Was the fuel crisis created to get rid of Arjuna ? IOC ship still off the seas of Trincomalee
By Ruwan Kumara Samarakone
National Freedom Front leader Wimal Weerawansa says this government does not have a mandate to prepare a new Constitution, and said "Even though the UNP asked for a mandate, to bring in a new Constitution, they did not get it. They got only 106 seats."
Excerpts of the interview:
You came into politics through the JVP in 88, but later you changed course; today what are your thoughts on that?
A: Yes, I entered politics as a JVPer in 1988 and you are asking me why I changed course. However, just see who has changed course in practice. I joined the JVP, when the Indian Army was here; the Indo-Lanka Agreement had been signed and the 13th Amendment to the Constitution was brought in and chaos reigned. It was due to the stress of the times and to create an anti imperialistic, nationalist movement that was left oriented that we joined the JVP.
Parties have split. The JVP's history too is shaken, and your leaving the party has been a huge loss to the JVP which had risen to be the third force, by then?
A: Anura Dissanayake joined the JVP in 1989 November, after comrade Wijeweera was murdered. He left fulltime politics, and was fulltime with the JVP only for about five or six months. When we got some students of the Kelaniya University to build up the party, in 1994, in preparation for the General Election, Anura Dissanayake was one of those who gave reasons for us to not do it. At that time he said, students should not join political work. However, later he comes in and caused this destruction. He fist attacked me, as I had nationalist views. Then it was comrade Somawansa, who is considered the father of the JVP that got its 2nd life. If he had to leave to what is there to talk about me?
Did you form a new party to get into power or make an impact?
A: For power.
There is talk of a new Constitution; however, the government says there isn't even a draft as yet? Why are you preparing for an eventuality that may not even happen?
A: If there was nothing like that, what was debated in Parliament for three days?
You know that it is only an Interim Committee Report?
A: Yes. The fact is that those points will be included in the Constitution.
Are you against all the proposals?
A: We don't know what is included; whether all the proposals are coming through or only a few! However, this is the document that is the subject of discussion.
Anyhow is your party going to leave the Constitutional Assembly?
Even though your party has left, others representing the Joint Opposition, remained?
A: Yes. They are there.
Why did you leave?
A: We left when the Maha Sangha of the three Sects tried to influence the government and requested to stop the process. It was a powerful request. We cannot favour a position which even the Maha Sangha has rejected. Once the discussions are over, then it will go to the Steering Committee. The final report will come from there. The Constitutional Assembly will meet and the voting will take place. It will be approved through a simple majority and then presented to the Cabinet. Then it will come back to Parliament.
That will be the final stage. Those who are preparing these are not babies. They are doing it in fine detail and those that are debatable will be changed. Even a tiny Amendment may facilitate for a Province to breakaway. Now the Parliament and President are the supreme powers. However, when Provincial governments are formed, that is finished. When there is Supreme Power no Referendums are required for Amendments. Then what will happen!
You left and now you have a group of your own?
A: Our people are caught up in the government's cunning trap. The government knows that if this comes as something of theirs it will be severely criticized. What they are doing with the Interim Report is testing the waters.
UNP says that the views of others were solicited; however, they have not even submitted the attachments?
A: When we met the President, we asked him about it. He said that when he inquired about this from the Prime Minister he had said that they are in agreement with what is being said. But Ranil came out with another story in Parliament. This procedure is anyhow being carried out under the leadership of the PM. In the 1978 Constitution it is stated that in the Republic of Sri Lanka, Buddhism will be given priority. But in the Interim Committee Report the Republic is not stated, it is merely Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka cannot give priority to Buddhism; it can only be done by the Republic. These are very shrewd workings.
You make controversial statements from time to time and this time you have spoken of bombing the Parliament. What did you mean by it?
A: To create the controversy that you mentioned.
Isn't your party in favour of changing this Constitution which has been run into the ground?
A: This government does not have a mandate to change the Constitution. The President said that those Articles that don't need a Referendum will only be Amended. Those have been done now. Even though the UNP asked for a mandate for a new Constitution, at the General Election, they did not get it. They got only 106 seats. Wijeyadasa Rajapaksha who was in government says that this procedure is not legal. The U.N pays the salaries of Parliament staff. Why is the U.N paying salaries to prepare the Constitution?
