Certain Western countries target Sri Lanka due to hidden agenda -
Minister Dinesh Gunawardena
Chief Government Whip and Water Supply and Drainage Minister Dinesh
Gunawardena said that it was only a few Western countries which have
embarked on an anti-Sri Lanka conspiracy as they are housing sections of
runaway LTTEers. Sri Lanka's situation is being targeted obviously
because of a hidden agenda. The Minister in an interview with the Sunday
Observer said we have been able to bring new life and prosperity to the
people of the North which they didn't enjoy under the suppression of the
Minister Gunawardena said the Government has accepted the right of
the Opposition even if they are elected in the North to work with the
Government. We are ready to explain all these forward steps taken since
the last UNHRC sessions.
We have made tremendous progress which most countries understand and
compliment Sri Lanka. The TNA has wavering political positions because
they don't have a vision like veteran Tamil politicians of the calibre
of S.J.V. Chelvanayagam. In any crisis situation these politicians
always stood for the country. They never put their problems before the
country or against the country. Today that Tamil leadership has
Excerpts of the interview.
Q: US Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian
Affairs Nisha Biswal at the end of her recent
visit to Sri Lanka has said that US will definitely call for a
resolution against Sri Lanka at the UNHRC sessions next month. Is the US
having a hidden agenda under the pretext of addressing human rights
issues in Sri Lanka?
A: Of course. Biswal's statement is very clear that the US
does not consider the significant progress made by a country. 9-11 was
the most tragic terrorist attack on New York and key places in the USA.
Thereafter the US agreed to the UN
resolution to defeat terrorism around the world. They also declared
LTTE as a terrorist organisation. One can say Sri Lanka is one of the
earliest countries to defeat terrorism through a home-grown strategy.
President Mahinda Rajapaksa gave refuge to 305,000 people who crossed
over from LTTE areas and joined hands with the people. The Government
also provided necessary protection and facilities for t6herm to get on
with their lives. The US is well aware of all these developments and the
big step forward that Sri Lanka has made.
We had elections in the Northern Province after a lapse of 25 years.
But they ignore all this and keep pressurize Sri Lanka which is
attempting to get every citizen's right to live, travel and enjoy
democratic rights anywhere in the country. When you consider this, it is
clear that there is a hidden agenda.
Q: the Northern Provincial Council's resolution for an
international inquiry into alleged human rights violations and US
representatives Biswal and Rapp's recent visits are well-timed to create
adverse international opinion against Sri Lanka at the UNHRC sessions.
How do you visualise this situation ?
A: President Mahinda Rajapaksa was elected as the Chairman of
the Commonwealth community. Sri Lanka had
a positive and exemplary period of political and economic stability
which is essential feature that any country would see in relation to
another country.. But here it is opposite what they are trying to do and
the progress made in the North. Those who have been elected today have
been elected after the LTTE annihilated all democratic leaders of the
Tamil people. But we have held elections and give the new leadership a
chance to emerge. But they seems to be taking on very minor issues and
hankering after that.
Q: Is the Government adequately armed to face the challenges
by human rights crusaders at the forthcoming UNHRC sessions?
A: The so-called human rights groups cannot make judgements
only in relation to Sri Lanka.
The reports of Iraq in relation to events by the British maybe such
examples which can be brought to the limelight.
But it seems that all that is suppressed and only Sri Lanka's
situation is being targeted obviously because of a hidden agenda. We
have brought a new life and prosperity to the people of North which they
didn't enjoy under the suppression and threat of the LTTE. We have
accepted the right of the Opposition even if they are elected in the
North to work with the Government. So we are ready to explain all these
forward steps taken since the last UNHRC sessions. We have made a
tremendous progress which most of the countries understand when they are
briefed and they compliment Sri Lanka for this progress made.
It is only very few Western countries which are now embarked upon
this issue because they are housing sections of the runway LTTEers.
Q: When there is a democratically elected Government in the
country what made the TNA to seek help to resolve their "problems" from
India, the international community, UNHRC and Western politicians who
visit Sri Lanka time and again?
A: The TNA has been continuously having wavering political
positions. Because they don't have a vision like veteran Tamil
politicians such as S.J.V. Chelvanayagam. In any crisis situation, they
stood by the country. They never put their problems
before the country or against the country. Today that Tamil
leadership has collapsed.
One cannot forget however much the TNA tries to say and some Indian
politicians attempt to show , it was the LTTE which assassinated Rajiv
Gandhi, the young leader of India. This is a fact which everyone tries
to forget. But it is a fact which will always come up every moment.
