Former Journalist, Susil Kindelpitiya who contested the Parliamentary elections in 2010 from the United National Party (UNP) is contesting the upcoming Provincial Council Elections from the Democratic Party. In 2010 he was arrested for
possessing a firearm. In a discussion with Daily Mirror he said although he did not make too many public appearances after 2010, he was in active politics.
I deal with people, not politicians- Susil Kindelpitiya
Q:After the 2010 General Elections you were silent for sometime. Why this sudden appearance?
It is incorrect to say that I was silent. I was not silent politically. As the entire country knows I was sent to jail for a crime I did not commit. After I came back from prison I engaged in politics, but silently. I was advised by many not to engage in politics as I would fall into trouble. With the existing system it is understandable. I have been with the people throughout. I do not have any business with politicians - I only deal with the public.
"This country does not have media freedom or democracy. How many journalists have fled the country after the current government came into power? How many were assassinated?"
Q: In 2010 you contested from the United National Party (UNP). But why are you now contesting from former General Sarath Fonseka’s Democratic Party?
I was born in Kolonnawa, one of the poverty-stricken areas in the city of Colombo. I always wanted to work for this area; the entire party knew that including the leader. But I was in doubt whether the party would appoint someone strong enough to be the organiser for Kolonnawa - and they appointed Karunasena Kodithuwakku. People are discontented, even I am discontented. I want to contest from a party which can challenge the existing corrupt government – which the UNP is unable to do.
Q: Although you say you are not satisfied with UNP, at one point in 2010 you said “people’s problems have always been settled with the UNP”. So you are contradicting your own statement?
Yes, I said so. But I was referring to the past. For instance in 1977 with the open market a whole new world was open to us. Until then we were like frogs in the well. But thanks to the UNP we saw the world and of course the UNP has done a lot of service to the country. But this has completely changed now. The UNP is not strong enough to challenge the corrupt government.
"Thanks to the UNP we saw the world and of course the UNP has done a lot of service to the country. But this has completely changed now. The UNP is not strong enough to challenge the corrupt government"
Q: Your first attempt was to contest the Parliamentary election. But why are you contesting a Provincial Council election this time?
Yes, I was going to contest the Parliamentary elections in 2010. But my purpose is to serve the people. It does not matter if it’s the Parliament or Provincial Council. What matters is what I do for the people.
Q: In 2010 you could not contest because there were various allegations levelled at you. One was kidnapping your mistress and possessing a firearm. What do you have to say about this?
All these are false allegations. They were threatened by my appearance in politics. In fact, with regard to that incident on that particular day I was on my way with my female friend to find her a place to stay and there were others around. I was framed for something I did not commit. If it was a kidnapping why did they not arrest the others? Also, at the High Court my female friend stated that no kidnapping occurred. As she was pressurised she had to give evidence that was not in my favour. So this in itself shows the entire scenario was fabricated. They attempted to stop my political journey.
Q: You do not come from a political background. Do you think you can exist in this field?
Every human being is a political animal. One does not essentially need to have any experience to engage in politics. Look at these actresses, sons and daughters of politicians who are entering politics - do they have experience? As a journalist I know people and I have been with people. The purpose of a journalist is to contribute towards the wellbeing of society and I believe it is exactly the same purpose behind the role of a politician. Just because I do not hail from a political background does not mean that I am not qualified to be in the field. I know the tears, sweat and blood shed by the people. I feel them.
Q: What are your plans if you get elected?
However if I get elected, I would first focus on Kolonnawa. As everybody knows it is one of the most poverty-stricken areas in the city of Colombo. The residents have to deal with many issues. Drugs, education, garbage and also unemployment are some issues they face. I want to give them proper vision. They are in a hallucination. They need to see the world. First I would work for that.
Our party has a plan, and the plans I have are centered with the plans of the party. Definitely our main focus is to eradicate corruption and protect our values. We can not make a change overnight. But we are spreading our word.
I would also focus on the infrastructure in the province. My service will be based on people.
Q: You are a journalist. What do you have to say about media freedom?
This country does not have media freedom or democracy. How many journalists have fled the country after the current government came into power? How many were assassinated? The journalists who are in the field now can not report the truth.
Q: Do you think that Democratic Party could win the elections - are you confident about your victory?
Definitely we will win. There is a political vacuum in this country and the present government is taking advantage of that, since there is no powerful opposition. The best example is the last election. We could make a change without giving rice packets, mobile phones or sarees. This in itself shows the lacuna in the country. People expect us to fill that vacuum. If the current rulers do not resort to foul play to control voters, undoubtedly the Democratic Party will have a remarkable victory.