Upholding democracy the priority

JVP leader Somawansa Amarasinghe says the country is going through a grave crisis, cherished principles are at risk, and vigilance is the need of the hour. Chandani Kirinde reports

Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) leader Somawansa Amarasinghe spoke to the Sunday Times about the Party’s decision to form a new political alliance, headed by General (Retd.) Sarath Fonseka to contest April’s general election. He says there is an unprecedented threat to democracy in the country, and that Opposition parties should consider the ground realities and the protection of democracy before worrying about Party symbols and Party names. The following are excerpts from the interview:-

Q: What led you to form a new alliance to contest April’s general election?

A: The UNP [United National Party] Executive Committee and the UNP Leader have decided to go it alone, so we had to quickly form this alliance.

Q: Why did you abandon the JVP party symbol, the bell?

A: In the current political climate, we are not going to worry about our symbol, or the name of our Party. The country is going through a difficult time and the situation is very grave. There was a fraudulent Presidential election.

JVP far from down: Somawansa Amarasinghe. Photo: Saman Kariyawasam

Undemocratic practices continue. Attacks on political parties have intensified, the government is misusing public funds, resources and public servants, and abusing the state media.

The Opposition candidate in the Presidential election has been incarcerated without any charge. They are trying to find evidence against him only now. This is the first time we have a situation where a person has been imprisoned, and after imprisoning him you go looking for evidence. There is no democracy in this country; no law and order.

They seized power on January 26. They have power but no brain. They don’t know the law. What they have done has boomeranged on them, as we saw in the case of the sealing of the “Lanka “newspaper. Even under emergency rule, there are certain degrees of liberty that the media and political parties should be allowed.

This is a very serious situation. There is an unprecedented threat to democracy in this country. In such circumstances, we shouldn’t be quibbling over Party symbols and Party names. You cannot have selfishness in politics. The government is going to crush the Opposition. When that happens, no one will think about party symbols and names. Even the Maha Sangha has been threatened. These are serious matters for Party leaders to think about, especially Opposition parties.

Q: Were you disappointed when the UNP decide to go it alone?

A: There was no disappointment, not for the JVP or the General [Sarath Fonseka], but we think the grassroots UNPers are disappointed.

Q: Were you surprised by the decision, given that you worked together in the Presidential polls?

A: We expected the UNP to be broadminded and to think of the situation the country will face. We are not surprised, anyway. We were vigilant. We expected the UNP to act in this manner. That is why we have formed another alliance, because we need to harness the strengths of the Opposition parties. That is one way to respond to the undemocratic practices of the present regime. They have been talking about Idi Amin, and now we see the Idi Amin of this country. We have to be vigilant about that.

Q: Many believe it was the JVP that did the bulk of the work on behalf of General Fonseka at the Presidential election, and that the UNP was half-hearted in its contribution to the campaign. Is this true?

A: I don’t wish to comment on these matters. At this moment, these are not important. What is important is that we are always dedicated to serving the people. I don’t want to comment on the dedication of the others.

Q: The government has levelled many allegations at General Fonseka. These range from corruption to a coup attempt to seize power. Would you say these are false allegations?

A: Yes, yes. All these are false. This is a regime that is living on lies. Blatant lies. They use the state media and level allegations against Opposition parties and individuals. The people know this. They are disgusted, angry and frustrated – and mostly because the General is being kept in custody .This is not a simple matter.

Q: Do you fear things may take a turn for the worse?

A: If the Opposition does not take this situation seriously, there will be problems. No one will be able to talk about their symbols and party names. This is going to be a fascist regime if it is not defeated. The people already understand that.

Q: But does the Opposition have any chance of defeating the government?

A: Why not? People have changed their minds. They are now against the government and that is why the government is frustrated. If they had received a thumping majority of 1.8 million votes, why should they worry? Why should they attack the Opposition parties and spread lies about the Opposition?

Q: Many believe the JVP, even in an alliance, would do very badly in the general election and that it would be reduced to four or five seats in Parliament. Would you like to comment?

A: How can they decide that? That is not fair. Think about the mood of the people at this moment. We were in a very disadvantaged position during the Provincial Council elections because the government was misusing public funds, resources and public servants, as well as the state media. They will not be successful for much longer. The people are unhappy about the regime. Things will change for the better. The changes will be a shift towards the Opposition alliance.

Q: Why do you place so much faith in General Fonseka?

A: He is the person who liberated this country. There were many Army Commanders before him, but it was he who succeeded, because he was dedicated to his work. The Sri Lanka Army made a name for itself in the world, but it was lost on the day that the General was dragged away from his office. In just 41 days, the General achieved 4.1 million votes. That is more than 100,000 votes a day. That is not a small achievement. They [the government] did everything possible against him. Despite all that, he earned 4.1 million votes.

