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Sunday, 24 January 2010

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Interview:

Writing on the wall for Sarath Fonseka -Minister Johnston Fernando

* TNA join hands to betray country

* More UNPers on the way


Land Development, Human Settlement and Ranaviru Welfare Minister Johnston Fernando.

Land Development, Human Settlement and Ranaviru Welfare Minister Johnston Fernando said the key reason for the UNPís decision to extend its support to Opposition Candidate is the Opposition Leader Ranil Wickremesingheís inability to contest a leader like Mahinda Rajapaksa, facing another humiliating defeat.

The Minister in an exclusive interview with the Sunday Observer expressed the key reasons which propelled him to quit the UNP and extend his support to President Rajapaksa.

Q: You were of the firm view that you would never leave the UNP and fight within the party to reform it. Today you are with the Government. What led you to quit the party and join the Government?

A: History has proved that I am a person who firmly loved the UNP and always acted to defend the Party Leader. But we cannot win any election under the present UNP leadership. One and a half years earlier, I took a decision that we should bring a new leader to the UNP owing to various treacherous activities committed by the present party leadership to the party.

He is not a marketable leader. If he expresses something the UNP will lose 10,000 or 15,000 votes. The UNP leadership doesnít have any human feeling on behalf of his partymen or the country.

Therefore, we were of the view that the UNP leadership should be subjected to a change. We openly expressed our view on this issue. He has formulated a dictator type constitution within the UNP.

As a result, he does what he deserves to do. As I moved this motion against him, he ordered me not to participate in any press conference, TV interview or even speak in Parliament. Finally what we said was turned into reality as Ranil Wickremesinghe decided that he is not in a position to win the election.

Finally the UNP leadership brought an outsider as the Opposition Candidate and ordered the UNPers to vote for him. He has never engaged in any politics.

He is not in a position to give leadership to 1.2 million public servants and the countryís people. The UNP MP Indika Bandaranayake, myself and former UNP Deputy Mayor of the Colombo Municipal Council Asath Sally opposed this decision based on certain policies.

If Ranil Wickremesinghe felt that he couldnít contest, he should have resigned from the party leadership and brought a new leader to the UNP. It lost his Ďelephantí symbol after 62 years.

I had to take a decision on which candidate to be supported during the forthcoming Presidential Election. I took a decision on behalf of the country that President Mahinda Rajapaksa is the most suitable leader to govern this country. Therefore, I decided to extend my support to the President.

Q: At present a large number of UNP MPs have joined hands with the Government including you. Do you think this would lead to the collapse of the party and reduce its vote base?

A: At present nearly half of the Parliamentarians who contested from the UNP and its National List MPs have joined the Government. All the UNP MPs who have joined the President are the most dynamic UNP MPs in their respective districts. Therefore, they joined the Government with a large percentage of their own votes. As a result this would lead to a reduction of the UNP vote base.

Q: How do you view the UNPís decision to extend its support to the Opposition candidate without fielding its own candidate?

A: The main reason for this was the great fear of the Opposition Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe to contest an experienced leader like President Mahinda Rajapaksa. In addition Ranil Wickremesinghe also could not succeed in the international conspiracy launched by him during the past four years to stop the war betraying both the country and the war heroes.

Wickremesinghe in association with the international community selected a person who was in the battlefront as the Opposition Candidate with the intention of attacking President Rajapaksa, to cater to the needs of the international community. At present Wickremesinghe is creating this environment needed for the international community in a treacherous manner.

Their intention is to bring the President and the Armed Forces before the International War Tribunal with the help of the Opposition Candidate. Wickremesinghe doesnít love the country, his party or his partymen. He has hatched a conspiracy to betray the great victory achieved by the nation and the Armed Forces.

Q: Didnít the UNP have any Presidential Candidate to put forward?

A: There are so many leaders within the UNP. The majority of those leaders have joined hands with the President today. But several leaders remain including Sajith Premadasa, Karu Jayasuriya and Rukman Senanayake. If any of these UNP politicians were forwarded as the UNP Presidential Candidate, he would become the Party Leader.

It would lead to the loss of Wickremesingheís party leadership. Wickremesinghe wants to protect his party leadership and contest the next Parliamentary General Election and become the Opposition Leader, getting all perks and benefits given to the Opposition Leader within the next six years as well. His sole intention is to spend a luxurious life by enjoying the facilities given to the Opposition Leader.

