, on what basis is UNP nominating a four times failed PM, & a politician who has lost many elections as the UNP leader and is extremely unpopular even in his own party the UNP.
With all his long experience as a politician and Prime Minister, RW still does not seem to understand the significance of the Security File. His lame excuse after he dropped the ball, was to say “ I was not in Charge” and he has been SL”s Executive PM for most of the last 4 years ! Perhaps he was was very busy participating in Bond Scams, selling off gov assets or Building Volkswagen factories !!
B). In JP’s Evaluarion of Premadasa Ranil W, and Karu J , he says the rise of Premadasa is due to the fact that Votes do matter in an election. It seems that the UNP hierarchy has discovered a fundamental truth relative to elections after all these years. Of the possible Presidential Contenders from the UNP only Premadasa is given credit for being electorally popular.
So what about PJ’s preferred candidate RW – extremely unpopular having lost countless elections during RW’’s past leadership of the UNP. In the 2 Presidential elections where RW participated his % share of the votes, never exceeded 43%. So why has RW declared himself as the UNP candidate for Presidency, in spite of his many failures? Is UNP the private fiefdom of RW?
A criticism relative to Minister Premadasa’s alleged lack of interest in the devolution of power. Devolution has been a key plank of the UNP since 2015. PJ says Premadasa, a Deputy Leader (?) of the UNP has NOT publicly enunciated his position relative to Devolution. If Premadasa has been a Deputy Leader of the UNP and a Minister all these years, agreeing to the UNP plank on Devolution, Premadasa need NOT reiterate his position to satisfy JP. Also, according to JP and media reports, Premadasa is backed by Mangala S, CBK, et al who are vocal supporters of Devolution. If so why, does JP insist on Premadasa doing it?
According to JP “Devolution”is akin to an article of faith to the Tamil polity and essential to win their support. There are only a handful, such as Prime Minister Ranil WickremesingheA, Speaker Karu Jayasuriya, Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera and former President Chandrika Kumaratunga who have been unwavering in their public support for this reform.
If Devolution is so important, why have the TNA kept very quiet, while all PC elections were being postponed due to lack of a decision by the PM who serves as the Committee Chair responsible for overall policy direction.
** The highlighting is my imposition … Editor, Thuppahi
Rifat Halim: “Sri Lanka’s Prejudiced and Petty Rulers,” 26 August 2019, https://thuppahis.com/2019/08/26/sri-lankas-prejudiced-and-petty-rulers/
Savitri Goonesekere et al or Friday Forum: “The Political Paths We Sri Lankans Face,” 3 September 2019, https://thuppahis.com/2019/09/03/the-political-paths-we-sri-lankans-face/
Rajeewa Jayaweera: “Hobson’s choice with Presidential Candidates,” Island, 10 September 2019, http://www.island.lk/index.php?page_cat=article-details&page=article-details&code_title=210247