ECONOMYNEXT – The ascension to power of President Ranil Wickremesinghe and school-time buddy Dinesh Gunawardena is cheered and widely celebrated by an unlikely group, the distinguished old boys of Ananda College, one of the top public schools in the island.
After being at the receiving end of popular public scorn over old boy Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s efficient mismanagement of the economy, old Anandians were jubilant when the honour now passes to two alumni of Royal.
“We have hereby handed the opportunity to receive public insults to Royalists – sent by Anandians,” read a post widely shared among former students of the Colombo 10 (Maria Kade) school that was attended by Gotabaya and treasury secretary Sajith Attygalle who also fell from grace.
A Facebook page entitled: Anandians for Gotabaya” changed its name to “Anandians for nation” when Gotabaya escaped through a backdoor and fled when tens of thousands overran his palace on July 9. A spokesman for an old Anandian WhatsApp group said the traffic on their smart phones had declined sharply and members were already seeing considerable savings on their internet data bills.
They were also relieved when Dullas Alahapperuma, an Ananda alumnus, lost to old Royalist Ranil in the parliamentary election on July 19. “It was a good battle to loose,” a senior Ananda OBA spokesman said adding that he was fed up explaining to friends that he cannot recall a Rajapaksa in his class.
It is reliably learnt that there was no maroon-and-gold tie wearing old boys at the Changi Terminal 3 when Rajapaksa arrived in Singapore on July 14 aboard a Saudia Boeing 787 Dreamliner ending the nightmare of many Sri Lankans.
In less that 24 hours at the job, Wickremesinghe received more international traction than Gotabaya in his entire 32-month presidency for his Yankee-style shock-and-awe crackdown on the Galle Face protestors. The US, EU, UN and the core group on Sri Lanka at the Human Rights Council also issued statements regarding the South Asian nation.
US ambassador Julie Chung led the pack with: “This is not the time to crack down on citizens, but instead to look ahead at the immediate and tangible steps the Government can take to regain the trust of the people, restore stability, and rebuild the economy.”
A remarkable achievement considering it took Gotabaya one full week to receive similar missives from foreign governments. That was after the abduction of a Swiss embassy local employee.
The Ranil-Dinesh combo has been close friends since 1952 when they were both 3 years old. They are from what is known as the “Group of 60,” the Form 1 batch of Royal College Colombo. Two other politicians from the same batch are the late Anura Bandaranaike and former minister Malik Samarawickrema.
Prime minister Sirima Bandaranaike had her son Anura’s classmate, Jayantha Jayasinghe, as her PSO, Personal Security Officer.
But, the most honourable in the Group of 60 is possibly brigadier Vipul Boteju who quit the army after refusing to take orders from then state minister of defence Ranjan Wijeratne to bump off JVP suspects in his custody. Vipul quit his post as a commanding officer in the deep south after explaining to Wijeratne in unprintable language that he would not carry out illegal orders. (COLOMBO/ July24/2022)
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