The political world is like a burning inferno. These comments were made by Minister of Justice and Buddha Sasana Wijeyadasa Rajapaksha during an interview with Sunday Lankadeepa where he commented on the present situation of the Government. He is one of the political leaders who took great pains to establish the Yahapalana Government.
- There is a limit to what the Minister who is in charge of the Police can do
- The postponement of the Provincial Council Elections will create a terrible situation in the country
- There will be a big conflict in world politics against China’s domination. We will be destroyed first in this conflict
Q What will happen to the Government if it continues this way?
Governments come and go within the frame of democracy. Situations have always changed. The only difference is in the time frame that’s required for change to take place.
Q That means this Government came. Should it go now?
I mean things should happen within the frame work of democracy.
Q Are you satisfied with the Yahapalana Government?
I am satisfied with some facts. I am not satisfied with some. But I am satisfied with the subjects that come under my purview.
Q But Deputy Minister Ajith P. Perera says though you said so, it’s difficult to catch thieves.
Kewattayans (Cunning people) are talking unnecessarily. All this talk is to enhance their popularity. It looks like they don’t possess the knowledge of how the law is practiced in the country. I don’t catch thieves. Even the President can’t do that. The Police must catch the thieves. That power is vested with the Police. Investigations are carried out by the Police. There is a limit to what the Minister who is in charge of the Police can do. It’s the duty of the Police to intervene in such matters. Ministers can’t instruct the police who to arrest.
Q Then, Why are there accusations against you?
That is why I said earlier that this just shows how aware they are. To establish Yahapalanaya, institutions should be independent. There is the Police Commission, Judicial Service Commission, Elections Commission and Public Service Commission. If there is a complaint action will be taken in keeping the evidence available. What is the mechanism available for this? If the politicians interfere in these matters is it good governance? We have prepared a mechanism to expedite the hearing of cases. We have taken steps to shorten this process by 50% within these two years. Arrangements have been made for that. But the Minister of Justice, the President nor the Chief Justice has the power to expedite the hearings against the thieves of the past government and delay the cases against the thieves in the present government.
Q Is it true that you are influencing the Attorney General Department?
What is the influence exerted by me?
Q Those who are in your Government are making this accusation?
I don’t have to tell these foolish politicians that the Attorney General’s Department is an independent body. Mahinda Rajapaksha went home two years earlier than scheduled by acting like this. I know the subject area. I know the areas which wield power and the areas which I can handle or not. Therefore I have never told to put the files of the opponents on top and act accordingly. However I have never opposed what they are doing.
Q The bond issue has become a bomb for the Government?
Yes it’s correct.
Q Why did it happen like that?
Even if you don’t ask me, it’s clear you and the others in the country. That type of thing took place then the people formed their own opinion. The media began to question. Ultimately the President understood that the case wouldn’t expedite under normal circumstances, because there is a barrier against it. There are facts that can’t be revealed by police investigations. Then he requested to appoint a Special Presidential Commission and it was established thereafter. As a result, all the information is being revealed now. The suitable legal course of action is being taken now.
Q President Maithripala Sirisena asked Minister Ravi Karunanayake to Resign?
I don’t know about that. He (Ravi) denies this. They are saying so. But I don’t know the truth.
Q Some Ministers in the UNP said that the Minister Ravi should resign.
Given this situation, the opinion of the majority was for him to resign.
Q There was a precedent for such resignations. Minister Tilak Marapana resigned from his portfolio.
Yes he resigned. But he hadn’t done anything wrong.
- We have prepared a mechanism to expedite the hearing of cases
- I know everything about the construction of the Hambantota Port
Q According to Minister Rajitha Senaratna, when compared to the thefts during the past Government, this is a trivial thing.
May be. Those who were in the former Government know about the thefts of that Government.
Q Minister Sarath Fonseka says that Ravi, who pioneered to establish this Government, should be protected.
Can you write that I am laughing.
Q The Presidential Commission has been appointed to investigate the bond scam. But Minister Karunanayeke was asked to resign on charges that he received a house.
That issue is also linked with this bond scam isn’t it? Investigations are being carried out regarding the bond scam. All these incidents are connected to the bond scam. These investigations are conducted to find out whether he has taken undue advantage of these bonds.
