The hardness of hardware and softness of software
was always soft on the rich, hard on the poor. Indeed he treated the
less privileged with a kind of paternalism that was nauseating. He
frequently insulted their intelligence and took pot shots at their sense
of dignity, assuming that promising bracelets and necklaces would be
sufficient to win their vote
It had to happen. No election is complete without
Ranil Wickremesinghe saying something really, really funny. A few days
ago he said that Mahinda Rajapaksa and the UPFA had the hardware (the
state apparatus) while he and the UNP had the software (strategies to
turn things around). When I read the headline ‘Mahinda has the hardware,
I have the software,’ I could almost hear a chorus of voices
interjecting, ‘that is not news’.
Jokes apart, we need to ask if he’s correct in his assertion.
Wickremesinghe claims he’s got brains. Indeed, I distinctly remember
posters claiming that he was an expert economist. He is claiming that he
has more grey matter than the rest of the competition. Let’s check his
President Mahinda Rajapaksa
I am going to ignore all his foot-in-the-mouth statements which, sad
to say, makes Dan Quayle look quite wise and prophet-like. Let’s see
what the software (alleged) produced.
Ranil’s software works in strange ways and always has. It has certain
inherent limitations which can be broadly described as Fifth Lane
Mentality or Cambridge Terrance Prerogative. This is why Ranil
Wickremesinghe, ever since he made it to Parliament in an anti-SLFP
surge in 1977, has acted as though Sri Lanka is made up of the four or
five electorates within Colombo’s municipal boundaries. That’s how we
got the White Paper of Education, which spawned the now famous
characterization of the UNP’s general perception on ‘development’:
kolambata kiri, apata kekiri.
He was absolutely and rabidly against the idea of equal opportunity.
Fancy stuff was for Colombo kids; drudgery for the village children.
Indeed, the man operated as though the word village was somehow
necessarily associated with idiocy. He was creamed by the ‘village’ in
some 20 elections over the past 16 years, for the record.
This software whiz-kid was the one J. R. Jayewardene chose to
introduce the 13th Amendment to Parliament and he was ‘smart’ enough to
leave out key paragraphs in the document. I don’t know if it was
hardware of software or both that were associated with Batalanda and if
those who were tortured were soft or hard or whether the process
hardened or softened Ranil Wickremesinghe.
I do know, however, that the outcome of his softness on the LTTE
resulted in the free flow of a lot of hardware to the LTTE leadership
and among LTTE cadres and that their deployment made life hard, really
hard, for the children and families of the victims. I am not sure if he
was hard or soft when it came to the Millennium City betrayal. I do know
that he must have been quite soft in the head to sign that agreement
with Velupillai Prabhakaran on February 22, 2002, easily the most
horrendous act of treason in our post-Independence history.
The man was ready to divide the country, I remember, and he was
citing ground realities and waxing eloquent about having to have
perspective and the need to get the economy going. Well, the hardware
guy delivered all that didn’t he?
Ranil is soft. Softly he whispers into international ears about how
bad things are in Sri Lanka. He might be thinking, in his soft-hearted
way, that he is hurting Mahinda Rajapaksa, but he was hurting Sri Lanka
and Sri Lankans. Well, he was not exactly hurting the Sri Lanka he knew
(Colombo) and the Sri Lankans he thought were worth the bother (Colombans,
i.e. the Ostrich-types in Colombo 3 and 7 who are the hurrah-boys and
hurrah-girls of gaja-mithuru capitalism and think the world is made of a
single colour, green). He would not do that of course.
Soft on the rich
Ranil was always soft on the rich, hard on the poor. Indeed he
treated the less privileged with a kind of paternalism that was
nauseating. He frequently insulted their intelligence and took pot shots
at their sense of dignity, assuming that promising bracelets and
necklaces would be sufficient to win their vote.
The software that the man has purchased or developed allows him to
talk about economic mismanagement, corruption, lack of transparency and
accountability, while remaining the worst manager of the United National
Party and the one leader who does not believe in presenting audited
accounts to the party subsequent to elections. Ask him how Akila Viraj
Kariyawasam acquired his properties and Sagala Ratnayaka his house and
he might look the other way.
He is described as the most arrogant leader the UNP ever had. That’s
a virtue? An expression of ‘softness’? Do we need a darling of those
nations that are hell bent on plundering our resources and compromising
our sovereignty and territorial integrity? No, we don’t, and whether or
not he is hard or soft, is irrelevant.
His software decreed that he would not get into a battle with Mahinda
Rajapaksa. Instead, it suggested that he send a decorated soldier into a
battle he was ill-equipped to fight. His ‘software’ ensured that Sarath
Fonseka bit the dust. His software told him, ‘drop him immediately’ the
moment the results were out. His software didn’t come up with a solution
to the exodus of some 25 MPs. It didn’t tell him how to be a better
leader, even under harsh political circumstances.
Is that the soft-brained stuff that we need at this point in our
history? We don’t have the best government in the world, but neither do
we have the worst. After all, it’s a government under whose stewardship
the world’s most ruthless terrorist outfit was comprehensively trounced.
On the other hand, with Mr. Softness Wickremesinghe at its head we
probably have the world’s worst Opposition. Makes me want to renew an
offer I made the UNP in six years ago. I figured the UNP needed a new
leader. I am no politician, but I think I could do a better job. Well,
so could Ranjith Madduma Bandara: he used Tippex; Ranil was cute and got
people to sign undated letters of resignation.
I wonder if holding would-be MPs to ransom is part of the software
package that Ranil has acquired recently. ‘Inherited,’ did I hear
someone say? Perhaps. J. R. Jayewardene, his uncle, got all his MPs to
sign letters of resignation (undated). I wonder if Ranil was able to get
people like Rauff Hakeem and Mano Ganeshan to ‘enjoy’ the same
privileges of slavery that he’s forced down the throats of UNP
candidates. Softly. That’s all we need to say about soft and hard. For