An open letter to Mahinda Rajapaksa
by Buddhika Kurukularatne
My dear Mahinda,
I have always wished you well — although we were poles apart in politics. But I
consider you a better friend of mine than Ranil. These are not empty words and I said
so to Ranil’s mother in the presence of Ilika Karunaratne and Janaka Edirisinghe —
the latter of Edirisinghe Opticians fame. The following day I repeated this to my one
time boss Mr. Ranjith Wijewardene — Ranil’s uncle.
When you rang me to solicit my support emphasising the fact that both of us were
southerners, I told you if you were to join the UNP and contest Ranil for the leadership
of the party, I would support you wholeheartedly — and I meant it.
Mahinda, you were such a charming chap, oozing with P.R. that many UNPers — some
of them who had held cabinet rank wanted to support you. In fact this position was
known to Chamal and ‘Vasu’ (Vasudewa Nanayakkara).
But then you spoilt everything by aligning yourself with the JVP. Was it your over-
enthusiasm for political power that made you to team up with the very elements who
you wanted wipe out as they were operating from your Meda Mulana House? I was
with Ranjan Wijeratne when you begged of him to at least get foreign troops to wipe
out these b......s My friend ‘Vasu’ who also has joined the Mahinda-JVP band wagon
used to come to parliament in a modified vehicle which looked more like a battle tank
in those days.
No doubt you displayed guts and courage in your political activities. You will remember
I always compared you and Chamal to the baby parrots blown off from the nest due to
heavy storm. One baby parrot landed in a hermitage and the other in a den of thieves.
The parrot who grew up amongst the hermits was very gentle and courteous whilst its
sibling who grew up with the thieves was rude and impolite. I used to tease you that
while Chamal was the former you were the latter!
You were a fighter from your childhood. Chamal was present he said when you hit Sir
John with a mango at the latters Kandawala Estate when the then Prime Minister
teasingly asked you who gave you permission to pluck his mangos. Daya Fernando,
retired director of education who was a Richmondite much senior to you, relished
narrating the schoolboy pranks of yours-once climbing a signal post by the Richmond
Hill railway station in protest against the older boys who were playing cricket not giving
you a ‘batting chance’. Again Chamal said how you climbed the top most branch of a
‘kadju’ tree and threatened to jump down. when your father came after you with the
cane to punish you for some mischievous act of yours. You were totally unpredictable
even as a kid and once threatened to give a kick to a tethered elephant to ‘kill it’. You
seemed to have been suffering from ‘elephant-phobia’ from a very young age.
My friend G. L. M. de Silva, retired High Court Judge, mentioned to me as to how you
took a manna knife and chased another boy much older — Ranjith Wijewansa (son of
former Matara Rahula College Principal Mr. Gallage William de Silva).
Lest you had forgotten this episode this was when you were about 13 or 14-years-old
and was attending Thurstan. G. L. M. was boarded in a house next door to J.R.’s
‘Bremar’ at Ward Place. G. L. M. who incidentally has sentenced 55 accused to death
was at that time, a tutor at Aquinas University College and was occupying the front
room of this boarding.
Your father, Morris (G.L.M.) recalls asked him to have an eye on you. Morris would
have had to keep not one but both eyes on you to keep you away from trouble. The
boarders were chatting about this and that when Ranjith had inadvertently said
something which offended you. you ran to the kitchen, grabbed a manna knife and
chased after Ranjith. Morris tells me that Ranjith who was his best man at his wedding
asked him whether it was not the same fellow who ran after me with a knife, to kill me
who is now the P.M.
You fought the might of the Premadasa government by organising Pada Yatras and
Jana Ghoshas. I have it from a very reliable SLFP source that at Matara when
Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga with whom you were even then having a
running battle arrived there you ordered her out of the stage addressing her in some
harsh, vulgar and unprintable words. I am no admirer of President Kumaratunga but in
all fairness to her, it must be stated that she made you a leader of the opposition,
minister and now a presidential candidate.
