UNP should fulfill national responsibility - Minister S.B.
*A new approach is the answer
*UNP must make effective contribution
Affable and flamboyant but tough at times, Higher Education Minister
S.B. Dissanayake is a seasoned politician who had held a number of
important portfolios under successive Governments. Expressing his views
to the Sunday Observer on the current political scenario, the Minister
said some Western countries and international forces are attempting to
exert undue pressure on Sri Lanka, when President Mahinda Rajapaksa who
had his humble origins among the Medamulana peasantry successfully
eradicated the world's most powerful terrorist outfit from Sri Lankan
soil. After the LTTE's ignominious defeat defied all calculations of the
Western World, this is the way they react now.
The Minister said instead of carrying tales to the UN, US or other
Western countries with the intention of toppling the Government, the UNP
should make effective contribution to safeguard the country's
sovereignty and independence. It is regrettable that the UNP does not
fulfil this national responsibility today.
A crisis situation has been created within the UNP and the party has
split into several factions. Even the Party stalwarts are speaking
against the UNP leadership. This situation will lead to distance the
party from the people. In addition some political movements in the North
which attempt to throw a lifeline to the dead LTTE, will also be
subjected to hatred among the people in the North.
He said all political parties should think of a new approach by
taking into consideration the development that has taken place in the
country. That is why the President stresses the need to discuss this
issue with a Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC).
After the end of three decades of terrorism, we are living in a 'new'
country today. Massive development is taking place in the North under
the leadership of Economic Development Minister Basil Rajapaksa.
All political parties should represent the PSC which is the ideal
forum to address this issue. If some political parties attempt to
boycott the PSC, it shows their hypocrisy. Some political parties ask
why doesn't the Government submit its proposals to the PSC. The
Government does not want to do so as it wants all political parties to
sit together and reach a consensus through dialogue. During the past
five or six years, the country was ruled by the President entirely on a
Sri Lankan model which is successful.
After end of terrorism, the country is moving forward rapidly.
Everybody should join hands to find a solution to this problem without
attempting to destabilize the Government or assist the LTTE rump to
raise its ugly head.
Q: In a democracy, a sovereign state is expected to look after
its business without being counselled by other countries. How is it that
some countries tell us "You do this or don't do it". How do you see this
A: President Mahinda Rajapaksa had to make difficult decisions
at the final stages of the war against terrorism. INGOs had to leave the
country. Foreign Ministers of several European countries attempted to
interfere in our military operations when it had reached a very decisive
stage. Then the President asked them not to disrupt the ongoing military
operations. When the LTTE and its supremo Prabhakaran were on the brink
of being eliminated, then UN Secretary General exerted undue pressure to
stop military operations. But the Government could not agree to certain
things pointed out by the UN Secretary General. It is evident that the
pro-LTTE Tamil diaspora was influenced by Leaders of Canada, US, UK and
Norway. They exerted undue pressure. However, the Government turned down
their request. But we should not forget, amidst the pressure exerted by
Jaya Lalitha and Karunanidhi, India extended its fullest support to
eradicate LTTE terrorism. Some Western countries are angry as their
requests were not acceded. None of these countries believed the
Government would be able to militarily defeat the LTTE. It was the US
which described the LTTE as the most dangerous terrorist outfit in the
world and even banned it in the US.
The strategy of the LTTE was to keep 370,000 civilians as a human
shield and attack the Security Forces. On several occasions, our
Security Forces declared a No Fire Zones and requested civilians to
Then LTTE terrorists also came to those areas. When terrorists were
asked to surrender, they fired at the Security Forces. This terrorist
problem will be a serious issue to India. LTTE terrorism is a problem to
entire Europe as well.
When the Darusman panel was appointed, even UNP MP Wijedasa
Rajapakshe said the Secretary General had no authority to appoint such a
panel. But today the UNP is on their side.
Even today pro-LTTE Tamil diaspora has funds and conduct illegal arms
dealing and drug trafficking. It has a huge network and some pro-LTTE
elements are running big business ventures in countries like US, UK and
Q: Why is Sri Lanka singled out for human rights, good
governance and so on when some countries have taken the bull by the horn
in dealing with secessionist movements or threats to their Governments?
A: This is the shameless manner in which the super powers
behave. If the super powers produce nuclear weapons, missiles or conduct
research, nobody questions.
