UNP no more a force to be reckoned with - Minister Lakshman
Sugar Industry Development Minister Lakshman Senewiratne said that
the US being the super power has failed to muster a majority on the
resolution moved against Sri Lanka at the UNHRC as evidenced by the
voting pattern. The Minister in an interview with the Sunday Observer
said the US wants to be the 'World Policeman'. Today, even small nations
have begun to challenge US dictates. These powerful countries hide so
many things. We can see what is really happening in Libya, Crimea,
Europe and in many other countries. All these incidents happen due to
vested interest by the super powers.
The Minister said merely because the Democratic Party and the JVP
have secured third and fourth positions at the recently concluded PC
elections, we can't call them the third or fourth force. Only four main
parties contest elections. Even the main Opposition UNP is not a force
to be reckoned with. The media refers to the Democratic Party or the JVP
as political forces but none of them can match the political stability
of President Mahinda Rajapaksa.
Q: The UNP which is bogged down in
the Opposition for the last number of years, has shown a marginal
increase in their vote base in some electorates at the recently
concluded Western and Southern Provincial Council polls. Is it a sign of
recovery at future elections?
A: Certainly not. In some
Provincial elections, if you go through the records, sometimes the
people don't go to cast their vote. Unlike national elections,
Government supporters don't have much interest in the provincial polls.
Because they are aware that the Government is in a position to achieve
an easy victory in those elections.
This is the normal situation. In certain areas, there is a marginal
increase of UNP votes. But it is absurd to assume that the UNP vote base
has increased. I was also engaged in the election campaign. Then I
witnessed the number of UNPers who joined the Government's bandwagon. It
is pointless talking about the UNP.
Q: Nearly 37 UPFA and 12 UNP sitting
members have lost their seats at the recent PC elections. Does it mean
the people have lost confidence in the performance of both major parties
and are seeking refuge in the minor parties?
A: Not really. In this
kind of provincial election, sometimes the people want to change. But
when it comes to the Presidential and General Elections, this pattern
changes and the majority vote for the government. It is a different
scenario at Provincial and Local Government elections.
In a Local Government Election, the voting pattern and percentage is
increased as many of the village candidates from those areas contest
these elections. Everybody wants to vote because the candidate is from
their own area. All these patters keep changing at the national
elections. My opinion is that we don't have to take certain things
seriously. Again having said that as a Government, we have to take
certain things into consideration.
Q: Based on the recent PC election
results, the Democratic Party is touted as the third force. How do you
visualize prospects for such a political turn around?
A: Merely because the
Democratic Party and the JVP came into third and fourth positions at the
recently concluded PC elections, we can't call them the third or the
fourth force. Only four main parties contest elections. If you ask my
personnel opinion, the Democratic Party or the JVP are not forces to be
considered at all. Even the UNP is not a force to be reckoned with any
longer in this country. If the media refers to the Democratic Party or
the JVP as a political force, none of them could be compared to
President Mahinda Rajapaksa. This is how I look at this scenario.
Q: The population of the countries
that votes against the US sponsored resolution far exceeds that of
supporting countries. Does this mean that the US has failed to muster
world opinion against Sri Lanka despite being the world super power?
A: In reality that is the
truth. The US wants to be the 'World Policeman', but not a genuine
Policeman. All other small nations have begun to challenge the US
dictates. Because they can't take everything into their hands. That is
what is happening today. These powerful countries hide so many things.
We can see what is happening in Libya, Crimea, Europe and so many other
countries. All these incidents take place due to vested interest. But
nobody talks about what is happening in Diego Garcia. When we really
look at the voting pattern, the US has failed to muster a majority at
the UNHRC. I personally visited some of the countries and I saw how the
Leaders of those countries reacted to this US sponsored resolution. They
were against the move taken by the US against Sri Lanka.
Q: The Government has banned a total
of 16 LTTE front organisations presumably suspecting subversive
activity. Would this have anti-Sri Lankan repercussions?
