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Sunday, 27 March 2011

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Paving the way for good governance:

Honest and dedicated members will head LG bodies - Premier D.M. Jayaratne

Prime Minister D.M. Jayaratne said that on the directive of President Mahinda Rajapaksa a decision has been taken by the Government to appoint only honest and dedicated members as chairmen and deputy chairmen to all UPFA controlled Local Government institutions.

The Premier in an interview with the Sunday Observer said if any UPFA Council member has committed an act of corruption or wrongdoing, he will not be given the chairmanship even though he had obtained the highest number of preferential votes.

This initiative of the Government would pave the way to create good governance within the Local Government system.

The Prime Minister said the Government achieved a resounding victory at the Local Government polls in an atmosphere where the election related incidents have shown a significant decrease.

Over 4,000 polls related incidents of violence had been reported during the past five Local Government elections held in the country. But this has been reduced to 205 incidents during the 2011 Local Government polls.

Therefore, this is a clear indication this Local Government election has been conducted in a very free and fair manner, he added.

Q: What is your view on the victory achieved by the UPFA at the Local Government polls?

A: The people have extended their fullest support to the UPFA at the Local Government polls due to the attempts made by the Government under the leadership of President Mahinda Rajapaksa to end the three decades old terrorism. After successfully ending the war against terrorists, the President has initiated a series of programs to uplift the countryís socio-economic and religious sectors.

This has generated patriotism among the people irrespective of caste and creed. As a result of that patriotic feeling created among the people, they have given a resounding mandate to the UPFA at the Local Government polls.

I firmly believe this is a clear endorsement by the people on his broad-based vision.

Q: What is your view on the heavy defeat faced by the UNP and the JVP at the LG polls? Why were they rejected by the people?

A: The people have fully realised the significant developments achieved by the programs launched under Mahinda Chinthana Idiri Dekma for their future well-being. The people have a lot of affection towards the President as a leader who loves the people and the Motherland.

The UNP always attempts to criticise and gives a wrong impression to the people on the programs launched by the Government.

The UNP also plays the role of a spy to provide various information to foreign countries to de-stabilise the territorial integrity and destroy the ancient heritage of the country.

The people have very well understood that the UNP has hatched these conspiracies as they donít love the country.

Therefore, the people did not vote for the UNP.

The JVP always criticises even the good initiatives taken by the Government on behalf of the country. They have acted to mislead the people that the Government has not done anything on behalf of them.

However, the people are very intelligent and they have realised that these are entirely false rumours fabricated by the JVP with hatred to gain narrow political objectives. These two factors led the UNP and the JVP to face a heavy defeat at the election while the people have placed their confidence in the Government.

Q: Have you decided on the chairmen of the Local Government institutions which the UPFA has won?

A: The approval has already been given to appoint chairmen to a large number of Local Government institutions won by the UPFA. The rest of the appointments will be made very soon.

Q: Will this victory help the UPFA to achieve similar success at the rest of the Local Government institutions for which the polls are scheduled to be held? How is the UPFA campaign proceeding for that election?

A: There is a possibility of conducting elections to some of these Local Government bodies in May.

The Government intends to conduct elections to Urban Councils where the polls were postponed in June.

We are confident that we would be able to win all these Local Government institutions. Our organisers and candidates have already engaged in their election campaign in these Local Government areas in a more successful manner.

Q: How will the newly won Local Government bodies help to achieve the Mahinda Chinthana development targets?

A: The President has already commenced a program to develop one million villages while another program has been launched to construct one million houses. The Government has already commenced its development drive to turn Sri Lanka into a self-sufficient nation.

Most of these development activities have to be launched through Pradeshiya Sabhas.

The Government will use the newly elected chairmen and members of these Local Government bodies to develop villages.

Q: How does the Government plan to eliminate waste and corruption at the new local bodies?

A: If any council member had committed any corruption or wrongdoing, a decision has been taken not to appoint such members as chairmen of these Local Government institutions.

If such a member has obtained the highest number of preferential votes, he or she will not be given the chairmanship of that Local Government institution.

At this time, the Government will only appoint honest and dedicated persons as chairmen and deputy chairmen to these Local Government bodies.

This would pave the way to create good governance in these Local Government institutions. In future if any Local Government institution acts in an unlawful manner, steps will be taken to suspend the functions of such Local Government bodies after conducting a full scale investigation.

Q: When does the Government plan to introduce the proposed Jana Sabha concept?

A: So far the Government has not yet reached a final decision on it.

After conducting elections to the Local Government bodies where the polls were postponed, the Government will discuss about the proposed program to implement this Jana Sabha system.

Q: There was some deaths and violence reported at the polls campaign. How can these be avoided in future elections? When will we see the introduction of the new electoral system?