If a small country attempts to do something, the super powers object.
There is no justice or equality. Iraq was attacked as they thought
nuclear weapons were there. But nothing was found. Some secret
international organisations added fuel to develop the crisis in Libya
and later created an internal conflict against Gaddafi and later killed
him. Their intention is to frighten and keep the world under them.
They are also interested in trade and oil in the small countries.
This reflects the economic crisis faced by these powerful countries.
China and India led by Soviet Russia are rallying to address this issue.
The capitalist world which turned powerful due to the collapse of the
socialist camp in 1975-1976 is using its power to suppress small nations
today. The intention of these powerful countries is to topple the
democratic ruling systems in small countries and appoint their stooges
to capture industries and other natural resources in the countries.
Q: Today the traditional left has been reduced to one or two
forces in the country. At one time you were also a member of the
Communist Party. What led these parties to their sorry state according
A: The countries which succeeded the social revolution which
commenced in 1917 faced a severe economic crisis. Capitalism was
introduced by Adam Smith in the 17th century. Das Capital and the
Communist Manifesto were introduced by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels in
the 18th century.
This was reflected by the Soviet revolution in 1917. These socialist
countries formed as a result of the Soviet revolution kept all
properties, production and services under the control of the Government.
The socialist world which maintained centralised ruling was not able to
build their economy. The Russian economy stagnated.
The economies in China, Vietnam, East Germany, Czechoslovakia,
Poland, Hungary and Bulgaria also faced severe setbacks. This was split
in the latter part of 1970s. However, the countries like China and
Vietnam came out of this crisis and moved into an open economy by
safeguarding their socialist outlook. The Soviet Union and other
countries which could not adopt this approach collapsed. As a result,
the Communist movement and Leftist movement also faced a crisis.
Q: The Western World always invokes the bogey of human rights,
good governance and rule of law when third world countries choose their
own path of development. How do you explain this riddle?
A: The Western world could not do these things when there was
a powerful Soviet camp. That is why Lee Kuan Yew could develop Singapore
and Dr. Mahathir Mohamad could develop Malaysia. If we look at the
countries which emerge in the recent past, those countries could reach
socio-economic growth with some sort of patriotic dictatorship ruling.
With the significant change made in China, these countries were also
subjected to change. As a result, Saddam Hussein and Muammar Gaddafi
could develop the economies in Iraq and Libya.
They were also some sort of dictatorial rulers. But they did not bow
down before the super powers. Therefore the West attempts to invade
these countries and impose their dictatorship.
Q: Whatever internal dissensions, ideological or policy rifts,
the main Opposition should support the Government against foreign
interference. Has not the Opposition sadly failed in this?
A: UNP behaviour is regrettable. The LTTE originated during
the regime of the UNP. The youths in the North took weapons during the
administration of the UNP. Bodies were seen on roads during the 1987 to
1990. But nobody questioned those brutal killings. There was even
'torture chambers' at Biyagama, the electorate which was represented by
Opposition Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe. JVP supporters were brutally
killed. The JVP also killed UNP supporters. To take revenge, the then
UNP Government killed JVP supporters and burnt them on roads. Today the
UNP should be happy about the initiatives taken by the Government to end
the war against terrorists. Opposition Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe
recently toured Kilinochchi to see LTTE Leader Prabhakaran's House. When
Wickremesinghe signed the MoU with the LTTE, he was not allowed even to
go to Kilinochchi and meet Prabhakaran. I was also a Minister of that
UNP Government. What he did was he went to Vavuniya and signed some
document prepared by Norway. But today the Opposition Leader and other
UNP politicians can go to the North.
Those days all key Leaders of the TNA and TULF were killed by
Prabhakaran. Now they say the LTTE is the sole representative of the
people in the North and the East. This clearly shows the pressure
exerted on them by the LTTE. This was not the truth, they were forced to
say it. Even the TNA was not allowed to go to the North at that time.
I can remember, the late MP Maheshwaran was told by Prabhakaran, if
he wants to contest from the North, he should contest from the TNA. But
he refused and contested from the Colombo district. It is evident all
TNA politicians contested to the North those days with the blessings of
the LTTE. But I don't say all of them are LTTEers. But they had been
subjected to the LTTE pressure.
