Monday, October 15, 2012

The Mawbima attempts are so lame!

On Saturday the Mawbima on Sunday paper's lambasts were laid bare and similarly the Ceylon Today on Sunday (14th October 2012) had the similar story attributed the same person in English which I show in full below:

I am giving the article more publicity as the paper does not sell at all and is running on empty except for the coffers their patrons are willing to lose as part of their attack on the opposition and are willing to spend what it takes to sling mud, with people's money as the there is no legitimate money that is financing this rag!

It will take a little time for the Editor to realize the error of his ways but until then we will just have to contend with this puerile attempt at slander. Let the reader judge for him/herself.

By Devaka Lankathilaka

On Monday, a day after the attack on Manjula Tillekeratne, Secretary, Judicial Services Commission (JSC), a friend of mine, who is also a lawyer and quite close to the hierarchy of the United National Party (UNP), called me with some interesting information. He said there were some reports in Monday’s papers to the effect that UNP leader, Ranil Wickremesinghe, was planning to make a special statement in Parliament the following day, on the assault on the JSC Secretary. He said it would be a good idea for me to watch out for it. 

Given the fact that Wickremesinghe is a lawyer and because of his extensive knowledge and considerable familiarity with judicial independence, my interest was kindled. I bought the paper on Wednesday, expecting to read his hard hitting speech in Parliament, condemning the assault on Tillekaratne and the affront to the judiciary. Imagine the let down, when the reports only revealed a wimpy and lacklustre speech that didn’t make any reference, even in passing, to the attack on Manjula Tillekaratne or criticize government interference in the Judiciary. 

Instead his diatribe, it appeared, was directed at three concerns, all of which had nothing to do with the attack on the Judiciary.

Attacked the former CJ

Wickremesinghe first attacked the former Chief Justice (CJ), Sarath N. Silva.  He told the House that certain judgements given by Silva had caused serious damage to the UNP. His second was the judiciary, which he blamed for losing its exalted position in the country. And his third, and perhaps the most unlikely, was the Mawbima newspaper and its editor, over a question of how the latter had come to know about the attack on the JSC Secretary. Reading the contents, I was, to put it mildly, flabbergasted.

I immediately called my friend and asked him why he wanted me to read such a nonsensical speech, completely out of tangent with the issue under discussion.  He then admitted that Wickremesinghe as usual evaded the issue. Side stepped direct involvement, even at the UNP Parliamentary Group meeting, which was held on the same morning.

I then asked why Wickremesinghe was so ill-disposed towards the former Chief Justice; to which my friend replied that the UNP Leader has an axe to grind against the former CJ, whose judgements he believes had affected the UNP adversely, because, ironically, he could not prevent his MPs from  crossing over to the government.

Wickremesinghe’s third grouse

My next question was about Wickremesinghe’s third grouse; “Why did he attack the Mawbima and its Editor?  The response was prefaced with, what I assume was  a sarcastic smile, “Two things,” my lawyer friend said, pointing out that whenever there is a problem facing the country, Wickremesinghe runs away, while Mawbima digs deep to find out where he is at that particular moment, and then reveals it without any hesitation, unlike other papers. The other reason, he said, was the fact that Mawbima has become the greatest threat yet to his uncle’s newspaper, Lankadeepa.   “In the circulation war, ‘Mawbima’ is gaining ground on the Lankadeepa and moving ahead determinedly, that is why Wickremesinghe has launched a ‘Kamikaze’ type attack on Mawbima,” he elaborated.

I was not quite satisfied with my friends’ explanations, especially about the former CJ ruining Wickremesinghe’s political fortunes with his judgements and this compromising the Independence of Judiciary. Wickremesinghe’s hypocrisy poses several questions.

“If today, Wickremesinghe claims the former CJ, Sarath N. Silva, ruined the independence of  the judiciary and his own political fortunes in the process, can he explain his alliance with Silva at the 2010 Presidential election which also saw him getting on the stage with the  CJ ?

“How can Wickremesinghe bring such a person to Sirikotha to give political tuition to his party MPs? If he claims it is Sarath N. Silva, who is responsible for the destruction of the party, how many such despoilers are Wickremesinghe consorting with?   How many has he consorted with?” I wonder even as I dwelt on the Party Leader’s duplicitous history.

Then there was S.B Dissanayake? This is a person who was all out to destroy Wickremesinghe. In 2000, when Chandrika Kumaratunga introduced the constitutional reform package, he carried out an all out attack on the UNP and Wickremesinghe, in his bid to get the reform package approved.  After all this, Wickremesinghe  brought him to the UNP and appointed him National Organizer.

