Country sacrificed in secrecy: Somawansa
The ongoing political crisis over the Post Tsunami Operational Management Structure (P-TOMS) or the joint mechanism is the most serious crisis facing the nation, the UPFA and various political parties in the country, in the last two years, Somawansa Amerasinghe, leader of the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna said yesterday.

Here are excerpts from a question and answer interview he gave The Sunday Times:

The JVP has triggered a political crisis.
We are to enter into a secret Joint Mechanism. It has been given a new name under the foolish assumption that like commercial advertisements, a fresh name will make the people forget its real intention. This Joint Mechanism proposals have not been shown to the Prime Minister, the Cabinet, government Members of Parliament including those of the SLFP, JVP, NUA and MEP, the Leader of the Opposition and Parliament members of Opposition parties.

We have also asked from our diplomatic contacts. We are made to understand that apart from the President, the LTTE and the Norwegians no one knows its contents.

Other than the President, all others who are aware of its contents do not represent the democratic will of the people of this country freely expressed in a fair election. We seem to have slipped into colonial times. The country's future is being sacrificed in secrecy over the heads of the people.

If it is good for the country what is wrong in it being done in secret? What is wrong if it brings peace?
Look at the actions of the LTTE and not about a secret piece of paper, the Joint Mechanism, contents of which no one knows. The United States which is half a world away and India which is our nearest neighbour have expressed serious concern about the LTTE acquiring air capacity and an air field. A few days ago, the Tigers announced in Kilinochchi that they would use their new air capacity against Sri Lanka. Elsewhere, the Tigers were flexing their muscles, most so in the key town of Trincomalee.

Here on a trumped up charge on a Buddha statue they were creating tension. Are these actions of a group interested in peace? The Commander-in-Chief should consider their newly acquired air power as a most urgent matter which should be neutralized than giving attention to any piece of secret paper. There were reports this week of another airfield in Trincomalee. I must mention that if it was Madam Sirimavo Bandaranaike she would have already taken out these two airfields.

But why are you against helping the Tamil people?
On the contrary, we were the first in the field in Tamil areas to rescue and help those in distress during the first days of the tsunami.
The LTTE was virtually not to be then found. The government machinery is already helping the people in all areas of the North and East.
We can deliver all the help through the existing machinery. The Joint Mechanism is a non-solution for a non-problem.

What do you actually know about the Joint Mechanism?
We do not know anything except that it is to give illegal powers to the LTTE. We understand that the wording of the Joint Mechanism had been arrived at by the LTTE in close discussion with that underemployed adventurer from Norway, Eric Solheim. The Norwegian/LTTE combination's real intents are a threat to us. Not only us, but our neighbours the Indians have a genuine reason to be worried.

Why do you say so?
India's National Security Advisor M.K. Narayanan announced publicly on Indian TV India's support to the Joint Mechanism was only if all Tamil parties and not just the LTTE were included. He was only reiterating what Indian Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran early last month told Erik Solheim that no absolute authority be given to the LTTE.

Meanwhile, another Indian, the former Cabinet Secretary to its Government, Raman wrote of the danger of Tiger air power.

Your allies within the government like Mangala Samaraweera are being made uncomfortable. Do you have allies outside your party?
You will be surprised at the very extensive grassroots SLFP support for our principled stand. Even among those holding ministerial posts there is strong support for us.

They are frightened to express their views at the moment because they fear they might lose their positions. But if the government falls they will in any case lose their jobs. So they must have the courage of their convictions and express them now.

Let me mention one other factor after the Media Ministry was removed out of Mr. Samaraweera's control. One of the first things that happened after the appointment of Harim Pieris and Eric Fernando to advise State media to promote the Joint Mechanism was the false front page report that secret chauvinists - code for Buddhists - were behind the killing of the Muslim Intelligence Chief Major Nizam Muthaliff. It was a crude attempt to insult the nationalists and the Armed Forces.

There are reports of a snap election. How prepared are you?
We are reluctant to go for a fresh election. Our ministers have started important work which the people in this country know about and appreciate. But if an election comes we are more prepared than any other party.

Our strength has grown very much during the last year. Let me give you one example. A few days ago I was addressing our grassroots delegates at Kegalle. Their number had grown to nearly three times those who came last year.

I do not say that we will get three times the number of seats we got last time. But let me assure you, you will be very surprised. The various embassies also monitor the political situation. Ask them.

What about the threats the country is facing?
A serious situation is brewing. We ask our armed forces not to be disheartened. Please go firmly about your duty defending the country's territorial integrity. They should rest assured that the people of this country are firmly behind them.

Top  Back to News  

Copyright © 2001 Wijeya Newspapers Ltd. All rights reserved.