The Sunday Leader

Tiran Alles And His Unwavering Loyalty

By Ranee Mohamed

Alles with President Rajapaksa

The eldest son of well-known educationist and founder principal of D.S. Senanayake College, R.I.T. Alles, Tiran Alles is a businessman who stumbled into politics more through a character trait than by design. Loyal to a fault, he stuck by former minister Mangala Samaraweera even when the latter fell out with President Mahinda Rajapaksa, facing the brunt of revenge politics that saw both him and his businesses face constant persecution. Undeterred, he went on to spearhead General (Retired) Sarath Fonseka’s campaign during the presidential election, and later assumed the chairmanship of the Democratic National Alliance (DNA).  Here, Alles, who was appointed to parliament as a DNA National List MP, looks back and reflects on his life and times in Sri Lankan politics.

Tiran Alles

“I had no plans for politics in my life. My father is a veteran educationist in the country and it has always been an ‘educational’ set up at home. But when Mangala Samaraweera became the campaign manager for President Mahinda Rajapaksa, I was dragged into politics,” reflects Tiran Alles, who last month took oaths as a member of parliament, becoming one of the new faces in the august portals of Sri Lanka’s legislature.

A successful entrepreneur, Alles certainly never envisaged the twists and turns his life would take when he launched his company, Communication & Business Equipment (Pvt.) Ltd. (CBE) in 1988 with just 10 employees. Later, it became a group of companies and today it has diversified into a profitable venture providing communication equipment for many multinational companies and employing several hundred people.

Alles was also instrumental in transforming the Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA) into the modern aviation hub it is today. It was during his tenure as chairman that the massive renovation project was undertaken at the BIA which resulted in new aero-bridges and departure and arrival terminals being constructed. The restructure of the airport was widely praised because it meant the BIA was now an airport of international standard, which would hopefully encourage more tourists and high profile visitors and airlines to the island.

However, it was Alles’ association with Samaraweera that brought him to the political limelight and the subsequent controversy that saw him being both courted as a ‘favoured son’ and labelled a ‘traitor’ by the same government.

The twists and turns began with the now famous ‘Rajapaksa – LTTE pact’ which saw the terror outfit enforcing an edict ordering the boycott of the 2005 presidential election in the North and East that is widely perceived as paving the way for a Rajapaksa victory. Alles was instrumental in arranging the meeting that led to the ‘pact’ and several newspapers reported that on November 18, 2005, when the latter walked into Temple Trees, the newly elected President rose to greet him with a big hug and the words “you made it possible.”

The ‘favoured son’ status was however replaced with the ‘traitor’ tag when Samaraweera fell out with the President and Alles’ life literally turned into a living hell.

“Those were traumatic times, both for me and my family,” Alles recalls. In what could only be termed as political victimisation, he was accused of having financial dealings with the LTTE and subjected to incessant harassment that saw him being repeatedly questioned and later arrested by the Terrorism Investigation Division (TID), his office raided, his finance director arrested, the company accounts frozen and criminal proceedings initiated against him. The harassment also extended to the two newspapers he launched — Mawbima and Sunday Standard, which saw one of its reporters detained by the TID for nearly three months, its editorial director threatened with death and advertisers warned against having any dealings with the newspapers.
The freezing of the accounts subsequently led to the closure of the newspapers.
Alles filed several fundamental rights petitions in the Supreme Court against the government claiming political victimisation and his claims were later validated when the Attorney General’s Department dropped all charges against him, admitting the arrests were wrong as were the criminal proceedings initiated by the government that lasted for nearly two years. The Supreme Court has also severely criticised the government’s continued persecution of Alles and his company.

However, the persecution didn’t end there. More was to follow when he decided to back General Fonseka’s campaign for president, stepping fully into the political arena.

In January this year, just a day before the election, his house in Galpotha Road, Nawala was bombed in the early hours of the morning causing extensive damage to both the front portion of the house and his vehicle. “It was not a huge shock, as I had gone through so much since February 2007,” says Alles recalling the incident.

The attack notwithstanding, he doesn’t regret his decision to enter politics, but regrets the suffering and pain his family, especially his father, had to undergo. “My father, R.I.T. Alles, was a healthy man till my arrest in 2007. His health has been failing ever since”, says Alles, admitting that his children had always told him there was no use doing politics in this country because nothing good will ever happen.

Commenting on the strong family bond, he says no one in his family has ever put much pressure on him. “They have always stood by me.”

That family support, to a large extent, attributes to Alles’ ‘never give up’ attitude as does the upbringing which has inculcated in him a strong sense of principles and unquestionable loyalty.  Pointing out that despite all the traumatic times he had to undergo he had never thought of giving up, he says, “My father, who established a whole school — D.S. Senanayake — with the motto ‘Country Before Self’ is responsible for the strong principles within me. I have never abandoned anyone in times of distress or when adversity strikes.”

