Development drive in Uva goes on apace - Minister W.D.J.
Public Administration and Home Affairs Minister W.D.J. Senewiratne
said whoever is fielded by the UNP will not become the Chief Minister of
the Uva Provincial Council, as the UPFA has a formidable team of
candidates. The Minister told the Sunday Observer that the Government is
certain of victory at the upcoming Uva Provincial Council polls due to
the infrastructure facilities provided and the enormous economic
development in the province. Education and health services in the area
have improved significantly. People are aware of these significant
developments and the Government is thus sure of victory.
Minister Senewiratne said that as far as the incumbent President is
concerned, the powers vested in him as the Executive President have been
utilised for the betterment of the country such as to defeat terrorism
and to expand development work. At present a massive development drive
is being implemented throughout the country. Next to China, we are the
second fastest developing country in Asia. This prosperity has come in
the wake of the proper use of powers vested in him by President Mahinda
Rrajapaksa in his capacity as Executive President. “Therefore I believe
that it is a redeeming factor against abolishing the Executive
Presidency”, he said.
Q: What made the Government to
streamline the operation of NGOs? There were allegations that some of
the NGOs had exceeded their mandate and also had supplied arms to LTTE
terrorists. Could you explain?
A: Exactly. Because there
are some NGOs which are not acting with a sense of responsibility
particularly at the time when there was turmoil in the country . There
were NGOs which were capitalising the situation. We know that NGOs are
funded by foreign sources.
The money that they get was not used for the benefit of the public
but to enhance the conflict that existed in the country. It is certain
that NGOs provided various resources to the LTTE. This turned out to be
a source of encouragement to the civil conflict that existed in the
country. Therefore certain steps have to be taken to curtail their
activities and peruse the work being done and to monitor the financial
resources in their command. The Government had to take steps to see that
these people didn't interfere with internal matters, the social set up
and law and order situation and the safety of the country. The
Government had to take these steps.
Q: There is controversy over the
recent visit and mission of South African Deputy President Ramaphosa.
Could you enlighten us on this?
A: The South African
delegation which came for the Commonwealth Heads Of Government Meeting (CHOGM)
showed interest on the settlement of the Sri Lanka's post conflict
situation by streamlining it. South Africa faced a similar situation at
a certain stage. Because there were conflicts among communities in South
Africa. After a long period of conflict ,they settled it.
The situation that existed in South Africa was similar to Sri Lanka
for the reason that there was conflict between two main communities, the
British and South Africans. That situation reached a settlement and
there seems to be some ethnic rehabilitation. In view of that situation
when the South Africa offered some assistance for the settlement of a
country, we were keen to study it and bring communal harmony. It is true
they came to Sri Lanka, but the Government policy of not allowing
foreign countries or institutions to interfere into internal matters of
Sri Lanka remains unchanged. In the light of this situation, any country
or any representative can come and study the situation that existed in
the country. If they have any advise, they can offer it.
Then it is up to the Sri Lankan Government to either accept or refuse
that advise. Likewise Ramaphosa came and returned in 48 hours. His visit
did not have any tangible effect. In keeping with the policy of our
country, we don't permit any foreign representative to interfere into
our internal matters. But we are prepared to accept advise from anybody.
If the advise is acceptable, we will go ahead with it.
Q: Indian External Affairs Minister
Sushma Swaraj has said that India won't support the UNHRC investigation
on Sri Lanka. What is the impact on Sri Lanka and its future?
A: She has said that India
will not support any external interference into Sri Lankan matters. This
is a good stance taken by the Indian Government. Although India
abstained from voting at the UNHRC under the former Prime Minister, the
present External Affairs Minister is enlightened about the situation.
This is how they preserve the sovereignty of a country. Nobody knows
that India might also face a similar situation in the future. She has
indicated that India is not in favour of foreign interference into the
internal matters of Sri Lanka. We salute her for that statement.
Q: Do you think the UNHRC's ex parte
investigation will have any repercussion on Sri Lanka? Shouldn't the
Non-Aligned countries protest against such arbitrary action by a world
A: Exactly, Non Aligned
countries must protest because a similar fate can befall them. Now we
have witnessed the influence of America on some of these Arabian and
Middle East countries. The aftermath of it, Libya, Iraq and Syria are
now in turmoil. That is because of the interference of the West and
America. Now it is high time for everybody to realise the consequences
of these interferences by these Western giants which will lead to the
ruin of countries. The Non Aligned countries must realise that this type
of interference will not be for the betterment of those countries but
for their destruction.
economists argue that the expansion of the Public Service is
economically and financially unproductive in the context of a developing
economy such as Sri Lanka. What have you got to say about this?
