Call me Mr. 100% because I do everything to perfection - Basil
President Rajapaksa's younger brother and his Advisor Basil Rajapaksa,
who was sworn in as a Member of the Parliament last week amidst strong
protests by the Opposition MPs, says that he hopes that the Janatha
Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) will not get caught in the UNP's trap, which
changed its stance from federalism to unitary just to grab power. In an
interview with the Sunday Observer Rajapaksa said that the JVP which is
a very responsible party would not take hasty decisions.
Following are the excerpts
Q: Can you elaborate about your experience in the political
A: I think a very few people have birth certificates which
state that the father is a Member of the Parliament. From the day I was
born and from the day I could understand something I am in the politics.
After my father's death in 1967, my brother Mahinda Rajapaksa came
into politics and I was behind him since then. I stepped into active
politics through the Youth Organisation of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP).
Then I was appointed as the General Secretary of the SLFP Youth
Organisation and then became the Assistant Secretary of the party. Later
I worked with the late President Ranasinghe Premadasa and the late
Minister Gamini Dissanayake.
Q: What made you to turn green?
A: At that time I was a key person of the Anura - Maithri
group but encountered some problems with the SLFP. Then I started
working with Minister Gamini Dissanayake not as a politician but as an
official. However, I had stopped all my involvements in active politics
for some time as I lost my civic rights after an election petition.
But, I started my political career once again in 1994 by supporting
my brothers - Mahinda Rajapaksa and Chamal Rajapaksa. I was with the UNP
for only two election campaigns and since 1994 I supported President
Rajapaksa in every campaign.
Q: You mentioned that you lost your civic rights after an
election petition. Did you engage in any form of election violation?
A: It was due to a speech which I made during the election
when I was in the UNP. I lost civic rights for six years and quitted
Q: You were with the UNP and do you see any difference in the
present UNP leadership compared to those who were in the UNP at that
A: Yes. I see a vast difference. For Ranil, power comes first
and then only he thinks about the country. I think there might be
reasons for him to think about coming to power because several times he
lost the chance to come to power. Now he has betrayed his policies and
also the party policies just to grab power.
At the beginning during late President J. R. Jayewardene's regime he
talked about a unitary solution, then he talked about a federal solution
and now he is likely to talk again about a unitary solution to grab
power. So he is more power conscious than solving national problems.
Q: Amidst strong protests finally you have been sworn in as an
MP. What is your comment about the misbehaviour of your colleagues from
the government and the opposition?
A: I do not think that the Government MPs misbehaved. I
believe that every action has a reaction and what the government MPs did
was they reacted to the opposition MPs. So, action of the opposition was
the cause for the reaction of the government MPs. Actually it was sad to
talk about their behaviour. However, I was not shaken by their
Q: What was your feeling at that time?
A: I did not have any feelings against them, but was happy
because it was a great honour to me to enter the most prestigious
institution in the country. The first Rajapaksa - D.M Rajapaksa- entered
Parliament 71 years ago. So, I am the eighth Rajapaksa to be there.
Though I did not have any feeling against my misbehaved colleagues I
felt that a great responsibility lies ahead of me. Basically that was in
my mind and I did not bother to take seriously the uproar in the
Parliament that day.
But I must say that several MPs in the UNP did not participate. And
even MPs of the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) and the Tamil National
Alliance (TNA) did not come forward to protest.
They personally told me that they do not approve of the misbehaviour
of those MPs and the things that happened. However, later those MPs who
made a big uproar apologised to me personally. Today, though I do not
forget this I will forgive those who acted in that manner.
Q: The media carried contradictory opinions by Minister A.L.M
Athaulla over your appointment. How do you see these two different
A: To my knowledge he has never said that he was against this
appointment. He never gave any interview on this issue to other papers
except the Asian Tribune, where he says to strengthen the hands of the
President that I should be there in Parliament.
I have been nominated by his Muslim National Congress. He is a very
loyal, trustworthy and faithful friend. He is one person who told me
that I should be in Parliament.
Q: SLFP dissident MPs Mangala Samaraweera and Sripathy
Sooriaarachchi strongly alleged that you played a major role in the
alleged secret deal with the LTTE and the government. What do you have
to say about this allegation?
