MR: WW “One”of Lanka’s greatest patriots

MR hails ‘Santa Cars’ Wimal as one of Lanka’s greatest patriots

Sunday Times’Punch 2

This Tuesday, while Wimal Weerawansa was walking from the court house to the black police jeep that awaited to take him back to his remand cell at the Welikada jail, no doubt, the rich glowing tribute paid to him last Sunday by no less a personage than the former president Rajapaksa who had hailed him as one of Lanka’s greatest patriots, would have been ringing loudly in his ears.

And as he climbed aboard the waiting vehicle, whilst the martial music played and a twenty one gun salute boomed and rent the noon air in his head, he would surely have remembered with gratitude the Rajapaksa trio and paid homage to his Triple Gem,

PATRIOT WIMAL: Honoured by Mahinda as one of Lanka’s greatest sons whose support helped win the Eelam war

They had been the triumvirate of immortal gods in whom he had sought refuge. His talisman of protection. And they had blessed him in return. They had never forsaken him. Especially the Noble Mahinda, the founder of the faith. His blessings were of a permanent character even though his divine power to save his devotees from the hell gates of the Welikada prison, had, alas, somewhat lost the omnipotent touch.

But, hadn’t the first Gem, the Noble Mahinda, come to his aid when he had gone on a hunger strike outside the UN office over some issue or the other 7 years ago and revived him with a glass of king coconut water and brought him miraculously back to life? Those things, Wimal knew, he could not forget.

Who would have believed then that his Almighty God, the architect and creator of Wimal’s personal Garden of Eden, who had granted him and his wife Sashi, free rein to grow their apple orchard in peace, undisturbed; who had resurrected his life and raised him from the comatose dead, would be helpless at this trying hour to prevent his brief incarceration at the Welikada prison?

It was all due to that Yahapalana snake which had cunningly enticed the masses to eat of the forbidden fruit and, by that original sin of denying his Almighty God to rule by divine right in perpetuity, made his angels weep in purgatory.

Yet, despite his present plight, he had been honoured by the Noble Mahinda as one of Lanka’s greatest sons, as one of her greatest patriots, without whose total support to the war effort, the Eelamist war could never have been won.

Coming from the greatest Lankan patriot of all times, it was no mean accolade. And it was true. Though he faced the serious charge of misusing state vehicles and distributing it like rich cake at a family wedding, he was, nevertheless, a true patriot; for it was not that he had loved his country less but that he had loved his family and cronies a wee bit more that had landed him in this pretty awful predicament which found him staring at the Welikada jail gates closing in on him now.

Now returned to his cell, the martyred Wimal would ponder over the irony of how from his humble beginnings of owning only 4 perches of land in Pahala Biyanwila, Kadawatha, from where he had run a telecommunication outfit, he had pedalled his way up on his push cycle to the banks of the Diyawanna Oya to find fame and fortune and to finally end up chauffer driven and given a police escort to the Welikada prison, as a guest of the government as punishment for his patriotism.

And what were these frivolous charges he faced which now temporarily denied him his liberty? The charges which had made his wife Sashi’s elder sister and her daughter curse this government with death. This was not an injustice done to him alone but also to his brothers and wife’s sisters and their children.

So what were these charges that made a mockery of justice, unheard of in Rajapaksa times, allegations that would have been laughed out of Temple trees and never passed the nearest dustbin? It was simply that he had, during his tenure as Minister for Housing and Construction; allegedly given 40 odd vehicles meant for sectional heads of the State Engineering Corporation to perform their duties, to his kith and kin for their private use.

The charge sheet, which appeared like a who’s who of Wimal’s family, read that vehicles belonging to the SEC had been used as follows:

  • Vehicle KD-4049 had been used by Weerawansa’s eldest sister Sumanawathi eldest son Pushpakumara. In addition, he had also used vehicles GK- 5073, KB- 7053, KW- 6956, GK- 5073 and KP- 4802
  • Vehicle No GP-4894 to his eldest sister Sumanawathi’s ’s youngest son
  • Vehicle KI-4648 to wife Sashi’s eldest sister Nishanthi’s husband Ashoka Kumara. He had also used GR 5774, KB- 6038. HQ- 4964, GR- 5774, KA- 7440 for his personal work. Six government vehicles in all.
  • Vehicle GY-4635 had been given to Wimal Weerawansa’s youngest sister Nilani’s husband Priyadarshana.
  • Vehicle JL-8058 had been used by Weerawansa’s youngest sister Nilani

That’s for the kin. Now for the kith. Another 30 odd vehicles were parked in the garages of his cronies. And all came, like it did for his kin, with the full option package of driver, fuel and maintenance costs enabled, courtesy of the state, thus costing the Lankan public a loss of Rs 90 million, Rs 40 million incurred in 2014 alone. Thus the public had been generously doling out, though unaware, a million bucks each to the beneficiaries of Wimal’s largesse, so that his siblings, his in-laws and progeny, not forgetting his cronies could cruise chauffeur driven in luxury and style.

But of course, of course, he was innocent. As he had stated in his defence plea, he was not aware of it at all. Like Duminda de Silva, he simply did not know.

And what even if these charges were true and proved in court? Was it a crime to look after, as they claimed, one’s family and friends? After all, they were also citizens of this country, even though they were kith and kin, weren’t they?

These were charges that would have never seen the light of day in the glory years when the Rajapaksas’ ruled both country and court. A party faithful would not even be questioned for playing Santa Cars to his faithful family and flock, let alone arrested. Then, in those halcyon days, when even murderers and rapists got off scot free if they worshipped at the Rajapaksa temple, this kind of petty charge would have earned the contempt of the Rajapaksa court and would have seen the accuser jailed for daring to make such allegation against one of Lanka’s greatest patriots.

Hadn’t Dr. Gunadasa Ameresekera said recently that though Mahinda robbed, he did not betray his country and as such should not be punished? Wimal would have taken comfort from that. Noble Mahinda had lodged Wimal’s patriotism on posterity’s pedestal and endowed him with the patriotic armour of immunity, which would, no doubt, stand in good stead, to convince a local set of patriotic judges to hold that his patriotism, though of a nepotistic bent, justified a verdict of pure virginal innocence.