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Sunday, 10 June 2012

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Opposition political parties should...:

Unite to defeat foreign forces - Minister Wimal Weerawansa

* Shun petty political differences

* Abhor communal displeasure

Construction, Engineering Services, Housing and Common Amenities Minister Wimal Weerawansa does not hesitate to call a spade a spade. His bete noire, anti-patriotic forces or any individual or organisation who act against the national interest were torn to piecess.

The Minister in an interview with the Sunday Observer said when allegations are levelled against the country in the international fora on human rights or alleged war crimes, we should be able to meet such challenges successfully with consensus among political parties, sink petty political differences.

Unfortunately, the Opposition has not realised that it has the duty and responsibility to act in unison to counter such allegations. In this situation international forces find it easier to disseminate disinformation on Sri Lanka throughout the world and regrettably some Opposition Parliamentarians do likewise.

Minister Weerawansa said a group of Indian Parliamentarians led by Indian Opposition Leader, Sushma Swaraj visited Sri Lanka recently. During her sojourn in Sri Lanka, she acted as a representative of the Indian Government and not as the Opposition Leader. She had acquired a broad vision and a political discipline. She did not say anything adverse about her Premier or the Indian Government during her stay in Sri Lanka. It is however deplorable that our Opposition does not have that maturity and political discipline.

The Minister said it is crystal clear that there will be no room for separation today in Sri Lanka. Since Prabhakaran did not realise his dream of Eelam, nobody would be able to achieve that goal. Tamil politicians such as R. Sampanthan who is well aware of this situation attempts to mislead the Tamil community to realise his narrow political objectives. They know that by forming racist tendencies of the Tamils, they can win elections without canvassing for votes in villages. Some Western embassies incite the TNA as they also want to promote communal displeasure.

Q: With the Government being hundred percent sure of victory in any election, what is the necessity to dissolve three Provincial Councils (PC)and hold elections at this juncture?

A: PC elections are scheduled to be held throughout the next year. According to the law, it is at the discretion of the Chief Minister. According to several chief Ministers this is the time to go for elections as a series of mega development projects have been carried out by the Government in each province.

This is one of the reasons to go for a PC election. The second reason is because international forces hatch conspiracies to show there is an anti-government force within the country. They showed protests made by a small percentage of the people in countries like Libya, Syria and some other countries in the Middle East and the Central African region as if they were protests made by the majority of the people in those countries. Some Western countries which gave leadership to the ĎArab Springí in the Middle East attempt to create a similar environment in Sri Lanka.

Though such moves they show that the Government does not have the confidence of the people. But this Western myth collapses when the voting pattern in previous elections is observed. Our view is that these PC elections should be held at this juncture to defeat such attempts by these Western forces.

Q: The increase in prices of essential commodities such as milk powder, gas and many others have a serious impact on the poor. What has the Government done to alleviate their misery?

A: The gas price hike has not affected the poor as they donít use gas. The gas price increase affects the middle class. We always speak about commodities prices where have increased. During the past four years, the Government has been able to maintain the price of rice at a fixed rate. The price of vegetables and eggs have gone down compared with prices in the past. Prices of many locally manufactured food commodities have been reduced. Only prices of some imported food items have increased. As a whole, the majority of the people can face this situation. But I donít say the poor or low income families donít face hardships. The Government has always given relief to affected segments. Today, the world is facing an economic set back and we canít do away from the impact. The present Government has taken every possible measure to minimise the burden of the people. Going for an election is no challenge to the Government.

Q: The TNA, Tamil diaspora and certain foreign powers are demanding the withdrawal of military camps in the North, ignoring the 30 years of terrorism. Is there any hidden agenda behind their demand?

A: The TNA is trying to give life to the dead Prabhakaran. Tamil politicians like R. Sampanthan were frightened and obeyed orders given by Prabhakaran. Today they donít have to fear that they will be killed. Now these politicians can openly express their views due to the end of LTTE terrorism. Politicians like Sampanthan attempt to drag Tamil youth towards separatism.

