In a recent interview Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) Leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake -one of the leading figures who contributed to establish Good Governance in Sri Lanka-expressed the following views regarding the present political and economic situation in the country.
- The JVP doesn’t wish to make the people believe that corruption can be eradicated just by removing someone
- It must be noted that education in the country has led to many problems
- That is why we request you to join our struggle against privatization of education while your child learns at this place
- No education system in the world is oppressive like the one offered to students in Sri Lanka
Q This government is in the midst of several crises at present. The opposition values these crises like gold. But, is the present opposition taking advantage of this situation?
There is a conflict between the government which is practising their policies and the opposition which helped them to gain power. However, the political parties that form the opposition have failed to add strength to their cause due to the lack of coordination.Therefore, the biggest challenge faced by us is to bring these forces together and build a strong foundation. As you said, we are compelled to bring everyone to one platform.
But, the SLFP and UNP are focused only on their problems. That is why they can get together and govern the country. Both these parties govern the country with the objective of getting something done for themselves. See how the general secretaries of these parties were transferred.
Q There is a recognized opposition in the Parliament. The allegation levelled by the people against the opposition is that they are fighting to achieve their personal goals.
It’s necessary to mention here that there is a distortion in the composition of Parliament. This situation has been created due to some SLFP members not sitting on the side of the government. The Mahinda Rajapakse camp should be held responsible for this situation. With regard to the Tamil National Alliance(TNA) it only represents the problems of the Tamil people and the North. A national role isn’t played by them. Such a thing can’t be expected of them. That’s why we said during the elections that the problem isn’t with the government, but is due to the lack of a strong opposition.
Q Does the opposition lack effort in solving problems? Is it not in a position to solve any problem?
If we talk about our party, we have appeared for the people in the country and highlighted their problems. But, the SLFP and UNP are focused only on their problems. That is why they can get together and govern the country. Both these parties govern the country with the objective of getting something done for themselves. See how the general secretaries of these parties were transferred. Not only that, as soon as the government was formed, they created a problem regarding 48 ministerial portfolios. This issue was created in order to obtain posts and perks required for themselves.These parties only think of their survival. This issue is applicable especially to the Rajapaksa camp.
There is a legal system to punish the corrupt in the country. There are also relevant institutions which deal with corruption. But these institutions aren’t independent because they are controlled by corrupt politicians
Q As you have said, is it due to the distortion in the composition of Parliament that the politicians have forgotten the people?
See how weak they were when they were in the opposition. There was no SLFP from 1977 till the end of 1993 and there was no UNP from 1994 to 2015. Therefore, a role on behalf of the opposition can’t be expected of them. But, we have played that role throughout the time we have existed as an organization, even during this time we were banned. Even today, we hold that responsibility. We remember commencing our struggle against the Rajapakse regime in 2013. Still this government has been in power for only 2 1/2 years, so let’s be patient. We don’t oppose a regime in a haphazard manner.
Q The Rajapaksa Government was toppled as it was corrupt. There were allegations for corruption against this government at the very inception. Can’t the parties govern the country without indulging in corruption?
Corruption is part and parcel of this socio-economic structure. It’s not a mistake of one person. There is a ring present in these corruptions. In that ring there are politicians, top officers of the government to some extent, businessmen, media proprietors, Police, Army and the Judiciary. This is why the struggle against fraud and corruption isn’t that simple. They have underworld connections. These powerful forces have the possession of illegal weapons and vehicles. We don’t believe that this situation can be changed, just because there is a change of government. The reason is there is no change in bureaucracy and the political mechanism although governments change from time to time. The present government is also a partner of that ring of corruption. Just consider what happened when the previous government was toppled and a new government assumed power on January 8. A big bond scam took place even before two months could pass after the new government was formed.When the people oppose fraud, a government not only engages in fraud, but also appears to protect fraudsters.
Q When talking about bond scam, it was the JVP which took the initiative. How do you wish to see this issue conclude?
There is a legal system to punish the corrupt in the country. There are also relevant institutions which deal with corruption. But these institutions aren’t independent because they are controlled by corrupt politicians. This is why these issues drag on. It’s our responsibility to highlight these issues and form an opinion. Since power is possessed by the rulers the public can’t expect justice at any time. A thief won’t mete out punishment on another thief. Only a clean person will come forward and punish a thief. Do you expect fraudsters to be punished by the Ranil-Maithri Government? This will never happpen.
If the economy is good, then democracy can be strengthened. The depth of the crisis the country is experiencing can be seen by the manner in which The Speaker is controlled
Q The Joint Opposition has decided to bring a no-faith motion against the Foreign Minister Ravi Karunanayaka. Why is the JVP silent in this regard?
We believe in one thing. We aren’t prepared to identify Ravi Karunanayaka as the biggest fish entangled in this corruption net. Even when Karunanayaka was removed from the post of Finance Minister, there was an attempt to fabricate such a story. The JVP doesn’t wish to make the people believe that corruption can be eradicated just by removing someone. Who can give a guarantee regarding the person who is brought in place of a corrupt official? Our aim is to create discussions regarding this issue. We support bringing a no-faith motion against fraudsters who serve as ministers. But we don’t believe that the whole mechanism promoting fraud can be stopped by doing so. The Rajapakses are promoting the view that both the present government and those who were in power are corrupt and that the public should bring into power the least corrupt. We don’t launch our struggle centering one person. However, we are in the process of discussing whether to bring a no-faith motion or not.
Q Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa has said that a no-confidence motion shouldn’t be brought against one person. He wants this motion brought against the whole government. Do you support this stance?