Therefore, he wanted to bring an outside person as the Opposition Presidential Candidate without nominating a candidate from his own party. This move taken by Wickremesinghe would enable him to protect his party leadership and again become the Opposition Leader. It will also create evidence through the Opposition Candidate to betray our country to the international community.

Ranil Wickremesinghe will achieve two victories from this Presidential Election. The defeat of Opposition Candidate Sarath Fonseka is a great victory to be achieved by Wickremesinghe. In addition the Opposition Candidate wonít be able to obtain even 4.7 million votes to be obtained by Ranil Wickremesinghe.

The Opposition Leaderís target is to reduce the votes to be obtained by Sarath Fonseka. Then he can continue his office as the Opposition Leader and the party leader within the next six years as well.

Q: The UNP claims that a group of UNP MPs have crossed over to the Government to gain perks and other benefits. Your comments?

A: It has been clearly proved to the country as to who gave bribes and other benefits. The second operation launched by the Opposition to offer a Rs. 30 million bribe to the NFF MP Muzzamil has already come to light. But this is the same Opposition which always talks about good and corruption free governance!

The politicians who love this country are joining hands with the President without expecting any perks. All these UNP and other Opposition MPs who have joined the Government are very efficient and outstanding politicians. Therefore, there is nothing wrong in offering them some ministerial portfolios as they are very capable leaders who can work for the well-being of the country.

Even Ranil Wickremesinghe had offered them portfolios as they are very talented politicians. If these politicians are keen on perks and other benefits, they would have easily obtained them from Ranil Wickremesinghe as well. All these talented politicians have joined hands with a great leader like President Rajapaksa to safeguard the Motherland and develop it.

Q: Do you think the UNP does not have the ability to successfully face an election under the present leadership?

A: The present UNP Leader would go into history as the most suitable leader for successive defeats at elections. He also accuses his partymen who immensely love the party. Partymen attempt to take forward the party by covering up all the shortcomings of their party leader.

But some of these partymen canít understand this crime committed by Ranil Wickremesinghe.

Since the inception of the party by late Prime Minister D. S. Senanayake, no Leader has ever caused this kind of destruction to the party. The LTTE should take the full responsibility in this regard. The LTTE assassinated all the prominent UNP Leaders. As a result Ranil Wickremesinghe became the leader of the UNP. He was never in the limelight of the UNP to become its leader.

After late President J. R. Jayewardene, R. Premadasa, Lalith Athulathmudali and Gamini Dissanayake were the prominent leaders of the UNP. If Gamini became the UNP Leader, he would have taken the party for 10 or 15 years ahead. Lalith would have done the same thing. Therefore, Ranil Wickremesinghe would have never become the party leader.

Wickremesinghe could obtain the party leadership because all the prominent UNP leaders were assassinated by the LTTE. Therefore, he is indebted to the LTTE forever. That is why he always appears on behalf of the LTTE even though he was defeated by the LTTE during the last Presidential Election.

Q: How do you view the UNP and the JVP acting together on behalf of the Opposition Candidate? They have completely different political ideologies.

A: Considering the results of the recently concluded Provincial Council Elections, the JVP has faced a severe setback. At present the JVP vote base has been reduced to a mere 245,000 votes. If the JVP put forward their own Presidential Candidate, he wonít obtain even 100,000 votes. The JVP is well aware that at the next Parliamentary Election, if they contest on their own, they are not in a position to bring even two MPs to Parliament.

The JVP has engaged in a conspiracy to be re-elected to Parliament with the help of the UNP. Wickremesinghe knew if he contested, he would have been defeated. Therefore, he Ďimportedí an outsider and put forward him as the Opposition Candidate. It would help to safeguard his party leadership.

Wickremesinghe has joined hands with JVP to protect his leadership while the JVP has joined hands with UNP to safeguard their party. But they would never be able to reach any consensus based on their policies.

It was the JVP which killed thousands of innocent UNP supporters while the JVP Leader Rohana Wijeweera was killed and burnt at Borella crematorium under the leadership of Ranil Wickremesinghe.