I remember the occasion when I had to see the then DIG Premadasa Udugampola as
my friend the then Vice Chancellor of the Moratuwa, University G. T. F. (Francis) de
Silva wanted some of the jackpot machines’ confiscated by Udugampola during his
notorious ‘raids’ on ‘night spots’. When I went to Udugampola’s office then off
Malalasekera Mawatha, I found SLFP MP Mahinda Wijesekera with the DIG.
Udugampola, though hailing from Baddegama is the same district I represented did
not know me and Mahinda ‘malli’introduced me to Udugampola, whose entire family
had been wiped out by the JVP. His ancestral house too I was told, was let on fire.
Whilst we were talking the telephone rang and someone was giving some information
to Udugampola whon the JVP called ‘Ukussa’ (‘hawk’) for his alleged notoriety in
snatching JVP prey! Udugampola was taking down names given by his caller and after
he finished he told us, that was Mahinda — giving me names of the JVP leaders!
‘Udugampola also said that he did a stint at Law College at the time that Mahinda was
also a law student and that was how the two of us became friends.
Now you are the champion of the very murderer who slayed innocent people at will
and made your Meda Mulana House in Weeraketiya their headquarters.
Politics make strange bed-fellows indeed!
You remember that unfortunate incident in my parliamentary career where I
inadvertently proxied for an absent colleague who was not even in the island. At your
group meeting you had told Mrs. Bandaranaike who presided that you (SLFP) could
feed on this (incident) like a roasted leg of chicken! Even before your group meeting
adjourned a senior cabinet minister during that time ‘leaked’ this information to me.
Ironically it was another lawyer — (a national list member) who had wanted the issue
taken before international fora!
Mrs. Bandaranaike literally hit the ceiling when a leading SLFPer (now a very senior
cabinet minister) told her that he did it every day without getting caught — but from all
reports they have had Buddhika was one person who fought a clean election.
Vasudeva who smashed the books on the floor of house and staged a ‘walk out’ had
according to A. H. M. Azwer, told the speaker (M. H. Mohamed) that ‘Buddhika would
never have done it intentionally’.
During the 1989 General Election, I canvassed the votes of a relation of yours in the
Galle Fort. When you had visited this relation a lady — you had been told that I was
the only candidate who went to the kitchen and canvassed the ‘kussi amme’s vote and
that the domestic help was also voting for me. She had also stated that she had even
contributed a scholarship to be awarded by the Ambalangoda Deshapremi
Sanvidhanaya. Hearing this, you are reported to have told her ‘why did you do that?
All those scholarships are given only to karawas’.
When I came to know of this from the lady friend who introduced me to your relation all
what I did was to invite you for several of the functions of the Ambalangoda
Deshapremi Sanvidhanaya and ‘you came’ and ‘you saw’. You were so happy that it
was sans any race, caste or religious considerations, you requested me to spend a
weekend at ‘Carlton’ — your residence in Tangalle to organise the Isira Scholarship
Scheme in memory of your father.
I stayed two nights at Carlton and became perhaps the only exUNPer to have been
hosted at Botale, Mahawelatenna, Horagolla, Richmond Hill and Carlton — the abodes
of Prime Ministers of the UNP, SLFP and the LPP!
In 1989 we saw the General Elections being contested for the first time on the district
PR system. The 1989 General Election was marked by violence, murder and
bloodshed. There was a very low ‘poll’ due to the JVP curfew.
You, the fighter you were did not want to give in to the JVP. The mild and charming Dr.
Ranjith Atapattu who was of the same view. Dr. Atapattu was the leader of the UNP
Rumour had it, a very reliable rumour at that, that Ranjith Atapattu who was the
caretaker Minister of Health at the time used to visit the polling booths and inquire
from the presiding officer as to how the poll went. When told that there was no show
he had said, no point in taking these ballot papers back. Give me 10 books! The
presiding officers it was said willingly obliged. A short while later you would arrive at
the booths visited by Ranjith and ask the presiding officer as to how many books were
given to the ‘amathithuma’. Upon being told that Ranjith was given 10, you were
gentlemently enough not to ask for the same number, but only ask for 5 ballot books!
