Former Army chief Sarath Fonseka who is currently facing a split within his camp, speaks to the Daily Mirror about the issues that prevailed within the party which led to the current situation. Fonseka in a wide ranging interview that could be viewed fully on www.dailymirror.lk says that he is undeterred by the current developments and will fight towards the ambition of changing the political culture existing in the country. Following are excerpts of the interview which could be viewed in full on www. dailymirror.lk
Q:What was the reason behind the split in your camp?
I expected this as the first question to be asked by you. The split in the camp occurred in the sense that two MPs decided that they can’t work with me and with the rest of the people who work with me. They have their own agendas and their own way of doing politics. I like to do politics with people who devote their time with society and the people. When there are others who want to do politics in different ways like wanting to be behind the scene or by“remote control” sometimes it all doesn’t work together. I wanted to form an alliance from the time I came out of jail I insisted that we have to form a common opposition which would make us strong enough to fight the government.
Then these two MPs came and met me, and said we have to build the party first and said that forming a common opposition was not the need of the hour. Subsequently when they met me one of the MPs insisted that if we are forming a common opposition it should be formed in order to attack Ranil Wickremesinghe and not the President and the government. Then the other came and told me that if we are to form a common opposition it should include Ranil Wickremasinghe. They couldn’t agree on one principle even at that time. I have said that we have to form a common opposition but that can’t be under a particular leader. Although Arjuna very easily says Ranil Wickremasinghe should be there, it isn’t easy to get him to agree because he believes that he should be its leader.
So there are difficult areas. Finally I started working with many others in the opposition as witnessed at the meeting we held on October 18, we wanted to have a sort of coalition on stage and we took a lot of trouble to organize that, it was like a beginning of sorts for a future united opposition. I think the Bhikkhu front had the same intention of this being the start for the forming of a common opposition, but these two MPs boycotted it. They didn’t do anything to ensure that the meeting was successful. After the meeting Arjuna intimated to me that he was not going to work with the party we intended to register. But they have insisted that they will still be a part of the alliance of which I am the leader. So I don’t see the point in resigning from a party which was not registered and remaining in an alliance under my leadership. Then Tiran Alles had told the media that he had sent me a letter but I never got a letter from him. About two months ago he came and met me and told me that he intends on resigning from his post of secretary. Then I told him that if he wanted to resign to hold on until we could register the party that we wanted to form. Other than that he never gave me a letter. Now they can do politics their way and I will do it my way, but I’m very happy with the fact that none of the voters who were there with me have left me.
Q: Now looking back at this whole episode do you believe today that the only difference between the jailed Sarath Fonseka and the one seated here is the fact that you are not confined to four walls?
I have been able to come and meet my people and that is the practical reality and I can go ahead with my political aspirations and my ambition of changing the political culture of this country although I can’t contest. I can still lead a political party and move ahead with my goals so that is the difference.
Q: Don’t you think the public sentiment has changed now? The jailed Sarath Fonseka was a hero to many but don’t you think today you are just one of those politicians who walks around the country with no real substance or support?
If I was considered a hero at all for certain reasons those reasons still remain as reality. Politically I have launched a new path, it’s a beginning, for some people who are not used to go through difficult periods and who haven’t faced challenges might think that is trying something impossible. When I started the war also everybody said that we can’t win this war and it will be a failure. But I have self-confidence and I started on the difficult journey of introducing a new political culture to this country. Otherwise if I want I can join any of these political parties. If I join the government I’m sure I would be made a minister, and if I join the UNP I would get an important place. But that is not what I want. I want to change the entire political culture of this country. I will go through this new period, it might be difficult and slow but I have confidence.
Q: So there is no chance of you joining the UNP?
The UNP has enough of its problems and if I go in the problems will get aggravated. There are leadership problems and there are groups clamouring for different approaches. It’s better for me to go on this path. The government has a voted base of 45 lakhs and the UNP has 23 lakhs, other than that there are 70 Lakhs of voters who have not voted for them in this country who want a change, they don’t like the existing culture, so I have a feeling that what I’m trying to do and introduce will be appreciated by them.
Q: Was there any financial issue that paved the way for this split?
No there was nothing of the sort. We had never borrowed any money from each other. Tiran Alles was not holding on to my money nor was I holding on to his money.
Q: Don’t you think you are in a proper mess and muddle in this whole dirty business of politics?
It’s a dirty business because of the existing political culture in this country that is why I have been saying that we have to introduce a democracy that is similar to those existing in western countries.
Q: But isn’t that a completely utopian goal as far as you and your politics are concerned?
It’s a realistic goal. It has been unrealistic for so long because the corrupt politicians of this country from the time of independence didn’t want the people to realise their rights and how politics should be. They spoilt the people by taking the people on the wrong path. There has to be a beginning to change this somewhere, if you believe it isn’t a realistic goal then the corrupt politicians will continue to run the country for eternity.
Q: Why I asked you that question was because every other opposition party has an existing political and party structure. There is some sort of a base they work on. But you don’t have any sort of political structure; all that people see of you is a few appearances through the media. Given this fact do you think it’s a realistic goal?
Yes we are on the way to making that change. The structure is being built up now. We are now in the process of organizing the district committees, the electorate committees and the rest of the structure. We can’t do this overnight obviously but it is happening.
Q: So in reality you believe this change in the political culture could be achieved through you?
Yes. It will be slow and difficult but you have to do it. If one doesn’t do it then what will be the future of this country?
Q: This I’m sure is a very clichéd question as much as it is a concern of the public. There is no doubt about the soldier within you, but do you really believe given the turn of events that there is a politician within you?
If you think about politicians’ in today’s context the ones you see running around the country today, I don’t think that exists within me. But I’m trying to make a different politician, a man who is honourable who doesn’t resort to political gimmicks, who doesn’t resort to cheating the people all the time, a person who doesn’t put forward his personal gain above that of the people and the country. That is sort of politician within me.
Q: Where do you see yourself and this country in three years from now?
We will have our own government soon, the family rule will be over and the country will be on the right path. As much as I promised when I took over the Army that I won’t leave the war for another Army Commander, I assure you that in three years time you will see this difference with us governing this country
Q: With you as its leader?
Comments - 5
willows Monday, 19 November 2012 05:30 AM
keep up the good work Sir, we are with you
lakputh Monday, 19 November 2012 01:01 PM
You have won the biggest battle in this life. Please now think of winning a good place in next heavenly world .
nita Monday, 19 November 2012 01:38 PM
What MR said was absolutely right that SF would isolated by everybody one day and only wife will remain.
Rukshan Monday, 19 November 2012 04:01 PM
Jayawewa Nayakathumani!!! Api oba samagai!
pri Monday, 19 November 2012 04:59 PM
you are GLADIATER they never die without mission is complete
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