‘Whom the Gods wish to destroy, they first make mad’.

(Sunday Times Satire)

“In the midst of chaos, there is also opportunity: Sun Tzu” 

Gnanasara Hamuduruwaney,

I thought I must write to you when I heard that you had been pardoned by Aiyo Sirisena. I suppose you must be quite happy, now that you are no longer behind bars, and wearing the saffron robe once more, instead of the infamous prison jumper. Ah, what a change of fortunes this must be for you!

We knew something was afoot when we heard that Aiyo Sirisena visited you in the prison hospital, and Bond Ravi and that Governor looking after the Western regions followed soon after; so your release comes as no great surprise, although I daresay it sends the wrong message, particularly at this time.

It was good to see you at a temple so soon after being released, looking hale, hearty and happy. It is strange what a release from prison can do to you. When you were there, you spent most of your time in hospital, citing various illnesses, yet as soon as you were released you look the picture of good health!

It is strange, isn’t it hamuduruwaney, how other events can influence your fate? The Easter bombings killed hundreds and did no good to anyone – except you! It gave a chance to you – and your ‘senawa’ to say ‘we told you so’, leading to some people calling for your early release on that basis.

Sensible people wouldn’t have forgotten that what happened on Easter Sunday and why you were sent to prison were totally separate events. You were sent to prison for disrupting court and insulting the judiciary. That was a decision that was upheld on appeal by no less than the highest court in the land.

Of course, we can trust Aiyo Sirisena to kill two birds with one stone. He must have been still smarting from the slap in the face given to him by the highest court when they declared his dissolution of Parliament unconstitutional. So, here was a great opportunity to slap them back and get even.

On the other hand, Aiyo Sirisena being the great manipulator that he is, has also sensed the chance to free you and become a hero to the so-called ‘patriots’ who are now calling for the blood of the Muslim community and the boycotting of businesses owned by them as a response to Easter Sunday!

After all, he has to do something to get back into the good books of the majority community after presiding over meetings of the Security Council, where all he has done is stare at the ceiling when he was told about the possibility of these attacks. So, what better way to do that than to release you?

We haven’t forgotten hamuduruwaney, that you did play an important role in the unrest involving the Muslim community five years ago at Aluthgama that left four people dead. You made some highly provocative speeches that inflamed an already tense situation and rioting followed.

Of course, those were the days when you walked with the ‘royal’ family of that time – the ‘R’ family – so you didn’t suffer any consequences for your actions. You too knew that you were above the law, which is why you were going about behaving in a manner that brought disrepute to the saffron robe.

What is very intriguing is Aiyo Sirisena’s decision to release you right now. We saw what happened at Chilaw, Hettipola and Minuwangoda recently. Unleashing you when feelings are running high between communities, makes us wonder whether he is hoping for a repeat performance from you.

Your release, hamuduruwaney, has also given hope to those who had no hope. You were imprisoned for at least six years and you are free after less than a year – and most of that time was spent in hospital, not prison. I am sure Duminda must be thinking he is next on Aiyo Sirisena’s ‘pardon’ list!

Your release sends all the wrong signals to people. Still, we have now come to expect that from AiyoSirisena. His decisions to appoint prime ministers, dissolve Parliament, attempts to stay in office for one more year and wanting to run for the top job again were all wrong, so this is hardly surprising.

Being ‘free’ once again, you may have a difficult choice ahead of you. We heard you thanking AiyoSirisena for releasing you. He was all smiles when you and your mother met him at his residence. Well, that is one way of getting an audience with him – insult the judiciary and go to prison!

You must surely know that Aiyo Sirisena doesn’t do you a favour without expecting something in return. Now, if he were to run again for the top job, which he still wants to do, whose platform will you grace, hamuduruwaney? Will it be your old friend, Gota, or your new friend, Aiyo Sirisena?

We hope you are different now. After 10 years of peace, Easter Sunday changed our land. To limit its terrible effects, we need rational and reasonable people, not racists and rabble-rousers. If you can keep that in mind, it will help. Yet, something tells me that is too much to ask from you, hamuduruwaney.

Yours truly,

Punchi Putha

PS: Aiyo Sirisena’s recent actions remind us of the saying, ‘whom the Gods wish to destroy, they first make mad’. He has a few months more to go and it seems as if he is determined to make a lasting impression in that time. If he continues like this, it will be ‘theruvan saranai’ for all of us!

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