- It is not the politicians who are most corrupt, but the govt. officials
- The UNP was never a party which robbed and plundered the country
- Gota is a strict disciplinarian who loves the country passionately
- We can’t be fully confident that a person is tried and given capital punishment fairly
- I have four guns in my possession
During an interview with the Daily mirror , Maithri Gunaratne the former provincial councillor from Galle who formed a new political party titled United National Freedom Front speaks about the weakness of the Yahapalana Government. He was also the former Chairman of the Lanka Coal Company (LCC) and Ceylon Mineral Sands Corporation.
Q Who is responsible for the failure of the Yahapalana government?
The blame will mainly go to the President for failing to keep his promise to the people that good governance will be established. The Prime Minister, who was considered to be an Economic Guru too, has failed to show his so-called talents. However, nobody can place the blame on the Opposition parties because no matter what the government is, the Opposition plays its role. The real Opposition is actually played by the media now.
Q Why do you think the relationship between the President and Prime Minister became sour, creating the ongoing conflict?
There was an unsigned agreement between Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and President Maithripala Sirisena. After the Central Bank bond scam was exposed, where everyone pointed fingers at the Prime Minister for having brought Arjuna Mahendran to the post of Central Bank Governor on his own decision without the consent of the President, this agreement was contaminated.
I think now the President is in a very embarrassing situation where he is not in a position to remove the Prime Minister for the simple reason that the majority of the UNPers voted for him in 2015 Presidential Election. By not taking any action against the Prime Minister, he is pushing himself into a corner. The relationship between Prime Minister and President has become sour because of their own conduct.
Q As you think, to what extent does the bond scam seem to have affected the UNP?
The UNP never had an image of a party which robbed and plundered the country. The UNP has always been responsible for developing the country by creating jobs, building houses and launching new development projects. Due to the bond scam, the credibility of the party and its leader has been shattered. It is difficult to restore that credibility because people do not have confidence towards the UNP now.
Q You were with those who called for a change of the leadership of the UNP. But it didn’t happen. Instead, the same personalities exchanged their duties within the party. Any comments?
I was not really surprised at all because I know whenever there is a need for the leadership change in the UNP, only the officials are changed.
Whatever is said and done, the UNP which is a national party has a pervasive role to play for the betterment of the people. Nowadays, people are sick of politicians because 90% of politicians don’t even have their Ordinary Level qualifications. It is a party like the UNP that can make a change and set an example by presenting educated candidates for politics. But, where is the example being set?
Q How do you see the future of the UNP?
Right now, there is no one who is able to revive the party. If there is someone with the genuine interest to build the party, that person would have shown it already. No one has done that so far. Unfortunately, not a single UNP politician is showing that future promise of a good leader.
They do not mean to give good governance. They perfectly know how to practise good governance and all about the concept. They just used the concept as a motto for their political campaigns without having any intention of really putting the motto into practice.
He was responsible in finishing the LTTE. Although Mahinda was ruling the country back then and Sarath Fonseka was handling the Army, it was Gotabaya Rajapaksa who put all efforts together
Q A few months ago, you were arrested by the Kadugannawa Police while having two guns in your possession. Why do you have to keep firearms in your possession? Do you receive constant threats from someone?
Not two, I have four guns in my possession. Since 1988, I have been going through the brunt of the JVP. My father had a narrow escape from death from an assassination attempt of the JVP. From that time onward, I am legally keeping weapons for my self-defence.
Q What is your opinion regarding the President’s decision for capital punishment?
I also believe imposing capital punishment is good, but when the Sri Lanka Police Department, Attorney General’s Department and the Judiciary system are corrupt, we can’t be fully confident that a person is tried fairly and given capital punishment fairly. The efficiency of these organizations is questionable. I strongly believe that a court case should not take more than two years to conclude and give the verdict.
People no longer have faith in these systems. That is why people are taking the law into their hands and it is obvious in the everyday news where people kill other people in broad daylight. If the government keeps eyes closed, people are going to take more issues into their hands.
