Why Ranil Should Stay

Never thought I’d be saying that

Ranil at a UNP choir recital in 2010

Ranil sucks. He’s lost over a dozen elections and hung around, cock-blocking his party and the country. Once he finally won, he let the Bond Scam happen. Besides that, he’s just uninspiring and old. He should have gone 10 years ago.

However, right now, he should stay. For all the suck, he has actually done a few important and dreadfully boring things which have helped our country and put us on stronger footing for the future.

1. Fixing Our Finances

The huge disclaimer here is that I don’t know WTF he was thinking appointing Ravi Karunayake as Finance Minister and sitting by while the Bond Scam happened. That was all super bad and wasted years and billions.

On the good side, Ranil has paid attention to raising government revenue, which Mahinda completely ignored. This is the boring, painful part of governance, but also the most important.

This government has raised taxes (some dumb ones, but also rationalized VAT) and passed a new Inland Revenue Act (income taxes). They made painful structural changes to get IMF money. Also, the latest budget under new Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera is both really intelligent and seems to actually be implemented.

I don’t agree with everything they did, and certainly not the corruption, but on the whole Ranil isn’t spending like crazy and just passing the bill into the future (like Mahinda did). This government actually made structural financial changes which suck right now, but which give the country much better long term prospects.

Sri Lanka’s financial issues aren’t fixed, but in a boring, painful and politically toxic way, we are on much better footing than before.

2. Fixing Our Governance

The Bond Scam made a joke out of the ‘good governance’ slogan, but Ranil actually did a lot.

  1. 19th Amendment — bringing back Presidential term limits
  2. Right To Information Act — finally passed after years
  3. Free Speech In General — we have it. Is good.
  4. Being Less Racist — previous governments either ignored or supported racist mobs. This government responded. Not the greatest response, but they at least didn’t make things worse.
  5. The Buddha Sasana Act — this failed, but they tried to reform and fix the corruption within Buddhist clergy, it was just too hard.
  6. The Bond Scam Investigation — this isn’t Ranil per se, and it’s a bit like praising a cheater for at least telling you. But it is a big deal. Sri Lanka had a scandal where people were arrested and a powerful Minister resigned. Not ideal, but so much better than before.

Again, our governance isn’t fixed, but under Ranil Sri Lanka made a lot of boring and politically risky changes which make the country better in a structural way.

Nobody appreciates this shit just like no one appreciates indoor plumbing — until it’s not there. While we didn’t get ‘good governance’ we did get ‘less shit governance’, and I am grateful.

3. Sharing Power

Ranil is a weak leader. I guess this is why people want him gone, but that’s actually a good thing. He’s not like Mahinda who can ram through any idea, no matter how corrupt or dumb, using his moustache and thugs. Ranil’s power is limited by Maithripala as President and his weak coalition, and that means he has to govern by consensus.

Hence, he needs to put up with an investigation that takes down his Finance Minister, because he needs the President. He has to respond to race riots, because he needs minority parties. Basically he has to listen to people, because he’s weak. For us — being people — that is generally good.

A good government should have checks and balances. Our Constitution isn’t quite that effective, but Ranil’s weak personality somehow has the same effect.

So

So, I hope Ranil and this government survive this No-Confidence Motion. He does suck, but he sucks far less than the alternative behind the NCM (Mahinda), and he’s actually done a lot of boring, largely invisible good.

Also, I really don’t want elections again. My fingernail is barely clear of the last voting mark and another election will grind the country to a halt. And I don’t think we need them. Ranil has definitely fucked up, but he’s also fixed some stuff and I think the government — especially with their new Finance Minister — can do a lot of good in the rest of its elected term. I hope Ranil survives the No Confidence Motion. I never thought I’d say this again, but I have confidence in him. For now.

Written by

A writer living in Colombo, Sri Lanka. He/him. indi@indi.ca. Videos: tiny.cc/indication and podcast: anchor.fm/indication. patreon.com/indication

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