Instead of carrying tales to the UN, US or some other Western
countries with the intention of toppling the Government, the UNP should
solicit its effective contribution to safeguard the country's
sovereignty and independence.
Q: The 13th Amendment was not a result of the UNP's own
political thinking when some UNP earliest stalwarts too did not welcome
it. Is it not humorous that the very same UNP is demanding 13 plus?
A: The 13th Amendment was brought to satisfy the Indian
Government. As we know, then Indian Government knowingly or unknowingly,
terrorism in the North was groomed in South India.
Then the Indian Government was against the UNP which was in power.
When the war had reached a decisive stage and there was a good chance to
trap Prabhakaran and the LTTE at Vadamarachchi, then Indian Government
obstructed the ongoing war, dropping "parippu" to Jaffna by Indian
The 13th Amendment was formulated in that background. The Central
Government and Provincial Councils should be conducted with joint
collaboration with all communities. Unfortunately, some Opposition
political parties are catering to the interests of Europe without
understanding the ground reality.
Q: What is the Government's stand on the 13th Amendment when
there is already a confusion about the 13 plus?
A: The President has clearly stated the Government's position
on the 13th Amendment. We have just finished the war against the most
ruthless terrorist outfit which killed thousands of our Security Forces
personnel and attacked the country's key economic hubs over the past
three decades. The international diaspora which assisted the LTTE still
exists. Even today Tamil Nadu is demanding for Eelam. Under these
circumstances, can we think even to give Police and land powers? We have
to be mindful about the attempts made by certain international forces to
divide our country. All politicians and political parties should think
of new approach by taking into consideration the new development taken
place within the country. That is why the President stresses the need to
discuss this matter in a Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC). After the
end of three decades of terrorism, we are living in a new country today.
Massive development is taking place in the North under the leadership of
Economic Development Minister Basil Rajapaksa. But can the the
Government withdraw all the Security Forces in the North at once?
Then the LTTE remnants in South India and various other places will
once again start their terrorist activities. Is not the Eelam which
Karunanidhi and Jaya Lalitha talk about in Tamil Nadu? The TNA cannot
understand this ground reality. This Eelam will not stop in Sri Lanka
and it will go to the extent of dividing India as well. I think the
Indian Central Government has realised the situation.
Q: You are a virulent critic of JVP politics especially the
university ragging and their shifting political stand on vital issues.
Would you like to explain this?
A: The JVP is helpless now. There are ideological differences
among the existing JVP leaders as well. Hardcore JVPers have left the
Q: The PSC is the ideal forum to resolve the problems faced by
those in the North and the East. Why have the UNP, JVP and TNA failed to
actively support the move to seek a permanent solution to the problem?
A: The country is moving towards a new direction. We should
not keep harbouring the past. Opposition politicians especially the TNA
should not surrender to the pro-LTTE diaspora and Western forces.
All political parties should agree to the proposal made by the
President to sit and discuss to find a lasting solution to this problem.
There is no argument for any political party to refuse this
invitation. It is not the same atmosphere prevails in the country when
the 13th Amendment was introduced in the country.
This is not the same atmosphere which prevailed during the R.
Premadasa or Chandrika Kumaratunga regime.
Today the country has reached a different era under the leadership of
President Mahinda Rajapaksa. We have to think with a fresh approach.
Q: Opposition politicians point fingers at the Government that
it is responsible for white van abductions, disappearances and human
rights violations presumably to gain political mileage. How do you
counter these arguments?
A: The Opposition caters to the needs of the international
community. We know some of them who had been listed as disappeared
during the 1987-1990 insurgency worked within the JVP. One such person
is a JVP MP today. Kumar Gunarathnam and his brother were also on the
list of disappeared persons. But Kumar had obtained Australian
citizenship under a different name. There is advantage regarding
disappearances as it helps to go abroad and seek political asylum. Today
these disappearances and death threats have become a racket. If somebody
can publish a news item in a newspaper that he has been subjected to
death threats, it gives the opportunity to go abroad easily.
Even today how many mothers are suffering due to their children
disappearing during the 1987-1990 terror period. They have been either
killed by the JVP or the UNP.
Then UNP had taken a decision that JVP suspects arrested had obtained
weapons training, he should be killed.
