Why is the Singapore dollar strong and the SL rupee weak? – The Island

Reply to ‘The presidency of Wickremesinghe’

by Dr Mahim Mendis
“The man of character is the persevering man, the man faithful to his own word, to his own convictions, to his own affections”.
Mary Montessori

Anura Gunasekere’s analysis in The Island Newspaper, 22n/a July 2022 is a reflection of a segment of the English-speaking middle class in Sri Lanka confused and overwhelmed by the state of flux, or the terrible uncertainty that is engulfing the nation as a whole. They often limit their criticism to private gatherings, while a few others speak out in newspaper columns with hard feelings against politicians like Sajith Premadasa, whom they like to undermine. Ironically, these distractors themselves are unprincipled in their consideration of issues at the national level.


The members of this social class, according to the content of Mr. Gunasekeras’ column, have never believed in the ousting of Rajapaksas or Wickremesinghe, because they easily adopt the status quo; unlike the unfortunate masses who courageously resist without fleeing when fired upon by the armed forces of the state or the goons employed by the Ranil/Rajapaksa regime. They also resent the militant attitude of university students affiliated with the Interuniversity Student Federation, as they know they are harder in heart and spirit than their own sons and daughters.

Anura Gunasekere remembered to give some fatherly advice to these young activists who relaunched the Aragalaya systematically as follows: “Also a word to unemployed graduates; the state provides you with an education, but is not obligated to provide you with a secure job of your choice. You have to work to become employable and learn to accept what is available”.

Gunasekere probably didn’t realize that these boys and girls are concerned about the massive disparity in education standards in Sri Lanka, with around 9% of them graduating from higher education with absolutely poor human and physical infrastructure ingrained in major socio-economic incompatibilities in 25 districts.

Anura Gunasekere probably did not realize that youth leaders like Wasantha Mudalige and Lahiru Weerasekere of the IUSF or Duminda Nagamuwa of the Frontline Socialist Party are constantly fighting against the established system, demanding decisive changes in the system, even risking imprisonment. Anura Gunasekere, will not even remember that these militant girls and boys fought in recent times against the militarization of vital state institutions including public administration, health, education, agriculture, etc. ., warning us all of the effects of the militarization project, if pursued to a logical conclusion.


IUSF, as well as academics, farmers, fishermen and school children, had already begun their Aragalaya, long before committed and passionate young people started GOTAGOGAMA. I say this because Anura Gunasekere has taken the typically conservative stance often repeated by Anglophone elites, as follows:

The Aragalaya she herself seems to have changed, both in complexion and composition. Ordinary citizens of all social and economic classes withdrew, and Aragalaya is now represented by more militant professional agitators, apparently drawn largely from the frontline Socialist Party and the Inter-University Federation, with the help of habitual malcontents who occupy the fringe of all conflicts, whatever their political convictions”.

The Aragalaya. of which Gunasekere speaks. was abandoned not by ordinary people but by those in the higher social echelons, probably the day Mahinda Rajapaksa’s goons attacked unarmed youths near Temple Trees and Galle Face Green. Members of the bourgeoisie probably suffered from strong withdrawal tendencies, with SJB leader and opposition leader Sajith Premadasa nearly attacked by a few disgruntled JVP/JJB activists.


While Anura Gunasekere bestows status on Aragalaya from the time Gotagogama emerged, Sajith Premadasa was sensitive to different segments of the suffering people, long before Gotagogama emerged. Having established a viable political alternative, inspired by social democracy, to the Rajapaksa-led and military-blessed Pohottuwa, the neoliberal and neo-feudal UNP led by Ranil Wickremesinghe and the communist-inspired JVP/JJB, Sajith was equally concerned by the militarization of society and the misery that could befall the nation through anti-people economic policies with special tax concessions for the wealthy.

When IUSF and FUTA opposed the KDU bill, Sajith Premadasa worked with the anti-militarization lobby because he knew the Rajapaksas would wreak havoc with this power sooner or later.


Sajith Premadasa, who had a mind and backbone to challenge the UNP, led by Ranil Wickremesinghe, the JVP, led by Anura Kumara Dissanayake, and the Rajapaks-led Pohottuwa, in the 2020 general elections, with his own party , emerged as the most formidable opposition leader, with both the UNP and the JJB far behind, with an electoral base that does not reach 5%.