A: One thing is that I do not know whether there is such a
secret deal with the LTTE. And I am 100 per cent sure that there is no
such deal by the LTTE with President Mahinda Rajapaksa or any other
member of his party.
But I do not know whether the opposition have entered into such a
deal with the LTTE. On the other hand, the Prime Minister clearly
mentioned and reiterated in Parliament that there was no such deal
between the Government and the LTTE. The opposition have asked for a
Select Committee on this issue and now the Government has appointed a
Committee look into this matter. So let's wait and see.
Q: Did you meet the LTTE with these two MPs?
A: I never met anybody with them. Especially I have not met
anybody with MP Sooriaarachchi. With him I have not even gone to a
funeral. But in the case of Mangala Samaraweera, yes I have met many
people with him but surely not the LTTE. Mangala is a good friend of
Q: What kind of connection did you have with the LTTE before
A: No. I did not have any connection with the LTTE. I do not
know who are LTTEers and who are not. Every Tamil person is not an
I have Tamil relations and many Tamil friends. During the election
campaign many Tamil people worked for us. There might be LTTEers among
them but that does not mean that I met LTTEers.
Q: Many people, including political parties in the opposition
blame the Government for bringing more Rajapaksas into main stream
politics to strengthen the so-called Sahodara Samagama?. Do you think
this allegation is justified with your appointment?
A: Rajapaksas have been in politics for decades. The
Constitution allows the President to choose some of his staff. When
President Mahinda Rajapaksa was elected for six years as the Executive
President he has the right to select people to run the country more
effectively and efficiently.
So he has selected several people who were with the earlier
government such as Dr. Jayasundara. Then he had chosen some people such
as his Secretary Lalith Weeratunga, who worked with him when he was the
Prime Minister. Then he brought some outsiders such as Nivad Cabraal.
Then he selected my brother Gotabhaya Rajapaksa as the Defence Secretary
and even Army Commander Lt. General Sarath Fonseka. Likewise the
President has a right to bring several people into the government. So he
has chosen his relations, friends, outsiders from the party, government
officials and his brothers. I was chosen to hold a post in the
Presidential Secretariat. Appointing people who are very loyal and close
to him as presidential staffers is not new. Members of the Kennedy
family, Castro's family and Kim Il Sung's family held key positions in
The selected people have different types of capabilities. The
capabilities which I have will be different from the capabilities of my
brother. Capabilities of each individual are the most vital aspect that
the President Rajapaksa look into when selecting his staff. Other
qualities are trust and the honesty.
Some people whom he selected were not upto the standard and he
removed them from their posts or gave some other posts in which he
thinks that the person is more capable to handle.
No other government has removed officials from the top posts due to
their poor capabilities. During a short period nearly ten Chairmen have
been changed and he did not consider his friendship when removing them.
There are some close friends of the President among them. They have
been removed and given other responsibilities. Some such top officials
have been brought before the law too. He has chosen people on merit,
loyalty, capabilities and trustworthiness.
Q: To what extent is it true that you are the most capable
member of the Rajapaksa family to enter into secret deals such as the
alleged LTTE-Government deal and to secure cross over MPs?
A: I do not know about it but frankly when Mahinda Rajapaksa
became the President he met all the party leaders including the Prime
Minister, Mangala Samaraweera, Maithripala Sirisena and other party
leaders and members. We discussed about securing a majority in
Parliament and about our future. There we found that we did not have
majority support in Parliament at that time.
We all agreed to discuss with other parties to secure their support
and to invite them to the government. Various people including me were
given the task of discussing with these political parties such as the
UNP, CWC, Muslim Congress and the Up Country People's Front. So we
discussed with them and we managed to get their support but in some
missions we failed. So it's not I alone who undertook the task but
others. Sometimes it is difficult to work with these parties as they
have their own party based policies but anyhow we are managing and
working together upto now.
Q: As a key Government figure who is engaged in the
rehabilitation process in the Eastern region, to what extent do you
justify your brother? Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa's statement
that there won't be any political solution until vanquishing the
A: It is a fact mentioned under Mahinda Chintanaya. To have an
honourable peace both parties should be at equal levels. If you agree to
something because of threats you cannot call it an honourable peace. I
think Ranil Wickremesinghe signed the Ceasefire Agreement (CFA) because
he was threatened in a way. We know that there are grievances among
Any solution that we agree upon must be decided without fear. While
we engage in military attacks, the Tamils should be made to understand
that they cannot get anything from terrorism but they can get more from
negotiation with us.
