Q:Would the Wimal Weerawansa today call himself a Marxist?
I agree with certain deep and important aspects of Marxism, but I don’t believe that Marxism provides the final and only mirror of viewing the world. Of course Marxism has revealed one side of looking at the world very well. But I’m not of the belief that it is a complete ideology in looking at the world.
Q:So are you saying that your previous allegiance to socialism and Marxism while you were a JVP’er has changed with your evolution?
No. I’m still a believer of socialism. But there are different methods of socialism practiced around the world. If you look at Cuba it has a very unique system of socialism, in North Korea it is another method and in China its called market socialism. So you can see that each country has taken a unique approach to socialism. Therefore I believe that we also have to create a model of socialism that is unique to us. But socialism overall is a good thing.
Q: What then, is your contribution towards creating this kind of socialism in today’s political context? Are you doing something towards creating this?
Most certainly. Our politics is both anti -imperialistic and nationalistic. The next step is Socialism.
Q: One of the main issues that have been highlighted today in the media is your current verbal lashing of P. B. Jayasundera going to the extent of calling him an economic hitman. Do you not see this as just another link, in the maze of mismanagement?
This isn’t mismanagement. If that was the problem then the solution would have been to increase efficiency or to have taken other steps to alleviate it. But this is different. Who is an economic hitman? Of course you can term someone who robs money from the government to be an economic hitman. But I use this term in a much broader sense. The term denotes a person who knowingly works according to the agendas of international monetary agencies, someone who uses different interpretations and includes the very same agendas of these international agencies. It is on such a person that I would coin the term ‘economic hitman’.
For example, the IMF wanted the rupee devalued. The Governor of the Central Bank Ajith Nivard Cabral was against this. He used the dollar reserve and controlled the rupee to a certain extent. But when this came up for discussion between the government and the IMF, the secretary to the treasury insisted on devaluing the rupee - this was in the presence of the Governor who opposed the move and representatives of the IMF. Despite all of this the rupee was devalued following the President’s budget speech.
But who pushed the entire economic cycle towards ensuring that the President made such a statement? How did it get to this point, is the important question. When Nivard Cabraal was clearly against the devaluing of the rupee, P. B. Jayasundera sided with the stance of the IMF. So PB ensured that a mechanism was put in place to push the Central Bank Governor to devalue the currency- and accordingly worked on that agenda.
One of the mechanisms he used in order to achieve the end goal was to suddenly cut taxes in the importing of vehicles, which was an abnormal decrease. All of a sudden the country imported vehicles that would normally be imported within a span of two years in one year. You can investigate into this and see the number of vehicles the treasury imported during this time for the government. Even I requested for vehicles, and thought my ministry would get about 4 or 5 vehicles, but we got 18 vehicles. Not that I am unhappy about it.
But if our ministry budgeted for such an amount of vehicles and submitted it to the treasury, they would have said it is a waste and rejected it. All of these vehicles, however, were brought through the Ministry of Finance. It was they who opened LC’s- so you can imagine the other things which might have happened. Accordingly, they brought in a humongous amounts of vehicles to the country. This was how the country’s money was sent abroad. Instead of keeping the country’s wealth in the country these people portrayed economic progress and cut down the taxes. The moment taxes were cut even the poor people wanted to buy vehicles, so they took loans and got down vehicles. This is just an example of how this person compelled the country towards falling in line with what the IMF wanted.
This is how I term him as an economic hitman. Only when the President made his speech in parliament stating that the rupee was to be devalued, did the Governor of the Central Bank know of such a thing. I assume the President when making his speech was of the belief that the Governor and the Secretary would have worked in tandem and must have not known that the Governor was kept in the dark. It is a person such as this who fits into the term of an economic hitman.
Many ministers don’t talk about this because they are afraid that their ministry allocations would be cut off. I’m speaking about this because I am not afraid of the repercussions. I’m speaking of this because this according to my interpretation is an economic hitman in the true sense of the word.
Q: You are saying all of this while you are a powerful member of the cabinet. Wouldn’t Wimal Weerawansa have walked out of the cabinet when this is the sort of thing that is happening?
Why- do you want me to walk out and shout about this? When we don’t talk -you ask me, ‘why don’t you shout- you seem to be having a jolly time as a minister’. Then when we do shout you ask me a question such as this one. I can’t work according to how you would ask me questions. I have taken very timely decisions at points where I believe that were very important for the country. If this struggle does turn into a decisive one, I am not afraid to take a decision. But I don’t see why I should walk out because of P. B. Jayasundera. It should be he who should be walking out. If I leave- it would denote my defeat and not his.
