The Sunday TimesNews/Comment

8th December 1996



CBK is talking rubbish, says angry UNP

The United National Party in a strong reaction to President Chandrika Kumaratunga's comment in a Paris interview has accused her of irresponsibility and failing to behave in a civilized manner.

"In a civilized democratic world it is unheard of a head of state going to a foreign country and washing political dirty linen. I can think it may be possible from a leader of an obscure African country Perhaps with a madman like Idi Amin," says Dr. Karunasena Kodituwakku, official spokesman for the United National party .

In a hard hitting interview with The Sunday Times, Dr. Kodituwakku said the President committed such a blunder once in Delhi when she attacked the late President J.R. Jayewardene. "We attributed that to her lack of experience. But this time round, we are not going to ignore it as she has had two years of experience. It all proves that she cannot think above politics. She must realize that she is representing our country not a political party."

"I am sure her French teachers must be regretting her remarks and wondering what they had taught her," Mr. Kodituwakku said.

Excerpts from the interview:
By Roshan Peiris

Q: What have you to say of the President who after almost ten years is now blaming the UNP for the killing of Vijaya Kumaratunga, her husband?

A: The Presidential Commission on the Vijaya assassination in its report on page 65 stated the persons directly involved in the assassination were Pahelamullage Lionel Ranasinghe and Tarzan Weerasinghe . They disappeared while they were in the custody of the Criminal Investigation Department. They had links with the JVP.

It is therefore unfair for the President to blame a responsible political party which has governed the country for 31 years.

When R. Premadasa and Ranjan Wijeratne were killed, the UNP did not blame the SLFP.

Q: Is it unbecoming of a President to go abroad and wash dirty political linen in an interview with a foreign publication?

A: This is unheard of in a civilized democratic world. She did do so in Delhi about President Jayewardene. But we dismissed it at the time thinking it was due to the lack of political maturity. Now after two years, we cannot say the same.

Perhaps in some remote African country someone might do so like that madman Idi Amin. She must realize the fact that she was representing the country and not a political party. Her French teachers must be regretting and shuddering at the thought that she did such a thing.

Q: What is your comment on the President's remark that the UNP government killed tens of thousands of innocent youth and left their bodies in piles?

A: This is pure rubbish. True there was some violence during the insurrection of 1987- 89. One cannot blame the JVP alone. The SLFP also provoked the innocent youth of this country to destroy public property. The youth were also told that they could take over power. So they threatened the government and the armed forces. Sirima Bandaranaike did the same in the 1971 insurrection. The UNP never blamed her for that. They killed 6000 UNP people.

During the '87-'89 period, the SLFP asked the government to help them and give them arms to protect them. Recently in parliament Anura Bandaranaike said how he had asked for arms and that the government then sent a lorry load of arms to protect them.

If this was wrong the PA members would have challenged him .

In addition Bharat Lakshman Premachandra at the Batalanda Commission said how he had defended himself at that time with the gun given to him when some youths came to kill him .

Anyway didn't Chandrika Kumaratunga herself go into exile with her children because she considered the country not safe.

Q: You are talking of political violence. What are your comments on political violence the present government is alleged to have indulged in during its two years in office? For instance, the incidents in Negombo, Anamaduwa, Katugastota, Piliyandala, Ratnapura etc.

A: In 1989 there was violence and destruction and there was naturally reaction from the government. It was not peaceful as it is now. By the way in those days SLFP people paid back their grievances shielding behind this violence. A top PA politico's wife is alleged to have killed two persons and burnt their bodies. It was proved in court that it was personal vengeance.

Q: Do you think the UNP leaders are safe?

A: The UNP leaders are by no means safe. We have had enough of violence unleashed against us.

Q: The President has also spoken of the corruption during the UNP time starting from the Presidential level and going down. What have you to say?

A: Just talking nonsense won't do. She should prove it. There is enough corruption in the government. In matters of food, arms purchases and construction work. Take the Thawakkal issue; her own minister wanted it handed over to the CID. There are other deals like Kotagala and the Galle port.

I wanted the government to buy rice from Indonesia and mentioned it in Parliament. It costs 239 dollars a metric ton. But the government chose to buy rice from India at 278 dollars a metric ton and mind you not basmathi rice. Why is this?

When there is no good governance, the President thinks talking of UNP corruption will save the day. Perhaps she must be thinking the best defense is to be on the offensive. It works when in the opposition not when in office. The government's inability to satisfy the people is now obvious. What with being a powerful executive president and having a majority in parliament.

Why doesn't the President abolish the Executive Presidential system she criticized so much. Then she can come to parliament and make all her accusations rather than go abroad and do so. It clearly shows her political immaturity.

Defamatory leaflets: Alles gets Rs. 250,000

Almost 16 years after the incident the Court of Appeal has awarded former D. S. Senanayake principal R. I. T. Alles Rs. 250,000 in damages along with costs from a person who published a pamphlet accusing Mr. Alles of bribery and other misdeeds.

The judgment was delivered by Justice Edussuriya, in the case where Ubhaya Weerasinghe of Colombo 7 was cited as respondent.

The plaintiff Mr. Alles had first filed the defamation case in the District Court of Colombo, on the grounds that Mr. Weerasinghe caused the publication of material defamatory of Mr. Alles by printing and distributing pamphlets.

Mr. Weerasinghe filed answer denying these publications and then pleading they were not defamatory of Mr. Alles. He took up the defense of truth and justification, fair comment and privilege.

One of the pamphlets purported to be a publication of a society called the Children's Rights Protection Society under the heading 'Young Child's Basic Rights. Education State of Affairs at D. S. Senanayake Vidyalaya' and opens with the words" Even if you stay close to D. S. Senanayake Vidyalaya you will not be able to admit your child to this school.

This and other pamphlets were distributed in 1979. The District Judge after trial held that they were defamatory of Mr. Alles and awarded him Rs. 15,000 in damages.

Mr. Alles then went to the Court of Appeal seeking more as damages.

The Appeal Court Judge observed that the District Judge had made reference to Mr. Alles' conduct regarding admissions to the school being questioned in Parliament. The District Judge appeared to have been influenced by them in arriving at his decision, the Appeal Court said.

The Appeal Court Judge also observed that the pamphlets in question had been published in a name of a society, by Mr. Weerasinghe but there was no evidence of the existence of such a society.

Continue to the News/Comment page 3 - * Rape probe: focus on judicial officer , * Lankan refugees: Tamil Nadu's cautious and wary approach

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