One is his very own director general of trade unions and the other one is a member of parliament elected by the people of Colombo—these are both members of the government. Q: But was the President unaware of the tension that prevailed in the area before the election?
He didn’t know, as a president of a country he is busy with all the problems. He is actually not bothered about the local incidents, now he is more involved with the international situation—because there are a lot of allegations brought against the government, with the activities of the western countries, the UN and so many other problems. Q: You are justifying the fact that the President was unaware of the situation, but were the other senior members of the government aware of the situation? Yes, everyone who was campaigning in the Colombo district was aware of it, but only a few days before the election.
Q: However, this was a situation that was brewing for some time?
The situation might have been going on for some time. There are problems like this everywhere because of this preferential voting system. Therefore, if you are going to take serious action about that, you will have to take action everywhere.
It is only when there was a shooting incident, a murder and everything else that the gravity of this situation came to light.
Q: You are saying the severity of the situation came to light only after the incident, however the Thursday that preceded the election, a UNP MP Dayasiri Jayasekera spoke of the situation in the area. He tried to use the situation for his own advantage. He was trying to say that cutouts of the President and Namal Rajapaksa were damaged by members of another party. He was going on about that without listening to the chair.
Q: He was bringing up a very valid point about the situation in the area, why did the members of the government not take this seriously and address the issue? In that case, you know there are things like that between Sajith and Ranil.
Q: But they have not shot at each other. Yes, till the day of the election they were not shooting at each other either.
Q: But the President hasn’t any authority to sort out squabbles between Sajith and Ranil. But Dayasiri can, can’t he? They were surrounding his office and throwing stones. Then this situation should also have been stopped, before they could start shooting at each other.
Q: You can’t say that, you are part of the government and you all are responsible ministers. It is because of this system that the government does not take serious action against allegations from the opposition and the opposition is not taking the allegations from the government seriously. The opposition is not placing these allegations genuinely but for their own political gain.
Q: The allegations from the opposition aside, how can you say the government was unaware of the situation and the tension between two members of the party? No, I don’t think that anyone could have predicted. The tension brewed the same day, from the time that Duminda and the crowd had gone and assaulted the Pradeshiya Sabha candidate’s wife and his crowd. It is then that the whole situation cropped up, when Bharatha heard this only, he went to that side, to look into the incident. How can the government take seriously each and every allegation of this nature?
Q: You cannot compare the situations because these individuals are highly placed in the government; one was an advisor to the President and the other is a monitoring MP of the Defence Ministry. No that is not true. He was the monitoring MP for the Urban Development Authority; because the Urban Development Authority and the Defence Ministry are linked.
Q: However, he had very close ties to the Defence Secretary? Yes, that is true.
Q: So then why was the Defence Secretary not aware of his activities? Defence secretary is not a politician and he is new to the country. He has been living in America for a long time. Even the President accepts that he doesn’t know much about these people; therefore if anyone calls him he will go there for some function. I don’t think that the Defence Secretary would have ever known about the underworld movements or weaponry or any of this.
Q: That is a very serious statement to make, to say that the Defence Secretary is unaware of the happenings in the underworld. So, that is why he has taken enough action. Tell me today, where is the underworld? The underworld today is nothing compared to what was there before he took over. How can the Defence Secretary know about everything that is happening in every part of the country?
Q: When it has to do with arms and a possible threat to the life of individuals elected by the people, should the Defence Secretary not be aware? There are arms not only in Kolonnawa but everywhere in the island that is why he has ordered for an immediate raid to find these weapons. Now that operation is going on.
Q: You believe that MP Duminda Silva had links to the underworld? Yes, they say that he was and that he had individuals with him who were going up and down with him, pretending to be part of his security.
Q: Then do you think that not enough was done, by those in authority, to control his activities and keep him disciplined? There were not many incidents against him.
Q: But you admitted that he had links to the underworld. But you know the thing is he is a very, very nice person. If you met Duminda, even you would say that. He is soft-spoken and a very smart fellow. I know people who say he is a very nice person so I keep quiet. Although I have spoken against him I will maintain one thing; he is very gentle, he is very innocent-looking. Only when he pulls a gun out that everyone starts talking about his links to the underworld.
Q: What you are saying then is because of his pleasant persona, no one knew of his unsavoury activities? You know when you become a politician there are so many stories; some stories are correct and some are not.
Q: Don’t you think that the activities of the members of the government should be monitored, to keep them accountable? Yes, definitely. Q: Then why was it not done?
But that type of monitoring or that type of discipline is not among the politicians and not among the society also. Politicians are a byproduct of the society, so when the society is corrupt the politicians are also corrupt. Q: But shouldn’t politicians lead the way for the people?
That is right, that is what we are trying to do. But this does not mean that everyone understands that. Q: You have spoken up against the incident that took place and the culture that this incites. What was the response from the President?
The President was very happy; he didn’t say anything wrong about me. He was addressing the whole issue after the cabinet briefing, I was also expecting him to say something to me but he didn’t. Q: The President admits that there was a shortfall in the monitoring of individuals and the discipline in the party?
Otherwise. He is so upset, because Bharatha was his very close friend in politics, until his death. He wanted him to contest for the mayoralty of Colombo. Q: You have admitted that MP Duminda Silva was responsible for the death of Mr. Premachandra. Why is it that he is not a suspect in the case, according to the Media Centre for National Security?
Not only him, we are all responsible for the situation, I have been in Parliament so many years and I am responsible as well.
Everyone says he is an accused. Right, so now what is to be done? You can make him an accused and have the police stay by his bedside. Why are policeman kept at some place- for the fear that the accused will get away. But in this situation, if he can get up, even for the fear of the police that is a great thing! Q: But when an investigation is going on, how can an accused just be dismissed as not being a suspect?
Well the judge can decide, on the right thing to do. He knows that there is no use in keeping individuals at the bedside. Q: The discipline in the party is a crucial topic at the moment and the present situation has been building up for some time.
This is why I was saying that if you take the crux of the matter it is the preferential voting system. Q: You can’t blame party indiscipline on the PR system.
Indiscipline has been there in politics throughout. But the incidents of indiscipline increased because of this system. That is why I have advocated that this system be changed. I admit that some individuals have a lot of power when they are in the government and they misuse this power.
Comments - 1
Deva Saturday, 22 October 2011 02:01 AM
"But you know the thing is he is a very, very nice person. If you met Duminda, even you would say that. He is soft-spoken and a very smart fellow. I know people who say he is a very nice person so I keep quiet. Although I have spoken against him I will maintain one thing; he is very gentle, he is very innocent-looking. Only when he pulls a gun out that everyone starts talking about his links to the underworld. " I cannot believe ,this is a statement from a senior government Minister .!!!. Shame ! shame ! Shame!
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