I think the government should be toppled not by counting the number of heads.We intend building an opposition against the policies which govern politics, the economy and the society. Why is it necessary to bring a no-faith motion? Such a motion must be brought to oppose how these two main political parties have governed this country for the past 70 years.
Q Minister Kabir Hashim has said that arrangements would be made to defeat the no-faith motion expected to be brought against Ravi Karunanayake. Isn’t this proof that the government is strong?
Yes. This happens when the majority in Parliament act like signal posts; when people have no hearts nor human feelings and when people are like rotten fish. Given there is a situation like this, certain ministers can boast big. He has said that Ravi Karunanayake will be protected by the government. The present mechanism is such that thieves are protecting thives.
Q Your party has built an opinion against the SAITM by now. As a result doctors tend to stage strikes all over the country. Aren’t the people in the country adversely affected by such actions?
It’s the people who are mainly affected due to any strike. It’s necessary to be aware of people’ suffering. Even if people suffer for one day, one week or a long time it must be taken into consideration. It must be noted that education in the country has led to many problems. As a result children and the parents have become victims of these problems. They have to spend a lot of money for education. No education system in the world is oppressive like the one offered to students in Sri Lanka. This education system is created to open doors for the affluent.
Q There was an allegation against you when it comes to SAITM issue that your child is obtaining an education in SLIM and as a result the education of the other children has been hampered.
The main problem isn’t whether it’s my child or someone’s child. If a child can’t enter university after completing A/Levels he or she is compelled to enter a private university. But the government is going to stop the number of children entering the universities.That doesn’t mean that the children of the JVP Leader and the children of other party members should remain at home after A/Levels. We are continuing our struggle while being aware of this reality. Therefore, we have a balanced opinion regarding this issue.
Q The people feel that it’s an ambiguous character. Isn’t it?
Not at all. That is why we request you to join our struggle against privatization of education while your child learns at this place. We should join hands together. It is then only that a struggle will be successful. Our fight is against such a cause.
We don’t intend to establish a government by shuffling the heads in Parliament. Until recently the President had the power of dissolving Parliament. Now he has no such power
Q That struggle is very successful isn’t it? Now the Frontline Socialist Party is with you.
When we consider it as a political campaign, they are part of us. We don’t treat them as colleagues in this battle because they aren’t a fighting force. It’s the government which should build a proper stage for it. But the system followed by the government is disgusting. That is why such a stage had been built. The gazette regarding SAITM was presented by Dinesh Gunawardena. If he (Gunawardena) is against the SAITM, can Kiriella become more worried regarding this? They may share common opinions. But we must be more united in this struggle.
Q The government maintains that it’s now facing a problem after it took steps to put SAITM in order.
What have they done? There was a shop and a hospital named SAITM. The struggle was against SAITM. There was no facility for their children to receive training in clinics. Then the hospital was taken over by the government. Whose problem has been solved now? I came to know that the Cabinet had taken a decision to spend 200 million monthly regarding this. Is this how the problems of children are solved? The judiciary once gave a verdict for these studentsto go to the Homagama Hospital. This means that SAITM isn’t up to the standard of even the Homagama Hospital. We don’t know whether the President has fallen for the lies of Rajitha Senaratne. Or it could be that the president is aware of the situation and is taking us on a ride. In the history of Sri Lanka, this type of shaky solutions have never been given during such crises.
Q When the government was established, it promised to lend an ear to the voice of the protesters. But the government carries out the policy of oppression doesn’t it?
The Rajapaksas took about 7 or 8 years to establish such a system. The Ranil- Maithri Government started oppressing people within a period of 2 1/2 years. That goes to prove that there is a severe economic crisis at the bottom of all this. The struggle carried out by the people against this crisis can’t be stopped. When the government can’t tolerate such protests they retaliate. The present Government has gone beyond the Rajapakse regime in this regard.
Q The president said recently that a Government can’t be formed without his permission even if 113 ministers form a union in Parliament. Can a new government be formed like this?
We don’t intend to establish a government by shuffling the heads in Parliament. Until recently the President had the power of dissolving Parliament. Now he has no such power. The powers that the president had in taking independent decisions have now been reduced. But, the Prime Minister is appointed by the President. If the chief of the Parliament is the Prime Minister and if he is appointed by the president, it is the president who then decides whether a new government should be established. That is why the president was able to establish a government with 70 members and make Ranil Wickremesinghe the Prime Minister. President Maithripala Sirisena was able to set a good precedent regarding this on 8th of January.
Q You said in Parliament recently addressing the media that the government is adopting a dictatorial attitude in passing Acts in parliament. You said that they are carrying the Mace on the shoulders when doing so. What do you have to say about this?
Democracy isn’t a mere word in a sentence. Democracy, justice and good governance are connected with the economy. If the economy is good, then democracy can be strengthened. The depth of the crisis the country is experiencing can be seen by the manner in which The Speaker is controlled by gestures made by the hands of Ranil Wickremesinghe in the Parliament.
Q Then, what is the aim of the JVP which has such an opinion of the government?
The ruling power has to be established inevitably. We should go to a system where power has to be transferred to the grassroots. Otherwise, no change can be made even in another 50 years if the system of governance that existed 70 years continues.
Q Does that mean that in 2020, there will be a JVP stores?
We have decided to build a people’s campaign by 2020, so that the government can be toppled.We will go forward and tell the people to give us power. It’s time to drop traditional politics.
QYou are the Leader of the JVP. Are you sure that the people will give you such power?
We believe that the people in our country are emotional, but flexible.
They often attend rallies. Therefore, this crowds which attend these rallies are ‘mixed’. If there is a policy that they can believe in, they will accept it.