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Govt. joining hands with thieves - Wasantha Samarasinghe

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The Janatha Vimukthi Permuna (JVP) is seen as a party in recent years that has been outspoken with regards to government corruption and fraud. Since the conclusion of the Presidential Election the party has been more active in this regard with party member and Convener of the Voice against Corruption Wasantha Samarasinghe taking the forefront to ensure action is taken against corrupt politicians. The Nation therefore interviewed Samarasinghe to discuss the current status of fighting corruption in our country and party’s stance on issues being discussed in society today.

These are some of the excerpts of the interview:

Q:After the national government was formed Cabinet Spokesman Rajitha Senaratne claimed that no ‘thieves’ among the new ministers from the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP). What is your comment regarding this?
First of all, the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) does not consider a government formed to cover up corruption and frauds committed by politicians as a ‘national government’ and is therefore against the use of the term to describe it. A national government should have its concepts and which is lacking here.

As for accepting those, who are tainted, into the new government despite Minister Rajitha’s denial if these Ministers are not thieves then does it mean the rest of the SLFP are? Then action should be taken against them. Starting from Minister Rajitha no one takes any responsibility for statements made during the time of election. People do not believe such claims because of this.

The government has a responsibility as promised to fight against corruption and therefore must take action against them instead of joining hands with these thieves. The law must be put into action against these politicians despite the government’s attempts to hoodwink the people.

Q: Why is your party so much against a national government and does this mean the party is not in favor of the 19th Amendment and electoral reforms?
Our position is that there is no need for a national government to just ensure that the 19th Amendment to the constitution and electoral reforms go through. Why does an MP need ministerial posts to support legislations? One can support these changes even without such posts.

Q: What is your take on the suggested electoral reforms?
We have no issue with either of the electoral systems. The issue largely is not regarding the electoral system. The issue is of the political culture in this country and that is what must be changed. Parties must ensure to field respectable people as candidates. Electoral reforms should be taken up carefully by the government.

Q: Now that the UNP and SLFP have come together what will the fate be of the large number of complaints made by the JVP regarding corruption of the former government?
If this formation of a so-called national government attempts to influence investigations into corruption and fraud, we will divulge this to the people of the country as it goes against the mandate of the people. Even now most investigations have come to a halt as the government has stopped cooperating and is not providing any evidence. We will continue to find more information and reveal any corruption we uncover.

Q: To your knowledge, how deep did the corruption go during the Rajapaksa regime? Do you think only a fraction has been exposed so far?
There is a serious debate surrounding this issue in society today. We have information that over USD five billion has been taken by the Rajapaksa family fraudulently based on our reports and investigations. This is equal to what is spent by the government in five years for the education of this country. We have revealed how financial frauds were committed by them in almost all the development projects but the problem is the government that promised to take action is silent today. We must ask Prime Minister and Minister of Policy Planning Ranil Wickremesinghe where are the investigations promised by them and where are the policies promised regarding providing tenders? Instead, today they are hand in hand with the thieves who were around the former president and carrying on with the usual deals with no changes. We know these projects can be revalued and can be done at a reduced rate. Why can’t this be done? The government is now shirking its duty and though they use the word ‘Yahapalanaya’ what is happening is far from it.

Q: Under the current circumstances, is the JVP rethinking remaining in the National Executive Council?
Today, we are rethinking remaining in the National Executive Council and discussions are being held among party members. We did not want to join the government and wanted the National Executive Council to discuss issues such as the 19th Amendment, abolition of the executive presidency and Right to Information Bill. What must be done is to give the council its due responsibility and carry on the work. If decisions are taken outside the council as being done, it is a matter of concern. So yes, we are rethinking this decision and considering if we can practically remain in the council under current circumstances. We will inform the country of the party’s decision in the near future.

Q: Do you think, in the light of the current scenario, the JVP would be able to mount a strong challenge at the next general election?
Since 1948 people helped form governments of either the UNP or the SLFP but in the last 66 years none of these parties delivered what was promised. Both parties are now being
rejected by the people.

By 2015 the people were able to bring down a government that had a majority in Parliament and also the power in most local governments. We were able to make a social change and made people realize that the government in power is in fact corrupt. Therefore, people have developed a trust towards the JVP now.

What must be noted is that for the first time people will get a chance to see both parties in power at the same time. Especially the youth of the country is gaining a clear understanding of these parties and is looking for an alternative. JVP has now become this alternative for those who are looking for a party that has not lived off the people, committed fraud and misled the people while always ensuring democracy. This year people voted for change and we believe they will continue to do so. The JVP can make the sacrifices required to ensure the development of this country. Therefore, we ask the people to join us to make this country a better place.

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