This is the truth. Therefore these killings were made with the
approval of the then UNP leadership. At that time, SSP posts were
offered to all UNP Ministers. This is the situation which prevailed in
the country. Now it has reached a position where this situation has
Party Leaders should discuss and reach a consensus to create an
environment which ensures justice, freedom and peace to the people in
Q: What made the UNP to shift the May day venue to Jaffna? Is
it for any sort of reconciliation with the TNA or for mere political
A: There are a few reasons for this. May 1 is the day on which
former President R. Premadasa was assassinated by the LTTE. But he gave
money and weapons to the LTTE. If the late Indian Prime Minister Rajiv
Gandhi is held responsible to some extent for the LTTE, the late
President Premadasa should also held responsible for it. If President
Premadasa did not send back the Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF), they
would have ended the terrorist problem. But he chased away the IPKF and
gave money and weapons to the LTTE. Finally both leaders became the
victims of the LTTE. Ranil Wickremesinghe wants to sabotage the
Premadasa commemoration which falls on Mal 01. That is why except UNP
MPs Sajith Premadasa and Dulip Wedaarachchi, it has been made compulsory
for all other UNP MPs to attend the UNP May Day rally to be held in
Wickremesinghe's intention is to grab power with the help of the
pro-LTTE diaspora and Western forces. That is why he wants to have the
UNP May Day rally in Jaffna.
This is a very traitorous and hypocritical act. The UNP did not win
even the Local Government elections held in the North. This is an
attempt to give a life line to the dead LTTE. The UNP also wants to tell
international forces against the President and the Government that the
UNP is ready to do anything what they say.
Q: You are a controversial politician who spoke from your
heart Sinhala "Bokken Kathakaranawa". How would you now recount your
experience in the SLFP and UNP?
A: The UNP is a political party which has a laudable political
history. When one person was killed in a harthal the then Prime Minister
Dudley Senanayake resigned. Even late Prime Minister S.W.R.D.
Bandaranaike rose from the ranks of the UNP. The UNP is democratic
political party which believes in an open economy and capitalist
If Ranil Wickremesinghe speaks about democracy and justice, is there
any democracy within the UNP today?
It is a shame that almost all the Working Committee members of the
UNP were appointed by Wickremesinghe. Even half that Working Committee
is also against with him. Karu Jayasuriya's political career was ruined
by him. Sajith Premadasa and his supporters did not vote for Karu
Jayasuriya at the UNP Working Committee. Today a battle rages within the
UNP. The UNP cannot formulate a policy, action plan or vision. The UNP
is surviving with the help of the pro-LTTE Tamil diaspora and the
Q: "SB" is known to many as an adventurous political figure.
When you look back are you happy that politics is a good game for you?
A: Politics is not a game. I am one of the three people who
made the highest sacrifice to bring Chandrika Kumaratunga into power.
Finally I quit from her Government and toppled her Government. That is
my nature. After that when I joined the UNP, UNPers placed a lot of
confidence in me. That is why I could obtain 187,000 preferential votes
when I contested as the UNP, Chief Ministerial candidate for the Central
Provincial Council. The UNP candidate who came second obtained only
When President Mahinda Rajapaksa came to power, I was in prison. When
I was in prison, thousands of UNPers staged a walk from Hanguranketa to
Colombo. I owe a debt to them. However the SLFP is the party which
brought me into politics. When I was the SLFP General Secretary, I
formulated the party flag, song and symbol. As the party General
Secretary, I could make a lot of changes within the party during that
short period. But finally I quit from my own party and joined the UNP.
The UNPers warmly welcomed me. This is a unpatriotic act by
Wickremesinghe. If Fonseka is released, sometimes Wickremesinghe will
reintroduce him as the Presidential candidate. But it's a disadvantage
for the UNP, not for the UPFA or the SLFP. With that unpatriotic act was
done by Wickremesinghe, the President invited me to join the Government.
So I joined the Government with pleasure as this is my old place.
I think we have to face difficulties for another short period. The
country is moving towards that journey. We have been able to maintain
8.2 to 8.3 percent economic growth for a period of two years.
Everybody should extend their support towards the program initiated
by the President to develop the country irrespective of petty political
Q: Your political career needs family succession. Are you
grooming a successor?
A: I think I have reached the end of my political career. My
only intention is to extend my support to the President and fulfil the
responsibilities entrusted on me. Except reaching these targets I have
no any other ambition. My two sons are well educated. I don't know
whether they have any intention to enter politics.