ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday, January 21, 2007
Vol. 41 - No 34

President has indicated his readiness to distance the JVP: Somawansa

By Our Political Editor

The Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) has every right to topple a Government if it goes back on its promises and leads the country nowhere, its leader Somawansa Amerasinghe said.

In an interview with The Sunday Times he accused President Mahinda Rajapaksa and his Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) of not being keen in agreeing to a "rational programme" with the JVP. This was to regain the nation's sovereignty, territorial integrity, unity and achieve rapid development. Instead, he said, the President had embraced the United National Party (UNP) to "re colonise" Sri Lanka.

"I stand by the comments made by our senior members," he said. JVP parliamentary group leader Wimal Weerawansa declared last week that his party would topple the Government. Trade union stalwart K.D. Lalkantha said 2007 would be a year of protests, a reference to strikes they plan to launch. Anura Kumara Dissanayake told a news conference that corruption was rampant in the Government.

Here are excerpts from answers Mr. Amerasinghe gave to questions posed:

JVP response to proposed cross over of a group of UNP MPs to the Government and the intended increase in cabinet portfolios:
We are watching the developments closely and carefully. It seems that the government is distancing itself from the people, from the mandate it received from them at the Presidential election. That is serious. Those who cross over and also those who encourage them to cross over must justify their actions on the basis of their adherence to the mandate the popularly termed "Mahinda Chintanaya".

Plans to expand the cabinet are unwise and unjustified. This shows great irresponsibility by all concerned. No other country in the world has this amount of ministers. Look at the US, the UK or India. Misuse of public funds on matters like this is a serious mistake, if not an offence. What does the public achieve by increasing the number of cabinet ministers? This will lead to the crumbling of the whole system as ministers trip over each other's functions.

JVP distancing itself and whether their MOU with the Government is now over:

No, it was not the JVP that began distancing itself from the Government. When the President wanted the JVP to join with his Government, we were ready to do so. But only if he was prepared to reach an agreement with us to implement a programme of work to regain sovereignty, territorial integrity and unity of Sri Lanka; to achieve rapid development and to distribute equally the gains of that economic development among Sinhala, Tamil, Muslim and other people in Sri Lanka.

We took his invitation very seriously. In fact, we prepared a 20 point programme of work to be implemented by a proposed coalition of the JVP and the SLFP. Unfortunately, the President and the SLFP were not keen on such a rational programme. By signing the MoU with the UNP the President indicated indirectly to the JVP and the people of this country that he and his government's readiness to distance the JVP and embrace the defeated UNP with a National Agenda for recolonisation of Sri Lanka.

I stand by comments of some of our senior members. We have every right to suggest to the people of this country to topple a Government if it goes back on its promises and leads the country nowhere.

On opposition parties remaining silent whilst there is increase in corruption:

There are allegations against the Government that corruption is rampant. The Government so far has not responded to these allegations. Hear what Mr. Wijedasa Rajapakse P.C. (Chairman of Committee on Public Enterprises - COPE) said the other day. The JVP will always actively oppose whatever steps this or any other Government takes that are harmful to this country. This Government is emulating the former UNP Governments. Anyway, we are glad that in one way the present traitorous UNP is dying a natural death. We are confident that JVP will remain as not only the only genuine political party opposing unsound actions of the Government but we believe also the political party in Sri Lanka which will act with utmost responsibility in the country's interest.

The essence of the JVP's MoU with the Government has been countermanded by the President’s MoU with the UNP. We don't think the President can stick to two MoUs based on diametrically opposing objectives. As long as the Government genuinely takes meaningful steps to defeat LTTE terrorism to free the Tamil people and to restore democracy in the North and the East, we will support it.

We have taken up the issues relating to corruption. I hope you are aware we played a very decisive role in the COPE. But the most important political issue for the JVP is the national question. Removing our sovereignty is the biggest corruption. Last week you highlighted the activities of the private organization the Berghof foundation which works within the Government.

I have seen the documents they have signed with the Government. Their programmes go directly against the "Mahinda Chintanaya". There is no doubt that it is an antinational organization. They should be driven away as they bribe opinion makers including journalists to work against the will of the people. These payments are corruption against the country. As I have already said, we have a programme of work to defeat separatist terrorists, restore democracy and to achieve rapid development so that we could solve the burning problems of the people.

We will continue to educate the people about acute corruption in both public and private sectors and among antinational unrepresentative foreign funded NGOs and will continue to agitate in parliament and on the streets.

On JVP participants being kept out of state run TV political talk shows:

No, this is not a move against the JVP. No one can stop the forward march of the JVP by such moves. JVP never had a fair treatment by most of the print or electronic media. We are used to taking up challenges. But these moves are certainly aimed at curtailing the rights of the people. Any Government will fail miserably in their attempts to keep people in the dark. This is the era of the Mobile Phone. The Government must always be aware that the state run TV networks are operated using public funds and is accountable to the people.

TNL (Teleshan Network) has been inviting us for talk shows since we stopped taking part in their talk shows. We waited until the TNL assured us that it will not misuse their programmes to make one sided attacks on the JVP.

Whether the JVP has chosen to remain silent on press freedom issues:

No, we are not silent on press freedom issues. But as I said earlier, the central political issue for us is separatist terrorism. The JVP thinks that other issues are also important. I would like to repeat that we are not silent on press freedom issues.

On the JVP coming to terms with the UNP led by Ranil Wickremesinghe:

Mr. Wickremesinghe is an opportunist. He is not against the Government. Why would he be if the Government has signed a MoU with the UNP. The Government is going to implement his programme of work. So there shouldn't be any difficulty for him also to join the Government.

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Copyright 2007 Wijeya Newspapers Ltd.Colombo. Sri Lanka.