JRJ became Exec. President before ’78 constitution

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By 2017-11-10

By Ranjith Kumara Samarakone

Matara District United National Party (UNP) Parliamentarian Buddhika Pathirana says the UNP engaged in a battle to bring in this Government and said it is through struggles that everything was achieved and went on to say, "Even though we have a National Government, now, we are the motivating force in it."
Excerpts of the interview:

Do you feel that it would have been better to have remained in media instead of getting into politics?

A: Neither politics nor media was on my agenda; it is merely by chance that I got into both. I had a dream of becoming a lawyer. My parents wanted me to become a doctor. Actually, as you asked what most others also ask, which is, instead of getting into politics wouldn't it have been better if I practised medicine and continued with media. There is some truth in this. In politics you get boxed into one party. However in my work I don't take sides.

Your leader, who says he is giving positions to intelligent persons, doesn't seem to have treated you well?

A: If you are talking about a ministerial or deputy ministerial position not being given, it would be correct. I do not know why I am not suitable, however, even as of today I have not asked him about it. I did not feel sad but felt embarrassed. It was not about my party, we established a Coalition Government. We sit in the last row in Parliament, and in front of us sit those who left us and strengthened Mahinda and then came back. I signed in blood saying that I would not leave the Party. It is a humiliation for people like us to have to sit behind such persons who have no principles.

However, this too has to be said. The Prime Minister has given me the funds, not even granted to a Cabinet Minister, for work in the district and the electorate. The other thing is that he gave me the Chairmanship of the District Coordination Committee; as well as a massive provision for development work.

If you had not quarrelled, is it possible that Buddhika too would have been a Minister?

A: We engaged in a battle to bring in our Government, not for anything else. It is through struggles that everything is achieved. Even though at present there is a National Government we are the driving force behind it.

Whatever you say the accusations are all levelled against your Party members?

A:Yes. The best posts in this Government were given to our Party. Even during the 100 days we got the best posts. It is no secret. We work when we receive ministries where we have to make a noise to carry out the work. Meanwhile, there are allegations levelled at us. Then we leave. By leaving and resigning we showcase the principles of Good Governance. It was the same in the Treasury Bonds Fraud. The Prime Minister too has been asked to present himself at the Commission.

It is not a joke the allegations are against the deputy leader of your Party?

A: Yes. When there is an allegation we do not protect the individual. We have no use for status. Some people ask why he was not removed from the post of deputy leader; the allegations were in relevance to his Ministerial position and not with regard to his Party position.

Even though he resigned it is said that he has not given up his privileges?

A: I do not know about that. However, he is not at the Foreign Ministry anymore. It is Tilak Marapana who is working at that Ministry, now.

Everybody is into 'deals'. Most Ministers of the previous Government who had allegations against them are now in this Government?

A: Not everyone is like that. There could be a few. We are not prepared to protect thieves, even if they are from among us. The oyster is killed for the pearl inside it; a tree for its core. Therefore if there are thieves among us, we will not protect them. We will not allow the Government that was established after twenty odd years of suffering to be destroyed. Thieves will not be forgiven. We are not fools to let that happen.

The JVP says that the defeated Mahinda faction is advancing rapidly due to faults of Ranil and Maithri.

A: The JVP says that and others say the reverse. When attempts are made to apprehend thieves, it is called political revenge. When it takes time at the Court, then the cause is said to be inefficiency. Can you remember how Shirani Bandaranayaka and Sarath Fonseka were chased away? At the time there were kangaroo courts. Politics is not a clean science and these are criticisms levelled against persons.

However, in the immediate past, it was your Party that accused Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe of inefficiency?

A: That is the difference. During Mahinda's era there were deaf and blind Ministers. Then the Ministers had their tails between their legs. Our battle is against inefficiency.

The SLFP is now objecting to abolishing the Executive Presidency at this rate how can a new Constitution be proposed?

