SLPP certain of resounding mandate - Dr. Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe | Sunday Observer

SLPP certain of resounding mandate - Dr. Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe

SLPP Colombo District candidate and former Justice Minister Dr. Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe said that the people would give a resounding mandate to the SLPP at the upcoming General Election. He also  added that the Government would definitely t gain two-thirds majority.  The former Minister in an interview with the Sunday Observer said,  Ranil Wickremesinghe and Sajith remadasa are not concerned  about forming a Government and they are well aware of their election result. This  is why they didn’t want to hold the General Election and filed so many Fundamental Rights petitions in  the Supreme Court. At present they are fighting among themselves and not for the country.

Dr.Rajapakshe said he joined hands with the SLPP as this is the best opportunity to safeguard the country under the leadership of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa who is not playing popular politics. All political leaders who did popular politics during the past 25 to 30 years ruined the country. The President is strictly adhering to policies. What we really need is to change the system  and not to change heads or figures. It is only  then  that we can move forward. President Rajapaksa has that vision and he is fully dedicated to accomplish that task. That is why I joined hands with him.

Q. Government lawmakers have pointed out that the SLPP required a two-thirds majority at the upcoming General Election to introduce far reaching constitutional and electoral reforms meant to end instability. Your comments?

A. In fact that is an urgent requirement and the need of the people. I think there won’t be any big issue for us to get a two-thirds majority. We had some difficulty at the time of the dissolution of Parliament and the split of the UNP and the way they were conducting matters. At present a large number of UNP and SJB supporters are joining hands with the SLPP due to  the infighting between  the two UNP factions. I am quite confident that we would get a two-thirds majority at the upcoming General Election.

Q. You recently told the media that you were pressurised to take President Gotabaya Rajapaksa into custody in connection with the Avant Garde case within three to four weeks of forming the Yahapalana Government. Could you explain?

A. Definitely. I have explained this on so many occasions. Without the knowledge of the Attorney General, Solicitor General and I, one of the junior officers had issued a direction to the then IGP to arrest President Gotabaya Rajapaksa. That clandestine meeting had been conducted by former Health Minister Rajitha Senaratne at his residence together with former Ministers Champika Ranawaka, Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka and JVP Leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake.

When I came to know that they were going to arrest him, I registered it as I had no power to register it on my own. Therefore, I apprised the President and the Prime Minister of the situation  and through them I registered that  it was illegal. “ Giving evidence before the Presidential Commission on political victimisation, I also said a Cabinet Paper aiming at stripping the civic rights of the Rajapaksa family members had been submitted to the Yahapalana Cabinet and discussions had taken place at Temple Trees to arrest a member of the Rajapaksa family once a week.”

Q. You recently accused former Health Minister Dr.Rajitha Senaratne of accepting a bribe of Rs.20 million from Avant Garde. However, he has categorically denied your allegation  and has threatenied  to take legal action against you. Would you like to comment on this?

A. He can’t deny it. He never denied it at that press briefing. He just accused me of producing some documents but he never denied he accepted the money. There are 46 witnesses at the Cabinet of Ministers of the former Government to prove that. We discussed that more than ten, twelve times in the Cabinet. Avant Garde Chairman, Nissanka Senadhipathi had sent Rs.20 million to Senaratne and he had asked Senadhipathi to come but he had never come. Senaratne is accusing Senadhpathi of not coming to meet him.

They had extended the Avant Garde agreement after taking that bribe in July or August, 2015. If that agreement was illegal, why did they extend it  for another five years in October, 2015 after they accepted the money? Even at my recent press briefing, I showed three invoices of Rs. 5 million each where Senaratne had obtained Rs. 5 million each on three occasions, amounting to Rs. 15 million in cheques and the remaining Rs. 5 million in cash  on another occasion. The then State Pharmaceuticals Corporation Chairman had allegedly accepted the money by placing his signature on behalf of Rajitha Senaratne.

Q. The Government even appointed an Expert Committee to review the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) agreement and it handed over its report to the President recently. Has the Government taken a final decision not to sign the MCC agreement?

A. According to my understanding no decision whatsoever has been taken. No decision will be taken until the election is concluded. When the new Government is formed, the President will study  it and he will discuss it with the new Cabinet of Ministers.

Q.There is a public perception that the majority of 225 former Parliamentarians have failed to fulfill their responsibilities and the need of electing honest and competent people to the next Parliament is emphasised. Is there any truth in this?

A. That is why the people raised concern  about all 225 MPs after the Easter Sunday attack. I need not say the people are of the view that there are no competent people in Parliament. There are some Parliamentarians who have rendered yeomen service to the people.

Therefore, it is the duty of the people to elect competent people to Parliament. At the same time, if the people want to elect only competent people sometimes when they look at the nomination lists, they can’t find such people.

Q.  A series of investigations were conducted on the Treasury bond scam including  one by COPE and  a special Presidential Commission investigation. Aren’t these investigations sufficient to bring the culprits to book?

A. That COPE report has already been handed over. It is up to the Attorney General to file indictment. However, we have a big issue. The Attorney General has filed an indictment in the High Court only against the officials but the main culprits are not accused in that indictment especially the then Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake, UNP Chairman and Minister Kabir Hashim and Minister Malik Samarawickrama who had interfered in the affairs of the Central Bank. Still, the Attorney General has not taken any action against these politicians.

