- I’m not a fan of Maithripala, he was used by the west and Indians against the Rajapaksas
- We asked GL, Dulles and Wimal to form a new party without contesting under the UPFA ticket for General Elections. But they didn’t listen to us. They contested under the UPFA (betel leaf)
- The Joint Opposition now wants the SLFP MPs in the Government to withdraw. This is wrong as there are no SLFP MPs in parliament
- The Joint Opposition can’t muster two-thirds for dissolution. They are only marking time till 2019/2020
- It isn’t clear what this National Government is. The Prime Minister is also not clear about it
Dr. Nalin de Silva during an interview with the Daily mirror spoke about the current political situation in the country. Dr. de Silva has been a leading proponent of the Sinhala nationalist movement since the 1980s and been a critique of Western science and culture. Dr. de Silva has been noted for his strong push for the military defeat of the LTTE through his regular articles to the Sinhala and English newspapers through the 1990s till the ultimate ending of the war in 2009. In recent times and particularly after the defeat of President Mahinda Rajapaksa in 2015,
Dr. de Silva in his almost daily writings on social media and the website kalaya.org has been one of the first to advocate the return of Mahinda Rajapaksa to national politics and the formation of a new party as early as April 2015. Most recently he was vocal that President Maitripala Sirisena and the Political camp led by former President Mahinda Rajapaksa should come together to remove Ranil Wickremesinghe from the Premiership. Excerpts of the interview follow:
Q : Why have you been advocating for a long time that former President Mahinda Rajapaksa should be brought back to politics?
Soon after the defeat of Mahinda, I knew that he should be brought back. He is the most suitable person to lead the country during this period. We organized a conference to advocate that position. Unfortunately, nobody took us seriously at that time. At that time, the 19th Amendment wasn’t there. We said that if Ranil Wickremesinghe was made the Prime Minister with 40 odd members, we should be able to bring back Mahinda. Even at that time, Mahinda had the majority in Parliament. He had the required majority. If they had moved a vote of no confidence, they could have won.
Even at that time, the Rajapaksas had different ideas. I am fed up with this type of politics. Even at that time, the Rajapaksas did not want to remove Ranil. They were interested in removing President Maithripala Sirisena. The Rajapaksa rule, in the opinion of westerners and Indians, was against their views. They wanted a new constitution giving more powers to Tamil racist elements. They really wanted a confederation here. They wanted to remove Rajapaksa and bring Ranil. Maithripala was a puppet. People, including me, say that Maithripala should not have defected from the then Government. What made him to defect?
It was Basil Rajapaksa who was behind this. Most ministers were not in favour of Mahinda Rajapaksa because of Basil Rajapaksa. If anybody is responsible for the defection, it is Basil. Ask Maithripala. People do not understand this. I wanted to bring back Mahinda. I knew that it was possible. Also in my opinion Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe is not just a representative of the English, Anglican Christian culture. He is one of them. Even D’Oyly spoke Sinhala.
Q : In the run up to the last General Elections too, you asked for the formation of a new party under the leadership of Mahinda Rajapaksa. Why did you do it at that time?
I knew at that time that Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) was a dead party. So, I wanted them to form a new party. They did not listen to me at that time. In fact, I, along with a few others, went to meet Prof. G.L. Peiris at his residence. I met him, Dulles Alhapperuma, Wimal Weerawansa and a few others. We asked them to form a new party without contesting under the UPFA ticket. They did not listen to us. They contested under the UPFA (betel leaf) ticket. What happened? If they had contested under a different party, Mahinda Rajapaksa could have even become the Prime Minister. If not, he could have become the Leader of the Opposition at least. Today, they cannot do anything. They are MPs as members of the UPFA. The Joint Opposition is not a recognized political party. They have 51 or more members. The Tamil National Alliance (TNA) has only 16 members. Even then the Joint Opposition can’t stake a claim for the post of Opposition Leader because they are UPFA MPs. Then, they are virtually members of the Government though they do not realize it. The speaker knows this.
When the Prime Minister got the Secretary General of Parliament to read a resolution passed in September 2015, it said that the UNP, having obtained the majority of votes, had formed a National Government. The resolution said that Parliament could approve 48 Ministers and other numbers of non-Cabinet Ministers.