A: The new Constitution will be prepared by making the entire Parliament a Constitutional Assembly. The '72 Constitution was made according to how they wanted. The '78 Constitution was prepared according what the then Government wanted. In 1966, at the Vidyabhiwardhana Association Hall in Colombo, it was stated that what was most suitable for Sri Lanka was an Executive Presidency.

With the defeat in 1970, J.R. Jayewardene brought this to the Working Committee of the Party; Premadasa seconded that proposal. However, individuals such as Dudley and Hameed and several others objected to it. That proposal was thrown out. In 1978 he thought about the Party as well and brought in the Proportional Representation system. However, J. R. did not bring the Executive Presidency in the '78 Constitution; instead it was brought through the Second Amendment to the 1972 Constitution. Some people have forgotten about that. When the New Constitution was passed on 31 August 1978, J. R. Jayewardene was already the Executive President. So, we say, that Constitution is no good. Now what is there is an Interim Report. As yet there is no Draft. People are shouting, just having got hold of an idea only.

However, today the Government is cornered, now there is wide spread opinion that this Constitution is not required?

A: It is like this. Wherever, there is criticism that becomes popular. If a dog bites a man it is not a news item. However, if a man bites a dog it is a news item. Anyhow, finally this will go to a Referendum.

The people who come to meet you want one thing, and the Government is trying to bring in something else?

A: Yes. Most of what people expect is centred on individual needs. Yes, we have to provide two types of accesses. Minister Sajith is building houses. Minister Gayantha is distributing lands. We have to provide such things which people feel about too.

Some say that there is Western intervention in preparing the Constitution?

A: Complete lies. The Parliament got together to prepare the Interim Report. At first Wimal and others were there too. Western Forces are only in Wimal's imagination. They are just his flowery fireworks.

They are saying, what is contained in the Interim Committee Report is not what they mentioned?

A: That is also a complete lie. That committee visited Matara too. I too presented facts. This is simply a file of initial ideas. These people are saying something similar to Judas's betrayal.

This Government has an inordinate fear of elections, isn't that so?

A: Why are you saying that?

It is being postponed daily?

A: The Local Government Elections were delayed due to the mess created by the previous Government. We wanted to set up a new system. Even the Provincial Councils are the same. Why fear elections?

However, the General Secretary of your Party Kabir Hashim is alleging that it is Minister Faiszer Musthapha who is not holding the elections and throwing the ball into the UNP court.

A: He would have said that the Amendments should be brought in soon, if not the UNP will be faulted.

In the past, postponing elections have resulted in Governments having to go home?

A: No. They won't be postponed. Formalizing things is not a postponement.

Meanwhile some from the Government are joining the Joint Opposition? The JO is advancing rapidly.

A: No. They are not a challenge to us. They are in any case in the Sri Lanka Freedom Party. So, they do not pose a challenge to us.

But in Government?

A:There are two factions in Government. One is the Sri Lanka Freedom Party. It is up to them to protect their own members. I am not in that.

You must be happy that the SLFP is breaking into two?

A: No special happiness, we have always contested under the Elephant Symbol and it is the largest party.

The Cost of Living is very high?

A: Yes. There is something like that. The Budget will provide answers.

The Minister of Finance is from your district?

A: He is someone who knows how to handle affairs of State as well as politics. I don't think he will bring a Budget that will collapse the Government. I am confident he will present a Budget that will enable us to face the public with confidence.

Who will be the Presidential Candidate from your Party in 2020?

A: It cannot be stated now. It will happen according to the times.

By that time, where will you be?

A: I will be just like now.

Will you be able to join the Cabinet by then, even?

A: Let us wait and see. My people will place me where they want and I will carry on with my work.

Are you satisfied with your contribution to establish this Government?

A: Most definitely. We committed ourselves. I signed in blood and declared that I would not leave the Party. We will protect the Government we established with difficulty.

The signature you placed in blood, is it forever?

A: I will not be changing my blood !



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