We do not have deals with anybody- Sagala
By Anuradha Herath
Minister of Law and Order and Southern Development, Sagala Ratnayake says that the Government does not have deals with anybody. "Our deal is with the people. That deal is to secure the law and peace, to ensure a good environment."
Excerpts of the Interview:
Do you believe that a clean group is contesting from the UNP at the Local Government polls?
A: To a great extent but there were accusations against some. However, I do not know whether there are Court cases against them or not, as of now. If there are, action will be taken against them.
Although you are contesting as a single party, finally the Pradeshiya Sabhas will be established by uniting two parties, isn't that so?
A: We will first complete the elections. We are contesting this election to win as a single party.
There are accusations from the JVP that the UNP, SLFP and the Flower Bud are in one camp and have similar policies?
A: We have not changed our policies for anyone's sake. Our policy is to improve the economy. The advantages of an improved economy should go to the people. On one side, the income from their businesses should increase. On the other hand, the village/city should develop. The living standards of the people should be raised.
Then why is the UNP to establish a single Government in 2020? There is a rumour to that effect.
A: During election campaigns on stages, each one says various things. However, we have not discussed how we will contest the 2020 elections. Anyhow, we are working towards strengthening the UNP. We have not taken a decision as to whether we will work together with someone else, as yet. We will build up the party to a level where we will be able to contest on our own.
There is another accusation that files of the Joint Opposition are with the Prime Minister and it is because of these deals that everyone is being protected?
A: We don't have deals with anybody. Our deal is with the people. That deal is to secure the law and peace, to ensure a good environment. So, the responsibility of looking into those files is neither with me nor with the Prime Minister. We will send them to different divisions of the Police. Then investigations will be carried out. There is much talk these days that these cases are being suppressed. There are various stories political wise. Cases have not been suppressed. However there is a problem regarding the time taken to hear those cases. We will bring in an Act that will expedite the hearing of these cases. They will not give verdicts similar to those of 'King Kekille's'. They won't o do what the previous Government did to Fonseka, but, would ensure that the judicial process will not drag on for years. We are in the process of building up that background.
Do you believe that you will be able to win the LG polls?
A: Most definitely!
Even though the SLFP is divided and those votes may go to the UNP, people do not favour that, do they?
A: No. People can give those votes to anyone they prefer. The UNP is chosen because they favour it more. Some people will vote for us because they value our policies.
Why are the Police shooting at civilians in this manner?
A: You are referring to the Kataragama incident. I had made a statement regarding that previously as well. It was a shortcoming on the part of Police who were there. That incident should not be taken as a measuring rod, but anyway, such incidents should not take place. The Police force, which has eighty four thousand members should be trained completely and directed on to a new path. Those trainings are being conducted. A restructuring of the Police is required. Everything, from the Police Ordinance to the structure of the organization should be looked into.
Police officers are given a training of one year and follow discipline courses but finally they do not adhere to orders and shoot at anyone who moves away without obeying orders. Two students in Jaffna were shot and killed. A person in a sand lorry was also killed by shooting. Now, it is the Kataragama incident?
A: These are not just three incidents. However, we accept the fact that these were not correct. Even when road rules are violated such a thing cannot take place. Anyhow, for the Police, there are methods to protect their own lives. They can use their weapon but not during these instances. One year's training is not sufficient. Regular training is needed. They cannot forget the fact that they should not shoot. We will act very strictly. Such incidents should not happen and the Police should be at a higher level of responsibility. However, now the situation is better than before, but it should improve further.
People are complaining that both law and peace in the country have collapsed?
A: I do not agree with that, considering the manner in which law and peace collapsed during the past. We may have forgotten the past, but as media personnel during the time of the previous Government, you would not have done so. You could never even ask such a question during that period. If you had asked, in a short time a van would have come to your place. Today it is unlike that. Today, the freedom is there for anyone to speak out. When you visit the Police, justice is served. There can be one or two bad Police officers. However, during the majority of times everything is done properly.
Does the Police Commission exist only as a name board today?
A: First we have to see why this Police Commission is there. The Police Commission and the Police make various decisions. Finally, the responsibility is borne by the Ministry in charge of the subject as well as the Government. We discuss the procedures at the Ministry of Law and Order and move ahead with our programmes. Today it is unclear for me whether what we expect from the Police Commission is what is in the Constitution.
Drugs and underworld activities have increased daily. Deputy Minister Ranjan Ramanayake, of your Party, says that there are Drug 'Mudalalis' in Parliament as well.
A: There was a time when organized crime reigned. Now there is a fight against that which we have launched. There is a new direction within the Police. By now many underworld leaders have fled the country. One still remains. There are five identified groups.
Even then we will make arrangements to get them back from those countries. We will work towards breaking up the main drug distribution network. We need the assistance of the people, too. We have introduced a telephone number where information can be conveyed. When the main network is disrupted the medium scale network will automatically collapse. We are targeting a period of 12 months. We will control this problem by 2019.
How many security guards does a Parliamentarian have?
A: There are two and ministers generally have 7. However, the number has been increased for ministers who have threats against them. They have been increased during the election period, too.
Q: So why does Member of Parliament Ravi Karunanayake have a contingent of 11 security guards?
A: I think that, as of now, he does not have any security guards at all. As far as I know, he has not used security guards in a big way. If there is a mistake I will correct it.
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