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I appointed my brother as I had confidence in him - Arjuna Ranathunge

16 November 2015 08:47 pm - 2     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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  •     I am not appointing anyone from Gampaha to this ministry. There was a system called “Father and Son” then; not now.

  •     Blood may be thicker than water but Minister Arjuna’s choice was right

  •     The decision has resulted in good results already



 

Excerpts of a face- to- face discussion with the Minister of Ports, Arjuna Ranathunge
 

Where is the good governance you boasted much?

There is no question about the government or its good governance. You can observe how free everyone is today to express their views. Two parties are working together, but, there are some who look only for political advantages and not to give attention to the country. We have two leaders who always think of the country. There is no way of the government crashing. The only issue which I too is concerned with is why there is a  delay in taking action against corrupt individuals. The delay is a frustration even to me.

 

You were one of those who stood up to defeat the Rajapaksa government. With the acceptance of a ministerial position you seem to be quiet now?
No it is not so. I speak when it is needed. Even in the Cabinet I have criticised without any fear. Despite the government arriving at decisions, we have our own personal views. Whatever it is, no room would be kept to save rogues.

 

You criticized the Rajapaksa government of nepotism, but after becoming a minister, you appointed your elder brother as the chairman of the Port Authority. How did that happen?

 It is true that I appointed my elder brothers Dammika Ranathunga as the chairman of the Port Authority. During the first eight months I ran this institute with many others. It had been functioning as the most corrupt institute in Sri Lanka. Therefore I wanted to appoint someone whom I could trust and protect me.

 

It appears to be a peculiar theory. If all [ministers] decide to appoint their brothers to the institutes  under their purview, saying that they are trustworthy what would be the outcome?

 I appointed my elder brother as the chairman of the Ports authority as I had confidence in him. He  was also qualified and experienced in administrative work. If I appointed an unqualified person, then it would have been an issue. He supported me during the last elections and his appointment has already brought good results.

 

Rajapaksas also said that when joined together they can develop the country. But what happened was quite different. After getting beaten by the Rajapaksas, people still have a fear psychosis of hanging over them.

 I never hit out at the Rajapaksa family. But I targeted the corruption and fraud that took place under their governance. One cannot compare Ranathungas with Rajapaksas.

 

" I never hit out at the Rajapaksa family. But I targeted the corruption and fraud that took place under their governance. One cannot compare Ranathungas with Rajapaksas. "

 

How did the country benefit from the Rajapaksa family from 2005 to 2010?

We would never forget that period. It was after that everyone wanted to become the president. When we start something and issues crop up, you can criticise us, but don’t harbour baseless fears. Websites that are friendly towards the Rajapaksas are slinging mud at us. I was appointed to this ministry to stop corruption. I am happy to hear criticism, but I would not succumb to anyone. I am not appointing anyone from Gampaha to this ministry.

There was a system called “Father and Son” then; not now. But having considered its success, qualified children of workers were employed; but I have not given jobs to friends or associates. This is a profit making concern; not an employment agency.


 

"The Ranathungas had obtained more than 50% of votes from Gampaha. This was because of what my father did to the people of Gampaha."

 

There is a talk that you had employed some relatives, is it true or not?

 I have not appointed any of my relatives. Some have spread a story that all who carry ‘Ranathunga as their surnames are my relatives. Even one Danathunga had been named as a relative of mine. There may be some who are related to me working in this place from a long time back but they were not appointed by me. I have some who had worked with me for a long time serving as my personal assistants. Other than those I have not appointed anyone outside regulations to this ministry.

 

Incidents like Avant Garde had caused a black mark on the Yahapalanaya government. Is the alliance in a crisis?

 All necessary steps had been taken on that matter; the minister had also resigned. Earlier it never happened. Our strong criticism brought forth this situation. We are not willing to protect any minister having deals with Avant Garde. We are not able to confirm whether the transactions relating to this matter are perfect or about their circumstances. Only an investigation would show the actual position.  I regret  the statement made by Thilak Marapana on Avant Garde in Parliament.

 

You said that fraud and corruption was high in the Ports Ministry. What steps did you take during the past few months to stop them?

We have attempted to control corruption as much as possible. It is difficult to stop it all of a sudden. We are taking whatever steps to rid this ministry of corruption.



"We are awaiting an environmental report on the Port City. It is our desire to amicably settle this matter, but, if the country is going to be severely affected by this, we have to put the country before everything else."


Are you happy that Port City Project was taken out of your ministry?

No. It is now under Minister Champika. There is a committee appointed and I am in that committee headed by Prime Minister Wickremesinghe. We are awaiting an environmental report on the Port City. It is our desire to amicably settle this matter, but, if the country is going to be severely affected by this, we have to put the country before everything else. That is my personal view.



The Ranathunga political power in Gampaha had dwindled lately, do you accept it?

If we had done politics in the correct way, all three of us would have been able to enter Parliament. But from what my younger brother Prasanna did, my brother Ruwan was affected badly. The Ranathungas had obtained more than 50% of votes from Gampaha. This was because of what my father did to the people of Gampaha. Any way I feel sorry for Prasanna’s political thinking. We have no enmity between us; only different political thinking. I have never been tied to one party. I have worked under reputed leaders. Whenever I could not work with them I left them. I do not want to speak about my brother Prasannas’ politics. He is senior to me in this field, but he would realise the truth soon.



Don’t you think that family disputes are a blow to your political affairs?

 We do not fight with each other. It is only political differences which are not connected with brotherhood.I have never criticised my brothers from a UNP stage. but Mahinda Rajapaksa created disunity in our family and used Prasanna to defeat Ruwan


 

"My brother supported me during the last elections and his appointment has already brought good results"



In 2010 you were close to Sarath Fonseka in politics; what made you leave him?

I could not do politics with him. He was an  able war hero but, in politics I felt that both of us could not agree in most matters.

 

Can you say positively that if not for your success at cricket you could not have come this far  in politics?

 I never used my popularity playing cricket. I won from Colombo, from Kalutara and Gampaha. People of the Western Province elected me several times. It is not only cricket that bolstered my victory.

 

As a person who had entered politics after playing the Gentlemen’s Game, do you continue to do politics in a gentlemanly manner?

 Yes, definitely. In cricket I have gone beyond that position and taken strong decisions. I have no regrets. It is very difficult to do politics in only in a gentlemanly way. There are situations that demand rigid decisions. Whenever situations of such nature surface, I always consider my country more than anything else.


 Courtesy - Sunday Lankadeepa 
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  Comments - 2

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  • Premalal Wednesday, 18 November 2015 08:50 AM

    What a load of BS.

    ABBA Tuesday, 17 November 2015 10:01 AM

    this is what they say taliking through the hat. all are same at the end.


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