Mon, 15 Apr 2024 Today's Paper

“Absolute power corrupts” Receiving a huge mandate turned out to be a problem for us

21 March 2024 12:00 am - 26     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) stalwart Basil Rajapaksa, who recently returned to the country in time to face a possible election heat, in an interview with the Daily Mirror said that following the collapse of the Gotabaya Rajapaksa Government, he and his brother Gotabaya do not get into each other’s way. Basil also said that he had requested from President Ranil Wickremesinghe not to deal with SLPP members individually bypassing the party hierarchy.
 Following are excerpts of the interview:

  • We also requested the President not to deal with our members individually bypassing the party hierarchy.
  • The mere fact that we received an overwhelming majority at the election turned out to be a curse at the end.
  • Whenever a government gets the absolute majority anywhere, it collapses sooner than expected.
  • The more members you have the greater the problems you get. 
  • Now, there are even more draconian pieces of legislations being enacted.  If we had brought such laws, all hell would have broken loose.
  • I did not get the book (the one penned by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa) even. I did not bother to find a copy and read. 
  • What happened at the end was a concentration of too much power. 

I did not get the book (the one penned by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa) even. I did not bother to find a copy and read.  There is no need for me to read his book now because the content has been communicated to me by journalists

I can give him (Namal) something if I have any. Otherwise, how can I offer? In history, King Sirisangabo gave away everything including his children.  He could do so because he had everything. What can I give Namal?  I don’t have anything in the party. Namal should earn it 

I have informed (about my retirement) actually.  Still, I am not allowed to quit politics.  I don’t hold any responsibility in the government. Also, I don’t hold any post in the party. Still I am not allowed to stay away from politics

When I met Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi once, we talked about palm oil cultivation.  At that time, the Russia-Ukraine war had started. Ukraine was the key supplier of palm oil to India. Mr. Modi told me that Sri Lanka had been seen as one of the three best countries in the world for growing palm oil.  He sought to cultivate palm oil under a buyback agreement for 35 years 

In the run up to the 2020 election, even the Election’s Commissioner asked me whether my party was going to get two-thirds.  I told him I would be happy to get 130-135 seats instead of 150. That is because absolute power can lead to various other problems. Too much concentration of power is not helpful

