Zero support for Justice Minister within UNP – Ajith P. Perera
By Shaahidah Riza
Deputy Minister of Power and Renewable Energy, Ajith P. Perera, said the United National Party (UNP) will come to a decision about Justice Minister Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe over his reluctance to establish a corruption court. Perera, a senior UNPer, had been sparring with fellow UNPer Rajapakshe on establishing a corruption court, when the matter reached fever pitch last week leading to UNP backbenchers pushing for a no-confidence motion against Rajapakshe. In an interview with Ceylon Today, Perera claimed that Rajapakshe was satisfied with the status quo.
?. What is the latest on the no-confidence motion against Justice Minister Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe?
A. The backbenchers have not yet decided whether they are going ahead with it or not. They are waiting for the Working Committee and the parliamentary group meeting to take place on 17 August.
?. What is the Prime Minister's response to the no-confidence motion?
A. We don't know what exactly his view is, but we will have to take a decision on Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe. The delay in the judicial process is a serious issue. The Prime Minister is extremely concerned about that. We had some discussions in the Working Committee and the parliamentary group meetings, but unfortunately the Justice Minister didn't respond in a positive way.
?. The Justice Minister's reasoning is that with the power vested in him, there is only a very little he could do to expedite this.
A. We don't believe that. We don't want to interfere with the activities of the Attorney General's Department. We are not talking about interfering with the judicial process either. All we want is to have an efficient process. There is more than one way to execute this. Unfortunately, the Justice Minister is satisfied with the status quo. When you are satisfied with the status quo, you won't do anything progressive.
?. Wouldn't this give rise to division within the party?
A. There won't be any division. No one in the UNP is supporting the Justice Minister. There is zero support for him.
?. What would the corruption court entail?
A. It has a few elements. The first is establishing a special High Court; an anti-corruption High Court within the existing High Court system. Then you don't need to amend the existing law. It's an administrative action. You can have two or three High Courts and within that system you can have additional facilities. It's only about administration and facilitating these, it's not about interfering with the AG's Department. The other is to have continuous trials. In fact, having continuous trials is a rule according to the Criminal Procedure Code. Unfortunately, due to various practical reasons and lack of facilities, we are not following that rule. Having continuous trials is not a backward decision, it is a positive decision and it will be within the ambit of the law. That will ensure a fair trial for all.
?. How soon will this be established?
A. All depends on the Minister of Justice. Basically, it is his duty. In fact, the AG's Department is under the Minister of Justice. During President Rajapaksa's time it was under the President. He interfered with the AG's Department and he controlled it. We don't want to interfere with the AG's Department but we want to facilitate the AG's Department to accelerate these cases.
?: There is speculation that the UNP is pushing for a corruption Court because a majority of Joint Opposition members pushed for a no-confidence motion against former Foreign Minister and lobbied for his resignation. They allege that the corruption Court is to exact revenge on JO. Is there any truth in this?
A. It's nothing to do with former Foreign Minister Ravi Karunanayake's resignation. The resignation was basically due to pressure from within the party and not from the outside. It is a sign of good governance that will allow government institutions to conduct their investigations in an unbiased manner. His resignation will create a better environment for a fair investigation. This struggle against the delay of laws is a continuing process. I had to fight with the Justice Minister for the last one and a half years on these issues within the party and within the Working Committee, and the parliamentary group. Unfortunately, the Justice Minister ignored because he is satisfied with the status quo, which is the problem. I was pushing for a corruption Court long before Karunanayake's resignation. This has got nothing to do with his resignation. I am a man of principles; this is a very important issue for my party as well as for me. I am very serious about it, which is why I am continuously fighting for this and leading the struggle. I know that almost junior MPs of the party, state ministers and deputy ministers, including a few Cabinet ministers are all supporting me. I am on my way to achieve this target.
?. Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa stated that if a no-confidence motion against Minister Rajapakshe is taken up by the government, he will support Rajapakshe. Your comment?
A. That is not a surprise at all. Delaying of the laws will support the corrupt. I know that the former President's family members, including his wife, children and brothers are under investigation. Basil Rajapaksa and Namal Rajapaksa were served with indictments.
The person who is having pending cases in the Courts, and those who have close ties to the accused are the ones who want these laws delayed. Not just Mahinda Rajapaksa, all other accused like Basil Rajapaksa, Gammanpila, Prasanna Ranatunga, and almost all the Joint Opposition members, who are facing investigations are supporting Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe. That shows the real situation, that shows the strength of our argument.
?. Are you suggesting that Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe is working according to the Joint Opposition's bidding?
