The Sunday Leader

Religious Leaders Behind Theft And Fraud – Ranjan Ramanayake

Deputy Minister of Social Empowerment, Welfare and Kandyan Heritage, Ranjan Ramanayake said he has never acted in a manner that would tarnish the image of the party or bring discredit to the party. He urged the people to assist the government in taking the country forward towards prosperity, having taken over a country that was burdened with a huge debt. However, the Deputy Minister said the majority of the country’s theft and fraud is committed by religious leaders, secondly those in the legal field, followed by politicians. Ramanayake, speaking to The Sunday Leader also expressed his views on the current political situation in the country and everything that is taking place within the government.

Following are excerpts of the interview:

by Ashanthi Warunasuriya

Q. What was the recent issue you were criticised on?

A. I did something good for both the government and the Opposition. I said such a thing because usually the higher-ups pay attention to what the lower rankers say. The mere fact that I am still alive means that there is great democracy within the party. What I said is becoming reality one by one. More things will be revealed later as time goes by. Even when I was in school I spoke my mind and had to face numerous punishments. Hence these are nothing new to me. With what is being revealed currently, I have been proved correct; a party needs to set an example by first catching the rogues within one’s own party and punishing them. Even in the Avant Garde case, I showed various wrongs. I don’t care who scolds me or criticises me, I will continue to speak my mind. If I am asked to someday leave the party, then I certainly can’t stay on forcibly. I am someone who does my job well and I have never brought discredit to the party. In fact, I have always brought the party a good name and praise. Having done all that if I am asked to leave the party, then yes, I certainly will be shocked. I will not be able to fathom how they could come to such a conclusion. The bitter truth is that Sri Lankans are a race that is used to bribes and theft from birth certificate to death certificate. They take or give bribes to take the short cut and avoid the usual system. There are many like that in every party and even in every country. This country can only be saved if a proper leader with discipline and standard is appointed.


Q. Isn’t there such a leadership currently in this country?

A. Yes, currently we have a President and Prime Minister with the least amount of allegations against them. They have not assassinated journalists, they have not attacked media institutions, neither have they assassinated a ruggerite. Both leaders have not brought in their families and their spouses are also very gracious and have not interfered in politics. Take a look at their siblings. The President’s brother was appointed to Telecom based on his qualifications and eligibility. They have won the trust of the international community and are travelling a righteous path. My exercise is to rectify minor shortcomings. Both leaders are very respectful and they pay attention to others and they are both well experienced politicians.


Q. When you were asked to leave, there was talk that you would join the President. Is this true?

A. Changing parties is something that I really detest. I received the greatest number of votes from the UNP. Similarly, I have a following that is beyond party politics. Many changed their party and jumped camp mainly for monetary gain and positions and power. Then there were others who left their power and set up other parties.


Q. Yet the party supporters are disgruntled with the government for not honouring their promises that were made during the election. What is your take on that?

A. These supporters and the people should look at this very intelligently. We did not receive Switzerland, but what we got was a country that was in debt to the tune of around nine million; a country that was destroyed. But there was one positive aspect which was that the war had ended. What we were entrusted with was to resurrect the country’s economy. But, there was a huge problem there because of the debt burden that we had to shoulder. Hence, I ask the people to understand this situation and join us to march forward in strength and help us to overcome these hurdles. However, in comparison with the previous regime, we are certainly with a government of good governance. Even I still don’t have a house of my own, but we are making these sacrifices for the sake of the country and we want the country to prosper.


Q. But, there is talk that this government does not have much time before it falls?

A. Even Sumanadasa said that at one point. I am not very good with these predictions and I don’t make predictions either. There are some predictions that change with the Poya too. Hence I don’t have regard for such predictions. As for some of the talk by the voters they make various predictions mainly due to their disgruntlement. These should not be taken so seriously. However, we have done nothing wrong to deserve losing our votes. We are at a difficulty juncture where we are trying our best to pay off the debts left to us by the previous regime and take the country in the right direction.