I believe you wanted to show the JVP that you too had a few cards up your sleeve and
what was cause for the goose was sauce for the gander.
At the time you were organising the padha yatras, AB (mallow) and Hemakumara
Nanayakkara were your best friends. I had gone to Hemakumara’s Unawatuna house
with my wife one evening and inorder not to ‘expose’ myself or Hema (who at that time
was a fire brand SLFPer) I had parked my vehicle towards the rear of the house and
entered the house through a side entrance. Just then I saw the headlights of an
approaching vehicle and I took refuge in the kitchen. But my seclusion was short lived
for you, having seen Hema’s wife Nedra and my wife — who you did not know then,
having a tete a tete in the living room, dragging the hapless Hema by his hand walked
into the kitchen! You were started at seeing me in the kitchen of your friend. You
asked me, ‘what are you doing here’. I replied that ‘Game Ralahamy can be on the
bed or under the bed’ without anyone’s permission’. Sensing that you had confidential
matters to discuss, I walked away.
Mahinda, do you remember the case in the Matara High Court where you were the
virtual complainant in a murder case? Mr. Eardley Perera, our mutual senior was
appearing for the defence and the Matara jury disbelieved you and acquitted all the
accused who were UNP activists. When I used to tease you about the fact that even
the Matara jurors disbelieved you, you used to retort that it was purely Eardley Perera’
s brilliance that got the accused out. You were gentlemanly enough to go to Mr.
Eardley Perera’s house to congratulate him on his victory though it was at your
expense. Mahinda! Why didn’t you attend Eardley’s funeral? The family was talking
about it even the other day!
You remember visiting my wife’s office unannounced after a function at the Bellanwila
Temple in the company of our mutual friend Samson Silva to whom it was alleged that
you promised the Ministry of Industries? You had unsuccessfully tried to bait Bandula
Amawardena too by offering him the Finance Ministry. What are you going to do with
My wife was so taken up with your simplicity and openess lamented that our man
(meaning-Ranil) should take private tuition from you in P.R.
But Mahinda, although you have excellent P.R. you cannot run a country only with P.
R. See your ‘Chinthanaya’! It is not worth the paper it is written on. It has been brought
to naught by Amunugama who had completely ignored the Chinthanaya proposals (do
I see a gentle hand behind this?’)
Mahinda when I started writing, about the Rajapaksa’s of Giruwapattuwa to the ‘Men
and Memories’, column some thought that I was going to do a ‘Rohita Bogollagama’.
Most of the information to my articles came from your first cousin Kamala
Wickramasuriya — now Bhikkuni Kamala. Even she told me that some of her friends
had told her that he is (refering to me) contemplating a ‘jump’.
Even my Dharmasoka friends who are aware of my friendship with you were wondering
whether I would cross-over. They remember with gratitude how you at my request
arranged lunch for a bus load of old Sokians at Tissamaharama. You were informed of
our request at Matara by phone via Mohottala of your office cum residence at
Tangalle. You were in Kandy but still you arranged with a mill-owner — Somapala and
we had a good ‘picnic-mill’ lunch.
As this was on the eve of the New Year, I wanted to thank you personally. When Malini
my wife learnt that I was going to see you on that day she said you don’t go to see
people empty handed for the New Year’ and gave me a parcel to be given to you.
It was a bottle of Chivas Regal — the finest Scotch Whisky.
I reprimanded her that what I don’t consume, I shall not give others and she thereupon
made a basket of fruits. When I told you that I deprived you of a bottle of whiskey you
said that you have given up taking hard drink.
In my house not only do I not drink, but also do not offer drinks to anyone.
If you do not drink then why ‘open bar’ at Temple Trees?