Q: When you spoke against him initially, there was a feeling that you were dancing to the tune of the President, that you are doing what he wanted you to do, that you are ‘going shopping’, in laymens terms, for the powers that be- and many drew similiarites between you and Minister Mervyn Silva. Does Wimal Weeranwasa have to fall to that level?
The similarities drawn between me and Mervyn Silva is the doing of certain English newspapers in the country. That is their job. Then if you do an investigation into the people who comment on facebook you would find that they do this as a profession- as a business. Therefore, if you look at these things and come to the conclusion that I have fallen to the level of Mervyn Silva then I have no problem. Wimal Weerawansa and Mervyn Silva are two different characters. But if someone wants to portray that they are one and the same, then it obviously is the doing of these people. If you can - show me one place in which you can draw similies between me and him. Could he criticise P. B. Jayasundera the way I have? Then how do you draw similarities? There is group within this country that hates me, they hate the role that I played during and after the Presidential Election in 2005. They will insult me. The more I’m hit, the more I will stand up. I won’t relent to them nor would I fall prey to these elements.
Q: The Weerawansa of yesteryear was a role that brought in a new dimension to the political landscape by aggressively fighting for the poor. Today are you not one of them you once fought against? What happened to the system overhaul that you sought?
The system should be changed. But there is a difference in how I want to change the system and how the JVP wants to change it. There are many people who want to change the system in this country but there are differences. If you look at it realistically, there will come a time that the system change would be inevitable due to the dead ropes given by the likes of Jayasundera. I see this occurring in the future.
Q:How do you view the current racial tensions that prevails in the country?
What do you mean by racial tensions?
Q: The escalating opposition against Muslim businesses and Muslims?
I’m very careful when speaking on this issue. If according to you, I am similar to the name you mentioned before, then I would make comments that would be inflammatory. But I have been very careful in talking about this issue and because of that many monks have been hurt. I understand that. But I don’t want to do anything wrong in order to be appreciated.
We have to accept that there are certain foreign forces that promote Islamic extremism and fundamentalism in this country. Now for example, Halal is a way of life for every muslim, but there has never been any mention of a certificate. In the days in which there was no issuing of certificates, still the muslims lived in the method prescribed by the Quran. People who lived in the desert also had Halal because it is a way of life.
If one also looks at certain people who cover their entire face and only leave the eyes open- these are not things that this country had. Minister Ferial Ashroff used to cover her head with the saree and as far as I know Islam talks about the Purdah. Covering the entire face is extremism. That exists within the Muslim community, but it does not represent the entire muslim community. Its only a minority. I believe that there are certain foreign elements who want to nurture this sort of thing.
So as a reaction to this within the Budhdhist society, there comes a voice that is similar but opposite. These two groups now become the representatives of the Muslim and Buddhist communites in the country. And in this fight between these two (extremists) groups, the normal Muslim and Sinhala people divide. They also move towards killing each other; this is the truth. If both groups really look at who is actually behind this sort of extremism then both will understand the real picture. They will understand that it’s the same element behind both these groups.
Of course there is jusitifiable fear among the Sinhala community, and the points they have raised can’t be easily dismissed. Both groups might have justifiable points and both sides have flaws. But we need leaders from both communities who will talk about these flaws. If I speak about the flaws of the Muslim community it will hurt them because I am a Sinhalese, and vice versa. What we need today is a Sinhala Buddhist leader who will explain to the community the gravity of pulling the country towards an extremist disaster according to the agendas of extremist forces, and a leader among the Muslims who will speak against the extremism that is within their community and against those who bring the black masks and their groups to the country.
This issue would only be settled in so far as leaders like that are created. We are all one family and even in families there are issues. We have to be able to settle this in a very conciliatory manner.
Looking at the way things are going, I’m frightened that Mohamed Muzammil and I won’t be able to sit at the same table. I’m frightened of another Black July. Black July was not done by the Sinhalese. JR gave leave to the Police and Army and set thugs free. It was this Black July that gave the LTTE suicide bombers, it was this Black July that created a Tamil Diaspora, it was this Black July that spread hatred among the Tamil Community.
This was the biggest gift JR gave Prabhakharan. There shouldn’t be such gifts to those within the Muslim Community who are vying for this sort of thing. If this issue is going to be settled in a way that such a gift would be bestowed it would be downright stupid.
This problem cannot be solved if we are going to lose the entire Muslim Community while they (extremist groups) hit the minority (extremist within the muslim community.)
That is wrong. The Muslim community also should create leaders who will speak against these extremist elements within their community, and such leaders from both communities have to guide them.