It may not be a problem for an elderly politician like Sampanthan. But this environment which he attempts to create is a treacherous act made against the Tamil community. The precious lives of children of both Sinhala and Tamil people were lost. Sampanthan wants to turn another group of Tamil youth into victims.

It has been proved that under no circumstances will another separate State be permitted in the country. If Prabhakaran could not realise his dream, nobody would be able to achieve that goal.

Q: TNA Chief R. Sampanthan spoke of self-determination at the recent ITAK convention and is proof of what they are fighting for in the guise of devolution of power. What have you got to say about this?

A: It is clear if political parties such as the TNA ask for Provincial Councils and Police and land powers, they will never be satisfied. Later they will demand more and attempt to meet that demand from the next Government. They will continue their demands from every government that comes into power.

Q: The Opposition charges that the Government has mismanaged the economy becayse of the rising cost of living the increase of the Dollar to Rs.132 and wasteful public expenditure. Your comments?

A: The disoriented Opposition, the UNP is groping in the dark when they attack the Government against its economic policies. When past records are seen the economy has reached a stable position. It is evident that the country is marching towards a stable position when economic growth, unemployment rate and all other socio-economic indicators are taken into consideration. But there is opposition at international level which hatch conspiracies against the country and the Government. Today the Opposition Leaderís office seems to operate within the US Embassy in Colombo. That Opposition wants to destabilise the economy and create an environment where people will get onto the streets. There are those who want to destablise the economy in the bureaucracy who assist the Opposition to realise this goal. Those trying to de-stablise the economy take decisions in favour of the Opposition. The vehicle import tax was drastically reduced last year. As a result, opportunity was given to everyone even those who did not have an idea of buying a vehicle.

However, they obtained loans to buy vehicles. Vehicles which had to be imported within two years came to Sri Lanka within a year due to tax concessions.

This led to the increase in the gap between exports and imports. Our foreign reserves declined. Even though we didnít agree to demands by the IMF, a situation was created where the rupee floated as a result of the pressure exerted due to wrong decisions taken by those who wanted to de-stablise the economyĒ.

The pro-LTTE Tamil diaspora hopes that the rupee will further depreciate by August thus affecting consumers. Fuel prices in the World Market have reduced, but we donít feel it in rupee terms, because the dollar has increased.

Q: Today the Ranil faction and the Sajith-Karu group are dragging the UNP into different directions. How do you look at this dismal picture? Is there any future for either group?

A: I see Sajith Premadasa as a political neophyte. He would have learnt from President Mahinda Rajapaksa. Before the President came to this position, if he had any clash with his leaders, it was only while being in Government, not in the Opposition.

If clashes erupt with the leadership when they are in the Opposition, partymen will take it as a betrayal of the party and as support to their political opponent.

If Sajith Premadasa had a desire to take the UNP leadership, he should have become a key player in winning Ranil Wickremesingheís confidence.

If he did it while being in Government, Wickremesinghe willingly or unwillingly will have to give party leadership to Sajith. Sajith Premadasa has no political understanding. There is a strong possibility where Ranil Wickremesinghe will expel Sajith Premadasa from the UNP before the next Presidential Election.

If a request is made by the partymen to nominate Sajith Premadasa as the next UNP Presidential candidate, Wickremesinghe should prevent it. Instead of criticizing the Government, Opposition is criticising itself. Challenges wonít be a problem to the Government due to the internal disputes within the Opposition.

Q: When there are allegations against the country by international forces would it not be the responsibility of the Opposition parties to stand by the Government sink petty political differences?

A: The threat posed by LTTE terrorism seriously affected society due to ruthless killings and other atrocities committed by the terrorists. When bombs exploded and prominent political leaders were brutally killed, it was a sensitive issue.

But the present conspiracy hatched against the country has not turned out to be so sensitive. However a powerful attack has been launched against the country.

