Sajith has abandoned his supporters in Hambantota - Minister Siripala de Silva | Sunday Observer

Sajith has abandoned his supporters in Hambantota - Minister Siripala de Silva

Minister of Justice, Human Rights and Legal Reforms, Nimal Siripala de Silva said it seems that both UNP factions have ‘committed suicide’ and there is no question about that. At present the UNP is divided and is in total disarray. The Minister in an interview with the Sunday Observer said he feels sorry for the supporters who had been with the UNP for a long time. Now they have no option but to join hands with us and look to the future.

Commenting on the Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) Leader Sajith Premadasa’s decision to contest the Colombo district, the Minister said it shows his political bankruptcy as a politician who represented the Hambantota district so long and spent all his time and energy there. Premadasa who has no confidence in the people who voted for him and supported him at the election, has abandoned them and come to the Colombo district.

Q. Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa has said the SLPP will amend the Constitution if it secures a majority in Parliament at the upcoming General Election. The Premier has said the 19th Amendment to the Constitution was drafted based on personal vengeance. Would you like to comment on this?

A. There is a serious issue with regard to the 19th Amendment. It clearly shows in the experience we have had at present, working with some of the Commissions. We thought these Commissions will be independent and work efficiently. However, it has been proved otherwise. There is no way to give direction to these Commissions when they go in the wrong direction. These are shortcomings. Therefore, we have to form a modality to make these Commissions more effective and independent.

Q. The Opposition says that the Government should express its stance regarding Vinayagamoorthy Muralitharan alias Karuna Amman’s recent statement at Ampara that he killed thousands of Sri Lankan soldiers during the war against terrorism. Your comments?

A. During the war against terrorism many things had happened and this is not the only issue that came up. It is up to the authorities to investigate and take action. We don’t wish to protect anybody.

Q. Politicians and various sections of society have raised concern over former UNP parliamentarian Harin Fernando’s recent statement on Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith. How do you view that statement by the ex-MP?

A. I think he should not have made that statement. Degrading a beloved religious leader in that manner is not acceptable at all. The Cardinal respected by all communities has always stood for national unity and integrity, which is a marvelous service to this country. I don’t accept the claim that he was engaging in politics.

Q. In a situation where the Election Commission has imposed certain restrictions, how do you plan to conduct the election campaign of the Sri Lanka Nidahas Podujana Sandanaya?

A. I think some of the candidates find it difficult to lead their campaign with all these restrictions. The Government and the media should remedy this situation and provide equal opportunity to all candidates and allow everybody to use the media either free of charge or at a concessionary rate. Otherwise, only the people with money and close connections with media institutions will benefit. Then we would have to campaign house to house.

According to the present electoral system, we have to canvas in the whole district. It is not humanly possible. I think we should go back to the First Past the Post system, a mixed hybrid system which I had been advocating throughout and we had been fighting for the 20th Amendment to curtail these problems. However, we are well equipped to face the General Election. We have the experience of the last Presidential Election as well. With that experience, whatever shortcomings we had in the campaign will be rectified and we will definitely secure a resounding victory at the forthcoming General Election.

Q. Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) Leader Sajith Premadasa says the Government should clearly express its stance on the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) agreement. Otherwise, the Government through an affidavit should say that it would not sign the MCC agreement. How do you respond to this claim?

A. The Government will take appropriate decisions at the appropriate time. This is not the time to take such controversial decisions. First, we would focus on the election and win it and then feel the pulse of the people by going ahead with the development and other activities.

Q. How do you view the rift in the UNP and its impact on them at the upcoming General Election?

A. Both parties have ‘committed suicide’, there is no question about that. The UNP is divided and is in total disarray. I feel sorry for their supporters who had been with the party for a long time. Now they have no option but to join hands with us and look to the future.

Q. Government lawmakers and various other sections have raised concern over the impartiality of the Election Commission. How do you look at this situation?

A. Some actions of the Commission members are not acceptable at all. They are going beyond their mandate and acting partially, catering to the interests of various other political parties. They are being manipulated by certain forces beyond our territory.

Q. What led former UNP parliamentarian Mangala Samaraweera and a few other SJB candidates to withdraw their candidacy?

A. They know very well that they are going to be defeated very badly at the upcoming polls and that they will have no political future. Before facing such humiliation, I think it was a wise decision for them to withdraw from the election campaign.

Q. How do you view the decision taken by SJB Leader Sajith Premadasa to contest the election in the Colombo district? What led him to quit the Hambantota district and switch to the Colombo district this time?

A. It shows the political bankruptcy of the SJB Leader who had represented the Hambantota district for so long and spent all his time and energy there. He has no confidence in the people who voted for him and supported him at the election. He has abandoned his supporters and come to the Colombo district.

Q. At the last Presidential Election, the majority of the Tamils and Muslims voted for Sajith Premadasa. Do you think the voting pattern would change at the upcoming General Election?

A. It would definitely change in the upcoming polls. At the last Presidential Election campaign, the picture they painted of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa was that of an enemy of the Tamils and the Muslims. Now they have realised that he is a friendly leader and a moderate politician who looks after all the communities in the country. With the President’s farsighted vision, I think there are more people to vote for the SLPP including Tamils and Muslims. Moreover, the UNP is in total disarray. So, naturally the minorities would want to join hands with us. That is the simple political scenario we have found in all previous elections.

Q. Do you think the Presidential Commission to look into the Easter Sunday attacks would be able to bring the culprits to book?

A. I am confident the Commission would be able to bring the culprits to book and mete out justice to the families of those who died due to the Easter Sunday terror attacks.

Q. Will the new faces entering the election fray under the SLPP led alliance be a challenge to the other seniors in your alliance?

A. Not at all. Even if it is a challenge, we have to accept the verdict of the people. As a senior politician I welcome new faces coming into the political arena. There should be young blood; and a mixture of veteran politicians as well as newcomers to the next Parliament.

Q. Some SLFPers say the decision of the party to join hands with the SLPP has paved the way for the decline of the SLFP. Do you agree to this claim?

A. Not at all. Our broad political alliance was formed after extensive discussions between the two parties. In fact, we agreed to the constitution of the new alliance as well. So, there is no problem at all. First we have to think of the country and its progressive forces. We have to be concerned whether the country is moving forward. It is not only winning parliamentary seats but also the future of the country. Therefore, we should get together to defeat the UNP and strengthen the hands of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to rebuild the country.

Q. Are you confident of securing a two-thirds majority at the upcoming polls?

A.If the present trend continues, we would be able to secure a two-thirds majority. We have formed a broad political alliance to ensure a landslide victory at the upcoming election.

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