SL will soon be another Somalia - Nanda Muruttettuwegama

25 March 2014 04:48 am - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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Attorney-at-Law and legal educationist, Nanda Muruttettuwegama is contesting for the Western Provincial Council Election from the United National Party (UNP). In a discussion with the Daily Mirror he said, what the country had was a criminal economy and Sri Lanka would be another Somalia in the near future.


Q:  What is your political background?
My political life commenced from the time I was a student of the Sri Lanka Law College. It is my belief that it is the UNP that can develop the country and uplift the economy. Therefore I joined the UNP and I was very much involved with its youth movement. I have appeared as a lawyer for the party and people when they faced any injustice in the country.  Although I live in Colombo, when the party invited me to be the organiser for Kalawana I took up that challenge. Also, along with many others we organised “grama charika” - visiting many villages in the country, spending time with people and addressing their issues.
We also took steps to impart legal education in a reasonable and affordable way to many people, at a time when legal education was limited to one class. People from different backgrounds benefitted from this.

Considering what I have done for the people and the party, the leadership invited me to contest in the Provincial Council elections.


Q: As an attorney at law what is your view about the law and order of the country?
In every society the existence depends on anticipation - that people are aware of the consequences of each act. Unfortunately in Sri Lanka we can’t anticipate the outcome of each act. The best example is the incident with regard to former Chief Justice Shirani Bandaranayake. The government is using law and order to fulfil their own needs. The rulers seem to have close ties with drug smugglers, thugs and many other offenders. It is impossible to anticipate.


Q: Do you think the government has unnecessarily interfered with legal education?
The media in the country revealed information about the issues that prevailed in the legal education system in the country; personally I am also aware of what is happening. Throughout history, children of various ministers and other top position-holders attended Law College. But this never changed the examination structure nor was there any other change. Irrespective of the background all the students were treated in the same way. All these changed with the change of government. The current government interfered very much with the legal education.

Initially they gave a political appointment to the post of Principal at the Law College. Then he welcomed the President’s son with betel leaves. This has never happened in the past. Unfortunately the ruling party never took steps to point out to these people that such acts were unnecessary. When there was unbearable pressure from the society due to mishaps they removed the Principal from the college but appointed him as an advisor. Isn’t that ridiculous?

Also, the government reduced the number of entrants to Law College. In general 225 students are enrolled. But this year only 177 have been enrolled. Even in the internal exams at the college, changes have been made, making the students pressurised.

The qualification that the Law College gives is a professional qualification. For such examinations there is no age barrier, but surprisingly in Sri Lanka there is an age barrier. This is detrimental to many people. For a person who does not have a strong economic background and who decides to pursue professional qualifications at a later stage, it affects adversely. About two years ago the Supreme Court gave a decision saying that there should not be any age limit. But after two years the government brought in an age limit. They are trying to limit the legal education only to a privileged class.


Q: The public seem to have lost faith in law and order and there are many instances where they have taken the law into their hands. How do you analyse this situation?
 The best examples for this are Rathupaswela and the recent incident in Hanwella. In Rathupaswela the Military allegedly shot at people indiscriminately. Then there were many incidents which cannot be justified at any cost. Recently two police officers died by shooting each other. No genuine or acceptable reason was given for these deaths. Probably this might have happened on the instigation of the ruling party and the drug smugglers. The law is used in a way which is profitable to the rulers’ needs. In these circumstances people have lost faith. Look at the number of journalists who have been killed and have disappeared!
In countries like Somalia and Ethiopia the main income is piracy. Prior to that Somalia had a criminal economy. That is income from drugs, prostitution etc. Observing the things that are happening around us, Sri Lanka will be another Somalia very soon.


Q: Your posters indicated you as the UNP’s N.M. referring to one of the visionary politicians in Sri Lanka, Dr. N. M. Perera. At present why have we failed to produce politicians of that calibre?
Politicians like N.M Perera gave a message to society. Even now people respect him. He may have different political views from what I hold, yet I respect him for his principles. He never earned a cent from politics. He made his living by his profession. He was always there for people. Being born in Colombo he did not enjoy the comfortable life he could have easily had. Instead, he worked for people who were even far away from Colombo. He is truly an exemplary character to politicians.
The reason I used N.M in my campaign is because those letters stand for my name. I wanted to give a message to the people.

Yes there is a lacuna of people like N.M Perera in politics today. One reason is people are not well aware about the candidates or the system. The majority of the people do not know the true meaning of an election. Today it has become more of a “star election programme” with SMS votes. People tend to vote for the smile, the appearance etc. This has created space for people who are not qualified to get into powerful positions and take decisions which affect all of us.


Q: You are contesting for the Western Province. What are the areas that have to be developed?
First and foremost the candidates need to understand what they can do through a Provincial Council. It is essential to study the powers that are accrued. We need a plan which is effective to the entire province, not just a few areas. For example, housing for people is something the Provincial Council can do in its capacity. But unfortunately this has not happened in the past few years. Some of the Councillors are also unaware that they have the authority to do so.
Also, with regard to industrial zones we definitely need a plan. The Western Province has many industries and industrial zones. If the authorities had been careful the incidents that happened in Rathupaswela and Hanwella could have prevented.


Q: With the continuous defeats do you think the UNP can manage to win this election?
The Government states that the UNP was defeated in 27 elections. But can you count them as proper elections? By counting every election which they conduct they have done their calculation. In that way the SLFP was also defeated in 59 elections prior to 1994.

The government definitely benefitted with the war victory. Although it’s a collective effort it is the government who got the credit. But that is natural even in football - the person who scores the goal is credited despite it being teamwork. Although it has been a few years after the forming of the government people are exhausted. They have to pay people to come for their meetings and rallies. Some of the rallies they had to cancel.

This will be an election in which the UNP will make a remarkable change. This will pave the way for our journey to topple the government.


The Law College Principal welcomed the President’s son with betel leaves. This has never happened in the past. Unfortunately the ruling party never took steps to point out to these people that such acts were unnecessary



Q: There is an allegation that the government is using Geneva resolutions as a trump card in the upcoming elections. How do you see this?
The SLFP used many symbols as their party symbol. Once it was the hand, then the chair and finally the betel leaf.  The issue we have is non-operation of LLRC recommendations. I do not understand - if it was made by the government why can’t they implement it?  

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