The JVP also levelled various accusations against Ranil Wickremesinghe on Batalanda torture chamber. Then why does the present JVP Leader Somawansa Amarasinghe put his arm around Ranil Wickremesinghe?

This is not because of any love. He does that to Ďstabí Wickremesinghe, from behind! The Opposition Leader Wickremesinghe also does the same thing to Somawansa. Both the UNP and the JVP deceive their partymen through this move.

I request the UNPers to think deeply. If Wickremesinghe is a honest person and committed to safeguard the democracy, he should resign the party leadership and provide the opportunity to another UNPer to become the UNP leader and take the party forward. But he didnít do so. So the UNP Leader is committing a treacherous act against his partymen.

According to an order given by Ranil Wickremesinghe, if the UNPers vote for Sarath Fonseka, all those partymen will participate in this treacherous act. If UNPers act in accordance with the order given by their defeated leader, the UNP too will be defeated and forced to remain in the Opposition again.

Only those who do not know how to extend their gratitude will vote for the Opposition candidate. All the UNPers who know gratitude will vote for President Mahinda Rajapaksa.

Q: This time the JVP has also extended its support to the Candidate. According to you, will this cause a serious impact on the Presidentís vote base?

A: Not at all. All the prominent JVP MPs have joined the President. In addition, all the talented UNP, CWC and SLMC MPs have also joined the Government. Politicians like Douglas Devananda, Vinayagamoorthi Muralitharan and Sivanesathurai Chandrakanthan are with the President.

The JHU has also extended its fullest support to President. At present the majority is with the President. The JVP vote base has been drastically reduced from 700,000 votes to 245,000 votes. Even this 245,000 JVP votes have also been divided. Among these 245,000 JVP voters, those who love this country will vote for President Rajapaksa.

They know the JVP leaders have joined hands with Wickremesinghe who attempted to betray this country. For the luck of President, all treacherous elements which launched various conspiracies against the country and attempted to turn back the war have rallied round a single front today.

The JVP also tried his level best to turn back the war by launching various trade union actions when the military operations were going on. All these treacherous elements didnít think President Rajapaksa is so capable as to end the war in this manner.

All people and politicians who love the country are with the President. The JVPís vote base will be further reduced by nearly 100,000 votes during this election. Therefore, the President will achieve a landslide victory.

Q: Why did the TNA decide to extend its support to Candidate?

A: The TNA was brought in by Ranil Wickremesinghe, not by the JVP. The TNA met the President and put forward a series of demands. The TNA Leader had told the media that the President didnít agree to their conditions. If the TNA extended its support to any other candidate, that indicates he has agreed to fulfil their conditions.

Itís very clear there should be an agreement reached upon by these two parties. This agreement may contain key conditions such as release of nearly 10,000 LTTE cadres in custody, re-merging the North and the East and removing military camps.

The TNA is the political wing of the LTTE. If any TNA MP breaks away from the TNA and join hands with the President, it means that the particular TNA MP has given up his aspirations for a separate state.

The TNA support to the Candidate means they have joined hands with a program to betray the country. The Opposition candidate attempts to get the sympathy of the LTTE. The TNA has said that they had not reached any agreement with the Candidate due to the threats made by the JVP.

ďI would like to ask the TNA, if Sarath Fonseka also refused their demands like President Rajapaksa, did why did they decide to extend their support to him? Otherwise the TNA should make a statement that Sarath Fonseka also rejected their demands, but the TNA decided to extend its support to him, anyway. We say with responsibility, there is an agreement reached between Sarath Fonseka and the TNA. That is the agreement to betray this country which was safeguarded through a great victory.Ē

Q: Are you confident of the Presidentís victory and how do you view the support extended by the people to President?

A: I have organised political rallies for the UNP for the past 20 years. I contested the Local Government Elections in 1991 and was elected to the Kurunegala Urban Council by obtaining the highest percentage of votes from the entire country. In each Presidential election, the UNPís biggest rally was organised in Kurunegala. I am a politician who has seen big crowds and felt the pulse of the common people. I go as key speaker to political rallies attended by the President.

A massive crowd attended the rally held at Kurunegala under the patronage of President. During my lifetime, I have never seen that kind of a mammoth crowd at a political rally held in Kurunegala. The Presidentís rally held at the Home Town of the Opposition Candidate had attracted a crowd more than five times the crowd that attended the Opposition Candidateís meeting.

