Defending SLPP presidential candidate Gotabaya Rajapaksa of not accepting the challenge thrown at him by New Democratic Front (NDF) presidential hopeful Sajith Premadasa for an open debate, the Opposition said today Minister Premadasa was not qualified enough to debate with Mr. Rajapaksa.
Addressing a news briefing held at the Viyath Maga Office in Colombo, MP Dr. Bandula Gunawardana said all MPs in the opposition were against Mr. Rajapaksa taking part in a debate with Minister Premadasa.
“We expressed our objection to him taking part in a debate with Minister Premadasa who doesn't have enough qualifications. Mr. Rajapaksa has already published his agenda and plans for the country but Minister Premadasa has not done so. How can a debate be held with someone of that nature? However, we have an interim proposal for Minister Premadasa instead of the debate. We invite him to comment on some of the pressing issues of national importance. I have receipts of funds sent to the LTTE by the late President Ranasinghe Premadasa. He and the then Finance Ministry Secretary inked documents show he had approved Rs.20 million of public funds to the LTTE in 1989. We believe presidential candidate Premadasa should comment on these issues first,” he said.
When asked if Mr. Rajapaksa was afraid to go for a debate, he said “Mr. Rajapaksa was the Defence Secretary who oversaw the war. Will such a person be afraid of someone like Minister Premadasa? It is just that Minister Premadasa is not qualified enough. If he is willing to fulfil the qualifications, then we can reconsider.” (Lahiru Pothmulla)