Q: The Tamil diaspora and other Tamil politicians have their
secret agenda for "Eelam", perhaps by recourse to violence again. In
this context how do you view the demand for the withdrawal of military
camps in the North and the East?
A: The defence authorities have withdrawn from most of the
areas and have given back lands which had been taken over years ago to
protect Tamil villages and for security reasons. Figures prove that
military camps are reduced since the end of the conflict. Even in India,
the defence establishments are considered as the highest national
priority. In India wherever they want to establish a defence base, they
give priority to national defence irrespective of the state. Sri Lanka
also considers national defence to protect our sovereignty, independence
and freedom of our country.
Q: Compared to the magnitude of the development projects
launched by the Central Government, the role of the Provincial Councils
appear to be minimal. Many have shared the view that the Provincial
Councils is a white elephant and a strain on the national coffers. Your
A: Provincial Councils cannot play the role of the Central
Government. The Central Government has played an important role in
economic development and faster growth with the high-tech and IT that is
available. Small boundaries have no meaning. Because email, fax, IT or
SMS can cut across all provincial boundaries before they realise it .
So the centre can take any decision, collect any data or results and
make decisions in most of these areas. But there has to be a
participation at different levels which is important. Participation of
citizens in development and decision making has to be strengthened. This
is one aspect which will make people to share in a democratic state.
Q: Water is going to be a precious commodity in the near
future due to the population explosion and its uneconomical use by the
people. What is your Ministry's strategy to meet such a crisis situation
in the future?
A: At the moment Sri Lanka's water is collected by rainfall
and our ground water depletion is standing high. Our surface water
collected by rain has to be collected so that we have continuous water
reserves in rivers as well as in the tanks.
That will also give ground water a better reserve. Now there is
climate change. One cannot ignore that fact. Sri Lanka should focus and
take necessary measures..Secondly such things can decrease rainfall
which has happened now.
If we don't get rain within the next 30 days, it is going to be
challenging specially for drinking water. Even for drinking water, we
need water that is released from hydro stations such as Kotmale,
Victoria and Laxapana.
If that water is not released in that manner, the drinking water
issue will become a problem which means it will affect people. Water for
agriculture also flows from the same rivers and reservoirs and bring
down from hills to agricultural areas including Northern and the Eastern
provinces as well.
These areas also get water from rain and the hill country. I have
always advocated for a policy of having all key stations involved in
water management, water supply, production should have a close and a
systematic plan to overcome any situation.
There are 10 and 15 year cycles and we may have severe droughts this
year. But we also must pay attention to soil protection and to forest
reserves in the long run. Otherwise even if we get rain, it will not be
conserved. Because it is the soil system which would finally collect and
preserve water. President Mahinda Rajapaksa has already advised that
these sectors should work closely and have a national plan.
Q: NSSP Leader Dr.Wickramabahu Karunaratne has been summoned
by Gampaha Police to be questioned on fraudulent nominations submitted
for the Gampaha district for the upcoming Western Provincial Council
Election. What has gone wrong with the NSSP?
A: I really don't know what has gone wrong. I can't comment.
In a way, it is good to realise that the nominations lists under the PR
and preferences system can become a farce. Appropriate Legislation is
necessary to have a better system.
Q: Principled politics has given way to politicking and
demagogues in most of the third world developing countries. Don't you
think the much cherished representative democracy is in jeopardy?
A: In a way I would say yes. Because the world has been going
behind another era of unlimited consumerism. The survival of the world
is reducing. World leaders are accepting this reality. But they are
unable to find solutions. We can see the collapse of the Western
economy. They are unable to keep their economy growing in this manner.
So much more deep philosophy or politics will emerge and represent
democratic representation. This is what is most important in today's
Q: South Asia is famous for political dynasties. Do you think
family politics has served any useful purpose?
A: Family politics is present all over the world, even in the
Western capitals. Even today we hear about Kennedys. Even in the
present British Parliament, there is quite a number of politicians
coming down from earlier generations. It should not be the sole
criteria. But it can serve the country if they could deliver and are
qualified to deliver. Because the challenge is that societies are
demanding for educated and professional people who can deliver.
This is the criteria. Even in India after 64 years of independence,
the Gandhi family and Nehru family are still in force although they have
allowed others to emerge. Because some of their families have made an
I think that is the sole factor. Sacrifice will always be remembered
by generations to come.