The mammoth crowds attending the Presidentís political rallies indicate the great affection and confidence they have placed in the President. The people extend their gratitude to the decision taken by the President to end three decades old war.

We have never heard any Presidential candidate in Sri Lanka using the words used by the Opposition Candidate. I donít think the UNPers will vote for this kind of candidate. There is a percentage of the UNP voters who have decided to vote for the President due to his attempts made to safeguard the country.

There is a percentage of nearly 10 UNPers who donít want to vote for any candidate as they are fed up with the party leadership. This 10 percent is nearly 400,000 or 500,000 voters. When comparing the results of the Provincial Council Elections, the President has obtained 2.6 million majority votes. The President has launched a massive development drive within the country.

While former Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe reduced the number of State jobs from 120,000 to 800,000, the President has given 500,000 new jobs in the State sector. During the first years of the Presidency salaries of public servants were increased by 40 percent. The Opposition candidate has given promises which were given by a defeated candidate.

I think people will never admit this mud slinging campaign launched by the Opposition to tarnish the image of President and his family. I have never seen a countryís where people loving a political leader in this manner. This kind of trend has never been seen during our recent history. I am very confident the President would achieve a landslide victory.

Q: Do you think more UNP MPs will join hands with the Government after the Presidential Election?

A: I have close links with UNP MPs. Another 10 or 12 UNP MPs are willing to join the Government. These MPs will receive nominations from Ranil Wickremesinghe to contest the General Election from the UNP ticket.

After they are elected, they will join the Government to strengthen the hands of the President. I am confident after the next General Election the President would be able to secure a two thirds majority Parliament. After the next General Election, the UNP will be further eroded.

Those who contested from the UNP will also join the President and only a few close associates of Ranil Wickremesinghe will remain in the UNP.

Q: But now most of the people are talking about a change. How do you view this?

A: Who is going to effect this change? In America Obama was brought in for a change. But Obama had never worked in the US Army or subjected to any charges. But the Opposition Candidate has faced several disciplinary actions while he was in the Army. As a result, he was not able to get two key medals. The Opposition Candidate has also been accused of giving tenders to his son-in-law when he was the Army Commander.

Therefore, the Opposition candidate is not like Obama or any other leaders elected for a change in their countries. I would like to ask the people in Colombo have they ever seen a Presidential Candidate like Sarath Fonseka who uses this kind of low level language in his addresses to the people! Is this the person whom the intelligentsia of the country is trying to bring in for a change?

The fear of death seriously affected the people in Colombo and suburbs owing to terrorist activities. Those who love this country donít talk about any such change.

Most officers in the Sri Lanka Army very well know who Sarath Fonseka is. His true picture came into light after the people could witness the words he used in some political rallies.

Q: Various complaints are made against the jumbo Cabinet of the Government. Donít you think this Cabinet is too big for a small country like ours?

A: If the number of ministers in the Cabinet is reduced, itís a good move. But the President canít reduce it just now because of the military victory achieved by him and the shortcomings in the Constitution formulated by late President J.R.Jayewardene.

The President couldnít form a stable Government with a majority. When the President assumed office, there were only 87 MPs in the Government. Even the Speaker couldnít be elected from the Government ranks.

At that time the President had to give priority to end the war and safeguard the motherland by increasing the number of Cabinet even to 225 if he wanted.

future the President will take measures to change the constitution and reduce the Cabinet.What is the reality today? Only Rs. 2 billion is spent on this Cabinet per year.

According to the pledge given by the Opposition Presidential Candidate Sarath Fonseka, Rs. 144 billion has to be spent per year to give Rs. 10,000 pay hike to the public servants. If the present Cabinet is reduced by half, only Rs. 1 billion has to be spent on the Cabinet.

These are baseless allegations levelled by the Opposition to gain their narrow political objectives.

If the Cabinet has 200 Ministers, it wonít be a burden to the country if they fulfil their responsibilities properly. If the Ministers donít work, they will lose their popularity among the people.

As the President pledged, he put an end to the war. During his second term, the President will also put an end to the corruption. The President, as the people expect, will change the constitution and reduce the powers of the Executive Presidency in a manner favourable to the country.

This can only be done by President Rajapaksa because he is not in a position to contest any other election in future.

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