Some people say that, you too have to take some of the responsibility, for failing to win the North and forbeing defeated at the Presidential Election?
A: Why are you saying that?
You are being labelled a racist?
A: You are saying we are racists. It was I who gave Dharshan Dharmaraj a house in Borella. From our Ministry! We issued letters of appointment for Tamils in Tamil. Just because we are not racists doesn't mean we will encourage separatism.
The election is to be held soon. Are you ready?
A: If the Gazette was published on the 7 November we could have conducted elections on 27 January. Even though Faiszer said the pitch was ready, it did not happen. Now they are looking at proofs. So we cannot say when the election will be held. This government is fearful of elections. It is a country that lets people stand in queues for fuel.
What was the gravest wrong of the previous government?
A: The previous government did not commit any serious wrongs. If the Economic and Technology Cooperation Agreement (ETCA) was signed or war crimes were accepted, then they would have been serious wrongs. We couldn't identify the responses of enemies. We did not correctly adhere to the rule of law. We could have taken a step regarding the Executive Presidency. We could have prepared economic and financial strategies. Apart from such things no serious wrongs were committed during our time.
However, based on all those the government was toppled?
A: The UNP had a Communication strategy and they spread fantastic rumours. Some of them were really humorous. One of the rumours went like this, that one day Mahinda Mahaththaya wanted to eat Thosai and called Thondaman and asked him to send his cook. Thondaman said that he had no vehicle to send the cook, so Mahinda Mahaththaya said he would send the helicopter.
The ride cost Rs. 1.5 million. The cook made Thosai. Mahinda Mahaththaya ate only two Thosais. So the cost of each Thosai was Rs 750,000. There were fools who believed these. Even RAW and the CIA got to work. They are the people who advised the JVP as well.
Is it not possible that such rumours are circulating against this government, in the same manner?
A: What for? These people do not need rumours. They self-destruct.
How will you contest at the forthcoming election?
A: As a broad national front.
Basil Rajapaksa whom you severely criticized at one time is building the Podujana Peramuna?
A: It is not Basil Rajapaksa's; it is Mahinda Rajapaksa who is the leader of the Party and it was formed because helost the leadership of the SLFP.
Some say the former President was brought back to politics by a group that included you?
A: I do not know whether he was to retire or not. However, comrade Vasantha Bandara of our Party asked me what will we do now, and I said "Let us rise again with Mahinda."
Most of those who stood with Mahinda have woken up after the election and they are on the other side?
A: Yes. There were many reasons. Some saw the people power and stood with Mahinda and then crossed over; then there were others who were sincere and stayed.
When you made accusations against the government the relevant ministers resigned. How do you see this?
A: See where Marapana is today, he is one who of those who resigned; he has two Ministries now. Wait and see what happens to Ravi Karunanayake. There is nothing to prevent us from wondering whether the fuel crisis was created to get rid of Arjuna and bring back Ravi, we don't know.
The President appoints Commissions. Many facts are being revealed through those?
A: Yes. There is praise about that. On the other hand when facts were being revealed through the COPE Report about the Treasury Bond fraud, the President dissolved Parliament because the Prime Minister wanted it done. Then the second theft took place. The President could not halt those. Later a Commission was appointed. However, we have to wait and see what will happen in the end!
Although you say that, even before this there were COPE Reports but no action was taken regarding those, at that time?
A: Why not? A Report under the Chairmanship of Wijeyadasa Rajapaksha was issued.
Was Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe removed from the government then, because it was not implemented?
A: That is one reason.
You accuse this government of selling national assets, weren't land given out on freehold basis, at that time as well?
A: Complete lies. These people commit crimes and blame it on the past. Just see, this is a government that cannot even provide fuel properly. The minister is being influenced politically it seems. That ship is still in Trincomalee. The Indian Oil Company thinks that when there is no fuel, the government will let that ship in. When you have foreign companies handling energy that happens! It happened to Nepal and to Chile too. The IOC was allowed in during the time Karu Jayasuriya was the Minister.
Pic by Amila Jayawardena
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