'We won't let the expropriation bill be implemented'
Anura Kumara Dissanayake with Dianne Silva
Nov 10, 2011

Q: At a recently held press conference you called for a Tunisia-style revolution. Do you think our people and the prevailing political system is ready for a revolution of this nature?
A: Definitely. Because in the world today and in our country the myth that power is centered in the hands of the executive is beginning to be dispelled. Power is in the hands of the people; this was proven by the revolution that took place in Tunisia, Egypt and a number of other countries.
Therefore in this country when the parliament is establishing laws that are against the interests of the people, when the executive is ignoring the needs of the masses, it is impossible to stop the people from revolting against these practices.
If we were to take an example, recently when the employees of the private sector were introduced to the pension scheme they revolted—even though there was more than a two-thirds majority in parliament and a the will of the executive to get the bill passed. It is because of the people’s protest that the government had to forget about the bill, without even presenting it to parliament. This demonstrates very nicely that true power lies not in the parliament or the executive but in the hands of the people.
Therefore it is the responsibility of political parties to gather together the people, because we don’t believe that the people left to their own devices will rise up to action.

Q: This single example is cited by the party at every juncture calling it a victory. However the fact remains that there have been many times when you organised for the people to step out onto the streets in protest, however these protests achieved nothing. There is one success but numerous failures.
A:I think even this single example is sufficient to instigate the people to action. I agree with you, the government has been successful in implementing policies that are contrary to the people’s interest. Political parties have been involved in gathering the people to oppose this type of action. Furthermore I will admit that these parties have failed in rallying the people and brining them to action. This is the responsibility of political parties, to bring the people together for revolution.
Our stance is that this capitalist system in the country cannot continue any further and this is being demonstrated by the facts that the rule of law is deteriorating like the issues in the judiciary and the Mulleriyawa incident. At the same time if you take the agricultural community—they cannot sell their produce, if you take entrepreneurs they cannot work within the law and hope to earn a profit, therefore they are compelled to work outside the law and conduct illegitimate businesses. Therefore all these social structures are in turmoil.

Q: The JVP has been talking of revolution and your rhetoric suggests that it is the only means through which the people can express their mandate. However the present government elected by the people, have reaffirmed this mandate at the subsequent elections. Therefore how is it logical to call on these very people, who voted for this government, to now get on the streets to protest against them?
A: I agree there is a conflict of this nature in society. We inform the public that there is a unfair system prevailing in the country. At the same time at the elections the people vote for these parties. If we look at this situation very simply then this dichotomy is displayed. However at these elections, the actual mandate of the people is no longer reflected. Elections are the reflection of ideologies that have been forcefully instilled in the minds the people.

Q: You say that the people don’t make any choices of their own and are simply brainwashed by political ideologies, but your party is doing or attempting to do the same thing. The only difference is that the present ideology has succeeded.
A:True, it is the task of political parties to instill their ideologies in the minds of the people. However the government is not instilling in the minds of the people their ideology through discussion, instead they use various influences such as the power of the state, state resources and state media to brainwash the public. What we do is that we inform the public of our ideology. Furthermore, what we say is that there cannot just be one or two changes, the whole system must be overthrown.

Q: You call for a revolution to remove the present government, if the government was removed, can the opposition, as it stands now in this fractured state, actually establish a government and carry on the activities that are needed by the people?
A: Yes, what you say is true. There is a certain myth that has pervaded society claiming that the opposition is weak.

Q: Is it only a myth?
A: Certain little scuffles in the opposition have contributed to this conception. However what we say is that the UNP has no alternative to offer the people the UNP cannot change the present system and I don’t know why they are in conflict with the practices of the government. It is the plan put in place by the UNP that Mahinda Rajapaksa is implementing, even better than the UNP could have. Therefore the UNP can only be a replacement for the present system not an alternative. However society does not need a replacement it needs an alternative and we present this alternative.

Q: However the question is can you implement any sort of alternative, considering the state of your party?
A: Yes, we have a firm belief that we can change the system. After we change it we will begin to govern the system.

Q: You cannot even govern the party at this moment, how will you bring about a change and then take the country forward?
A: Little squabbles take place within political parties and these squabbles cause a drawback for the party for a short while, however it is through these squabbles that political parties are strengthened to achieve long term success. Therefore the split in our party is affecting the party; however we can face this trial, triumph over it and carry the party forward. This is not a party that can be destroyed by a few people leaving.

Q: However the dissidents claim that they are still part of the party. Although the leader of the JVP has said the issue of the dissidents need no longer be discussed because they have left the party. Therefore, how will the party leadership deal with this situation?
A: They cannot survive otherwise, in order to retain even an ounce of credibility they have to claim to be part of the JVP. However, if they do not participate in the relevant organizations; the politburo, the central committee and the district committees then they cannot be counted as part of the JVP. They have left the party and are working contrary to the interests of the party.
They are sending out this message through the media that they are still part of the party, because they feel that if it is revealed that they are no longer part of the party, this will be an obstacle to the legal issues they wish to pursue.

Q: So what action will you take, as a part of the leadership of the party? Is your plan to just ignore the existence of the dissidents and allow them to talk to the media?
A: We are discussing the issue on a very high level and deciding on our plan of action.

Q: The JVP is always talking about the action it intends on taking to oppose the government and secure the rights of the people, but can the JVP make any tangible difference? For instance the court has said the expropriation bill is constitutional, the bill will be debated in parliament and because the government has a two-thirds majority it can easily get the bill passed. What can the JVP realistically do to stop this?
A: First of all it must be said that the traditional process of presenting a bill to parliament was not followed in this case. Instead the actual contents of this bill have been hidden from the people and not allowed for a discussion on the topic to be held by rushing the bill into parliament. We will take all necessary action to stop this in parliament.

Q: The government has two-thirds majority, what action can you take in parliament to stop this bill from being passed?
A:True the actions we take in parliament may be insufficient. However there are certain laws, where although the parliament makes them law, cannot be practically enforced. Therefore we have one other chance to oppose this bill and we will take all necessary steps to make this opposition. Even if the bill is passed we won’t let it be enforced. We have not succeeded in defeating the actions of the government which work contrary to the interests of the people— I admit that.

Source: Daily Mirror - Sri Lanka