The US resolution against Sri Lanka at the UNHRC was the initial step of a long-term operation. Now they have commenced their operation.

Their next step is to create a situation here which would pave the way to conduct an internal investigation on alleged war crime charges.

The outcome of that investigation intends to create the necessary environment to bring the President, Defence Secretary and other top military brass before an international war tribunal.

A group of Indian Parliamentarians led by the Indian Opposition Leader Sushma Swaraj visited Sri Lanka recently. After she came to Sri Lanka, she behaved like a representative of the Indian Government and not as the Indian Opposition Leader.

Because she had a broad vision and political discipline. During her visit, she appeared for the Indian Prime Minister and she never attempted to criticise him or the Indian Government.

But it is regrettable that the present Opposition does not have that maturity and political discipline. We should be able to face to these challenges in the international arena with unity and consensus among all political parties irrespective of petty political differences.

Q: Provincial Councils were set up to boost administration at provincial level and bring more benefits to the people. Has it not become a white elephant than an instrument of development today?

A: The 13th Amendment was introduced by force. This came up as a result of the undue pressure exerted by India to President J.R. Jayewardene. The Provincial Council which was formed under the 13th Amendment did not function even in the Northern and Eastern provinces.

The Eastern Provincial Council operates now. Even today some politicians want to go beyond the 13th Amendment. What should happen is not the 13 plus, but it should be 13 minus. The PCs have turned into instruments which waste public funds.

It is like a training school which provides some rehearsal to the children and relatives of Government Ministers.

This provides a training to people on how to hold a portfolio and how to become parliamentarians. In this context, I donít know how this PC system would provide a solution to the national question.

Q: It was reported in the newspapers that the NFF, JHU and MEP have reservations about the full implementation of the LLRC. You want to implement only those conducive to the country. Could you explain?

A: A discussion was held regarding this under President Mahinda Rajapaksa. He requested all constituent parties of the UPFA to inform the recommendations that they wanted to be implemented and recommendations that should not be accepted.

We informed the recommendations that should be implemented. A consensus was reached even if one party does not agree on certain recommendations it will not be implemented at this particular stage.

First, the recommendations where all parties have agreed will be implemented. The Government will implement the LLRC recommendations based on this consensus.

Q: UNP Parliamentarian Wijedasa Rajapaksha will present a motion in Parliament preventing the clergy representing Parliament. What are your views?

A: The NFF maintains the view it is not suitable for Buddhist monks to enter into active politics. Therefore the NFF will never give nominations to Buddhist monks from its list. We maintains this stand. We have also prevented setting up any Bhikku organisation affiliated to our party. We think the role of the Buddha Sasana is above all that. It may give light to politics but will certainly darken the Buddha Sasana. The consensus to prevent Buddhist monks entering active politics should originate within the Sasana. The Maha Sanga through a ďSangayanaĒ or dialogue should reach a consensus regarding this issue. We also maintain the view that it is not appropriate to ban or restrict Buddhist monks entering into active politics through legal provisions.

Q: The Opposition alleges that the root cause for all ills of the country is the failure of our foreign policy. Is there any truth in this?

A: Various international interferences are made as the Government successfully ended the war against terrorists. If the present Government also wasted time like former Governments and talked about devolution by allowing the LTTE to form their Tamil Eelam, all those Western forces and the international community will be in our favour. But these international forces are angry because we did not bow down before them and successfully conducted the war against terrorists. Today we are standing as a sovereign nation.

This is not because of the failure of our foreign policy. This is the result of the Government doing the right thing for the country.

Q: Taking President Mahinda Rajapaksa himself as an example, donít you think that todayís young Parliamentarians should acquire patience, maturity, political will and sense of proportion to succeed in the game of politics?

A: Those who are in hurry can go only a very short distance in politics. Some enter politics like stars and disappear in a short time. How many singers are in the musical field. Only those who possess some unique voices can survive. Politics is also same. Only those with patience can survive in politics.

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