The resolution said the UNP had formed the National Government as the party with the biggest majority. The problem is that the UNP is not represented in this Parliament. It is the United National Front (UNF) that is represented in Parliament. As far as Parliament and the Speaker are concerned, the UNP is not represented in Parliament. However, they continue to ignore that.
Q : Yet, they all contested under the elephant symbol of the UNP. Then, how can you say that it is not recognized?
The elephant is the symbol of the UNF. The symbol does not matter. It does not matter as long as the Elections Commission recognizes it. They contested as the UNF. Then, the UNP, even as a party, though not represented in the parliament, does not have a majority. It has only 82 members. If that is the case, the Prime Minister cannot say his party has the largest number of seats. This National Government has been illegal from the day it was formed. The opposition claims that there was an agreement between the UNP and the UPFA or SLFP. That is not clear. We do not still know whether the UNF (UNP) formed a so called National Government with the UPFA or the SLFP. The so called agreement is immaterial. The Constitution does not say there should be an agreement between the two or more parties concerned. Then, the argument of the Joint Opposition is also invalid. The Constitution only defines a National Government and states that such a National Government could have a cabinet consisting of more than 30 MPs with the approval of Parliament. The above mentioned resolution read by the Secretary of the Parliament received the approval of the Parliament to appoint a cabinet of 48 members.
If it is a ‘National Government’ comprising the UNP as the resolution says claiming that UNP has the most number of MPs then such a claim is wrong on many counts. The so called joint opposition does not speak about it as they also want to be recognized as a party. The UNP and SLFP may be recognized parties by the Elections Commission, but they are not represented in the Parliament. Whether they like it or not, the Joint Opposition is also part of this Government if the so called National Government is formed with the UPFA. If it is formed with the SLFP then there are other problems as the SLFP is not represented in the Parliament.
If the so called National Government has been formed by the UNF with the UPFA then there is some sense in asking the UPFA to withdraw from the Government, but in that case the joint opposition should realise that they are also withdrawing from the Government. More than that by asking the UPFA MPs to withdraw from the Government they are strengthening the hand of Wickremesinghe. Maithripala, if not impeached, will be a prisoner of Ranil.
There was a talk by the joint opposition about a vote of no confidence against the Prime Minister over the Central Bank bond fraud. What has happened about it? Nobody is talking about it. Instead of that, they now want to support Range Bandara if and when he moves a vote of no confidence. It is the Joint Opposition as a group of MPs that should take the leadership in bringing a motion of no confidence. They now want an election.
How can you hold an election? The President cannot dissolve Parliament until February, 2020. By that time, he would not be in presidency, most probably. There would be a different President at that time. I do not want to speculate on it.
The only way to dissolve Parliament today is by bringing a resolution in Parliament to the effect that the House declares that it should be dissolved. For that, they need a two-thirds majority. The Joint Opposition talks about it without talking about the no-confidence motion against the Prime Minister that can be passed with a simple majority. This is nothing, but humbug. The Joint Opposition cannot muster two-thirds for dissolution.
Q : What do you think of the formation of Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) since you have been advocating the formation of a new party ?
The Party should have been formed before the 2015 General Elections. In February, it was able to get only 44.6 percent of votes with all these problems the country was facing. They claim it as a huge victory, though it is not. The Government is so unpopular. The cost of living is so high. There is the bond scam. With all that, the SLPP could not get more than 45 percent of votes. In the 2015 Presidential Elections Mahinda secured 48% of the vote. It has to be emphasized that I never advocated that the SLPP should form an alliance with Maithripala at the Local Government Elections. I am more concerned with the removal of Ranil as Prime Minister rather than capturing power of the local bodies.
Having said that, one has to remember that President Sirisena got 13 percent. Of that, I would say three percent were from the UNP vote base. Some people who are disappointed with the UNP would have voted for him. The remaining ten percent is from the Sinhala nationalist camp. Some supporters of Mahinda/Basil want to believe that these votes are from Thondaman without realizing the latter contested separately. From Mahinda’s 45 percent, at least 40 are from the nationalist camp. The nationalists have at least 50 percent together. That is more than enough to form a Government on their own. Even if the joint opposition does not want to accept ministerial posts they can still be in the Government. As UPFA members they have no alternative. Why are they (Maithripala, Basil and Mahinda) ignoring the Sinhala nationalist camp? Are they under foreign influence?