Q There was a questionable major coal tender. A week after you spoke about coal deals at Sri Lanka’s expense, you were removed from the post of Chairman Lanka Coal Company (LCC). Later, you were again removed from your position as Chairman of Ceylon Mineral Sands Corporation. Can you share with us your experience at those two institutions?
While working at the Lanka Coal Company, I exposed a fraud that took place there. Without investigating my complaint, they chased me out. Later, I led the Lanka Mineral Sands Limited which is one the richest companies in the country. Within four months, the institution which was at a stake could earn Rs. one billion.
I was also able to increase the production largely. But, later the authorities kicked me out. There is no place in this country for honest people to work. Only rogues and people who want to play out are allowed to work in the government sector.
The government willingly keeps questionable people in the organizations while honest people who are not chasing after money and personal perks are being removed. How do we expect the country to prosper at this rate?
I also want to note one of the most important facts. It is not the politicians who are most corrupt. The government officials are the most corrupt people and those government officials are coming from universities with degrees and all educational qualification to rob public money. They still continue corruption in any government because of the simple reason that ministers do not know their subjects.
Obviously, we cannot expect any good thing from such ministers who have not even passed their Ordinary Level examinations.
Such Ministers, intimidated by corrupt government officials who have degrees and Masters in the relevant Ministry subjects, sign whatever document brought by those officials.
When people hire drivers to drive their own vehicles, they check the drivers’ licences, medical histories, professional histories and many other factors, because the people do not want their vehicles to get smashed up. But, when the same people select politicians to run the country, they cast their votes for politicians just because their grandparents voted for them irrespective of whether those politicians could run the country or not.
Q Supreme Court Judges recused themselves from hearing the Fundamental Rights Petition filed by Gotabaya Rajapaksa. Meanwhile, the Attorney General had informed the Supreme Court about a Contempt of Court case against Deputy Minister Ranjan Ramanayake over insulting remarks against the judiciary and the lawyers. What is your opinion?
First of all, at least we should be happy that those judges recused themselves from the court case rather than hearing the case and giving a biased verdict. When it comes to the standards of law, our courts are not still up to the mark. The Bail Act is not being practised in a proper manner in this country.
The UNP never had an image of a party which robbed and plundered. The UNP has always been responsible for ... Due to the bond scam, the credibility of the party and its leader has been shattered. It is difficult to restore that credibility because people do not have confidence towards the UNP now...
Q During a recent press conference, did you say that Gotabaya Rajapaksa was the most suitable to run for Presidency in the next Presidential Election? How do you support your statement?
Out of the three Rajapaksa brothers including Chamal, Basil and Gotabaya, I would choose Gotabaya for the presidential candidacy.
He was responsible in finishing the LTTE war. Although Mahinda Rajapaksa was ruling the country back then and Sarath Fonseka was handling the Army, it was Gotabaya Rajapaksa who put all efforts together.
If we talk about urban development, Gotabaya was able to completely change Colombo City. This was what the UNP was famous for. The UNP could do a lot of development in this country in the past. But, they are currently going in a negative path.
Further, Gota is a strict disciplinarian. This country really needs a strict disciplinarian who loves the country passionately. I think he has these qualifications.
Q How do you think a person like Gota whose name has been linked with 2012 Welikada Riots where 27 inmates were killed, MIG deal and Avant Garde case, is suitable for the Presidency?
Well yeah, his name is linked with all those mentioned cases. But, even after three and a half years, he was not even arrested for any of those cases if he was guilty. The Yahapalana government was not able to nail him if he is involved in those cases. This government having had the power to bring him to book and prove the charges against him, they did nothing. So, should we keep going on speculations?
Q What is your response to the controversial statement made by Former Minister Vijayakala Maheswaran about the LTTE?
I met and spoke to the people of Jaffna a month ago and I am telling you this with full responsibility. If the government keeps ignoring and does not help the people in Jaffna, they will take up arms.
We don’t want it to happen again in this country. Vijayakala took one step forward and made that statement. As she said there was ongoing harassment in various manner to women in the North. It is only going to show that there is no law and order there. However, under any condition, the people of this country cannot go for another war with Muslims, Tamils or any other people.
Pic by Nimalsiri Edirisinghe