They should remember that during the past everything that they got is
through negotiations. But during the CFA we were like hostages.
Q: Is it true that you will be given a ministerial post soon?
A: According to the Constitution the President can appoint a
Minister. So he has to decide and I do not know anything about that yet.
Q: If you are appointed as the Minister of Nation Building
what would be your priorities?
A: At the moment the Minister of Nation Building is the
President. And there are young capable Ministers under him as his
I am also involved in this Ministry which is one of the very
effective Ministries which is highly involved with the Mahinda
Chintanaya based on building the individuals, family, the village and
the nation. Nation building is based on Gama Neguma.
We are also from the village and if we want to develop this country
and our people we have to develop the village. Because over 80 per cent
of the people including the estate sector live in villages. So priority
will be given to develop the village. Whether I am a Minister or not
under the advice of President Rajapaksa I will work to develop this
Q: It seems that the UNP has changed its stance from
federalism to the unitary system simply because they want to get the
support of the JVP. If the JVP agreed to this what would be the future
of the Government?
A: If the UNP truly, honestly and genuinely accept that the
national problem can be solved through a unitary solution it is good
news. Because I think the only leader, who has the courage in the recent
history, to say that this problem can be solved through the unitary
system is President Mahinda Rajapaksa. Before him, nobody was willing to
say so. Some leaders came with the unitary idea just to please some
But frankly federalism is not a solution to this problem. So if the
UNP agreed to this, it is a victory for this Government. The people gave
a mandate to the President to retain the unitary status and they
defeated Ranil Wickremesinghe who is in favour of federalism. But if the
UNP changed their stance just to grab power and grab some people, it is
I do not think responsible parties such as the JVP will fall into
this trap. They are very knowledgeable and they do not take hasty
decisions. I know them well because I have worked with them very
closely. So I am sure that the JVP is a very responsible party.
Q: Are you sure that the Government cannot be toppled as
claimed by the UNP recently?
A: Pledging to topple a government is a very normal thing of
an opposition. Whether it is the UNP or not, the opposition will always
talk about changing the government. But this Opposition is little
different from the other oppositions that we had.
Sometimes they do unethical things. And the things that the present
Opposition Leader does are never resorted to by other leaders.
He betrays the country just to grab power. But we take their hopes of
toppling the government very seriously because they sometimes do very
We take these seriously especially because of the behaviour of the
leader of the Opposition. With the help of anybody, they will do this.
There are lots of ways to defeat a government.
I must say one thing that as long as the people are with the
government the opposition can not do so because the people of this
country are the strength of the government. We believe in the people of
I think we are with the people and the majority of the villagers are
with us. Therefore, the President and the government is ready for an
election. There might be a few elections in the coming years, so I hope
the opposition can test their power.
Q: Very recently Sripathy Sooriyaarachchi said that another
group of 15 SLFPers would join the opposition. Do you have any hint
about this predicted cross over?
A: Now these type of talks are there. The history of crossing
over did not started recently. It has happened since independence.
Some people have gone to the opposition and some to the government
and some remained independent.
The President thinks that anyone can come or go according to his or
her own consent. So, I cannot say about numbers but there can be
movement from this side to this side and from this side to that side. It
is democracy. But I do not think, as long as the people are with us,
that anybody will leave the party.
Q: The Opposition displayed placards printed with 10 per cent
when you were sworn in. Why do they call you Mr. 10 per cent?
A: I do not know why. I must ask them. I prefer if they can
call me Mr. 100 per cent. When I am doing something I do it 100 per cent
Even in the election campaign I gave 100 per cent of myself to win
and every election which I gave leadership in the recent history I was
100 per cent devoted. Even under humanitarian tasks given to me by the
President, such as sending humanitarian assistance to Jaffna and looking
after the displaced people in the Eastern region I was committed 100 per
cent. So I prefer if they can call me 100 per cent because I do not do
Q: Why were you not bothered to ask them even after the uproar
about what they displayed?
A: No. I did not bother because I did not know it was for me
until I saw it in the papers.