Development drive goes on apace - Minister Rajitha Senaratne
Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Development Minister Dr. Rajitha
Senaratne said the outcome of the recently concluded Western and
Southern Provincial Council Elections has given a strong message to the
UN and the world that President Mahinda Rajapaksa is the most popular
leader in Sri Lanka. This is also a clear testimony to the world that
the majority of the people are with the President and the Government.
The Minister in an interview with the Sunday Observer said the
Opposition cannot be happy about election results. Even after nine years
in power, if the ruling party under the leadership of President
Rajapaksa can win in this manner, the Opposition has no hope whatsoever
to return. However, there are certain issues that we have to address. We
have to rethink how to win over sectors that have not supported the
Government at the PC polls.
Dr. Senaratne said we have to take responsible decisions on how to
safeguard our motherland from foreign forces and that it is not by
castigating them or shouting at them or having Sathyagrahas against them
that this issue can be overcome. This is an intellectual battle. We used
our intelligence and got votes to win the war against terrorism. Only
intelligence can safeguard our country. President Mahinda Rajapaksa
should get the assistance of qualified individuals who can meet this
Q: Many people surmise that the landslide victory for the
Government at the recent Provincial Council elections is a strong
message to the international community, specially in the context of the
UNHRC resolution passed against Sri Lanka. Would you agree with this
proposition and if so could you elaborate?
A: Excepting in places where minorities are prominent, the
Government got a landslide victory in all the other areas at the Western
and Southern Provincial Council polls. The Government should win back
the minorities - the Tamils and Muslims. Otherwise it would have been a
thumping majority. The Opposition cannot be happy about this election
result. Even after nine years in power, if the ruling party under the
leadership of President Mahinda Rajapaksa can win in this manner, there
is no hope for the Opposition at all.
We have to rethink how to win over other sectors who have not
supported the Government at the recently concluded PC elections. The
outcome of the PC elections has given a strong message to the UN and the
world that President Mahinda Rajapaksa is the most popular leader in Sri
Lanka and that the majority of the people are with the President and the
Government. We have to lay special emphasis on the minorities specially
the Tamils in the North and other minorities in the South. In the past,
when the people rose up in arms the West and the UN never considered
these issues. As a responsible Minister and a citizen of this country, I
don't think this electoral victory will help to handle the international
situation. The thinking pattern of the UN and the international
community is far different from ours. We have to take immediate measures
to overcome the challenges that we have to face in the near future due
to the actions taken by the UN.
Q: Do you believe that an organisation such as the UNHRC has
been politicised to the extent of bludgeoning small nations into their
dictates? Could you explain?
A: Definitely. There is one policy for America about Israel.
When the entire UN is voting against Israel, they just used their veto
power to defend Israel ignoring all their human rights violations. So
these powerful nations don't have a policy. Their policy is to bring all
countries under their orbit. But if these powerful countries pass a
resolution at the UNHRC and if they implement it and impose sanctions,
how we are going to face that? That is the reality. You can't say that a
giant came and assaulted you. Then we will have to understand how to
deal with the giant and not to get assaulted by the giant. That is where
I am. Because what I say today may be valid even next year. That is what
I say the Government should take immediate measures to overcome the
scenario which can be adverse. We have to be prepared for the worse. If
it is less than what we are expecting then it is a bonus.
Q: When there is a direct threat to the country and specially
to its sovereignty, how is it that the main Opposition walks on a
political tight rope, preaching political bana to the country, having
ignored its obligations ?
A: There is no purpose talking about this Opposition. Really
there is no Opposition in this country. Those leaders in the Opposition
are not leaders of the people. They are not recognised by the people. I
don't want to waste my time talking about this Opposition. The best
thing is to look after the country, people and the Government. This is
the Government which liberated the country and its people from the
clutches of terrorism. Defeating terrorism was the most difficult task
We had so many leaders, none of them could defeat terrorism over the
past 30 years. President Rajapaksa is the only leader who eradicated
terrorism and developed this country. We have never seen mega
development in the country never seen before. I have been a member of
Parliament for the past 20 years and I have been a Cabinet Minister from
2001. I know how difficult it is to get even a little money from earlier
Governments to develop our electorates. At present, we have got large
sums of money to develop our electorates. We have also improved the
living standards of the people. I am keen to continue the development
drive of this Government in a stable manner so that we have more and
more development in the future. That is why I am concerned about the
Q: How do you analyse India's last minute change of mind to
abstain from voting at the US resolution. Has it done any good to Sri
Lanka now that the UN Human Rights Chief Navi Pillay could launch her
A: That is a diplomatic decision taken by the Indian
Government. In the same manner, a group of South African Ministers who
always talk about reconciliation and the minority issue consulted me as
well. We pleaded of them that the best scenario is to abstain from
voting and to be between the UN and the Government. The decision taken
by the India is not to be a party to an international inquiry. But India
can play a big role in the future for our benefit to be in between the
UN and us. Therefore, its a historical decision taken by India.