 Q:President Ranil Wickremesinghe appeared to have declined to entertain your request for a snap General Election. Won’t this lead to a rift between your Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) and the President?
I am yet to present this idea to the President formally. When I meet him today, I will do it. I have mooted this idea now. Otherwise everybody is of the opinion that the Presidential Election should be conducted first. However, we won’t leave any room for a rift between the SLPP and the President over this matter.
Q:Again, the Cabinet approved a proposal to draft legislation to change the parliamentary electoral system. Will your party extend support to it?
I cannot commit on it at the moment because we, as a party, are yet to see the proposal. I learnt about it from you only. Let’s see the proposal first and see to it.
Q:How can you say you are not aware of it when the Cabinet comprises some SLPP MPs?
The Cabinet does not comprise mostly of our members. Even our members have not notified us so far.
Q:How are you getting ready for the elections now?
We faced ups and downs. Despite upheavals at times, we re-emerged and managed to stay afloat. We will face the elections with vigor again.
Q: When you met the President last time, what did you actually discuss about the elections?
We did not discuss a single thing about the elections. However, we said that the SLPP, as a party only, should take a decision whether to support the President at future elections. Otherwise individual members of the party should not decide. We also requested the President not to deal with our members individually bypassing the party hierarchy.
Q:Some members who were elected on the SLPP ticket are in touch with the President. For example, the MPs such as Nimal Lanza and Prasanna Ranatunga deal with the President directly bypassing the party. Is that the reason for you to make such a request?
Yes, we cited it as a reason. However, the MPs such as Nimal Lanza have been directly in touch with the President for a long time. They openly supported the President at the parliamentary vote to elect him.
We only said it is always advisable to deal with parties, not their individual members.
Q:A number of reasons affected the collapse of the Gotabaya Rajapaksa Government. Some factors such as the pandemic are beyond your control.  Yet, there are some other decisions that led to the downfall of the government. In your view, what was the biggest blunder?
I don’t know. In running a government, there are mistakes being done. Those mistakes lead to adverse results. 
Q:I am asking about those reasons. What are they?
There are many. There are economic, political and social reasons.  The mere fact that we received an overwhelming majority at the election turned out to be a curse at the end.   That is also a reason for our downfall. Absolute power corrupts. 
Q:You got a two-thirds majority. When you have such power, you can even change the Constitution. You can do wonders. It is ironic to say that such a majority was harmful to you. Isn’t it?
Whenever a government gets the absolute majority anywhere, it collapses sooner than expected. 
Q: How did it happen in Sri Lanka? Did you lose grip on such a large group?
In world history, you find empires that wielded enormous power and authority. Such empires collapsed sooner than expected. 
Q: In the current local context, it is convenient for you to pass laws when an absolute majority is there. Isn’t it?
The more members you have the greater the problems you get. 
Q:At that time, you bulldozed your way and managed to get the 20th Amendment incorporated into the Constitution. Some people criticise you for it and cite it as the beginning of the end of the government. What is your view?
It is interpreted in different ways by various people. It may be the reason. Or it may not be the reason. Now, there are even more draconian pieces of legislations being enacted.  If we had brought such laws, all hell would have broken loose. What would have been the reaction had laws such as Online Safety Act been brought by us?  What would have been the scenario had we introduced privatization? What would have been the reaction had we increased VAT (Value Added Tax), electricity tariff and all? 
Q:Are you opposed to the Online Safety Act and other laws introduced?
It is not a criticism driven against them.  I can only say people would have reacted differently had we introduced them. 
Q:Why did you fail to manage public opinion as a party that polled as many as 6.9 million votes?
Actually, our 6.9 million votes got reduced to 6.8 million at the 2020 General Election. 
Q:Still, it was large enough to give your party a two-thirds majority in the House?
Such an overwhelming majority only turned out to be a problem for us.  In the run up to the 2020 election, even the Election’s Commissioner asked me whether my party was going to get two-thirds.  I told him I would be happy to get 130-135 seats instead of 150. That is because absolute power can lead to various other problems. Too much concentration of power is not helpful. 
Q:You said that you didn’t read the book authored by former President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, who is your elder brother.  I know you are a politician who reads a lot.  Why didn’t you read this book?
 I did not get the book (the one penned by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa) even. I did not bother to find a copy and read.  There is no need for me to read his book now because the content has been communicated to me by journalists. 
Q:You didn’t get a copy of the book because you lost touch with your brother, right?
We don’t get in each other’s way 
Q:What is the role for him in politics now?
He (Gotabaya) is prepared to lead a quiet life devoid of politics.  Even I want to live such a life. But I am not left to myself. Now I am an old person. 
Q:Are you speaking out your heart?
I am speaking fully with my heart. 
Q:You can easily announce it to the party and step down. Why don’t you do it?
I have informed (about my retirement) actually.  Still, I am not allowed to quit politics.  I don’t hold any responsibility in the government. Also, I don’t hold any post in the party. Still I am not allowed to stay away from politics. 
Q: Yet, I noticed even today that some ministers came to meet you. Why do they come to see you if you are a nonentity?
That is the thing. I don’t know.
Q:These days, we see MP Namal Rajapaksa, who is your nephew, travelling across the country meeting people and community leaders. He seems to be preparing for the party leadership.  He is clad exactly like his father, former President Mahinda Rajapaksa. Are you trying to quit making way for him to take over?
There is nothing for me to offer him (Namal). The party will decide at the right time. I don’t hold any position in the party. 
Q:It means the SLPP leadership position is cleared for him now?
I can give him (Namal) something if I have any. Otherwise, how can I offer? In history, King Sirisangabo gave away everything including his children.  He could do so because he had everything. What can I give Namal?  I don’t have anything in the party. Namal should earn it. 
Q:How challenging is it for you to sustain the legacy of Mahinda Rajapaksa in his absence one day?
It is an issue for me. In the world, it has always been challenging to fill the vacuum left behind by the absence of a leader with towering personality. We find examples in our own history. It had been challenging for the successors to fill the vacuums created after great kings Dutugemunu and Parakramabahu. 
Once a school principal with great, outstanding   caliber retires, it is challenging for his successor to live up to expectations. In cricket, once legendary openers retire from the field, others find it difficult to fit in. People always compare newcomers with their predecessors. 
I have done politics for more than 50 years. I have never ever faced such a challenging situation. This is the first time I am facing such an uncertain situation.  The same goes for the country too.  
Q: Earlier you said the absolute majority you got turned out to be a curse at the end.  But, public perception is that too much involvement of the family members triggered the downfall. What is your response?
People only elected a number of Rajapaksa family members to Parliament representing districts such as Matara, Hambantota, Moneragala, Kurunegala and all.  When you get unlimited power, it becomes a problem.
Q:You mean to say that the involvement of too many Rajapaksa family members also contributed to the failure at the end?
What happened at the end was a concentration of too much power. That is not good. 
Q:You cannot put the blame on people for the election defeats of Rajapaksa members. You are the one who gave nominations to all these family members, didn’t you?
We gave nominations to many others too. But, the people have elected whom they wanted. 
Q:Who advised Mr. Gotabaya Rajapaksa to ban chemical farming at a time when there was a looming food crisis?
I don’t know about it.  A leader may consult others before making a decision. Once a decision is made, he should take the responsibility.  
Q:You are familiar with rural economy and agriculture economy.  Didn’t you as a responsible member of the government realise the gravity of such a decision?
When I met Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi once, we talked about palm oil cultivation.  At that time, the Russia-Ukraine war had started. Ukraine was the key supplier of palm oil to India. Mr. Modi told me that Sri Lanka had been seen as one of the three best countries in the world for growing palm oil.  He sought to cultivate palm oil under a buyback agreement for 35 years. 
I humbly refused it saying Sri Lanka stopped such cultivation over environmental reasons.  Mr. Modi did not counter it. Instead, he changed the topic to sunflower cultivation. 
Before making a decision, I can advise the leadership.  If the decision is eventually taken, then the leader should take full responsibility. 