Now it is such a leader that Anura Gunasekere defenders should change, knowing that it is the newest party in Sri Lanka with an unprecedented electoral performance, politically obliterating the RW-led UNP in all districts of Sri Lanka.


Is Anura Gunasekere a peacemaker for the Ranil-Rajapaksa regime to have a serious argument with Sajith Premadasa for not accepting the post of Prime Minister under Gotabaya? Is he unable to understand that such a step would have been most dishonorable for anyone who showed solidarity with the struggle of the peoples? Anura Gunasekere also seems to think that ousting the Rajapaksas; Mahinda, Basil and Gotabaya created a huge dilemma in the mind of Sajith Premadasa as he was not confident enough to accept high office.

As he stated, “Why was a relative non-entity, like Dulles, until very recently a Rajapaksa loyalist, chosen to oppose RW? The most obvious answer would be that Sajith Premadasa, who faced a second career challenge in a matter of weeks, again showed no stomach for the fight. In this situation, the most obvious candidate to oppose RW would have been the Leader of the Opposition”.


Anura Gunasekere should know better that it was not for Sajith to prove the strength of the SJB which had 50 members, like what was done by the three JJB/JVP members led by Anura Kumara, against the Rajapakses 2/3rds in Parliament. He should realize that this was at a time when the TNA and SLFP had already decided to abstain from voting.

The statesmanship of Sajith Premadasa only helped to galvanize the opposition with few others backing the second major demand of the Aragalaya for an interim all-party consensus that will honor the proposed constitutional and socio-economic reforms to ensure the dignity of life for the majority of our citizens.

I see Anura Gunasekara’s frustration that Sajith didn’t play Ranil’s politically vulgar trick. But this is unacceptable to democratic-minded people, even though Anura Gunasekere states that: Today he (Ranil) is the elected leader of the country, ironically enthusiastically endorsed by the very members of the Sri Lanka Podjana Peramuna (SLPP) who in August 2020 relegated him to political oblivion”. Now, if Gunasekere had a values-centered democratic political perception, will he in any way perceive that Wickremesinghe is the elected leader of the country, when he has in fact been rejected in every electorate?


Let us accept that the Sri Lankan nation is in a perilous situation, not because of the formally untrained and poverty-stricken majority, but because of the privileged, educated, so-called cosmopolitan minority, who are confused and impoverished by their attitude . Even in Parliament, they were never a source of inspiration for the little mortal.

The challenge for the English-speaking middle class is to be more inspiring than the Wickremasinghe types who have proven by action that they haven’t really read any decent books in their own libraries.

Lacking pro-popular ideological beliefs, they are unsure of what they believe in, such as how some choose to worship at any religious shrine under the sun. They criticize Sajith Premadasa, who in fact has the charisma and backbone to form his own party, the Samagi Jana Balawegaya, which today is working towards a new political culture to refrain from grabbing political power at all costs .


As noted by the eminent political scientist and former Sri Lankan Ambassador to the United Nations, Dr Dayan Jayatilleke, in an article by the Colombo Telegraph of July 22, 2022, the highest priority at this time is to ensure the formation of a antifascist united front, leading to a united front against repression and dictatorship.

As a strong leader with a heart and a mind for ordinary people, Sajith has already created the foundations of this broad coalition, to unite all, as Dr. Jayatilleke wisely prescribed. It is about uniting the JVP, FSP, SLFP and the 10 small parties and the Dullas faction to fight the civil-military junta Ranil-Rajapaksa.

Sajith is becoming a strong leader as he has worked tirelessly and selflessly to unite all parliamentary opposition, while the Aragalaya united the people. He’s strong enough to understand that Aragalaya believes in a Council of Peoples to engage in far-sighted deliberations, while its distractors work to align themselves with Ranil’s anti-people regime. The proposal for a people’s council is not a pol-potish tendency on the part of youth leaders.

Premadasa abides by the three Cs of governance: consultation, consensus and compromise, which his own father Ransinghe Premadasa pledged to practice when he even appointed a cross-party parliamentary commission, under the leadership of SLFP MP Mangala Samaraweera, to resolve the ethno-political crisis. Therefore, let me remind Anura Gunasekere:

“Partisan rancor, party politics and ideology have stood in the way of compromise – and compromise is the only thing that has ever made politics successful.”
– Kevin Spacey, American film producer and political activist

Lynn A. Saleh