Looking back, he says his actions have never been motivated by selfish needs. “All the work I have done, all the risks I have taken have been because I have stood by my principles and never switched to the better side – because I have stood by the people who mattered to me.”

An appreciative son who greatly admires R.I.T.’s grit, capacity for hard work and unwavering spirit, Alles says he has learnt a lot from his father. “From my young days I have seen how my father struggled. He built D.S. Senanayake College from scratch and in 1981, after 14 years of hard work, he was transferred out. It was also said in parliament that R.l.T. Alles will never be sent back to D.S. but he came back to the school as its principal in 1989. He was kicked out of the school he struggled to build, due to political reasons. My father has a fighting spirit, and so have I,” he says with immense pride.

While others would have given up, he has fought back and today he is in parliament, a new face undertaking a whole new set of challenges.

He is happy to be in parliament and proud of the role he played in the DNA, which despite the severe constraints it faced, including having its leader contesting from prison, fought hard enough to secure seven seats. As someone who played a key role in the formation of the DNA, Alles’ stand was that it was not ethical to abandon General Fonseka, who was invited to be the common presidential candidate by the entire opposition, especially after he was imprisoned.
Still, Alles remains the simple man he has always been.  He doesn’t expect a seat in parliament to change him or his principles. “People ask me whether becoming an MP will change my lifestyle – whether I will start wearing the national dress. I reply in the negative. I am not an actor. I am not going to change my clothes and my lifestyle and act a different life just because I am a MP,” says Alles, always mindful of doing the right things for the right reasons.

“All the heartache I have endured is overshadowed with the memory of the death of my brother Malik Alles. We must remember that all this is temporary. It is important that we do the right thing in life — always. If anyone thinks that he or she can do something wrong and get away with it forever, he or she is wrong”, he says, stressing, “We must always remember that retribution will come, if not on us, then on our children. If we love our children, we must not do wrong things to other people.”

24 Comments for “Tiran Alles And His Unwavering Loyalty”

  1. MaPer

    Have a friend and treat him such, Never let him know too much, For when your friend becomes your foe, Then all the world your secrets know.
    So Tiran & Mangala were instrumental in the RAJAPAKSA-LTTE pact – which led to Ranil’s (who was accused of ‘Ali-Koti) defeat in November 2005. Now it is clear MR had a pact with the Koti – or maybe it was Basil.

  2. Somi Ratnayake

    Well, no wonder he can’t let Mangala down as Mangala as the foreign Minister of MR let Alles’ company make billion dollar deals with foreign companies.

  3. Jayasree Mendis

    Tiran, you have been loyal to your mates, may all divine powers bless you and your family, please do not abandon General, as the UNP and your mate Mangala did, As you said what you do will reflect on your children, I pray for Rajapakse’s next generation, ‘innocent victims’. Go ahead with your father’s policies.

  4. Kumaran

    As Old boy of DSS I welcome your entry into politics. Anything regards to your father is good and only good. Hope to see you in his foot steps, and bring all his beliefs into the rotten state of affairs of the Rajapaksa regime that is leading the country to a not so good future-and put things in order over time with your dedication and as spoken in DSS “Thamaatta pera ratta”.

  5. JEM DEE

    Tilan you can’t be bad given that you are the son of R I T Alles who has won the love and respect of many.

    But when we talk of loyalty we must see whom we are loyal to. Mangala, has always been a dubious character. This emanates from his father. Consider where he is today and what you left holding.

    With regards to the MR LTTE pact, this still remains an accusation with no basis or proved substance. The only known fact is that as you say if you brokered a deal for MR, it was for the good of the country, as history will tell. It also shows that The LTTE leader was a damn fool for accepting such a pact. Or was he? We are also unable to understand how the LTTE would agree to such a thing for money when he had Ranil under his thumb viz-a-viz the international powers.

  6. gamanayaka

    You are with right people and you will have abright future

  7. gamanayaka

    You are with right people and you will have a bright future

  8. By the year 2005, the LTTE was no ragtag outfit. It was considered to be in par with the government in every aspect. It had hordes of money stacked everywhere not just in tax heavens. According to international analysts, it had more cash in hand than the Sri Lanka government at the time. In short, a million dollar is nothing to them.

    After signing the RanilW’s ‘peace’ agreement, Piripaharan had his first and the last press conference with the international press. There he had confirmed his commitment to his course. A journalist asked Piripaharan; does your stand ‘to shoot you if you change the course’ still stand? Piripaharan promptly responded “Yes shoot me if I change the cause.” In another famous statement Piripaharan is said to have said; the fight for Eelam is worth even only one Tamil live to stand on it in the end. These are things that reminiscent me from the anecdotes by Tiran Alles.