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  Comments - 26

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  • Yosuf Thursday, 21 March 2024 06:08 AM

    Looking at answers given by Basil to various questions asked , it appears an O/L student may give a better reply. I wonder how a dumb person like him can lead this country again. Are we dumb too to entertain him in the public. It seems some of our media too dumb and deaf

    Remember there is No Free Lunches Friday, 29 March 2024 03:19 PM

    The people worship him and the family when everything was going well with them quietly taking loans to sustain the country and looking good. Now when all hell breaks loose, the people only blame Paksa’s and not themselves. That’s why it’s paramount to vote wisely and keep track of the issues and how the government carries out their dealings. A few had highlighted their wrongdoings over the years but most were sidelined. Remember, nothing is free and everything has a price someone needs to pay someday.

    Sokrates Thursday, 21 March 2024 11:35 AM

    This interview is an excellent basis for determining Basil's IQ. The result isn't exactly flattering for this idiot.

    German Thursday, 21 March 2024 02:28 PM

    You elect these people to rule the country? Sri Lankans are funny people.

    Appuhamy Thursday, 21 March 2024 02:54 PM

    Looking at these answers and how this man is now trying to blame the people`s mandate as the excuse for the SLPP`s utter disaster in Governance, one question clearly stands out: If this guy was supposed to be the man with `Seven Brains` in the SLPP, we can imagine what a set of pure idiots the rest of the SLPP thugs are!

    Ali Thursday, 21 March 2024 04:33 PM

    i am not surprised by his answers Srilankans were always voted for idiots like him before and i think it will happen in the future as well ... Modya and kavun kanda yodaya spring in to my mind.

    Bandara Thursday, 21 March 2024 05:49 PM

    An idiot interviewing another idiot.

    Gabriella Thursday, 21 March 2024 09:21 PM

    The fact that this seven headed serpent is still a factor in Sri Lankan politics is an indictment on the electorate. They still appear in public shamelessly.

    Modaya chaser SL Friday, 22 March 2024 07:09 AM

    Basil modaya, go back to your toilet cleaning job in the US. You lack intelligence and integrity to contest in SL.

    FredSnR Friday, 22 March 2024 09:55 AM

    Basil of course absolute power corrupts heard this first from the teacher in the O level class many many years ago not sure why they are interviewing you for answers when there are so many educated people in the country. Today SL desperately needs fresh blood young educated people who can turn the country around, what we have had so far are corrupt incompetent politicians but smart enough to mislead the public and eventually ruin the country.