Q The bond issue is connected to the Central Bank. Ravi said that it did not come within his jurisdiction.
Everything belongs to the Government. That is the crux of the question. Although the Central Bank is gazetted under the Prime Minister, Ravi Karunanayake is authorized by the rules and regulations to intervene in the affairs of the Central Bank.
Q But Minister Karunanayake says that some seniors in the party are behind this.
If he says so, he knows the facts. We accept them.
Q The Joint Opposition say, they will not stop with Ravi until they catch the top brass thieves. It will be decided by the Special Presidential Commission. The next steps will be taken keeping with their recommendations.
Q The Joint Opposition says, that the housing complexes have been given to the foot note cliques too.
I also saw that news in the media.
Q What do think about this?
I will form my opinion when the relevant information is ready.
Q At this moment why are some sections in the government launching attack against you? What do you think about that?
There may be some reasons for that.
Q Among those reasons, One of the main reasons may be because you opposed the lease of the Hambantota Port to China.
You are right. I took a fervent stand against this. Still maintain that position.
Q The Prime Minister including the Government says, that there is nothing else to do others than give the Hambantota Port to China. You are also in same Cabinet, but why do you take a different stand?
Yes. I have a different opinion. I say, that I know everything about the construction of the Hambantota Port, from the time of its commencement. It was commenced during Chandrika’s Government. I and Anura Bandaranaike went to participate in the discussions involving China. The China Company said they will help us make Hambantota the biggest Fisheries Harbor was the biggest bunkering port. The estimated cost for this was $ 310 M.
Q But during the Mahinda Rajapaksha regime, it was said, that $ 580 M would be spent for that?
Yes. They constructed the port by digging the land. When it finished $ 1500 M had been spent on construction. China imprisoned us in a debt trap. China knows that we can never settle this loan.
Q Why did they give the loan?
It was done by squeezing our neck as there was no option. They gave this loan in order to target and obtain this port. This is not a commercial transaction. This is a political transaction.
Q You mean a political transaction?
It’s a world political transaction. By giving this port to China, our loan has been deducted by only one billion. But we have to pay 78 billion. How can we pay the remainder of the loan? Do we have a plan to settle this? Then the Chinese are bringing only $ 400 m to this project. We can make some use of the port if we complete it with this $ 400 m.
Q The Government has said that this a white elephant. Ships aren’t coming. But you say, this can be developed.
Well no need of talking about whether this can be developed or not. Now this has already been completed. There is no other option. Now this should be developed.
Q Why do you oppose it?
There are a few serious problems. The first problem is very serious. 85% of the ships are coming to the port in Colombo for re-exporting. Will they come to Colombo when the same facilities are being provided at the Hambantota Port for which they have to pass an additional 400 nautical miles? Do all 85% of these ships stop in Hambantota then? Now do you say to convert the Colombo Port into a swimming pool? How much money have we invested on the Colombo Port? When all the ships come to the Hambantota Port, all the income goes to the China Company. The other thing is that China is going back after constructing the Colombo South Port.
Q But it was given on lease for 99 years?
Then the problem is the Hambantota Port we have built. They will earn income by operating this for 99 years. There is a paradox in that isn’t it? That is why I say there was a Commercial transaction in Colombo. There was a World Political transaction in Hambantota. That is why India is asking for Trincomalee. In this regard, America, India, Japan and Europe have got together. There will be a big conflict in world politics against China’s domination. We will be destroyed first in this conflict.
Q When you raised this in the Cabinet, there was a big protest against you.
Yes. There was a big protest. When we speak the truth, it will remain the same everyday.
Q Why don’t the President and the Prime Minister understandthis situation?
It’s not correct to ask me that. Ask it from the cabinet.
Q Do you think that this is a coalition Government?
Yes to some extent.
Q Can you go forward in this way?
Q If it is difficult what can be done?
Let us see.
Q This government doesn’t hold elections. Does it?
Yes. It is a terrible thing. Madam Sirimavo postponed the elections under the cover of 1972 constitution. As a result there was a curse for 17 years. That party couldn’t assume power. J.R. postponed the elections for 6 years. Its curse is still felt. UNP couldn’t form a government even after 20 years. Today the government isn’t formed alone.