Q: But wasn’t most of the handwork done by others? The General is not generally perceived as a good politician.

A: Of course he cannot be seen as a good politician. He has only just come out of the Army. He is not a cunning, uncivilised politician.

Q: Do you think the General could mature into a good politician?

A: Yes, he will definitely mature. He matured during the election campaign. That is why we made him the leader of this alliance. He is level-headed. If he wasn’t, we would not have defeated the LTTE.

Q: Will the General contest the general election?

A: Yes, he will.

Q: Don’t you expect legal impediments?

A: There are obstacles, but we will overcome them. There are people who were elected as MPs when they were in prison.

Q: The JVP is perceived as an agitation party. Do you see your party as a governing party, rather than an Opposition Party?

A: Have you forgotten the past? We were in the government from 2004 to 2005, and we did a tremendous job. The people are still talking about our work. We ran our ministries in a way that should be an example to the others. The JVP can serve as an example to those who are engaged in corruption and those who are inefficient. We were able to do a good job because of the dedication of our comrades who were running the ministries.

Q: The split in the JVP has resulted in a sizeable loss of JVP supporters. How do you feel about that?

A: We are happy that corrupt, decayed people have left the party. In fact, these people did not leave the party. We removed them from the Party to make the Party clean. We don’t want a corrupt Party. We are at all times vigilant. We constantly check on the movements of our Party members. Even I am answerable to the Party, and so is every member. Each one of us is observed by the others. No one in the Party tolerates corruption or malpractice.

Q: From the time the JVP first entered Parliament, it has grown in strength with the number of Parliamentary seats it has won. Then you formed the UPFA and won even more seats. But some believe that had the JVP gone it alone, it would have grown even more in strength, without being swallowed up by other parties.

A: We have made political decisions according to the political climate of the time. Our decisions have proved sound and accurate. Nothing has happened to the Party. Even if we lost some votes, we have given the people a political signal. We are the country’s only incorruptible party. That alone is enough for a political party. It is not the number of seats or the number of votes that a party gets that matters. What is important is the image of the party.

The image of our Party is intact. There are no corrupt members in our Party. They know that if they are found to be corrupt, they will be expelled from the Party.

Q: Wasn’t your Party image tarnished when you got into an alliance with the UNP? That alliance was not based on the corruption issue. Didn’t you compromise the JVP’s principles and policies in that alliance?

A: The UPFA [United People’s Freedom Alliance] was formed by the JVP and the SLFP, but we left when there were attempts to make the LTTE the rulers of the North and East. Gen. Sarath Fonseka liberated the Eastern Province from Northern oppression. We liberated the Eastern Province by going to the Supreme Court to liberate it from LTTE pressure. We were able to do this because we were free to do what we wanted to do, as we had left that alliance. Because we left the alliance, the country was able to achieve victory after victory. That history cannot be erased or forgotten.

Q: Has your Party’s ideology changed? Are you still a Marxist party?

A: We are changing. We are not conservative. We believe in change. We know the world is changing and we too will have to change accordingly. We must formulate our strategies for the good of the country. That is what Marxism is about. Karl Marx said things are always changing. No one can stop that. We will change in response to a changing world.

Top to the page  |  E-mail  |  views[1]
SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend
Other News Articles
Detectives on dollar trail
Court Martial: Fonseka sticks to his guns and turns deaf ear
Foreign Ministry battle hits Lanka’s sea claim
Minister, ‘poor’ wife in alleged land scandal
President halts cyber censorship
Web of deceit
Talk at the cafe Spectator
Ex-MPs face threats: IGP not acting on Polls Chief request
Return artefacts: Lanka to appeal to foreign countries
National Stroke Association of Sri Lanka wins Gold
World Bank says its funds not meant for censorship -- Right of reply
Shipment of oysters nabbed
Film, sports stars join in April 8 fray
Upholding democracy the priority -- Interview with JVP leader Somawansa Amarasinghe
Nullify polls, Fonseka tells SC
First SL-American celebrity performance
Candidate for Bar Association presidency drops out of race
When batters, runners and beauties become lawmakers
Not ‘summoned’: Our man in Washington -- Right of reply
All night partying at ICRC premises a nuisance, say residents
Dane in foreign spider web
Southerners travel North to see their country
Settling down an uphill task for war affected
Road to South Africa pot-holed by mandarins -- RANDOM THOUGHTS
DR did not glorify any person or party; for him, every politician is a servant of his country
Balanced coverage prerequisite for democracy


Reproduction of articles permitted when used without any alterations to contents and a link to the source page.
© Copyright 2010 | Wijeya Newspapers Ltd.Colombo. Sri Lanka. All Rights Reserved.| Site best viewed in IE ver 6.0 @ 1024 x 768 resolution