A. It will be interesting to see what he would do next. I have nothing personal against him. I consider him to be a very senior lawyer and he is a very good friend of mine. But, I consider the welfare of the country first; we cannot face the people, especially my fellow lawyers who supported the Yahapalana process. They are all complaining and challenging us very seriously, there is no other option than expedite these laws. People need fair trials and conviction after fair trials. That is what we are fighting for, and that is what we want to achieve.
?. When one member of the Cabinet goes against the policies of the government, what happens to the collective responsibility of the Cabinet?
A. It is a tradition to adhere to the collective responsibility principle. I think it's very simple. When you agree within the Cabinet, you can't criticize the decision outside. If you do not agree with that decision then you have to resign. Gamini Jayasuriya on 13 A, opposed the Cabinet decision and resigned. Ronnie de Mel did the same.
?. Sri Lanka is considerably reliant on thermal energy. How does the financing of thermal energy work? There has been speculation that the CEB has been purchasing thermal energy from the private sector.
A. It is our policy to buy power from Independent Power Producers (IPP). If there is a correct, competitive, transparent, tender process, power can be obtained at the lowest rate. It's all about having a competitive process. There is no question of buying power from the private sector. We not only buy thermal power, even renewable energy such as wind and solar we will buy from the private sector. The private sector will have a very serious role and they will invest in power generation, and the CEB will buy their power at a competitive price. It's all about competition. That is the most important principle; we will go through a competitive process. I know that there are so many issues. But, we had our first competitive tender for wind a year ago, which was very successful. Then we had our first competitive tender for solar, which was again successful. The prices were reduced by almost 40%. Now we are in the process of buying 300 mega watt of LNG. We had a very bad experience about this tender. It wasn't a problem on our end, it was relating to the tender evaluation process and bidders' mistake. We will rectify that situation and we will create a better, fair and competitive environment on power purchasing.
?. We have a colossal garbage crisis. There are so many countries in the Asian region that are converting garbage into energy. Why is Sri Lanka lagging in this regard?
A. We have already signed four agreements with Waste to Energy producers. We were able to start this project a few weeks ago; I think we are going in the right direction following the disastrous situation we experienced. We will definitely be able to produce power from garbage in one and a half years.
?. Will Sri Lanka explore the option of nuclear energy?
A. It is in our long-term generation plan, but it won't take place in the near future. We are looking into that option as well. As of today it's expensive, and it is very difficult for us to find a correct place. I think in the next few years, with safer technologies it will be easier to manage. Nuclear energy will have a very good opportunity in our power system. As of today, we have one nuclear power plant in our long-term generation plan as an optional plant, it is not yet a mandatory aspect. But we are considering and we are doing our studies. Nuclear renewable energy will have a very good future in Sri Lanka.
?. Last year, there was an indication that Sri Lanka was exploring sea wave energy. Will Sri Lanka go ahead with that?
A. Actually, we have a lot of opportunities for sea wave energy. As of today it's expensive. We will encourage wave energy generators and we will support any research. We can see a very good future in wave energy too.
?. The Ministry of Transport joined with the Ministry of Power and Energy to initiate the electrification of the railway. What is the current situation relating to that?
A. Actually, the ADB is supporting us with that. A Rs 600 million loan is in the process of being approved. We have started our studies.
We have experienced some issues with the system, especially with regard to converting the existing system into electricity. Anyway, we are very serious about this, the ADB is ready to fund us, I think that will take some time to materialize.
It seems like the Ministry of Transport does not consider it a priority project.
But for me it is a very important project, in fact I did some work relating to that. Unfortunately, it is not within my power to expedite it.
Ministry Secretaries should be appointed on Best interest of Public not Minister Lethargy blocking change
- Action against COPE MPs caught talking to Aloysius Speaker to meet party leaders this week
- UNP furious over phone tapping CID, AG’s Dept blamed for ‘media show’
- Treasury Bonds Probe AG to question PM
- Gintota clashes 19 remanded Govt on desperate mission to arrest extremists
- ‘A prisoner in Indian jail on Eelam soil’
- Sagala vows to crush Aava group Police deployed in full strength
- Politico’s son-in-law in school frock drama Teacher threatened after student is reprimanded
- Lanka alarmed over increased smuggling of ‘KG’
- SC to hear Tangalle ASP assault case
- 656 kg Glyphosate nabbed
- FPTP opens gate for undesirables, warns Amunugama
- EC to issue nomination notice on 27th
- NPC Education Minister shuns national flag Sarveshwaran was Chief Guest at school event
- Geological changes in Jaffna – Academics
- Violence against children World Vision launches campaign
- Females from soldier families on SLPP list
- JO goes to CIABOC against five COPE members
- Warrant issued on Jaliya Wickramasuriya For failure to appear in court
- Appuhamy admits to communicating with Aloysius Denies wrongdoing
- Gota’s objections thrown out Avant Garde case to go ahead
- JVP to team up with the devil! Vows to defeat LG polls gazette case
- UNP and JO in ‘secret deal’ to tarnish SLFP – Dayasiri
- CID evidence on COPE members and Aloysius JO urges Speaker to investigate
- An Inconsistent US Assertive China and Asia’s Hobbesian Order
- Jorge Sharp and Citizen Movements:New Momentum for Chilean Left?