Q This Government has postponed the elections.
Those who postponed the elections would have to face that curse for 40.
Q According to you, why do they postpone the elections?
It’s not done by me. So, I can’t give you a correct answer. There was a reasonable force behind the postponing of the Provincial Council elections for a reasonable period of time. But it’s wrong when it’s done for an unlimited period. The postponement of the Provincial Council Elections will create a terrible situation in the country.
Q There are people who make allegations that you have a ‘ deal’ with the Rajapaksas as you are also a Rajapaksa.
But when Rajapaksa was in the pinnacle of power during his government, not even a dog barked at the Rajapaksas.No media man wrote a word against him.That was the time when I challenged the Rajapaksas and came out. Army security was given to our house.When I gave the COPE report, my house was surrounded by the army. In spite of such a situation, I didn’t bow my head. If so, why should I do it now? Am I afraid when they are powerless? Remember that those who make allegations, joined the government at that time to strengthen the Rajapaksas. Are these people who level allegations against me?
Q According to the present situation, don’t you feel differently when compared to the time you left the government then?
Well. Today, some people raise a big hue and cry against corruption at the top of their voice. Tell me the action taken by them to stop so-called corruption? You may think that I am boasting. I do not want any self appreciation. But I should tell the truth to the people. I am speaking today taking this stance having talked about corruption and as a person who got more than 1000 billion on behalf of the people in this country.
Q How did you do it?
You may remember the year 2003.
Q That was during UNP Government?
Yes. CTB was sold. Western, Sabaragamuwa, Central Province were sold at 860 million. Who raised a voice for them? They filed action in the court. But it was discarded. At last, I came forward voluntarily and argued that it was illegal in the supreme court. Then, there was a cluster of lawyers working against me. The former chief Justice told that all of them appeared for money, but the lawyer Wijeyadasa Rajapaksa appeared on behalf of the country. After making that statement the agreement for selling CTB was canceled. Would there be a CTB if there was no such judgment?
Q You had become the Chairman of COPE committee.
Yes. At that time I had death threats. The Government exerted influence on me.They said not to question about such and such a transaction. But did I stop it? Ultimately we asked them to nationalize the Insurance Corporation. The Insurance Corporation which had an asset of 125 billion was given at 60 billion.That was during the UNP regime. Milinda Moragoda was a pioneer in this regard. I was attacked when I said to nationalize them. What is the result of it? The 18 persons including those who were involved with corruption joined with Mahinda.
Q Then you made an uproarious statement?
I said that those who should be in the prison are in the king’s house. Then on, they brainwashed Mahinda against me. They began to attack me. Then I came out. However I came to the Parliament also from the other side. I haven’t stopped my journey. I revested with the public Sri Lanka Insurance Corporation, Appolo hospital, Litro Gas company, from 3% to 10% of the shares of all private banks and 8 acres belong to the harbor. I can say clearly that I fought alone battle and revested more the Rs.1000 billion. I won’t stop this struggle.
Q That means you have more struggles.
You of course. I don’t reverse my attempt without getting back the Hambantota Harbor.
Q Can you do it?
Yes I will take it back anyhow.
Q Can you remain in the Government after doing so?
A: Whether I remain in the government or not, I will do it. That type of things I did in the past as well. Hambantota Harbor can’t be taken back forcibly, can they? But I won’t withdraw without taking it back by some legal means.
Q Leasing Hambantota harbor is a duty of the Prime Minister.
Whatever duty it is, is a public property. Here there is a question of sovereignty. What is done by China was the things done by the Europeans with the gun in the past. This is the new imperialist system today. If America has done it,then our socialists would have shouted. When China is doing it, there is no agitation. China is the worst capitalist country in the world today.
Q Are there any other ministers who support your struggle?
I have doubts about it.
Q That means there is none?
None to my knowledge. But Minister Arjuna had presented 6 cabinet papers against it.
Q Can a Government go on like this?
It is not necessary to be shocked by them. That is the way of democracy.The people should have a right to propose another group if one group is not good. But it should be done democratically.