SLFP in grip of unwholesome men – Mervyn Silva
BY PANCHAMEE HEWAVISSENTI
The much talked-about Mervyn Silva has stolen the limelight once again with the launch of a new political party. Although still lacking a name and a symbol he says they have been decided on, but it was premature to make it public until the party gets legal recognition from the Election Commissioner's Department. The former MP rebukes political leaders for wilfully depriving him of the right to contest elections. "Some politicians in the party conspired to withhold my nomination," he quips.
He also criticized the Good Governance Government stating that it is akin to a grafted tree which neither gives shade nor bears fruit. "The two parties hardly correlate with each other and cannot go ahead together. Either the SLFP or the UNP should have full authority in the Government" he said.
In an interview with Ceylon Today he further stated that the party formed by him will be free of corruption and he is looking for a capable youth leadership to lead the party as he prefers to remain the President of the newly formed party.
Excerpts of the interview:
?There are over sixty political parties in the country. What made you form another party?
A: I am sick of the SLFP's discrimination towards me. Without a valid allegation, my membership was terminated by the Party. I was not given nomination for the last General Election. There was a conspicuous conspiracy against giving me nomination. I also blame the President of the SLFP for treating me in this manner. I earnestly declare that I will never join the SLFP again. If anyone is thinking of joining the Party, I advise him not to. The party is an abode for ungrateful persons and it is in the control of a handful of unwholesome people.
The Joint Opposition's faction of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party is not a successful venture. It accommodates corrupt people and the leadership is ineffectual. The political parties in the country are filled with corrupt and inefficient politicians.
These reasons have motivated me to form this new political party. I am not the only person who suffered this discrimination by the existing political parties in this country. I invite all of them to join me.
?You claim that there is no unblemished political party in the country at the moment. So, how does your party differ from that of the others?
A: There are strict rules and regulations in our party and all the members are expected to abide by them. They cannot engage in politics for individual gains. They cannot abuse power. Those who join to serve the country should not be greedy for wealth or power. They will not be given star class facilities. If they are willing to spend their money to serve the people, they can join me.
The leaders in the past such as D.S. Senanayake, John Kotelawala, S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike and Anagarika Dharmapala utilized their personal finances to serve the people of the country.
The members of the party should take the lead to preserve the lofty tradition of Sinhala ethnicity and state the place of Buddhism as the State religion.
I will remain the President of the party and look forward to a young leadership for the party from among those who are educated, intelligent, wise and visionary, with a holistic disposition to the Party. I do not encourage family or recommendation-based politics.
We are planning to assign youth with positions in the party so that they will be exposed to a vast spectrum of opportunities.
?You assert that the Party's leadership should be in the hands of youth. And you are also aware that neither of the two major Parties will afford you or your son the opportunity to contest an election as a member of either Party. Isn't your intention of forming a new party that of facilitating you and your son's re-entry to politics?
A: If my son is concerned about making a foray into politics, he has the right to do that. I neither have the right to hinder him from entering into politics nor to force him to engage in politics. The Party that I am going to form is for everyone who can strictly abide by the rules and regulations of the party. If Malaka fulfils the requirements, let him be so appointed by our Party's Executive Board.
The Party will not accept recommendations in handing out nominations.
?How many members are there in your party at present?
A: A large number of educated, intelligent and qualified persons have joined hands with me at present. I would like to invite members of the armed forces and media personnel to collaborate with us to develop our country by engaging in good politics.
?When are you going to embark on the activities of the Party, and from where?
A: Shortly after we receive accreditation for the party, we will begin to function. We plan to hold our inauguration ceremony in Anuradhapura. We intend to take oaths before the statue of the great King Dutugemunu that stands in Ruwanweliseya.
The great King Dutugemunu is reported to have sworn to safeguard the Buddha Sasana. Likewise, we too make a pledge that 'our endeavour is to serve the public, not ourselves'.
?You claim that you are going to found a political party devoid of corruption and crime. Can you declare that you have not abused your political power for material and financial gain during your stints in Parliament in the past?
A: If you accuse me of abusing power to engage in corruption and to gain financial benefits, I dare you to produce clear evidence of such corruption. If I had engaged in any corruption financially, I should have been summoned by the FCID by now.
I come from a wealthy family. My father engaged in business. I had many businesses in Beliatta. So, I do not need to loot public money for the sustenance of my family. If anyone accuses me of mishandling public finances, I am ready to accept the challenge of proving clean hands.
?You invited media personnel to join forces to bring about a corruption free and good society by taking responsibility in your new political Party. Unfortunately, your name was associated with many an assault on media stations in the past.....
A: I don't know what's wrong with this society. People only remember the wrongs one has committed. They hardly remember the services he has rendered. It is the same in this case. During my brief tenure as the Deputy Minister of Mass Media and Communication I proposed several welfare programmes for media personnel such as housing, vehicle and pension schemes.
I deny the charges of assaults on the media. There were disagreements between some media organizations and myself because the manner in which they were conducting themselves was highly injurious to the lofty values of Sri Lanka's culture.
When I went to a State-owned media institution to talk some matters over, some of the staff were prepared to assault me. When the leaders of the organization asked me to leave by the rear door, I refused because I am brave enough to face any challenge.
However, if we come to power, freedom of media will be highly assured.
?Although you were a fervent aide to the Rajapaksa family in the past, nowadays you seem to belittle them. Why are you disillusioned with the Rajapaksas?
A: The Rajapaksas have been known to me since childhood and I still revere the former President Mahinda Rajapaksa. He was an outstanding leader who ruled the country in an excellent manner. Yet, unfortunately he faced tragedy due to the misdeeds of his two brothers. One was responsible for a large number of abductions and killings and the other for looting the country. These two caused the downfall of Mahinda Rajapaksa.
One of his brothers, who was the organizer for the Gampaha District, wanted to keep me away from the last Presidential election campaign and appointed two more organizers for the Kelaniya electorate which is a small area. I quit the election campaign and I supported no one. The same person, over the years, plotted against me and created misunderstandings about me in the minds of other politicians of the area. That is why I do not have any regard for the brothers of the ex-President.
Although those two brothers held high positions in the government, none of them held Sri Lankan citizenship. They are American citizens. They neither feel for the country nor its people. That is why one of them left the country as soon as the Presidential election result was announced.
Although I reprimand them, I still hold Mahinda Rajapaksa in high esteem.
?Why do you speak ill of the SLFP and have a high regard for the UNP?
A: I detest the SLFP for the injustice the Party has done to me. But the UNP is a first rate political party. It has an exemplary leadership. The leader of UNP is highly educated and hails from a sound family background. He is wise and has long-term vision.
He does not show hostile reaction to his opponents.
When I underwent tough times under Sirimavo's regime, I quit the Party and joined the UNP. I contested and won the election in Tissamaharama.
However, when former President Chandrika Bandaranaike wanted me to join hands with her, I deserted the UNP though Ranil Wickremesinghe kept asking me not to leave. I regret that decision.
?Are you planning to contest elections under your new Party? If so, which electorate would you choose to make your comeback, Beliatta or Kelaniya?
A: I am undecided whether to engage in politics again. I wish to remain the President of the Party that I form.
?You talk good about the UNP and its leadership. Do you intend to form an alliance with the UNP?
A: I have no right to decide on that on my own. If there is any opportunity of that nature, I will have to consult the members of the Party.
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