A: When we consider the history of past five Local Government elections held in the country, over 4,000 polls related violent incidents had been reported during those elections. During this 2011 Local Government election, this` violent incidents reported from the entire country has been restricted to 205. Therefore, the Government has achieved this resounding victory in an atmosphere where the election related incidents have shown a rapid decrease.

This Local Government election can be described as a free and fair election compared to previous Local Government polls. I hope in future, we would be able to reduce the number of incidents to a minimum level.

The President gave clear guidelines to conduct this election and also instructed the UPFA organisers to act in a responsible manner during the UPFA election campaign.

In order to further reduce these violent incidents in the future, a decision has been taken by the Government not to give the chairman or deputy chairman posts to the members based entirely on the criteria of the number of preferential votes they obtained. This would prevent the attempts made by some candidates to obtain more preferential votes by engaging in various wrongdoings.

The Government has already laid emphasis on the new electoral system.

But we have enough time to introduce this electoral system as there are no elections within the next few years.

The Government intends to further discuss this issue with the Opposition and the public and obtain their views in this regard.

Therefore, the changes to the existing electoral system will be made after extensive discussions with political parties and the public.

Q: The Opposition accuses the Government of misusing State media and resources for the UPFA election campaign. Your comments?

A: This is a normal situation in Sri Lanka after every election. The defeated political party always levels various allegations against the winning party.

This is the nature of Sri Lankan politics. Normally the defeated party always attempts to cover up their defeat by levelling various baseless allegations against the winning party. As I mentioned earlier, only 205 election related incidents have been reported during this election when compared to over 4000 incidents reported during the past five Local Government polls.

This is a very good indication that this election has been conducted in a free and fair manner. During an election some incidents may be reported from certain areas. These kinds of incidents are reported even from well developed countries as well, because all those who engage in these election campaigns are human beings.

As this Local Government poll has been conducted in a peaceful atmosphere, the Opposition which cannot tolerate the landslide victory achieved by the Government makes various baseless allegations against the Government to give some relief to their supporters. Otherwise there is no truth in most of these allegations levelled by them.

Q: Although there are no elections until 2016, the Opposition is already talking about toppling the Government. Is there any possibility of that happening?

A: The elections to nearly 60 postponed Local Government bodies are scheduled to be held by June. Again an election will be held after four years. Before this Local Government election, the Opposition said they would definitely win this election. They also said the Government would be toppled within a year.

The UNP which wanted to topple the Government has been able to win only nine Local Government institutions at this election.

This shows the people have completely rejected the false propaganda campaign launched by the UNP/JVP to deceive them.

The outcome of the elections is also a good indication that Sri Lankans cannot be cheated or misled.

Q: Although there was a fear that the election turnout would be low eventually there was a nearly 70 percent voter turnout. Do you see this as a victory for democracy and a demonstration of peopleís faith in the Government?

A: Definitely, the people have given a resounding mandate to the Government. They have voted the UPFA to vest the powers of Pradeshiya Sabhas and Urban Councils to the President and the Government.

This is a clear evidence that the majority of the people are with the President and the Government.

Q: How do you view the visit made by the President to Parliament on Tuesday. Do you think this would create a close rapport between the Executive and the Legislature in future?

A: All former Presidents only came to Parliament to deliver the budget speech. According to the amendments made to the Constitution, President Mahinda Rajapaksa has decided to come to Parliament from time to time and answer the questions raised by the Parliamentarians.

This would pave the way to create a close coordination between the President and Parliamentarians.

This unique example set by the President would help to further strengthen parliamentary democracy and facilitate to make joint efforts to create a more democratic form of governance in the country. All former Presidents did not have a close relationship with the Parliament. At present a close coordination is developing between the President and the Parliament.

Q: The statement made by you at the previous emergency debate in Parliament on the alleged camps in Tamil Nadu to train terrorists has been denied by the relevant authorities. Your comments?

A: At present various media reports are carried in the newspapers that four countries have launched their attacks against Libya. Actually we donít know about the ongoing situation in Libya.

We also know about it from various news stories and headlines carried in the newspapers.

When we also make a statement in Parliament about the situation in Libya, we also quote these news stories appearing in the newspapers.

Otherwise no Government or Opposition MP has gone to Libya to look into the situation. But after these news reports appeared in the newspapers, somebody may deny it and say no country has attacked Libya.

Most of the incidents taking place throughout the world are known by the people through the media.

The statement made by me on the alleged camps set up in Tamil Nadu is also similar to this point highlighted by me.

If somebody argues on this issue by exceeding the limit, itís a lack of knowledge on his part and shows his ignorance.

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