Q. Various sections have raised serious concern that the Independent Commissions set up under the 19th Amendment particularly’ the Election Commission. Would you like to elaborate on these views?

A. Actually, these are useless and absurd Commissions. The main reason is that our Constitutional Council (CC) was not competent to appoint  the correct people to the Commissions as it was hundred percent partial and politically motivated. I had a long argument on the appointment of Pujith Jayasundara as the IGP. Finally, the whole country was put  at great risk by appointing an unsuitable person as the IGP. Similarly, the CC caused  much injustice to some of the judges with regard to their promotions.

If the CC is corrupt and politicised, then how can we expect  that the people who are appointed by it would act independently? What is the experience Prof. Ratnajeevan Hoole has to act as a member of the Election Commission? He lived in Canada and made so many allegations against Sri Lanka.

He was brought by Ranil Wickremesinghe and M.A. Sumanthiran appointed him as a member of the Election Commission. He has disrupted the whole purpose of the Election Commission. I raised this in the Supreme Court and finally it was compelled to give the direction that only one Commissioner  could promote one argument because they can’t have three contradictory stances on one issue. That itself shows that it is incompetent. Originally, I vehemently opposed this system. In my proposal, I suggested that the commissioners should be the people who are in active public service such as High Court judges, DIGs and senior civil servants so that there is responsibility for them. If there is an obligation, then there is a punishment for them. Here, we just appoint some retired people and they just come and waste their time and upset the whole system.

Q. Prime Minister, Mahinda Rajapaksa, has said that no room will be provided for political crossovers for various perks and privileges after this election. Do you see this as a timely move?

A. Of course, it should be but no leader had complied with that requirement earlier. That was a problem. I also had to cross over to the Opposition from the then UPFA Government when some corrupt people of the UNP were appointed to some positions, even after I disclosed in the COPE report that they were involved in corruption. That is why I crossed over to the Opposition. When we reformed a new Government, all those corrupt  persons such as Rajitha, Champika and Rishad Bathiudeen were also at the front row of that Government. 

Q.At the last Presidential Election, the people elected a non-politician as the country’s President placing their utmost confidence in him. Do you think the people will give a similar resounding mandate to the SLPP at the upcoming General Election?

A. You can’t elect non-political figures at the Parliamentary election as all of them have come from a political party with some political background. In a Parliamentary election what you need is to elect some intelligent and competent people with integrity who can serve the nation. I think there is a trend in the country and  that the voters will make an intelligent decision unlike earlier. Definitely, the people would give a resounding mandate to the SLPP and I think we can go up to two thirds and there is no issue.

That is certain in the present political scenario. Specially, Ranil Wickremesinghe and Sajith Premadasa are not concerned  about forming a Government and they are well aware of their election result.

That is why they didn’t want to hold the General Election and filed so many Fundamental Rights petitions  in the Supreme Court. They are fighting among themselves and not for the country. UNP General Secretary Akila Viraj Kariyawasam says they want to capture Temple Trees and SJB Leader Sajith Premadasa says they want to capture Siri Kotha. That is none of our concern and let them capture anything. We will capture power in Parliament with a two-thirds majority.

Q. How do you view the ongoing clash between  the two UNP factions and how would  it affect them at the upcoming election?

A. They will definitely be political derelicts just after the election results. That would be the end of both factions. Of course after the election, there will be a movement which would come forward as a new Opposition. Both Sajith’s party and the UNP will be derelict.

Q. What made you join hands with President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and contest under the SLPP banner?

A. Because I have confidence in the President. I didn’t have confidence in any other politicians. The President is a non-politician and he has proved his integrity. He also proved his capability by successfully concluding the war against LTTE terrorists. With the President’s capability and integrity, I was seriously concerned about my presence in his Government. The President even offered me a National List slot but I refused it and decided to contest the election. I wanted to help the President to resolve the burning issues in the country.  There is no other reason. Otherwise, I could have happily enjoyed my profession without wasting time. We are worried about the country.

Therefore, I thought that this is the best opportunity to safeguard the country under the leadership of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa who is not playing popular politics. All the political leaders who did popular politics during the past 25 to 30 years ruined the country.

 The President is strictly adhering to policies. What we really need is to change the system not to change heads or figures.  It is only  then  that we  can  move forward. I think President Rajapaksa has that vision and he is fully dedicated to accomplish that task. That is why I joined hands with him.

Q. Concerns are raised on the lack of women representation in Parliament. Has the SLPP given enough space for female candidates in their nomination lists?

A. I don’t know whether that is enough or not  at this time. We will have to comparatively consider that. Those who are involved in politics only  will get nominations. Only a few women have come forward to engage in politics. We have accommodated a few female candidates and I feel comparatively that is not sufficient.

 However, you can’t increase the women representation in politics by law. It has to be developed through political culture. If women are engaged in politics, there is no obstacle for them to come forward but they are rather reluctant. Unless we change their attitude, it would be difficult to get a substantial representation for the female community.    

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