- Angelo, Lahiru prop Sri Lanka
- Ritzbury Sir John Tarbat Junior School Athletic Championship 2017 Janadhipathi BV and St. Joseph’s emerge champions
- Air Force, Police look for first win
- Navy defeat lethargic Havies
- CEB emerge Super League Champs
- Rambukwella scores ton
- ‘Singer Cup’ Under-19 Schools Cricket Buddila steers St. Aloysius
- Pelican SC win
- HNB clinch two titles
- Nadal wins defamation case
- One-legged footballer melts hearts
- Paine handed shock recall for Australia
- Italy's stars fall back to earth in Serie A
- 20th Army Para Athletic Meet 700 Servicemen and 5 Koreans in the fray 2 Korean Olympians provide international flavour
- 47 successful at AASL Technical Officers exam
- England’s May up to speed for Wallabies
- MCA Premier League 2018 MAS and DIMO into Semis
- 34th MBA Inter-Firm Team Badminton Championships 2017 McLarens Group are overall champions
- Fourteen teams for beach tag rugby
- CH in vigorous win over CR
- Aviation sector to be liberalized
- Telcos to lobby against levy
- How 5 massive Trade Deals Have Fared under Trump
- Securing the social licence to operate
- China stealthily pouring money into India
- Managing taxpayer money: Targets, promises and real achievements
- LB Finance reports solid 1H results
- HNB Group posts Rs 16.8 B PBT
- Study on the Non-Banking Financial Industry
- People’s Bank installs ATM at Ella Railway Station
- World’s fastest car redefining education
- Abans Homes Instyle: Furniture of the future
- Transforming Sri Lanka’s real estate landscape
- Access Engineering lays new road along Beira
- Should Sri Lanka become a Tea Hub?
- Amãna Takaful wins at SLIM NASCO 2017
- Glow Skincare aids flood victims through ‘Purple Fashionista’
- Seylan rewards monthly draw winners
- Turkish Airlines to offer stopover in Istanbul
- taxpayer revolt if Republicans kill deduction?
- Best Wishes
- Remembering ‘Dictionary Johnson’
- Budgetary design of blue green enterprise
- A Time of Gifts Different Perspectives
- We were forced to work like animals
- Concretes and abstracts Two comics at the Savoy in London
- Row over beer tax
- Illegal mining Muttur’s sandy secret Hundreds of tons of sand taken away at night
- PM before Bond Commission tomorrow
- BREXIT Impact on free movement of people
- Wigneswaran’s claim Devanampiya Tissa was a Tamil king An academically naïve proposition Prof Raj Somadeva
- There is no journey with the UNP
- Core values of the UNP are eroding - Pradeep Jayewardene
- UN compensation for Kuwait workers Rs 3.2 B on migrant worker welfare
- Professor Matteo Legrenzi says: Gulf States are not keen on all-out war
- An argument for a new Constitution
- ‘Otriachchi’, ‘Orumiththa Nadu’, ‘Aekeeya Rajya’ and unitary state
- A Constitutional Framework for Sri Lanka
- PAST LIFE AND RULING PLANETS IN KRISHNAMURTHI PADHDHATHI
- Build before onset of Kona Masa
- Palms of road accident victims
- Want to get rid of malefic Saturn ?
- Installing doors and windows according to Vastu
- Our children and our cinema
- INTERPRETING ASIAN CINEMA: CHALLENGES AHEAD
- How Sanskrit journalism is slowly hogging headlines
- ice manufacturing in South Asia
- CMSC’s season finale concert
- Two documentaries on Sri Lanka in Film South Asia 2017
- Politics of nostalgia
- Vibrancy of classical Sinhala poetry
- Kite Surfing Lanka Kalpitiya An experience of a lifetime
- Ella and mini Adam’s Peak
- A cave of history -Ravana Cave
- Conquering Fashion
- Gavin Ryan’s Salon Professionalism to the next level
- THE WRITER’S KITCHENETTE THE CRANBERRY ADVENTURES
- Calamitous Earthquake in Iran
- Scientists warn of ‘giant leap backward’ at climate talks
- Death of Ananda Senaratne