Injured in a street shooting and recovered after hospitalisation, the Colombo district UPFA MP,R. Duminda Silva had his first media interview recently.
Q: How is your health after the shooting incident?
From the time I was injured in a shoot out many ordinary citizens of Colombo joined in invoking divine intervention for my speedy recovery. They visited Temples, churches, Mosques, Kovils and other religious shrines and joined in various acts of worship. I was cured miraculously with the blessings and prayers of these common people. The deadly wounds have now healed.
Q: What is your impression of politics in Sri Lanka?
I believe that this is the golden era in the political history of Sri Lanka. The thirty years of terrorism had been rooted out by President Mahinda Rajapaksa. He has won back a country where we could now breathe peacefully. At every nook and corner there is visible proof of development, what else do you want?
Q: Did you not leave the UNP and joined UPFA to safeguard the assets of your brother?
Certainly not. My brother’s assets were never under threat. I left the UNP and joined the UPFA because that was the only alternative at that time when considering the situation that was prevalent in the country then. Of my ten years in politics I have spent seven with the UPFA. I have obtained the highest preferential votes at every election. I came first in the Colombo district in the 2009 Provincial Council elections by obtaining the highest number (165,128) of preferential votes. In like manner in 2010, at the parliamentary elections I beat several cabinet ministers in obtaining 146,336 preferential votes. It does not warrant asking about my past in the UNP.
With this aim I mediated with the President and the Defence Secretary and geared the programme to provide houses in flats
Q: What are your views on acts of violence?
I denounce all sorts of violence, because one cannot gain anything from it, nor have you achieved anything.
Q: Hirunika says that you are responsible for the murder of Bharatha.
This matter is now before the courts. As a person who respects and believes in law I do not wish to speak on this matter. The accusing finger is pointed at me. The media in our country always frame the politician as the guilty person. As you have raised this issue I wish to say that the show put up by the media had led astray the legal department.
But I know for certainty that this type of Media shows cannot mislead the Judiciary and the Judges. Even Lord Buddha had to face difficulties, boulders were rolled towards him, intoxicated Nalagiri elephant was sent to attack him. But nothing could deter him from achieving his ambitions. Jesus too had to face many obstacles and temptations , but he was victorious. Our President who saved this country too was subject to much mud-slinging, but he continues to serve the people. I always emulate them and continue my journey unruffled by these accusations.
Q: Some people charge that you are involved in the drug business
Good that you have asked this question. It is the story spread by members of our own party who were in the forefront of preferential votes along with me. I live and move about with the ordinary masses of Colombo who mostly live in slum dwellings. These people are termed as drug addicts and involved in other nefarious activities and the areas of their habitats are referred to as Korea. When I get involved in finding solutions to the problems of these poor people, others label me also as a drug dealer.
This is the work of our own party-men. I have been helping these poor people from my childhood and I will continue to do so. I need not earn money from selling drugs. My father is a reputed Managing Director of several companies and a Director of several other companies as he is a Chartered Accountant.
One of my brothers’ is the owner of a media institute. Another is the owner of a garment factory which is one among the ten that bring in more than 400 million dollars foreign exchange to the country annually.
My sister is a graduate of Monash University in Australia. She is married to the grand-son of late MP Ruskin Fernando, the owner of Velona Industries. His great-grand-father had been the famous philanthropist Sir Henry Charles De Zoysa who donated the De Zoysa Maternity home, Eye hospital, Lunawa, Marawila, Panadura hospitals, Moratuwa stadium, and Prince of Wales College.
My grand-father, Victor Silva popularly known as Victori Mudalai had a great wealth owning, Coconut, Rubber and Cinnamon lands in Kalamulla. My maternal grand-father who had studied at St Thomas College had been in the army and had served in Singapore during World War 11. My mother has a lineage to Sir Oliver who was a Governor of Sri Lanka. From these facts you will observe that charges levelled at me to say that I am in drug business is unfounded. At the bottom of this mud slinging lies the preferential vote battle.
Q: Why did the people of Wanathamulla hoot at you?
Ok, you now come with me to go to Wanathamulla, and see for yourself whether the masses there reject me. The incident you are referring took place with the instigation of the JVP and the UNP. Afterwards the public of the area came in large numbers and apologised to me. I impressed upon them not to get upset, as this was politics.
Q: What have you done politically to help the electors?
If I had not done anything how did I get so many preferential votes in the Colombo district? You speak to any one of any age in the area and ask about what I had done for them. Do you know that roofs of houses inside many slum areas in Colombo are leaking during rainy days, and they cannot lie down to sleep. Only one toilet is available for about 300 people. The sewage drains are laid between rows of houses, and sanitation is at the lowest ebb. The occupants are vulnerable to diseases and they have no income to buy the required medicine.
These people living in Colombo do not earn even Rs 50 a day. I want them to achieve a good standard of living. With this aim I mediated with the President and the Defence Secretary and geared the programme to provide houses in flats.
Even if Casinos are allowed in the so called hotels only foreigners can take part. Sri Lankans would not be allowed. Media had not highlighted the actual position.
I was selected by the Defence Secretary to lead this housing programme as I am living with these poor people. With the successful implementation of this housing programme the Opposition knows that they would never get a single vote from Colombo and therefore they are now resorting to various tactics to cripple these projects. Those who had now gone into occupation in these flats are paying a great tribute to the President and the Defence Secretary for providing a roof above their head. Therefore it is better for you to ask the people what I had done for them rather than asking me.
Q: Are you for or against the Casino Bill?
The President had said no Casinos will be allowed, therefore no one should panic. Even if Casinos are allowed in the so called hotels only foreigners can take part. Sri Lankans would not be allowed. Media had not highlighted the actual position. If Sri Lankans are not allowed into the Casinos, how can our young women become prostitutes serving in the Casinos. Opposition is turning a blind eye to the race-by-race now prevalent in the country. They are attempting to create a monster out of the proposed Casino Bill.
I was selected by the Defence Secretary to lead this housing programme as I am living with these poor people
Q: What are your views about the statement made by Minister Wimal Weerawansa to the effect that he would leave the UPFA?
That is his democratic right. Within the UPFA anyone is free to express personal views. At a time when there is no opposition with a proper backbone to stand and criticize, it appears that this function too is now passed on to the ruling party.
(Courtesy ‘Irida Lankadeepa’)