Several years ago, when you were the Minister of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources I
offered a ‘pooja’ to mark your birthday on the 18th of November (unfortunately you
are destined to celebrate a black birthday this Nov. 18 all due to your follies.) I offered
18 water containers to the Nimalawa Hermitage for the cave dwelling monks to store
water during times of drought. Nimalawa is in the Yala National Park in your home
district and as you were busy electioneering at Baddegama you asked me to
accompany Aiya’ and it was with Chamal that I attended this ‘Pooja’.
When you attended a function at Ambalangoda as the Minister of Fisheries, you
spotted me in the crowd and invited me on to the stage to the applause of the people
(your supporters — not mine!) The then SLFP UC Chairman, Aruna Pradeep who
hosted you invited me to lunch and after which you yourself dropped me at my abode.
People were really surprised to see a SLFP cabinet minister bringing home an ex UNP
MP complete with motorcycle escort riders.
It was indeed very enjoyable to spend time in your company. I remember when you
overheard me saying that I would very much like to attend the funeral of SLFP stalwart
Mr. Edwin Wickremaratna (former MP for Mahiyangana) in Badulla, you offered to give
me a lift provided I was agreeable to attend the function at the Horagolla Samadhiya
— for it was a 26th of September — Bandaranaike Commemoration Day. Anura who
was yet an UNP MP hugged me and told his ‘hangers on’ that they must run me as the
SLFP candidate for Ambalangoda. This was the first intimation I got that AB was about
to go ‘home’ earliear I had told AB that as his mother was confined to a wheel chair he
must get back to his mother. (You will recollect that I was the first UNP MP to welcome
AB into the UNP) Anura’s response was, ‘Buddhika, if I do that people will lose all
confidence in me!
Mahinda I am indeed a grateful to you and to your secretary the affable Lalith
Weeratunga for collecting Rs. 300,000 in advertisements for the souvenir of the
Ambalangoda Deshapremi Sanvidhanaya.
Once I rang up Lalith to remind him about the money that was due on the
advertisement and I found he had gone overseas. His P.A. Mr. Uduwana when told of
my reason for asking for Weeratunga said that on a matter of principle, the Prime
Minister does not get involved in securing advertisements and even to the ministers
he had declined to give advertisements.
I told Mr. Uduwana, that I was extremely happy that the Prime Minister was respecting
my request even though ministerial requests were turned down.
Mahinda, when the campaign got off the ground you were clearly in the lead. A fair
section of the UNP had decided not to take part in the UNPs presidential campaign
whilst a few were to cross-over. But all that changed with the boorish remarks of the
likes of Somawansa and Samaraweera. Somawansa hit out at the armed forces whilst
you were on stage; and you did not prevent it. Samaraweera has a knack of saying or
doing the wrong thing at the wrong time.
Mahinda, with friends like Somawansa and Samaraweera you need not have enemies!
Mahinda, I am sorry I cannot wish you well for the presidential election. For the country
to prosper you must lose. You make promises on the print and the electronic media
and one wonders whether you are the leader of the opposition. You are the Prime
Minister. Why then is God’s name don’t you implement the promises that have been
pledged over and over again by you (and broken over and over again as well.)?
You did not take up Ranil’s challenge for a debate until the last moment. Knowing you,
you will dodge this debate. I am no great admirer of Ranil myself — but you must give
the devil his due. He is streets ahead of you in the presidential race. People have
come to the irresistible conclusion that you utter his — pattapal boru — whereas Ranil
promises what he can and doesn’t promise the sun and moon like those in your camp.
Let’s face it. Ranil is brains. You are brawn. You are like chalk and Ranil is like
cheese. Before attending the walkabouts I thought that the whole exercise was
‘declared’ — but at Giritale I found out that he answered off the cuff the questions that
were fired at him on various topics. He gave the impression of a Sachin Tendulkar,
batting all round the wicket.
Mahinda it is obvious that your own comrades are pulling the rug under your feet.
Mahinda, I hate to say this. Your ‘chintanaya’ is nothing more than a fragment of your
imagination. And from the look of it even your imagination is not fertile. It is as barren
as your policies.
So the best bet is for you to join Ranil in the all party government he is set to form on
your 60th birthday!
May the noble Triple Gem Bless You.