A strongman in the modern nationalist movement in Sri Lanka and JHU National organiser Nishantha Sri Warnasinghe has been behind the scene campaigner for the cause for nearly two decades. He makes his electoral debut from the Colombo district under the UPFA banner this time.
Q: At various points you pointed the finger to the government with regard to various mishaps. But all your protests end in mere words and slogans and never leads to any action but you continue to be a die hard ally of the ruling party. Doesn’t this mean double standards?
I am a part of the JHU. We support the Government and the principles of “Mahinda Chinthanaya.” If at any point the government does not comply with its very principles, then we would point this out. The reaction to any incident where the government deviates from its principles is the JHU’s reaction. I have never expressed my personal opinion at any instance. My view has always been complied with the party’s view.
Our Party have always showed rejection whenever the Government did not comply with the “Mahinda Chinthanaya.” People in the country voted Mahinda Rajapaksa for the principles put forward in the “Mahinda Chinthanaya.” It is a must that the government act according to what is presented in that. If someone says that this is double standard I vehemently reject it. As Politicians our duty is to take the country in to the correct path. As a Party, JHU has always and will always do its duty towards the country.
Q: Hela Urumaya openly raised objection to issues such as legalising prostitution and Casinos in Sri Lanka. But the Government already passed the Casino Bill. So what is your stance now? You have no problem if James Packer opens his casinos here?
When there were attempts to promote casinos, the JHU openly rejected and showed its opposition to the government. Also as a Party we presented a bill against legalising casinos and other sorts of such activities.
With regard to Prostitution, although there was a suggestion by the society that it should be legalised, the Government did not accept that. If at any circumstances the government accepts or attempts to bring such a proposal, the JHU will definitely oppose. Also I must say that President Mahinda Rajapaksa did not introduce Casinos to this country. They were introduced when UNP was in power. What the present Government did was limiting the number of casinos and to bring all the casinos under control. Under the new Act what the Government attempts to do is to bring all the casinos in to one area or rather to one zone. By this the casinos will be properly regulated. It does not give room to spreading of more casinos.
Q: JHU demanded 1 million rupees from the Prime Minister who is also the Minister of Religious Affairs for defamation caused by his statement. Are you still against the Prime Minister and do you still say that he had a hand in drug smuggling? How serious are you in carrying on with this case?
Yes, the JHU did take such an action against the Prime Minister. We totally blame the government for this incident and requested to take actions against the officials who were involved irrespective of the posts they held. However, we decided to look at the Prime Minister in a more sympathetic way considering his age and state at the moment. Also the Priests requested us not to carry on with the case. JHU is a party which follows Buddhist principles. Buddhism always teaches about compassion and non- hatred. Therefore we decided not to carry on with the case.
Q: Despite Mahinda Chinthanaya promotion of Mathata Thitha, Sri Lanka has become a hub of heroin and other drugs. Further the Western Province in which you contest has become a hub for drug traffickers, especially the Colombo District. There are also allegations that some of the politicians in your UPFA party are involved in drug smuggling and even the importation of Ethanol. While representing the Jathika Hela Urumaya, why are you silent about these?
Heroin and many other drugs were the results of the open market introduced in 1977. Today it has been spread all over the country and many youth have become victims of this menace. It is obligatory for the government shouldtake steps in preventing this. During the recently occurred incidents we stressed the government to take action against whoever was part of it. No one can blame JHU.
Q: Since this government came to power records have indicated that there is a massive increase in liquor consumption and Sri Lanka has become one of the main boozing nations in the world. In 2012 the total consumption shot to 85 million litres from 65 million litres in the previous year. Especially being in a party that promotes Buddhist philosophy which is against liquor consumption how can you be silent over this?
The Government itself cannot reduce the consumption. The society has a responsibility. These things cannot be controlled solely by rules and regulations. There must be a commitment from the people as well. There must be an attitude change and must be supported through a cultural movement. We need to understand the fact that the government has controlled illegal drugs and liquor that have been consumed. Cigarette consumption has drastically reduced. But others, especially liquor consumption might rise as the tourism industry has flourished after the war. The foreigners consume alcohol and it is an essential factor for tourism.
Q: A senior JHU member Udaya Gammanpila has said that Defense Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa is his hero. Do you also consider Mr. Gotabaya as your hero? If so why?
Yes, he is a hero. Indubitably this whole country accepts that he played a major role in eliminating terrorism from our mother land. His exceptional leadership skills in conducting the forces in the war fare were remarkable. He indeed is a hero to me.
Q: JHU has been strongly protesting against the reduction of number of students to the Law College. But isn’t it done by the Justice Minister and other officials appointed by the very government you are supporting and representing?
We always represented on behalf of the students. When the Law college authorities reduced the number of students that are admitted to college last year it was the JHU which raised the voice along with the students. As a result of this last year the Law College admitted 501 students to the college. Where ever there is injustice the JHU has always come forward irrespective the fact whether it is the Government or Opposition.
Q: While you make allegations against western countries, the JHU is silence about the Chinese and Indian economic invasions in Sri Lanka where we have been forced to buy Chinese mechanical, labour and construction capabilities at very high interest rates and Indian goods and vehicles. Aren’t you against this neo-colonialism?
There maybe criticisms on a country’s Economic principle’s and with regard to foreign policy. But we need to understand that Sri Lanka needs to have contacts with countries which supports. At this crucial point, where many western countries are pulling the leg, we have to be cautioned. China has never interfered with Sri Lanka’s internal affairs. It has always helped Sri Lanka. We cannot live alone in the world. We cannot say there are invasions. China invests in our country and even Sri Lanka has a good relationship with China. The relationship with India is also the same. We cannot be isolated from the rest of the world. Today what we have is new liberal economy. We depend on the products of other countries. It is essential to expand service economy. But what we suggest is a production economy. For a country to be developed that is one deciding factor. There seem to be many economic patterns today. For instance black economy and criminal economy. So the production span within the country has to be developed. The mechanical services, Information technology, and other sources in the country must be utilised in a way that the country can benefit.
Our country has given prominence to factors such as democracy unnecessarily. We cannot be a developed nation if we pay attention to such factors. For example countries such as Malaysia, Singapore and Korea have become developed countries with less democracy. If we maintain to give unnecessary prominence to democracy and human rights, then we are far behind achieving our goals.
Q: But countries such as New Zealand, Switzerland are also known as developed countries and also recognised as democratic nations. Do you still say that democracy is a factor which we need not to pay attention?
We can show many examples on what is democratic and what is not. But most of these democratic nations in European region got their wealth from the nations they dominated. For them to achieve developed status it has taken a longer period.
But on the other hand countries like Singapore they had a extreme development in past two decades. They had less democracy and dictatorship qualities present in the system. With that they moved forward.
Our country always bothered about media freedom, human rights and democracy. It is impossible for democracy and development to work together at his stage. What is necessary is a strong leadership to take decisions for the development of the country. People are fed up and disgusted with politics. Today politics means posters, crackers, sound and visual pollution. The country needs a new political culture.