Q. In your view, who has robbed the country the most and who has destroyed the country the most?

A. As per the information I have, those who have stolen from the country and the money that has been stolen are both still in the country. Although they say that politicians are world class rogues, in reality politicians are ranked third in terms of the rogues’ index. It is the religious leaders who are ranked first. A good example is the Dambulla Viharaya where an audit has not been carried out since 1996. Then there are the lawyers, where they lie, distort the facts, delay the legal process and do whatever dirt trick that is required in order to win the cases for these rogues and get them off the hook. Then that stolen money goes into their pocket as exorbitant legal fees. However, it is the poor man in the villages that suffer the most because of these rogues.


Q. Many of the people have expressed displeasure over the signing of the Hambantota port to the Chinese. What is your take on this issue?

 A. Not only us, even Australia has leased a port to the Chinese for 99 years. Developed countries do this all the time, where they lease out certain projects and sign agreements. The outcome of this agreement eventually will be that our future generation will receive an active and robust port instead of one that is unused and abandoned.


Q. Today the country is being plagued with constant protests and rallies and some are of the view that the unions are dictating terms to the government and controlling the country. Do you agree?

A. An MP from the Mahinda faction tried to portray a different picture to the world and after the 9th kept saying that this government should be toppled and not to allow investors to come to this country and wanted a huge protest campaign to be launched to cripple the government. They did this to show the world that our country was in anarchy. They even took the garbage from the dumps put them on the streets and said see what has happened to the country, if Gota was there this would not have happened. These are all conspiracies by those who can’t accept defeat. These people are paid by the Rajapaksas to rouse the people. There are investors who also are willing to spend for their protests.


Q. But don’t you agree that the government is giving them cause to protest? No compensation or relief has still been given to those affected by the disaster, Uma Oya victims have still not been given water etc. Isn’t this proof that the government is incapable?

 A. Although Rajapaksa claims that he is being blamed for all these protests, in fact he is the one starting these. Although he won the war, in terms of economic development he was weak. The Uma Oya project was a disaster right from the start. But after they themselves commenced it, they are blaming us for not giving the people water; who is wrong? The ones who started this project or us for not having given water?


Q. In terms of the promises made to change the Constitution and abolish the Executive Presidency, why is there no talk about it now?

 A. The President did reduce his powers. The previous President used his executive powers and saved murderers, but this government has not done so. The current President takes people-friendly decisions and does what is best for the country. He has never abused his power like the previous president did.


Q. There are also allegations that certain ministers are overstepping their boundaries in terms of economic policies. For example the BoI Chairman had to resign because of a businessman being given tax concessions. Why are such things happening in good governance?

 A. There is no government that is squeaky clean. If anything wrong has been done, an investigation can be held and determined who the wrongdoers are. Upul is a good lawyer and I am not claiming that this government is full of saints. But when compared with the previous government I think we are in a better position.


Q. Two years down the line the consensus government is showing signs of splitting up. What do you think will happen?

 A. My view is that this is like a tiger’s tail and we should not let go. Yet the previous government is like the devil himself. Hence when you compare the two, this government is certainly better than them. No one wants Mahinda to come back to power. However I guess the rogues would not mind him coming to power, but the majority of the people and even the majority of both sides don’t want Mahinda to come back.

2 Comments for “Religious Leaders Behind Theft And Fraud – Ranjan Ramanayake”

  1. Jai_Bolo

    “”The bitter truth is that Sri Lankans are a race that is used to bribes and theft from birth certificate to death certificate. They take or give bribes to take the short cut and avoid the usual system. ”
    They learn’t it from master of the tolerant pirates world.aren’t you part of it??
    honesty is the best policy but the man who follows it is not an honest man.

    “The outcome of this agreement eventually will be that our future generation will receive an active and robust port instead of one that is unused and abandoned.”

    what a moron! don’t you enjoy Chinese toys that break within days unlike the German stuff? If only you had visited Expo Shanghai along with the Olympics at Beijing there one would have seen large scale Biodegradable office complexes by the Swiss- 20 years most- makes sense to any investor. Land is not for eating but to use wisely. You folk from Banda Island ferried by the portuguese don’t think beyond the useless tree that is venerated.

  2. Nimal

    If we are to give that port on lease to someone then there must be better people than Chinese?We must get the best deal for the country not the best deal to the pockets of the crooked.

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