“If CJ won’t step down, we have other options” - Minister Rajitha

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Minister of Health and Indigenous Medicine, Rajitha Senaratne in an exclusive interview with The Nation mentioned that the government will do what it takes to maintain good governance and will always stand by what they promised.

What is the latest situation of the Chief Justice’s (CJ) issue? His spokesperson has told the media that the CJ is very much in office and has never agreed with the Prime Minister to resign from the post. What is the government’s position regarding the issue?
As I mentioned to the media, the CJ on Tuesday (20) agreed with the Prime Minister to resign.  Though he agreed to step down he has not resigned as agreed. We hope that the CJ will step down honorably.  Talking about CJ’s spokesperson, all I can say is that he is an interdicted corrupt official of the Sri Lanka Telecom. If the CJ’s media spokesperson is a corrupt, interdicted person you can understand the position of the CJ so we believe that itself is a reason for him to resign.

What actions will the government take if the CJ doesn’t step down?
We hope that he will honorably step down however if he does not do that we have other options. He will see what this government is capable of. This is a government appointed by the people. Our government won’t keep quiet regarding such issues. We will punish all the culprits. 

Will the CJ be prosecuted on his alleged involvement in the coup?
Investigations have already started regarding the alleged coup which took place on the election night. The government can assure that everyone who was involved will be questioned including the former President. Even the CJ will be questioned if he was there.

When the former President invited Ranil Wickremesinghe telling he wanted to meet him, the CJ was there with the former President. What is the reason for the CJ to be there to discuss about the election? CJ has nothing to do with that. Why is he worried about the transition of power in the country? So that itself is enough to take action against him. We don’t want a politician to be the CJ. The politicians should be with us and do politics, not to handle the Judiciary.

The next CJ?
The post will be given to the most senior, qualified person in the judiciary. It will be given to a person who is a career judge rather than appointing someone for the highest position in the Judiciary just for the sake of appointing.

President’s brother, Kumarasinghe Sirisena was appointed as the chairman of the Telecom which is the National telecommunication company of the country. Though he is a qualified person in accounting and finance some questions is he qualified for the job which was given to him?
The person appointed as the head of the Telecom is a very qualified person.  He was not appointed for the post because he is the President’s brother, but because he is fit for the job.  He has held many government as well as private posts in the past.
Kumarasinghe was the CEO/General Manager of the State Timber Corporation and worked as a Board Director at Land Reclamation & Development Company Ltd. No one questioned the former Chairman’s qualifications. What qualification he had then? One cannot compare the present Chairman’s qualifications with the former Chairman. This person appointed is very qualified for the job.

It was stated by the government that the state officials are not allowed to make any statement without the minister’s permission. Can you elaborate on that government decision?
State officials can’t make any statements without the administrative regulations. If an official is to make a statement then he should take the permission of the Minister first. This applies when the public statements are made. An official can’t make statements about policies or actions stated by a minister in the cabinet.

According to the 100 day program of the Maithripala Sirisena government, one of the main aspects was to put an end to massive corruption which has been taking place for a long period and also to investigate allegations made regarding MPs and officials. However several questions have arisen that the Bribery Commission has not been effective. Your thoughts on that?
That’s why we are going to bring a new Act to enhance powers of the Bribery Commissioner and also to address mega corruption charges. It will cut short the lethargic procedure of the Commission.

There are charges against the present chairman of the Bribery Commission . But to remove him there is no procedure laid down. So when we establish the new independent Bribery Commission a new chairman will be appointed. Under the 100 day program, a special Commission is scheduled to be appointed to investigate bribery and corruption allegations on February 5 and also other independent commissions will be established by February 18. The government will stick to the time frame and will do as we promised.

Since the President is now the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) leader, how will the party contest in the upcoming Parliamentary election? Will the SLFP contest against the UNP?
Yes, the President is the leader of the SLFP. We all can get together and contest. We have formed the broadest front ever in history which proved very successful and was able to establish a new government, beginning of a new era by defeating the dictatorship which existed in the country. So we will contest for the parliamentary election as we contested for presidential election.

What do you think of the former President’s political future?
There is no future and it’s clear. When more and more things are revealed in time everyone will understand that he has no political future whatsoever. We don’t need the former President to resurrect the SLFP. The Bandaranaikes formed this party for the pancha maha balawega, sangha, weda, guru, govi kamkaru. He formed this party not for a certain family or for the feudalists but for the common man. For the first time a man from the govi balawegaya has become the leader of the party, President of the country. So let it continue. Let the common man control it, that’s how the UNP (United National Party) improved. Everybody believed that he also can get into a good position one day under the UNP. Then the party will be an active party otherwise the party will be an unsuccessful and an inactive party in the hands of a particular family in which the public is not represented as we witnessed for the past 10 years.

It was stated in the media that there was an agreement between the Former President and Ranil Wickremesinghe  that the Former President will not be prosecuted. Is it true?
No, there was no such agreement. Any person who has done corruption, involved in corruption or any other crime will be prosecuted irrespective of who and what his position is. Be it a former president or an ordinary citizen, everyone will be treated equally and the Judiciary will decide whether the person is a guilty or not.

Before the law all are equal. Earlier the President was supreme and enjoyed immunity. But we will remove those powers and then he too will be subjected to the law as an ordinary citizen.

The government vowed that they will examine all the unresolved killings and bring justice especially to media personnel like Lasantha Wickremathunge  and other assassinations as well. What are the recent developments? Have the investigations started?
We have all the information related to all the killings which are still unresolved including the information as to how and upon whose orders such assassinations took place. The military plus the underworld are involved in almost all the assassinations and we have evidence to prove that. The high powered military officials have hired the people from the underworld to carry out the orders and the military gave the cover.  Investigations have not yet started but we hope to probe once a special investigation unit  is appointed to look into everything related.

The government guarantees that everyone involved will be arrested and punished. Also we want to bring back all the cases of torturing and assaulting of the media personnel, who left the country. Each and every case will be examined.

Will the government be able to fulfill the promises made under the 100day program? Are you confident about making it a success?
The government will definitely stick to the time frame and will do as promised. A lot of people think that the Parliamentary system won’t change. But it will and we can assure that a change will happen. That’s what we have fought for.  At least the system will be reformed. Our government was elected because the people needed and believed in a change. We will make sure that good governance is maintained from the day our government came into power.

Last modified on Tuesday, 27 January 2015 14:41

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