TNA will help in national policy- Shanakiyan Rasamanickam | Sunday Observer
All-Party Interim Govt:

TNA will help in national policy- Shanakiyan Rasamanickam

14 August, 2022

What will be the model of the new all-party interim Government? They say it will lay the groundwork for the country to achieve much-needed political stability, thereby attracting international aid flows. How likely is it that Sri Lanka will reach a staff-level agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to obtain an economic bailout for its economic recovery?

President Ranil Wickremesinghe, in his discussions with leaders of Opposition Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB), Sri Lanka Freedom Party, and the leaders of ruling Sri Lanka Podu Peramuna(SLPP) and its breakaway constituents, such as Udaya Gammanpila- led Pivithuru Hela Urumaya, Weerawansa-led National Freedom Front and Vasudeva Nanayakkara- led Democratic Left Front, has said that he would like to call the envisioned all-party interim Government to be formed, a “state of all-party administration” -a ‘Sarva Paakshika Paalanaya.”

Sajith Premadasa, the main Opposition SJB leader, has highlighted that the proposed all-party interim Government model should be built on a new and empowered parliamentary committee system. He explained that the committee system should be working on a national program.

Locking horns

He said that the SJB will reject any political ruse by the Government to form an interim Government by way of offering ministerial portfolios, which he described as crowning horns on MPs for prolongation of political power. Premadasa said that SJB members would not ride on a Rajapaksa general waste truck under the banner of an all-party interim Government.

Sri Lanka Freedom Party Leader Maithripala Sirisena has announced that SLFP will support an all-party interim Government in keeping with a party’s policy decision to work towards political stability as the party believes that political stability will be of paramount importance for economic recovery.

SJB MP Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka has pointed out to President Wickremesinghe that people, especially the youth who participated in the recent Aragalaya protests which deposed President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, did not come to Galle Face demanding gas and fuel alone. One of their main demands was that the Government takes action against deep-rooted corruption that has penetrated it at all levels. He also said that international donor countries and agencies, such as the International Monitoring Fund, would have preferred if the Government removed its emergency regulations that currently in force.

Meanwhile, the SJB Opposition’s constituent parties’ leaders, Sri Lanka Muslim Congress Rauff Hakeem, Tamil Progressive Alliance’s Mano Ganesan, and All Ceylon Makkal Congress’ Rishad Bathiudeen have agreed to help to form an all-party interim Government.

The left-wing Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP), meanwhile, declared last week that they would not support the President’s efforts to form a temporary all-party Government. They declined to attend a meeting on the matter last Monday despite President Wickremesinghe’s offer. In a letter to JVP leader Anura Dissanayaka, President Wickremesinghe has expressed his regret about the JVP’s decision.


The Tamil National Alliance (TNA) has said that it will support Wickremesinghe’s efforts to form an all-party interim administration because it is the only way to achieve political stability. The TNA has said that they want the Government to repeal the emergency regulations and demonstrate a genuine commitment to addressing people’s problems and the long-standing Tamil national question.

As TNA MP Shanakiyan Ragul Rajaputhiran Rasamanickam said, the All-party Interim Government must have a national policy framework for economic recovery in order for their party to agree to and participate in it. According to him, how Sri Lanka manages its diplomatic connections will be critical to the process.

The MP was educated at Trinity College, Kandy. He is the grandson of former MP S. M. Rasamanickam. He had been a Sri Lanka Freedom Party organiser in Paddiruppu and was an associate of the Rajapaksa regime.

The Sunday Observer spoke with MP Rasamanickam in an environment where the majority of political parties have made a principled agreement to form an interim all-party Government with the goal of preventing the country from degenerating into anarchy, deterioration of human rights, civil unrest, and further economic ruin as a result of the lack of planned action on the part of the Government for social and economic recovery.

We questioned Rasamanickam about the rationale behind their belief that an all-party interim administration is required now that the Parliament has chosen a new President and Prime Minister.

Rasamanickam: “Our party, the Tamil National Alliance, voted in favor of Dullas Alahapperuma along with the independent breakaway group of the SLPP and the SLFP at the Presidential vote held in Parliament with a view to establishing an all-party interim Government. Since it was the only workable way to bring people together to get the economy back on track, our plan was to establish a genuine all-party interim Government.

There were difficult choices to be made. The public needed to be made aware of the situation. There cannot, in a sense, be any spoilers. It will be challenging to implement reforms if only one party tries. This is the exact reason we chose to support Dullas.

“The country urgently needs it to get everyone’s act together to get out of the crisis it is in.”

“When Ranil Wickremesinghe was elected President with SLPP votes, I expected someone from outside that party to be appointed Prime Minister.” It did not occur. “

“Look at the current Cabinet. The Cabinet is an SLPP Cabinet. The Cabinet is essentially the same as it was under President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe.”

Q: However, they did remove Professor G.L. Peris from his position as Minister of Foreign Affairs. Did they not?

A: Rasamanickam: Yes, and they also appointed Manusha Nanayakkara and Harin Fernando as ministers; otherwise, it was the same Cabinet. As a result, it lacked the characteristics of an all-party Government.