A: There was a time when
the Public Service was curtailed. What is the benefit that we derived?
Was there any improvement in the economy? Actually there was no
improvement. What is necessary is to provide an efficient service to the
public so that public necessities are met. We will have to recruit a
sufficient number of public servants for that purpose. This has become
necessary because there was no recruitment to the public service for a
long time. There was a lethargic attitude towards the expansion of the
Public Service. But now we find that public officers and public
institutions are manned properly and human resources are also provided.
As a result, people are getting a better service. It does not call for
limitless expansion. But it must commensurate with the requirements of
Q: Northern Province Chief Minister
declining President Mahinda Rajapaksa's request to attend a special
Cabinet meeting in which all other Chief Ministers participated, is
evidence of TNA's non-participatory democracy which will augur well for
democracy. Your comments?
A: That is true. I don't
think we can approve that for the reason as the President had invited
all Chief Ministers to participate in that Cabinet meeting. Once a
month, there is a joint Cabinet meeting so that there will be
interaction between the Ministers and Chief Ministers. It is unfortunate
that the Northern Province Chief Minister didn't participate perhaps he
is under pressure from his political party. It is obvious the TNA is not
ready for compromise.
Q: When the LTTE atrocities,
instability, near-anarchy and lawlessness in the country are still fresh
in the minds of the people, will Opposition Leader Ranil
Wickremesinghe's call for a broad front to topple the Government
succeed? Could you explain?
A: This is very unlikely.
People can still recall the situation that arose as a result of Ranil
Wickremesinghe signing an agreement with LTTE Leader Prabhakaran paving
the way for the LTTE to possess certain areas under their domination.
That situation is well known. I have no doubt that the people will
reject that proposal or conception by Ranil Wickremesinghe to form a
common front to topple the Government.
Q: The Uva Provincial Council
Election will be a test case for the UNP to fight a future Presidential
or General Election and as such they have decided to field a young
stalwart as Chief Ministerial candidate. What are the Government's
prospects for victory?
A: The Government is quite
certain of victory. Because the Government has developed the area. It
has provided infrastructure and economic development that has been
effected is enormous. Education and health services that have been
provided to the area is also significant.
The people are aware of these developments. We are quite sure of
victory. Whoever is fielded by the UNP will not be able to become the
Chief Minister because we have a formidable team of candidates.
Q: The SLMC, a constituent partner of
the UPFA has decided to contest the Uva Provincial Council polls alone.
Will there be any adverse effect on UPFA's vote base?
A: We also won the last
time without much support from the SLMC and we obtained nearly 20
percent of Muslim votes. We have won five Presidential Elections without
any support from the SLMC. The SLMC does not mean that all the Muslims
are in it. Apart from the SLMC, there are Muslims who will vote for the
Q: There is an allegation that the
recent clashes at Aluthgama and Beruwala had been blown out of
proportion and given a communal outlook by certain parties fishing in
trouble waters. Is there any truth in this?
A: That was an unfortunate
incident in Aluthgama and Beruwala. It was instigated by certain
extremist elements. That should be stopped whether it is Buddhists or
Muslim. Th situation was brought to the notice of the people and
everybody was alarmed. Because we have enough experience of such
turbulent situations and conflicts in the country. People don't expect
such a situation again. Everybody turns against such incidents and
criticised whoever who was behind that incident.
Q: The CP, LSSP and DLF want the
Executive Presidency to be abolished or to dilute its powers through a
constitutional amendment. Is there any justification for such a move at
A: Many people are of the
view that the Executive Presidency is not suitable for the country. But
it depends on how that power is exercised by the person who holds that
position. My view is also that the Executive Presidency must be
abolished because we cannot anticipate who the next person who wields
power will handle it.
As far as the incumbent President is concerned, the powers vested in
him have been utilised for the betterment of the country. At present a
massive development drive is being implemented throughout the country.
We are next to China, we are the second fastest developing country in
Asia. Prosperity has come in the wake of proper use of powers vested in
President Mahinda Rajapaksa. I believe that this is a redeeming factor
and is in favour of the Executive Presidency.