You can always bet on the UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe to make the most absurd statements or offers during an election campaign. He is a strange leader, so used to leading his troops to defeat. Beginning the current campaign with an admission of defeat by calling on voters not to give a two-thirds majority to the UPFA, he now tries to entice the youth vote by offering to remove the tax on mobile phone, already labeled the "Love Package"; dangling before them the prospect of lengthy calls and unlimited sms chats. It’s a reminder of earlier promises of gold bracelets and necklaces for youth, and designer jeans for those in the paddy fields of the country, which did not get him a sufficient harvest of votes for victory.
He’s now gone into the area of cyberspace in matters of governance and political power by stating that although the UPFA and President Rajapaksa may have the hardware; it is the UNP and its allies that have the software to make the national computer work. Although this new political cyberpunk has not thought of using artificial intelligence for the tasks of governance in Sri Lanka, this new thinking about holding the software shows there is a great deal that is artificial in his own thinking, that has no link with the reality of politics.
When taking of hardware and software in Sri Lankan politics, what Ranil W has not understood is that the voters here gave such an overwhelming majority to President Rajapaksa not because he had the actual hardware, but was ready to use both the military hardware and computer software available to beat the LTTE. He was not ready to have the hardware of the real world locked up in camps as the UNP and Cyber Ranil, did in their brief control of power from December 2001 to April 2004.
The boast of having the software to run the hardware held by one’s political rivals who will certainly return to the seats of power, reminds one of how this software had been used in the past. There is no need for a jolt to one’s memory to recall the Ceasefire Agreement, that was hailed as the crowning achievement of Ranil, but in fact was the most deadly sellout to the forces of separation and terror; which was written in Tiger script by programmers in the Vanni, under the guidance of Norwentura, the Oslo based software developers with a great commitment to the LTTE’s dream of an Eelam State within Sri Lankan territory.
No doubt there is software in plenty in Ranil’s possession, but the problem is whether it suits the needs of the country. A particular software he is most familiar with is "Gonaware" – named after deadly criminal Gonawala Sunil, sentenced to imprisonment for rape and many other heinous offences, who was released on a special pardon by Ranil’s uncle JRJ, to later openly campaign for Ranil, at Biyagama, and was even rewarded by being appointed an All Island Justice of the Peace.
Moving into the field of fiscal policy there was the dangerous software of Ranil and the UNP, which is better known as VatScamWare, by which business people who were given a tax amnesty were able to cheat the country of an enormous 300 billion plus in tax revenue, which stands out as the biggest tax scam known in the country so far, and is still under investigation.
There is also the malware in Cyber Ranil’s baggage, known as PERCWare, which was used so liberally to sell out the national assets to cronies of the UNP at prices that amounted to wholesale robbery of the State and national wealth, as seen by what took place in the "privatization" of Lanka Marine Services to John Keells Holdings and the Sri Lanka Insurance Corporation to Harry Jayawardena.. That is a very special software package designed to benefit big donors to the coffers of the UNP.
Another special package of software that Ranil is known to have is Batalandaware, for the use of extreme force, amounting to brutal torture, which will even put the human manipulators at Guantanamo to shame. It is the software that led to rooms with blood splattered on walls that told the tragic and frightening story of how lawyers and others who were considered supporters of the JVP and other political rivals were beaten to death. No doubt the knowledge that Cyber Ranil, had this software would have encouraged Sarath Fonseka in his failed bid for the presidency to promise even more horrors directed at his political enemies if he was elected; with what he believed was the genuine support of Ranil. We now know that cyberpunk Ranil had programmed himself to temporarily abandon the old and familiar elephant to accept the innocent looking Fonseka swan, in a cyber twist that amounted to self-seeking political treachery.
This leads us to that other software that Ranil can truly boast of, better known as Sirikotha FonnieShop. It is the program specially scripted to lead Sarath Fonseka to certain defeat, believing all the while that he was within reach of victory. Ranil’s software wizards did not write it to ensure the victory of Fonseka, but rather his defeat, which as we now see would leave the space open for Cyber Ranil to once again take over the unchallenged leadership of the UNP in this general election campaign.
For all his boasts of having the software that can make the hardware of government work, it seems clear that Cyber Ranil lacks knowledge of Visual Basic in maters of current politics, to even imagine they can write the programs for the next government elected at the elections of April 8. The UNP may be having people with good knowledge of the programming languages for the purpose of web design; but that is far removed from the knowledge of politics that is needed to win elections and control the levers of power. Those who believe that removing the tax on mobile phones, can open the path to political victory, must rush to the closest headshrinker to make a proper assessment of their levels of sanity or the relevance of their statements to the reality of politics after the defeat of the LTTE.
What we see often today is that a good knowledge of Sinhala as well as Tamil is far more important that all the knowledge of Java script and its applications for the issues of governance and politics in Sri Lanka. It is the absence of such understanding, but a possible belief in communication only through computer languages and servers that can make a political leader refer to a meeting between members of the Buddhist clergy discussing the role of the Sangha in current socio-political developments refer to it in terms of Vaitulyavaada, which as a schisms in doctrine, and not a difference over political action. For all the software that Cyber Ranil and the UNP, with those hanging on to the elephant’s tail may have, they make it abundantly clear of a total lack of Political Basic, which is the language that can write the programs necessary for the holding and control of power. They need a better server than what is available at Sri Kotha and much better programmers than the Norwegians, and those in the Centre for Policy Alternatives or Transparency International to get to the seats of power they hanker after.
As April 8, the day of reckoning for many in the fray to enter parliament approaches, what we can see is that what the UNP has today is not software to run the hardware of the UPFA, but the reality that its leaders are showing they are very soft in the brain. That is not a problem that can be solved by any software program, but by intelligence. What they lack in natural intelligence they can try to gain through artificial intelligence, which will need special programming for the Sri Lankan situation. But to believe that computer software can bring one victory is to refuse to take a lesson from what happened to "Avatar" in the race for Oscars. With all its computer wizardry costing so many millions, it was the low cost and basic stuff of "The Hurt Locker" that carried away the honours.
Both Cyber Ranil and Phony Fonnie are now competing to be the Avatars of power in Sri Lanka, and not the actual wielders of power in the land.