    If that is commitment of LTTE to its course; leave out Tiran, would you believe even ‘Wyma’, the son of ‘Sakra’ could change LTTE stance for money. I am not saying LTTE would not take money. If anyone gives money, LTTE would jump at it. But taking money is one thing changing its strategy is another.

    Earlier LTTE had accepted not just money but arms as well. It was President Premadase that gave them money as well as arms to harass IPKF. It matched the thinking of both at the time. What I am saying is; LTTE would not have changed its strategy for money or anything. All the events in its entire history would vouch for that.

    Rajapakses are very very smart people. Neither Tiran Alles nor LTTE could have taken them for a ride. I do not see any of their nemeses that could stand in par with them in any aspect. See where Mangala and Chandrika Fonseka are right now. They must have known what I have clarified above and more. My gut feeling is that Tiran may have proposed Rajapakses to bribe LTTE, and Rajapakses may have given the nod to proceed with it. But I am positive Rajapakses had not given a single cent because for one they didn’t have that much to spare at the time; and for another they must have known LTTE would boycott elections anyway.

    On the other hand Tiran had a lot of money at the time. He had the money that he had grabbed from his Airport things and that was given out for house buildings etc but not build in LTTE areas. From all what he did and what he do, I wonder whether Tiran had handed over some of that money to LTTE. Then again he cannot be a fool to that extent. It is more like Tiran may have tried to bluff Rajapakses by pretending as if he had given the money to LTTE to boycott the elections.

    Kawa nam kumbala malu windopan balalo

    • Lord

      Leela, just require clarification to your staement,
      ‘Rajapakses had not given a single cent because for one they didn’t have that much to spare at the time’.
      You mean to say after 5 years in regime they have money now? How come can you explain?

      • In 2005, Mahinda Rajapapakse was not the favorite to win the Presidency among Colombians. Hence not many Colombians had contributed to his campaign fund. So, he could not have had that much money to pay for LTTE. That was my point.

        Now to answer your question, If you want to find Rajapakses financial position as of now, you will have ask them. But let me give you a clue this way; The Sunday Leader inexorably demanded RanilW account for the money he collected at the last election. In response some said he had collected two billion Rupees. Now, if a definite looser could have collected even half as much, imagine what the obvious winner could have collected towards his campaign fund?

    • M.H.Sheriff

      I regret very much & sad to know Leela believes Rajapakse Bros blindly like a saint, those who are closely associated with
      MR know who he is.

      Don’ t justify the Thugs clan who bombed Tirans house, to intimidate him.

  9. Chanuka Dias

    We need more people like you Tiran, Who have back bone to stay straight.
    Hopefully there will be a day for people like you, may get the opportunity to take the Country forward.

  10. roger dissanayake

    Remember all the powers in the world and the power that is controlling this world are always with the good people in the world. So keep up the good work and with the help of the Powers of this world you will be able to bring about the change in Sri Lanka that you envision.

  11. aza

    Good intentions, good deeds & honesty will lead to goodthings. The results may be little late but firm. Badthings are like a air buble in the water, it will come out some day. So better stick with spreading and doing good, which will lead to hapiness.

  12. Achala

    Great personality….

  13. dumindak

    I think Tiran broke the same principle of his father “country first before self” by making so much money from LTTE, but now pretend to be a saint. I know CBE sold so many satalite telephones, and communication equipments to LTTE and even LTTE peace delegation brought so many banned items through BIA while he was the chairman.

    still the truth has not properly come out, may be never.

  14. dumindak

    when you pay money to journalist they will write anything for you, I dont say tiran is a bad person but anything in sri lankan newspapers i dont belive. they can transform a butcher into a saint with their writing, if you entertain them and spend money. I have seen this before, how people advertise themselves in newpapers by paying money to journalist.

    I think being a pretty ordinary person Tiran also following same path.

  15. saram paul

    tiran dont lie . i know well about you . i wont reveal it here

  16. saram paul

    dumindak . you are correct. i agree with you

  17. maya

    Tiran, You do not have the vision of u r dad, country before self. If you practiced that you would not be in this plight. You are responsible for your dads failing health not Rajapakse. Try not to throw the ball around and try to do something for the country!!!

  18. Genaraala

    If he claims that he negotiated and paid LTTE for Rajapksa victory, then he had dealings with the most ruthless terror oufit in the world whos only aim was to devide Sri Lanka. So were is is motto ‘Country before self????

  19. M.H.Sheriff

    With all my blessings to Tirans future politics, you have chosen the right
    party stay put for the right thing.


  20. Kumar Lingam


    How long are you going to use your father’s name and sameole tactics to get what you want?. There are so many principals in SL who have worked very hard and established schools but they didnt get kicked out, I wonder why?

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