Q: There is speculation that the JVP and Democratic Party have
shown signs of a political recovery. Will it have any bearing on the
political fabric of the country? What will be their prospects for a
A: Their main allegation against our Government is not about
the liberation of the country, development or the economy. It is based
on other secondary matters which erupted from the main policies such as
corruption, dictatorial powers in certain sectors of the Government,
democracy, human rights, media freedom etc. Actually those things can be
rectified easily. At present the UNP has become so weak and Fonseka's
party and the JVP have become powerful. But if the UNP can again become
the next alternative force under a new leader with a new program, the
votes that Fonseka's party and the JVP have got will go back to the UNP
once again and they will be kept in their proper place. We should not be
unduly bothered about Fonseka's party or the JVP's small growth in some
electorates. This temporary until the UNP takes its role as the main
Q:“An independent credible investigation by the UNHRC boss
Navi Pillay will not mete out justice as she is prejudiced due
presumably to her South Indian ethnic origin and influenced by the
global Tamil lobby”. How do you look at this scenario?
A: Firstly, we don't need any international inquiry. We should
have our credible internal inquiry. After the 1971 insurrection, the
then Prime Minister, Sirimavo Bandaranaike allowed such a process to
continue. Many military personnel were punished by the courts for those
cases. the Government should conduct a credible process so that we don't
need to go for any international inquiry. The international community
can never hold an impartial inquiry in this soil other than an internal
inquiry conducted by us. We can do that.
Q: The smaller the country, the bigger the problems. Could you
substantiate this statement with special reference to Sri Lanka and
similar countries world over?
A: There has been always domination by powerful countries.
That is why the Third world countries formed the Non Alligned Movement
in the 1970s against the two big super powers, the US and Russia. Now
there is no such organisation. At that time, the Soviet Block always
supported the Non Alligned Movement though they were not members. There
is no Soviet Block today. During the Soviet Union, days they funded
countries like us. They funded various industries in so many ways. At
present there is no such system. Globally now we are in an open economy
system. Russia, China and all the socialist countries have gone back to
the market economy. There is very little support for us to defend
ourselves against the US. Other countries can only give us limited
support. We have to stand on our own feet. We have to take responsible
decisions on how to safeguard our motherland from foreign forces. It is
not by castigating them or shouting at them or having Sathyagrahas
against them here. This is only an intellectual battle. We used
intelligence and get votes in favor for us to win the war against
terrorists. Here there is nothing to be forced and it is only the
intelligence which can safeguard our country. The President should get
the assistance of all those intellectually qualified people who are
capable to meet this challenge. It is difficult for the External Affairs
Ministry to handle it on its own. It is a Lilliput compared to these
Gullivers that we are facing. The President should form a group of
intellectuals to safeguard the interests of our country.
Q: What is the present stage of the Indo-Lanka talks on the
fishing dispute. It looks that prospects for a solution appears to be
elusive. What is the progress made?
A: Indo-Lanka talks are Government to Government talks between
Delhi and Sri Lanka. The Governments must agree to that. Otherwise the
fisheries organisations have no authority to decide on anything. They
can only propose to the Government. The talks are between the
governments of India and Sri Lanka. We held the first round of talks in
Delhi. So the Indian fisheries officials should come to Sri Lanka for
second round of talks. I have requested them to come but they have never
been to Sri Lanka. I am interested on those talks rather than
fishermen's talks. That is the talks where we can sort out this matter.
So the Indian Government must fulfil their duty by coming to Sri Lanka
for second round of talks.
Q: The Opposition attempts to portray that country's rule of
law has been declined. Is there any truth in this allegation?
A: The rule of law is there. That may be not hundred percent
impartial or it may not favourable to them. Actually it is now only that
there is rule of law in the country. Earlier there was no rule in the
country. Because in the past, we didn't know at what time a bomb will be
exploded or whether we will live or not. Now there is no such threat.
Then how anybody says that there is no rule of law.
They are talking about well to do people's rule of law and media.
There was worst scenario in the country earlier. Today there is a vast
improvement on the rule of law in the country. We should move forward
that I agree. We must move more and more for a better society. But we
can never say that there is no rule of law. Foreigners may say that as
there was no comparison for them. But our people have a comparison. That
is why they vote for this Government. They know that there is a better
law and living for them today than earlier.
Q: Do you believe that political dynasties are in the interest
of the country as we find the progeny of political bigwigs line- up to
enter the legislature?
A: This dynasty was there from the beginning. The Rajapaksa's
and their families and even the late Prime Minister S.W.R.D.
Bandaranaike fought against imperialism. .
There is no harm in children of political leaders getting into
politics. But they should be political-oriented. That is my argument.
Today some Ministers and MPs are not seasoned politicians. A politician
is a unique person. They must be politically oriented. D.M. Rajapaksa's
brother D. A. Rajapaksa replaced him only after his death. He became a
matured politician later. Then the next generation also came into
All the Rajapaksas were politically oriented and they had a political
ideology. Even President Mahinda Rajapaksa was politically interested
and mature from a young age. Namal Rajapaksa is equally politically
oriented. Even before he entered politics, he was involved in the
Tharunyata Hetak movement.
There are sons of other politicians who are politically oriented.
They have the interest, political ideology and political thinking but
there are others who lack any political knowledge but have entered
politics because their parents want to continue the dynasty. I am
against this trend. That is why there are many family members in
politics today. Some of them are politically oriented.
It is spreading like a virus today and that is why I didn't want to
make my sons a part of it. My sons also have political understanding but
they will be categorised in the same manner. There should be a limit and
others should be allowed to enter politics.
The SLFP is a party that permits the common man to enter Parliament.
Because of the late Prime Minister S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike, M.S.Themis who
was a postal employee entered Parliament. H.S. Jothipala who was a beedi
worker also became the MP for Balangoda.