Mangala’s role

Then I recalled the association with Mangala Samaraweera.

Has there been anybody in the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP), who has destroyed the UNP more than Mangala Samaraweera? It was Samaraweera who induced Chandrika to dissolve the 2001 Wickremesinghe Government.   Threatening to resign, he cobbled an alliance with the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP), to send Wickremesinghe home. And later, when Mahinda Rajapaksa, held Samaraweera by the scruff of his neck and literally threw him out, wasn’t in Wickremesinghe who embraced him to the party? And today he is Wickremesinghe’s media chief...”

Then I remembered his association with Chandrika Kumaratunga.

“Didn’t he accompany Chandrika, the very same person who dissolved his government in 2004, to a ‘Kathikawa’ at the New Town Hall?”

I wondered if Wickremesinghe had forgotten the 1988 -1989 era when the JVP used to talk to the UNP at gun point. In 2004, Wickremesinghe’s Government was ousted because of the JVP. In 2005, if the JVP did not support Mahinda Rajapaksa, Wickremesinghe would have become President. Despite all this, didn’t he get on the stage with the JVP? I couldn’t help wondering the depths to which the ‘glorified’ leader he had descended when signed a peace agreement with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, who decimated the entire UNP leadership, R. Premadasa, Lalith Athulathmudali, Gamini Dissanayake, Ranjan Wijeratne, and so on.

If Wickremesinghe had no compunctions about doing the tango with known enemies of the party, of course, it would not be a big deal for him to dance to the tune of Mahinda Rajapaksa. It is more than obvious that Wickremesinghe has a deal with Rajapaksa. Whenever any matter of national interest crops up in the country,  Wickremesinghe always performs the role of the puppet, dancing to the tunes of the puppet master, Mahinda Rajapaksa,  I believe there  are two reasons for Wickremesinghe to make a deal with Rajapaksa.

Wijeya Newspapers

“First and foremost is to get Rajapaksa’s support to safeguard his position as the Party and Opposition Leader. He wants to keep the party leadership until that opportune moment when he can pass on the mantle of leadership to his uncle’s son, Ruwan Wijewardena. His other reason for the deal with Rajapaksa, is to get the latter’s help to maintain the number one position of the family business, Wijeya Newspapers, in the country. That is why Wickremesinghe always attacks Mawbima,” if that is not the case, why would a recent edition of the group’s English paper, the Sunday Times criticize the Mawbima group insinuating that it was in cahoots with the government.

A little bit of investigation had led me to the conclusion that the insinuation is the furthest from the truth, but that Ranjith Wijewardena has got several business deals with government patronage. I believe Mawbima, is a smoke screen to hide his connection to several deals with the government, “The Lankadeepa was at one time owned by the government. Ranjith Wijewardena took over the paper’s title from the then UNP Government. Then, during JR’s time, he started the Lankadeepa newspaper funded with a big chunk of compensation, collected from the J.R. Government, as the earlier government had nationalized Associated Newspapers of Ceylon Ltd. (Lake House), their family business.

Then during the Premadasa Government, in which Ranil was Minister of Industries, Wijewardena acquired some of the best tea and coconut estates in the country with the blessings of Wickremesinghe. During this time Wijewardena got a bigger piece of the pie for his sole benefit; that of printing cheques for banks, outside tender procedures.

Mangala Samaraweera had revealed these deals; not anyone else. At the 2010 Presidential Election, the Lankadeepa published a story about a secret agreement between Sarath Fonseka and the Tamil National Alliance, which helped Mahinda Rajapaksa immensely. At the time Samaraweera said it was a government contract.

Income from the cheque printing business is shared by the Wijewardena family. It is printed at an associate company of Lake House, in which Wickremesinghe’s mother was a Director. Wickremesinghe gets his share too. He is working according to his uncle’s agenda,” I believe the  Opposition Leader is only a pawn in a bigger game and that the innocent reading public buys the Lankadeepa without knowing these ramifications and wheels within wheels wheeler dealings of the Wijewardena clan.

The biggest threat to the  Ranil-Ranjith combine comes from Mawbima and it’s no nonsense, warts and all, revelations of Ranil Wickremesinghe’s capers. That is why he launched an impromptu attack on Mawbima in Parliament, instead of focusing on the problems of the judiciary.

(The writer is an Attorney-at-Law)

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