The Tamil parties are now in shambles. They did not get the necessary votes. There are problems. If the Sinhala people are united, the Tamil racist elements cannot do anything. They understand it more than the Sinhala people. In this game, Tamil racist elements have no say if 50 percent of the Sinhala nationalist votes remain intact. They realize it more than the Rajapaksas and Sirisena.
How can you hold an election? The President cannot dissolve Parliament until February, 2020. By that time, he would not be in presidency, most probably. There would be a different President at that time. I do not want to speculate on it
Q : In your view what should be done in the future under these circumstances?
Get President Sirisena to talk with Basil Rajapaksa or Gotabhaya Rajapaksa and reach some agreement. They need to sign a document. That has to be done within the next few days. If they do not do it, that will be the end of the nationalist movement for some time. The Prime Minister will be powerful. Already, he is the Law and Order Minister, either for a temporary period or on a long term basis. Giving it to Minister Sarath Fonseka is equally harmful. They would destroy the Sinhala nationalist movement. Mr. Fonseka was the Army Commander. But, he is against the Rajapaksas. As a result, he is also against the nationalist movement. In a way he had betrayed the country on the white flag incident.
Q : If that is the case who should take over as Prime Minister?
I would go for former President Mahinda Rajapaksa. Different Rajapaksas have different mindsets. I am for Mahinda because he is the best person. If it is not Mahinda, somebody from the Joint Opposition should be appointed. If they are not ready for it, somebody from the Maithripala faction in the Government should be chosen. It could be anybody like Ministers Dayasiri Jayasekara, Susil Premajayantha or S.B. Dissanayake. Definitely, it should not be Minister Duminda Dissanayake.
Q : On the other hand there is an opinion that the stance taken by you is being racist and excludes the minorities. Your view?
I am not a racist. I recognize that the Sinhala Buddhist culture should be given its due place. If that is racism all the western countries are racist. They have dominant Christian cultures in their countries. Please remember that I am not asking for a dominant place for the Sinhala Buddhiist culture. The Christian culture especially in its Anglican form is the dominant culture in the rest of the world as well. Our education is Christian. The Judiciary system, the Parliament and almost all the others are Christian. What is the place given for traditional (paramparika) medicine in Sri Lanka. There is not even a Vaidya Sabha even in the western format for traditional medicine. The list is long, and I have written on these during the past thirty five years or so. The English wanted to destroy the Sinhala Buddhist culture, but they failed. However, they have succeeded in weakening the Sinhala Buddhist culture. The English created Tamil racism and baptized it in 1833, which I have explained in An Analysis of Tamil Racism, in order to weaken if not destroy the Sinhala Buddhist culture. With Nandikadal, Tamil racism was defeated. A military solution is also a political solution. The Tamil racist ‘problem’ created by the English has been solved. There is no need for further talks on this matter. Would Churchill have spoken to the Nazis after the so called second world war? The Sinhala people are still fighting, albeit without the support of the politicians, to win back their lost rights. If you call it racism, then what do you call Christian hegemony throughout the world? Please remember that it was the Sinhala people who protected the Muslims from the Portuguese Catholics, and settled them in the present Eastern Province, and protected the Catholics from the Dutch Reformists.
Q : How do you see the present Constitution making process and where it is heading?
If the present Prime Minister is allowed to get himself established by the Rajapaksas, he will get the new Constitution that would pave the way for a confederation hook or by crook. The Constitutional Assembly is a dangerous instrument that Ranil could make use of to establish the new constitution without presenting it to the Parliament citing the 1972 constitution as an example. He could even claim to be a follower of Bandaranaike policies by extending the Parliament for another five years. If that happens those who are preparing for 2019/2020 without removing Ranil Wickremesinghe from the Prime Minister post in 2018 will see the end of their politics.