There are additional issues. For example, some ministers in the current Cabinet are facing various allegations. MP Prasanna Ranatunga, for example, is serving a suspended sentence for allegedly trying to extort money from a businessman.

There are other members of the Pohottuwa (SLPP) party whose credibility is called into question. One of the main demands made by the Galle Face protesters and all protesters across the country was that the stolen money of the public be returned.

You cannot imagine forming an all-party Government with corrupt members? Members of other political parties would also be unwilling to serve in such a Government. The public’s trust in such governments will continue to shrink. What is the point of joining such governments if you cannot punish the corrupt?

On August 3, the Tamil National Alliance met the President. We conveyed our concerns and informed him that we would be willing to support an all-party Government based on a national policy plan on which we can all agree.

Q: In what capacity do you and your political party intend to join that Government?

A: That will be decided based on the national policy plan. Whether to accept ministerial portfolios and the stations of that Government is a matter to be contemplated after reviewing the policy. If we support, how we support will be based on that.

Q: The TNA has said that it can get the help of the Tamil Diaspora toward resolving the country’s dollar crisis. Is that on the cards when TNA offers its support to the Government?

A: It all depends on the nature of the national policy plan of the interim Government to be formed. We are willing to support the President in coming up with the policy. Based on that, we will decide whether to give our support or not.

Q: What do you think is the root cause of the current economic crisis?

A: The majority of the country’s 52-billion-dollar foreign debt was incurred during the battle against terrorism. As a result, the unresolved foreign debt stems from an unresolved political issue, the Tamil national question, which is related to power sharing in a united Sri Lanka. Even after the battle against terrorism, it has obtained massive foreign loans for defence purposes. In spite of all this and decades-long negotiations to find a solution to the Tamil national question, it remains unresolved.

Q: Wasn’t there a strong sense of national peace between the Tamil and Sinhalese people during the recent Aragalaya protests?

A: We are very grateful for that unity. But in terms of political power-sharing, there hasn’t been a political solution to the enduring Tamil problem. The current economic crisis can also be solved by solving this issue.

You can even create an economic hub in the North and Eastern provinces. Nations like Malaysia have aided their economic growth by establishing economic zones and hubs.

As a result of the battle against terrorism, 1.3 million Tamils moved out of Sri Lanka. Of course, we can convince them to invest in Sri Lanka.

It is crucial that we inform them that the Tamil people’s rights have been recognised through the Constitution. The only way forward is for everyone to agree on a new Constitution. When I say “all people,” I also mean the Sinhalese people.

We want to share power in a united Sri Lanka, not one that is divided.

Q: Are you implying that the Tamil Diaspora is eager to help Sri Lanka recover from its current economic crisis?

A: Yes, The Tamil Diaspora is willing to help the country to emerge from the current crisis. The sharing of power will provide the necessary impetus.

Q: Is President Ranil Wickremesinghe treating the Aragalaya protesters fairly?

A: The Aragalaya movement was putting pressure on previous President Gotabaya Rajapaksa because he did not do what was suitable for the people. President Ranil Wickremesinghe should get rid of the Aragalaya. To do that, he has to do what is right for them, which means listening to them and addressing their needs. One of the main demands of the Aragalaya is accountability, hence the slogan “return the stolen money.”

The President may appoint a committee to investigate how the country’s foreign reserves fell from $7 billion to zero and who was responsible for making such decisions that allowed the country’s economy to dry. He may investigate who was responsible for the fertiliser scam, the sugar scam, and the Easter attack. The President is expected to focus on critical issues of accountability. Pursuing Aragalaya movement’s leaders serves no purpose.

The current President has the potential to succeed. We cannot change this country’s presidents every other day. We need economic stability, and for that, we need political stability.

Q: Given the current geopolitical situation in the world, is it a good idea to import fuel from Russia or to allow Chinese military vessels to sail into Sri Lanka?

A: Our diplomatic relations have become strained over the years. President Wickremesinghe himself said that. We are an island nation, and we cannot simply declare ourselves independent and withdraw from the global political map. We must exercise extreme caution in our diplomatic relations.

We must be friends with all countries, not just China and India. I believe that experienced diplomats are required to manage our foreign relations. Given the current geopolitical context, you cannot appoint someone who is someone’s close friend to handle diplomatic relations. It would be best to appoint qualified, experienced individuals to handle foreign affairs.

Appointing the inexperienced in diplomatic relations is unthinkable in the context of an all-party interim Government. At this point, one should be extremely cautious about our diplomatic ties.

Q: What are your thoughts on enforcing the emergency regulations or Acts such as the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA)?

A: Emergency regulations are something that successive Sri Lankan governments have used for the past 40 years. It was previously used to suppress Tamil citizens, and it appears that it is now being used to suppress the Sinhalese people.

We must have anti-terrorism laws, but I believe they must be standardised per international law.

The PTA has been used abusively to suppress the public. It must be repealed entirely.