A:The Government should
have done this a long time ago. I would say our Government is too
democratic. Will India ever allow Channel 4 to come to India? We even
permitted Channel 4 to see for themselves and report the exact situation
in the country. The Government did the right thing. I think Sri Lankans
living abroad have to do a better job. They can't expect the Government
to fulfill this task single handedly. They have an important role to
play on behalf of their motherland.
Q: UN High Commissioner for Human
Rights Navi Pillay plays the role of prosecutor, investigator and judge
. Could anybody justice and fair play from her?
A: We have said that from
the inception but nobody gave a hearing. There is a saying “ there is
one law for Appuhamy and another for Ralahamy”. Similarly the truth is
there is one law for the Americans and another for the others. This is
what is happening today.
Q: The US sponsored resolution has
its dire implications on the country as its country-specific,
ill-intentioned and intrusive. Can't Sri Lanka go before the world court
for a ruling?
A: Perhaps yes. I think
the Government should pursue it.
Q: Although the UNP calls itself
hydra-headed ,yet it remains cut off from political recovery as borne
out by the recent PC election results. What has really gone wrong with
your old stronghold?
A: Don't you think that we
are wasting our time talking about my good old party and its Leader. Its
an absolute waste of time. UNP Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe has gone
abroad for higher studies.
Hasn't he learnt anything from Sri Lanka up to now? Look at his age.
When he can learn so many lessons from Sri Lanka, he has gone to America
for higher studies. He might get a couple of PhDs and come back to teach
Sri Lankans specially the UNPers. I think Ranil Wickremesinghe is the
best UNP leader because UNPers can learn many lessons from him. He will
get a double doctorate and come back to Sri Lanka. Not only Sri Lankans
but also Sri Lanka will learn many things from him!
Q: The UNP charges that development
projects are funded with foreign loans obtained at high interest rates.
The stark truth is that almost all countries depend on loans for capital
development. Could you elaborate?
A:They can talk when they
are in the Opposition. I know it because I was also in the Opposition.
They should have come to the Government and seen how to do the things.
President Mahinda Rajapaksa's Government delivers the goods. On the
directive of the President, massive infrastructure development has been
undertaken. We have to take loans at the end of the day. As long as we
can service the loans that is what matters. How many trillions of
Dollars has America obtained from China? The so-called biggest super
power has obtained trillions of Dollars as loans from China. That is how
the world works.
Q: Is there any rationale ehind the
attempt made by the UNP to move a no-confidence motion against the
Government which has mustered a two third majority in Parliament?
A: It is absurd. That is
what I have to say. What can the UNP do to the Government by bringing a
no-confidence motion. They should bring a no-confidence motion against
themselves. That is what they should really do.
Q: Annually billions are spent for
sugar imports. What are the prospects for us to be self-sufficient or
what is the maximum target we could achieve?
A: We can be
self-sufficient in sugar. But its a long process. We can reach up to 50
percent self-sufficiency in sugar during the next seven to ten years. We
have already drawn up plans to reach that target. When I took over this
Ministry, only four percent of the sugar requirement was produced
locally. At present we are producing 10 percent of country's sugar
requirement locally. Sevanagala and Pelwatte Sugar factories have earned
a net profit of Rs.1.34 billion within a span of two years. We have
decided to disburse Rs.297 million which is 20 percent of the total
profit among the workers and farmers of these two factories. President
Mahinda Rajapaksa distributed the profit among workers and farmers at a
ceremony held at the Sevanagala sugar factory premises on April 9.
This is the first time that workers and farmers engaged in
sugar-based farming industry were financially benefited. When I took
over the Ministry in 2011, both these factories were running at a loss.
But we revamped both factories and earned Rs.1.34 billion net profit in
two years. This was the brainchild of the President Mahinda Rajapaksa.
What the President instructed me was to do some innovation to develop
the industry and safeguard the interest of farmers and workers. We have
fulfilled the target set out by the President. I have a good Ministry
Secretary, Chairman, CEO, Chief Operating Officers and workers. I have
also top class officers from top to bottom including engineers,
mechanics and labourers. Everybody supported me towards this endeavour.
The farmers also extended their fullest support. Politicians of the area
also supported us.