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Sri Lanka: Isolated ‘One Shot’ holds the centre stage

Why do politicians prefer to have their favourites as key police officials in their electorates? Is it to cover up their tracks; for better policing or having the electorate under their thumb?

by Gamini Weerakoon

Actor and politician, ‘One Shot’ Ranjan Ramanayake, truly lives to the words of William Shakespeare – “All the world’s a stage…”


Last week, he pushed out the high and mighty setting Lanka on a paradisiacal course from the front pages and prime time TV, despite having shot himself in the foot. And he did it with aplomb. Arrested on being taken out of his residence by the police, he did not go into standard gestures of arrested politicos exhibiting their manacles to photographers. Instead, he hugged lovingly a cop in the posse that has come to arrest him. It is quite unusual for a Sri Lankan police officer trying to arrest a criminal to be embraced in a loving manner. And, according to a news report, the officer has been questioned by the authorities on why he did not resist One Shot’s advances! Poor officer!

In our opinion, One Shot should be invited by the police to give lectures on improving police-public relations. We are not focusing on the alleged offences for which One Shot was taken in — interfering with the judiciary — but on his showmanship during the week during which he was tried and condemned by politicians — even Ranjan’s own UNP — some in the media and the prissy law-and-order types who found his unorthodox behaviour unacceptable. But he did warm the cockles of the hearts of those observers bored by daily reports of bitter acrimony that pervades our political scene.

One Shot was no doubt on centre stage but having shot off from the lip and aimed pot shots at many others, had shot himself in his foot. He was formally arrested and charged for interfering with the judiciary — by no means a laughing matter.

We will refrain from commenting on the legal proceedings regarding the offence which One Shot is charged with.

However, since his arrest he has been put on trial in the media and by some media institutions, politicians and also vigilantes of public morality, law and order for interfering with the police in attempts to subvert the course of justice.

This columnist has not heard or read about the alleged recorded conversations of One Shot with some members of the judiciary and police top brass which is the point at issue but we find this hullabaloo over the allegation of political interference of police officials by One Shot somewhat bizarre. Certainly such interference is taboo and cannot be condoned.

But aren’t politicians interfering with the police not only in matters of lesser significance but serious crimes such as murder, a fact of Sri Lankan life? There are plenty of such cases that were taken to courts and are being heard now.

In this context these questions are relevant.

Why do politicians prefer to have their favourites as key police officials in their electorates? Is it to cover up their tracks; for better policing or having the electorate under their thumb? Isn’t the practice of acceding to requests of politicians to have key police posts in their electorates filled with those of their choice, tacit approval of political interference?

An MP is expected to play many roles in his electorate including that of a guardian angel of voters although often he is an absentee Guardian Angel. When a poor hapless voter falls foul of the police, he goes to his MP to help resolve the issue although such help may not be forthcoming, particularly so if he belongs to the rival political camp.

The social barriers that earlier kept out the judiciary and even the officer cadres of the armed forces and police away from the masses, no longer exist because there is today a good mixture of all classes in the professions and institutions who are speaking in the same language — their mother tongue.

Yet, members of these professions and institutions are expected to function as their predecessors did 40 to 50 years ago — keeping away from the hoi polloi. But we have had people’s governments since the mid-fifties and people’s representatives have crept into every nook and corner. Thus, is there a way telling One Shot — with his king-sized ego and conviction that the world is at his feet — that he can’t bulldoze his way through?

We have not had access to the recorded telephone calls allegedly made by One Shot and recorded by him. Some of these calls are said to have gone viral in the social media which this columnist has not seen. The recordings seized by the police, the police claim, are with them and they have not been released to any source.

There are reports of a fairy tale discovery by a well-meaning three-wheeler driver. He is reported to have found in the back seat the hard disk containing the recordings made by One Shot. He said he had handed it over to the police. The identity of the Three-wheeler driver had not been established at the time of writing these comments.

How did these alleged recordings of One Shot get into the Social media? Did One Shot for inexplicable reasons release them himself — many of One Shot’s actions being inexplicable. Was One Shot’s motive sinister, aimed to destroy the new government as alleged? Or was it ‘an international conspiracy against the Pohottuwa government’ as claimed by a monk? An ‘international conspiracy against the Pohottuwa’ is a convenient substitute when reasonable explanation is not possible.

Some have alleged that this was an attempt to smear the image of the Criminal Investigations Department that had the cleanest record of all police departments. These pundits were apparently not born or were infants during the days of the Dodampe Mudalali’s case. Dodampe Mudalali and another Corporal Tilekewardene died after falling from the CID’s Fourth Floor while being interrogated over an alleged ‘Lavatory Coup’.

All these factors and much more not recorded here would make an excellent thriller of a story for actor One Shot Ranjan Ramanayake to make a film.

We end this chapter of One Shot, the actor and politician with a quote from Donna Brazzie, an American political strategist, campaign manager, Member of the Democratic Party, Political Analyst for CNN and former contributor to Fox News.

Acting and politics both involve fooling the people. People like being fooled by actors. They probably like being fooled by politicians, even more. A skilful actor will make you think. But a skilful politician will never have to make you think.

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