If by any chance, there is a conflict among these two communities it would be exactly what the external elements would want. If that happens it will be a major catastrophe and I don’t want to have my name in the register of those who directly or indirectly supported it.
Q: But if you look at this issue in a Marxist or socialist perspective, does it not say that capitalist leaders create such issues when they don’t have answers to the real questions of the people?
It is not that simple, it is not that simple. That is why I said Marxism doesn’t see the entire picture. Marx doesn’t see the intricacies of the Theravada Budhdhist culture prevailing in the country.
This culture doesn’t exist anywhere else in the world. We must understand that imperialist forces want to destroy this. Marxism doesn’t see this.
Q:And you are saying this today because you are a Minister?
Of course not. This discourse was within me even during the time I was in the JVP though I couldn’t speak of it. It was existent even during that time. I didn’t grow up only within the organisational structure of the JVP- I dealt with the world outside it as well. I’m not of the view that Marxism sees everything. Today the honesty of the Marxist is used by many imperialistic forces to further their agendas. The real story is contemproray imperlaism is advanced enough to even use Marxism to suit them.
Q:Don’t you believe that this was an issue that could have been dealt with by the government if it wanted to?
How comrade, could the government deal with this? Q:By intervening?
Isn’t that intervention?
Why, I’m also a member of the cabinet sub committee appointed to look into this issue. Didn’t we bring in the Ulamas, the business community, Bodu Bala Sena, and all other stakeholders of this issues and hear them? We did, and we gave our recommendations. If we gave a quick solution to this, the next question you would ask me will be the questions relating to the issues that arise as a result of dealing with this hastily. When we take a calm approach to an issue this is the question you would ask me. Your job is to ask me questions like this and my duty is to make you understand this. These issues cannot be handled hastily.
Q:Why didn’t you take this approach when dealing with the former Army Commander and the ousting of Chief Justice Bandaranayake? Why did the government act like the ‘village thug’?
How can you say that? If someone has done something wrong according to the law, he/she would be dealt with accordingly. None of this has happened here. Who was arrested? This is not an issue like that. This is a very sensitive issue and we must be very careful when putting our hands to it. We can’t act hastily and burn the country. I know there are people who want this to happen, but the government has taken a very calm approach to it. Time should be given to ease tensions.
Q:I was talking about a bigger issue here, the fact is the ousting of the Chief Justice was a complete overhaul of a pillar of governance. I wasn’t talking about the person, but in the manner all of you acted- like the village thug- in this issue?
That is the interpretation given by you, but according to us this was constitutional. She walked away and we had to take a decision thereafter. If she didn’t walk away we might have been sitting on that PSC to this day. You can give different interpretations to it, but this is the truth.
Q: Your role in this entire impeachment saga was criticised. What do you have to say about this?
There are people who hate my ways and people who love them. I don’t do politics in the hope of reducing those who hate me or with the fear of losing those who love me. If I lose tomorrow I want to lose after having done what is right. I don’t want to do things that are wrong. We left the JVP to help the President win the war,and we achieved that objective. I believe what I did was right and true to my conscience. I knew that if she continued to be in that seat the judgments would be according to the whims of fancies of seperatist elements.
Q: Are you being honest here?
Yes of course I am. I’Il support this with evidence. When the Supreme Court is controlled by Sumanthirans and Pakiasothys talking about liberalism and other such ideals is nonsense. If this was the case what would be the purpose of defeating LTTE?
Q: So now you have a Supreme Court controlled by you all?
No, where has that happened? Then according to you we should have let Sumanthiran and Pakiasothy run the Supreme Court?
Q:No that isn’t what I’m saying..
Now what we have is a Supreme Court that is not controlled either by us, or them. The people of this country now could seek justice according to the law. If they are right or wrong justice will be served.
Q:Do you honestly believe that what you are saying reflects reality ?
I will believe that it does until the day it is clear to me that it does not.
For once I can agree on a portion of what you are saying Mr. WW, because I too fear another "Black July"
shan Thursday, 07 March 2013 05:35 AM
good interview!!! excellent...
asif Friday, 08 March 2013 03:00 PM
Its better the govt take steps to address the problem before it end up in another disaster which non of the Sri lankans wanted.
silva Friday, 08 March 2013 11:10 AM
excellent any issue can be sorted through dialog and understanding. Now the people of our country are far more educated and matured.
dialogue needed Thursday, 07 March 2013 06:43 AM
we need more dialogue....but agree on 'black July' threat...only a few people required to start something like that.... i don't know how much the government or police can do to limit damage once it happens....
mohamed Thursday, 07 March 2013 06:48 AM
commendable expressions & well reserved decisions Excellent Sir!
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