SLPP Kegalle election campaign peaceful - former State Minister Tharaka Balasuriya | Sunday Observer
Parliamentary Election 2020:

SLPP Kegalle election campaign peaceful - former State Minister Tharaka Balasuriya

Former State Minister of Social Security speaks about how the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) is running their campaign in the Kegalle district, promoting a peaceful election environment.

In an interview with the Sunday Observer, Tharaka Balasuriya, the son of former Minister Jagath Balasuriya, expressed his preference for establishing independent institutions instead of independent commissions in the long run.

The full interview:

Q. The Government is asking a 2/3 majority from voters. But when we look at history, no government has used such a majority for the benefit of the public, but has done so for the benefit of governments. Your comments on this.

A. I do agree with you to a certain extent. The previous governments have not taken decisions in the interest of the country with such a majority. But there are exceptions too.

In 1972, even though the Government extended its tenure by two years, which is undemocratic, yet that government introduced the Republican Constitution.

It was a milestone in our history. The 13th Amendment was also passed with a 2/3 majority. When considering power devolution, it is also a vital part in our recent political history.

Those are all fairly good decisions.

However, you have to look at the nature and character of the person in power, the one who takes decisions. Now, for the first time in our history, we have a non-politician as the President.

He is someone who is taking decisions in the best interest of the country, without even looking at a second term in office. But to restore the smooth functioning in the governance, we need to amend the 19th Amendment. If we do not receive the 2/3 majority for that, I am wondering how we can amend the 19th Amendment.

Q. If the 19th Amendment is revised or revoked, would Independent Commissions also be abolished?

A. Certainly not. But there are some salient features in the 19th Amendment.

We do not say that everything in the 19th Amendment is bad. For instance, the Right to Information Act (RTI) is very important.

I consider it as a vital part of any modern democracy.

However, I personally think that we should look into establishing more independent institutions instead of Independent Commissions. For instance, if we have an independent police, we do not need to have an independent Police Commission. On the other hand, some members of these Independent Commissions who have NGO affiliations , have taken some powers of the Executive.

That is harmful to the country. However, we do not wish to abolish Independent Commissions but our long term goal must be establishing independent institutions.

Q. In an open letter to the Prime Minister, Former Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera had criticised certain decisions taken by the Central Bank of Sri Lanka (CBSL) to face Covid-19.

A: Mangala Samaraweera is acting like a clown during elections. In fact, neither the UNP nor the SJB have a proper political vision.

There are huge contradictions in what these groups say. Also, most Sri Lankans would not take Mangala Samaraweera seriously. We know he was a disaster as a Finance Minister.

All key economic indicators of the country deteriorated during his time. Therefore, I do not think that he is in any position to make a comment on that.

Q. However, he suggests a few recommendations including the signing of the MCC to give immediate relief to the economy?

A: The President appointed a committee on this and now the report is out.

We are not against foreign agreements which are mutually beneficial to both parties. But we definitely oppose any agreement which is a danger to the sovereignty of the country. Again, I say that Mangala Samaraweera is not the best person to comment on such economic topics.

Q. The Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) lodged a complaint at the Election Commission saying that Presidential Commissions are now run by the Government to gain cheap political advantage. Your views on this.

A: Just because we have an election, we cannot stop running the country. Business has to go on as usual.

If someone has not done anything bad, they do not have to be fearful of anything. People who are responsible for political revenge now cry foul.

Q. It is evident that the war on preferential votes are going on. The SLPP has also faced certain incidents in Matara. What is the situation in Kegalle?

A: The SLPP election campaign in Kegalle is very peaceful. We had one meeting with all SLPP candidates in Kegalle. I think it was the first time in Sri Lanka such an exemplary meeting was held during an election. Hence, people do not have to organise several meetings as ten candidates can express their ideas at this single meeting, so people can choose their preferred candidates. That is the sort of format we are following. I cannot comment on Matara or any other district about which I have little knowledge.