'Absolute power to a regime not good for democracy'
BY Sandun Jayasekera
Nov 8, 2011

Daily Mirror discussed a range of issues with National Freedom Front (NFF) leader and Minster of Construction, Engineering Services, Housing and Public Utilities Wimal Weerawansa. Excerpts of the interview;

Q: The UPFA kept wining almost all the elections held since 2005 under President Mahinda Rajapaksa giving a snowballing effect to the contemporary political culture of the country. How do you think this phenomenon has affected party politics in Sri Lanka?

A: This is entirely an issue that should be addressed by voters themselves. The people clearly know that giving absolute power to one party while weakening all other political parties is not good for participatory democracy not only in Sri Lanka but in any other country. But the voters in Sri Lanka have made it a habit since 2005 to keep tremendous trust on the UPFA and given landslide victories to the UPFA at each and every election, be it the Presidential, Parliamentary, Provincial Councils or Local government polls.
No doubt those smaller parties including certain constituent parties of the UPFA may be in a disadvantageous position due to this unprecedented scenario.

Q: How has the lack of a strong opposition affected the promotion of good governance in the country?

A: The main opposition has been weakened as never before due to its own follies. The duty of an opposition in a democracy must always be to ensure the victory of the people, not of individuals. The reason for the downfall of the opposition is that they have completely forgotten this fundamental truth. The hierarchy is at each other’s throat and they suspect each other.
The opposition has failed to come up with a strategic political programme and present pragmatic solutions to the pressing issues of the country.

Q: What about the JVP?

A: The JVP had a bright future in the local political scene despite its mistakes. But due to arbitrary and self serving decisions and wrong assessments the JVP missed that opportunity. The present leadership does not have a clear vision, ideological assessment or political agenda.
The JVP that supported President Rajapaksa to get elected in 2005 should have remained in the UPFA government while supporting the war efforts. It would not have been in this sorry state today if they did that. The JVP could have gotten an opportunity at a more appropriate time to leave the government with its head high at a later stage. Abandoning the UPFA at the wrong time was one of the biggest blunders the JVP did in its recent history that they had to pay dearly. The JVP did have a past but it does not have a present or future either in local politics. This is a tragedy. I personally feel sorry for the predicament they are faced with today.

Q: We have several political parties believed to be having nationalistic policies such as your own National Freedom Front (NFF) and the JHU. The irony is that this is under the backdrop of crushing racist policies of the LTTE and to some extent of the TNA. Do you think nationalistic policies have a place in contemporary politics in Sri Lanka?

A: Do not misinterpret nationalism with racism. Any citizen in a sovereign nation has a right to promote and campaign for his or her religious, linguistic, cultural and social values in a Nationalistic context which is not harmful to anyone. A nationalist movement while championing a particular nation for its rights and privileges respects the rights of other nations in the same manner to promote racial harmony and mutual understanding.
The NFF is a democratic party and we never preach hatred against Tamils, Muslims or Burgers but campaigned for interracial unity. But the TNA is entirely a different entity that spread poisonous Tamil racism and in cahoots with the Tamil Diaspora for their political survival.

Q: A TNA delegation visited Washington and allegedly discussed Sri Lanka with State Department officials. Can the US pressure Sri Lanka for a speedy political solution to the north-east issue on the instigation by the TNA?

A: This is not something new. The US always backed and fed Tamil racism. Certain global organizations such as the UN support the Tamil Diaspora because of the soft spot the US has for Tamil racism. You know how Blake attempted to save Prabhakaran at the last phase of the humanitarian operation. The US did not extend that courtesy to Rohana Wijeweera when the UNP regime of J.r.jayewardene arrested him in 1989 and killed him later. It was because of the same love affair that exists between the Tamil Diaspora and the US that they are trying to frame war crime charges against our military leaders for rescuing Sri Lanka from LTTE terrorism.
I believe that they are in an attempt to create internal conflicts once again in Sri Lanka because only then that they can poke into the domestic affairs of this country. The TNA members who were elected to Parliament without a proper mandate are also a part of this heinous act. It is surprising to see that the US issues visas to TNA members while depriving the same to cabinet minister Douglas Devananda. The west led by the US wants to destabilize Sri Lanka. The entire world has seen how US treated ‘Take Wall Street’ demonstrators while preaching to the whole world about human rights, fundamental rights and freedom of speech.

Q: India is pushing Sri Lanka to go beyond the 13th Amendment to resolve northeast conflict. Your comments?

A: India expressing its position on a domestic matter of Sri Lanka is not a big deal. Sri Lanka also can do the same. But it is extremely inappropriate and can be considered as poking into our domestic affairs if and when India attempts to force Sri Lanka to do what it wants. Weakening of a neighbouring country would not auger well for India’s interests especially for her security for her position on the world stage and in the region in particular. India must also be mindful not to let her friends and neighbours drift away from her and fall into other axis. I firmly believe that India must give a thought to re-examine its foreign policy.

Q: Recent violent incidents in Sri Lanka indicate that the lawlessness and the break-down of the rule of law have come to a peak today. What do you think the government must do to prevent this negative and dangerous trend?

A: The challenge the country faces today is how we can bring to the fore the law abiding, patriotic and educated people and entrust them with responsible positions. Various people enter politics and seek power with the sole aim of fattening their pockets and power by unlawful means. Unfortunately, this is possible in a democracy. I don’t accept the argument that the Preferential Representative system brought this negative trend into politics. It was because of the fact that people who should not have entered politics have been able to gain political power. They think the political power is a blessing to strengthen their underworld and other nefarious activities.
The shooting incident at Mulleriyawa was a black mark on the government as well as on Sri Lanka. The international community is watching us. The war heroes saved the country to create a better Sri Lanka for all communities to live in peace and harmony. One must not take that honour away from them by ‘cow boy’ acts. We exposed our nudity at Mulleriyawa and told the whole world that politicians enforce the law of the jungle as they desire.
The directive given to wear uniform by policemen all the time while on duty after this incident was like asking to wear the loincloth to arrest dysentery. No one can find answers to this kind of issues by ordering to wear ‘Khaki Suit’. However, the government has a duty to contain this dangerous situation sooner than later before it goes out of control.

Q: Do you think the proposed Metropolitan Authority for Colombo could do a better job once implemented?

A: This is the solution to which many countries have turned to contain the ever increasing urbanization, facilitate the provision of public utilities and housing to densely populated big cities and solid waste management. The Colombo Municipal Council finds these businesses difficult and tedious as many legal and social impediments come in the way. Therefore, I think a Metropolitan Authority will do wonders for Colombo once it is established.

Q: Lately, you have kept a low profile and been less vociferous on many a national issue. Why?

A: We had many issues and topics to talk about and agitate for solutions especially on national issues when we were in the opposition. But do not think everything is hunky-dory and we keep silent when we are in the government fold. There are problems that should be addressed not with an aggressive attitude but in a discreet manner in the interests of all concerned.
But I have expressed my views and opposition in my own way on certain unhealthy happenings in the recent past. For instance, we are not happy about the shooting incident at Mulleriyawa on October 8 and also against the power devolution beyond the 13th Amendment. We at NFF always put the country and its people first and speak on their behalf always. In doing so, I think the NFF‘S performance is much better than that of the UNP and the JVP.

Source: Daily Mirror - Sri Lanka