    12345 Friday, 22 March 2024 01:47 PM

    We are all to blame. Why waste time reading this idiotic stuff. Best way is to avoid reading, interviewing, listening to R clan

    Mahila Saturday, 23 March 2024 09:22 PM

    “Absolute power corrupts”!!?? What exposition of Brilliance in thought and Intelligence?? Until you mentioned it never occurred to us “POOR UNEDUCATED PEASANTS”, of Mother Lanka that POWER corrupts ABSOLUTLY!!?? Foxy JRJ wasn’t aware of that GEM of a Thought!!! Corrupts to the very “CORE ROOTS” behaviourally and leads to Self-Destruction!!!??? We’ll KEEP in-mind when voting 2024, Ensuring, No single ‘Political Entity’ gets more than 25 to 35 percent of the total 165 elected MP’s at any election of every elected Body!!!??? What THOUGHTFULLNESS, “Californian Political Acumen”!!!??? Needs appreciation, and IF, Followed Meticulously Leads to Supreme BLISS (POLITICAL!?), requires Thought Consensus all Politicians, complete ACTION!!?? Thanks. We’ll ensure splendid dreams Materialises!? No Worries!? Even, for “7-Brains”, to achieve such DEEP thought, it's difficult Proposition, to tackle!!?? We respect your wishes, TOTALLY AND ENTIRELY!!!???

    ANNECUNT Sunday, 24 March 2024 02:26 AM

    MOST CORRUPT PERSON IN SRI-LANKA

    Kaputupala Maynaham Monday, 25 March 2024 08:14 AM

    Absolute power corrupts is only 10%. It can be acceptable!

    Sachinthana Tuesday, 26 March 2024 05:08 PM

    The most baffling part for me is, none of these people are taking responsibility or directly apologizing on the decisions they made which led to the downfall of the country.

    Ismet Zaheed Tuesday, 26 March 2024 07:29 PM

    This dumb ass "Kaputas" in the first place cannot understand the nature, effect and content of any document. Reading, my foot!

    Tissa Fernando Wednesday, 27 March 2024 09:41 AM

    Mr Kaputupaksha has accepted that they were corrupt so he has self implicated himself and his parry. Good material for any future case against them.

    Appuwa raja wuna Wednesday, 27 March 2024 05:06 PM

    When a poverty stricken, starving man is given a tasty meal, two things happens to him. He will choke himself and die in his hurry to devour the food. Or he will have indigestion and diarrhea. This is because he comes from a very low society, where a full meal is a luxury. This happened to you as it happened to N.M.Perera before you. We call this APPUWA RAJA WUNA in Sinhala. A low class servant became the king. It was too much to the Appuwa!

    Anne Fez Friday, 29 March 2024 06:50 AM

    Would like to see him found guilty for stealing from the poor. To see him go to jail and not back to America would be a dream vmcome true.

    ROHINI WIJETILLEKE Tuesday, 02 April 2024 07:39 PM

    POWER CORRUPTS. ABSOLUTE POWER MEANS ABSOLUTE CORRUPTION. THE CLAN PROVED IT SO WELL. THEY WERE DRIVEN OUT BY THE GOVERNED. THERE SEEMS TO BE SOME EMBERS WANTING TO REIGNITE.,LET SOME HAND, SEEN OR UNSEEN SNUFF THEM FOR GOOD.

    Anton Appuhami Wednesday, 03 April 2024 08:40 AM

    Miracle!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Gokula siripathiarachchi Saturday, 06 April 2024 12:20 PM

    You should have asked him if Kaputas and Astrologers were also behind the downfall of the government? you probably would have got a more elaborate answer as this buffoon does not possess any form of intelligence

    vadivelu Yogaratnam Saturday, 06 April 2024 02:29 PM

    shut your mouth have you forgotten what economic damage your family have done to our beautiful Lanka, now only reliable political hero left is Ranil recovering the country from the mess your family have created, your family is a disasters to our country for god sake keep your mouth shut .for the rest of your life time. God bless Lanka.

    Calum Palaman Sunday, 07 April 2024 05:09 PM

    Why this Pimpi face always seen. by people? People are sick of this man! Please put this in a smelly toilet in a 711 shop in California!!

    ANNECUNT Saturday, 13 April 2024 06:36 PM

    DAILY MIRROR HELP i read your news paper everyday , but i do not want to see mr basils photo daily makes me sick . please do not print the photo

    Sangaralingham Sunday, 14 April 2024 09:52 AM

    Why bother to vote.if electedmembers does not respect citizens rights.bringing immoral laws SWRaD.B his wife again prime minister his daughter gloating over victory using state fund MR.why all these unwanted problems fighting killing kidnapping abuse of citizens.whonext need chivalrous politicians put country itsnature flora faunaliving humans first.


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