We did not join the Govt to protect the UNP
By Prageeth Sampath Karunatilaka
Minister of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Mahinda Amaraweera says that Bonds scam perpetrators will be punished, and said "We believe that the loss incurred due to the Bonds fraud should be recovered. There is no question about that. We will intervene completely on behalf of that. However, it will not end there. Those connected to this fraud will be punished. Just because they pay back the money, it will not be enough. We have to recover the money and punish them for the crime they committed, as well."
Excerpts of the interview:
By now how is the election momentum?
A: It is really good.
Although you say that, it seems the SLFP is scared of the elections?
A: No. The SLFP is already with the people. While the other parties are being targeted with allegation upon allegation, the President is taking the SLFP on the correct path. In the coming years we will work towards building the economy and providing employment.
This is a village election and it appears as if that it is not understood?
A: We are working with a clear understanding that this is a village election. It is only the SLFP that has a programme to develop the village and with that power, to develop the country. President's resolve is to carry that out properly and to serve in a people-centric government. He sees the future in a timely and proper manner. Therefore, only that, which is good for the country will be provided by the SLFP.
Has Good Governance come to end?
A: There is nothing like that.
The way the SLFP and the UNP are slamming each other on platforms makes us think that Good Governance is over?
A: Anyhow, we did not join this Government to protect the UNP or to hang onto Government.
Does that mean the marriage of Good Governance is over?
A: We joined the Government to fulfil the concept of a Unity Government. We are still on that journey. Just because we say that, we will not go on a political journey together. People said earlier on that we had joined the UNP. It is not like that. Our main opponent is the UNP. Even though we are running the Government together, we are on separate election platforms.
When that happens, it is difficult to believe and accept things that are said on election platforms?
A: Do not misunderstand me. We will administer, while being mindful of the concept of a Unity Government. But our political views we will take forward separately. In order to protect our voter base and to promote our views and also to test our power we are contesting the elections separately.
Whatever anyone says, if the Bonds Fraud issue had not been there, there would not have been anything to speak of on election platforms?
A: It is not only about the Bonds fraud that we can speak of on election platforms. The Bonds Scam is only one topic. The President appointed a Commission. Now the Report of that Commission is out and legal action will be taken against those found guilty of the Bonds transactions. At the same time the President has appointed Commissions regarding Mihin Air and SirLankan Airlines transactions as well. And the President is taking steps to inquire into those too.
From some of what the President says, it is apparent that the SLFP and the UNP unity is in chaos. He said, Prime Minister you have to give me the strength to put those who should be in prison, into prison!
Does it not indicate that the Prime Minister is preventing the catching of thieves?
A: No. He did not say it only to the Prime Minister. The President said that to all parties and to all groups. He called for support without sabotaging so that, he could take this journey forward.
If the loss of the Bond Fraud can be met by vesting Rs.12 billion assets of the Aloysius family with the Government, and if no loss is incurred due to the Bond fraud, will the SLFP take this matter forward? What is your opinion about it?
A: We believe that the loss that was incurred due to the Bonds fraud should be recovered. There is no question about that. We will intervene completely on behalf of that. However, it will not end there. Those connected to this fraud will be punished. Just because they pay back the money, it will not be enough. We have to recover the money and punish them for the crime they committed as well. We will provide our maximum support in order to do both these things.
Then why was the full Report of the Bond Commission not presented in Parliament?
A: Those are lies. Gammanpila always says things like that. He said such things then and says them today, as well. When the Presidential Commission was appointed he said that it was an attempt to suppress the incident. But that was not, what happened. He has an answer for everything.
Do you support the Budget?
If so, why were bribes given to pass the Budget?
A: I, of course do not know about that. We are unaware of any such thing, neither have we done such a thing. However, I think what is being said is probably about the monies being given for development work.
Is funds for development work, a bribe?
A: No. It is possible that those people see it, that way. The members of the Tamil National Alliance were also given Rs.10 million for development work. That must be what they are talking about. It is possible that he may not have received this money.
Stories and allegations of fraud and corruption, that were there even before the Government of Good Governance came to power, are not there today. Were those investigations suppressed? You too supported this Government to catch the thieves, to bring about law and order. Where are those things you talked about...?
A: We engaged in the election campaign with Mahinda, so it was not relevant then. However, now, many things that we never even thought about have come to light. We had no idea that Bonds Frauds had taken place from 2008. Now, we are of the opinion that investigations should be carried out into those too and that the people responsible should be punished. There is no difference whether it is the SLFP or the UNP. It is not important whether they are together with us or whether they are our friends. If a theft, fraud or corruption has happened the perpetrators should be punished.
President said that he does not know who will get cut by the sword in his possession, for having committed acts of fraud and corruption. However, the President is being accused of taking a different stance regarding the Chief Minister of the Uva Province.
A: There are enough and more incidents of such a nature in this country. However, something that has never happened before took place; the President intervened and took over the Provincial Education Ministry and brought it under the Governor.Previously, such things were never done, in similar incidents. Even for more serious incidents such solutions were not given.
When we consider this personally, we can see that this was something that took place due to a political requirement, and it was something that had been made up. It seems to be something that was done because this is an election period. But we did not ignore it, and as there was an accusation, the Ministry was taken away and the IGP asked to carry out an independent investigation. Also, the Chief Minister was taken to Court even for such a minor matter, and released only on bail. The way this incident was handled was different to the previous decisions taken when similar incidents happened. That is why I said that the manner in which the President sees any problem is unique.
Saruwa Sunil has got a position in your Party now, is it correct to get such people into politics without punishing them?
A: No one by the name of Sunil is contesting the elections.
It is his wife who is contesting?
A: His wife is contesting. Just because one person does something wrong, that is no reason to reject the entire family. Sunil is not contesting the elections.
Even though you say that the SLFP can win in villages, will it be possible?
A: At the beginning the SLFP was in a very difficult position; now we have reached a higher point. We will win. Today we are not in the position we were in at the beginning. People are joining the party daily and there is no one leaving it.
Police who shot at the head of a youth in Kataragama are now going to give a house for that family. At the same time, they are trying to connect this incident to the former President, saying someone connected to the former President is alleged to have been involved in the incident. What are they trying to do? What is the truth?
A: An incident took place at Kataragama. Now that Police constable is in protective custody. Now investigations are being carried out into that incident. The CID has launched an investigation too. The IGP has also said that he is making arrangements to build a house for the family of this youth.
I am not aware of whether anyone connected with Mahinda is involved in this incident or someone is trying to get such a person involved in it. Now the law is being implemented in this country. Previously the law was not implemented in this country. There are certain types of persons in the Police too. Whoever commits a wrong now, the law is being implemented. That is the truth.
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