Government confident of two-thirds majority at the Election – Keheliya Rambukwella | Sunday Observer

Government confident of two-thirds majority at the Election – Keheliya Rambukwella

Pic: Sulochana Gamage
Pic: Sulochana Gamage

Government Spokesman and former State Minister of Investment Promotion, Keheliya Rambukwella said the outcome of the last Presidential Election was that the majority of the people realised that the former Yahapalana regime was most retrogressive and inefficient and what they did in the context of national security, economy, agriculture and education was a dismal failure. The former State Minister in an interview with the Sunday Observer said he is confident there will be more people who would muster their support for the SLPP at the upcoming General Election to form a stable government.

Rambukwella said the former Yahapalana Government brought in the 19th Amendment and showed the public that the judiciary is independent and the National Police Commission had been set up so that nothing can go wrong and everything is in place. They said democracy is at its best and there is no interference whatsoever with any institutions, unfortunately, it was totally contrary to that. The 19th Amendment was a showpiece for the public but they had been dubiously manipulating it.

Q: How do you view the two UNP factions fighting each other and contesting separately for the upcoming General Election?

A. That has been the case for the past so many years. They are not in a position whatsoever to win an election. There is nothing more to comment about it. The people have discarded them totally. It makes no difference to us but it makes a huge difference to traditional UNPers. As far as the SLPP is concerned we are going to win the election whether these two UNP factions are together or not. Unfortunately, the traditional long standing UNPers are having a serious issue.

Q: Has the Government taken a final decision not to sign the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) agreement? The UNP refutes the allegations levelled against the former Yahapalana Government by the Expert Committee report on the MCC. Could you explain?

A. The former Yahapalana Government had signed the agreement and they had also received some funds. The Expert Committee appointed to review the MCC agreement won’t make such a report unless they have valid reasons. They will document it. So, let us see that. As far as we are concerned, we are not interested in the headline of it, whether it is MCC or whatever. We are concerned about the content. If the content is ultra-vires the Constitution and affects our sovereignty and creates dictatorial effects, certainly we will not sign it.

Q: What led the Government to completely lift the curfew when some Covid-19 cases are still reported in the country?

A. We have certainly identified the areas. We have not found any Covid-19 cases among the public for almost the past two months. Our recovery rate is one of the highest in the world. When we observe the world trend, as a percentage we have been able to maintain a very good recovery rate of Covid-19 affected patients. This indicates that our health sector is working extremely well with early identification of Covid-19 patients and treating them. The death ratio is also kept at the lowest possible rate. We need to open up the country while being cautious about what is happening. That is what we are doing now.

Q: Is the Government confident of securing a two-thirds majority at the upcoming General Election?

A. Yes. We are seriously looking at it. We feel that we can make it possible. The people were fully aware of the direction in which the Yahapalana Government was heading as it meant disaster. Hence the people reposed their confidence in President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and he could secure over 6.9 million votes at the last Presidential Election. The outcome of the Presidential Election result was that the majority of the people realised that the former Yahapalana regime was most retrogressive and inefficient and what they did in the context of national security, economy, agriculture and education was a dismal failure. I am sure there will be more people who would muster their support for the SLPP at the upcoming General Election to form a stable government.

Q: Certain sections including the Opposition allege that the Government attempts to defend Karuna Amman’s controversial statement and clear his name with regard to the allegation. What are your views on this issue?

A. We don’t want to do any cleansing. He has already made that statement and also denied certain facts in it. If that statement was made, I don’t think it is a correct thing. Whatever the consequences that arise from it, we have to be concerned if that is the case.

Q: It is a well-known fact the Yahapalana cabal which makes a big hue and cry about Karuna’s statement, provided weapons and money to the LTTE in 1989 and virtually ceded the Northern and Eastern provinces to Prabhakaran through the Ceasefire Agreement. What are your comments?

A. It has been the case with the UNP all the time. UNP Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe signed the Ceasefire Agreement and the separation was almost made there. That is the legacy of the UNP.

Q: Some Government lawmakers are of the view that the 19th Amendment to the Constitution has created much controversy and that it should be amended. Do you also hold the same view?

A. Not only that, I think even the electoral system at the Local Government Election has created immense issues when it doesn’t serve the purpose that it is there for. I mean, there are so many complicated issues which need a two-thirds majority to change. Even the so-called independent commissions are doubtful. So, you need to revisit all these areas and perhaps go into a more practical and public friendly system. The former Yahapalana Government brought in the 19th Amendment and showed the public that the judiciary is independent and the National Police Commission had been set up. They said there is no interference whatsoever with any institutions but unfortunately it was totally contrary to that. The 19 th Amendment was a showpiece for the public but they had been dubiously manipulating it.

Q: How do you plan to rectify the damage caused to the judiciary, independent commissions, public service and the Police by the Yahapalana Government?

A. The only way is by proper administration and I am sure President Gotabaya Rajapaksa is heading in that direction. Accordingly, we can hope there will be some degree of discipline and methodology in place. Already, the people are talking of a system change and that will help streamline the whole process.

Q: Some Government members criticise the Election Commission Chairman’s decision not to allow political parties to display photos and numbers of candidates at their campaign offices. Will this have any adverse effect on the SLPP campaign as well?

A. Not particularly. But the fact of the matter is that under the present system, particularly, the newcomers should have the opportunity to at least display their number. Otherwise, how can they conduct an election campaign? People who have common sense will understand that. However, we finished one election and achieved a resounding victory. We fought the Presidential Election tooth and nail and got more experience than before. Therefore, we have a definite plan to secure a landslide victory at the upcoming General Election.

Q: Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa has said that a strong mandate at the General Election is needed to conclusively defeat local and foreign conspiracies against Sri Lanka. Would you comment on this?

A. Obviously it is true. We should have a strong government and that would be the remedy to defeat all these local and international conspiracies. If there is a strong government, it will certainly be helpful and we would be able to dictate terms to all those who hatch conspiracies against us.

Q: Some Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) candidates such as A.H.M. Fowzie has said that the SJB will get a majority to form a Government since the people are disappointed with the present Government which failed to deliver the goods. Would you like to respond to this claim?

A. Some people in the SJB make various absurd statements. There is nothing more than that.

Q: How do you view the comment by some people that the vast majority of the former 225 parliamentarians don’t have the necessary capacity to rebuild the country and, therefore, honest and capable people should be elected to the next Parliament?

A. It is entirely up to the people to elect suitable people. The public will have to decide and they can make their decision.

Q: How do you view at the decision taken by the SLPP to field professionals from the Viyathmaga to contest the upcoming General Election? Will this be a challenge to the seniors contesting from the SLPP?

A. We have always nominated such professionals to either contest or to be on our National List. That is not an issue. We have let the public decide it. Finally, it is the public who decides who should be elected to Parliament. Therefore, the whole thing is in their hands.

Q: The JVP which was recognised as the third political force in the country faced a severe setback at the recently concluded elections. Will they have any future political prospects?

A. The people decided their future at the last election itself. So, there is nothing more to decide about them. The people have already given their verdict to them.

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