The Nation Sunday Print Edition - page 6

heartbeat
Page 6 Sunday, November 23, 2014 The Nation
Gunathileke contested the Presidential
Election in 1999 representing the JVP. When
the JVP decided to join with the Sri Lanka
Freedom Party and set up the UPFA. He was
appointed as the first chairman of the UPFA.
He also served as the Minister for Tourism
and Minister for Postal Services under the
UPFA government. However he left the JVP
and joined another former JVPer Wimal
Weerawaansa and set up the National Free-
dom Front. He also left the NFF and joined
the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP).
The
Nation
contacted the former Chairman of the
Panadura UrbanCouncil to knowhismotives
behind his resignation.
Interviewedby
DeepalWarnakulasuriya
Here are excerpts of the interview.
Q
:What did you suddenly decide to
leave the government?
Why I helped this Government was not be-
cause of President Rajapaksa or any other or-
ganization which was with the government.
We had a genuine need of working for the
country. When I felt that this was no more the
platform to work from there was no use of be-
ing there and I took the decision to leave.
Q
:As soon as you left the government,
the JHU had also decided to resign
from the ministerial posts and work to
defeat the present leader of the country.
How do you see this situation?
It is very clear. If we had any confidence in
the government, by now it has been lost com-
pletely. Theydon’t performwhat theypromise
at the meetings. They don’t listen to others.
The JHU’s decision to leave the government is
a challenge to the government. I think it will
be the beginning of uprooting the govern-
ment, because the JHU was an integral part
of the government. People are surprised why
such a party which provided energy to defeat
the LTTE is leaving the government.
Q
:But the JHU gave up only the min-
isterial posts which they have been
entrusted with. Won’t they be continuing
as government MPs, even without minis-
terial posts?
Don’t you think that is a rare case. Who re-
signs fromministerial posts? I think nowhere
in the world does this happen. It is something
unthinkable. But, JHU did it. They clearly
stated that theywouldwork to defeat the pres-
ent President Mahinda Rajapaksa.
Q
:Will you or the JHU change the
stance by any fresh pledge or anMoU
to abolish the executive Presidency?
President Rajapaksa will never abolish
the Executive Presidency. I am ready to take
any bet with anyone. He will never. Why he
brought the 18th amendment to the Constitu-
tion is only to remain in the post for long. He
can’t see how people are suffering. At least
he can’t see that the defeat of terrorism is no
moreanelectionslogan.Aswehavediscussed
enough with him, we know that he won’t.
Q
:How have you planned your political
future. What is
Palamu Peramuna
?
Is it a political party? Is it your vehicle to
remain in politics?
Palamu Peramuna
is a social organization.
Wewill always beenmonitoring the country’s
political behavior and will be making the
political mediations. Our main priority is to
educate the public of their duty as a voter.
Most of them think that their job limits them
to mark a ballet paper at voting centre.
Wearegoingtoteachthemthatitisthepoint
where they must begin to monitor their poli-
ticians. That is a responsibility of the voter.
Otherwise they forget the pledges and prom-
ises which were made on stages and begin to
engage in money making activities using the
power given by innocent voters in the village.
Just see, howmany electionmanifestoes have
been fulfilled. An active andwell-informed so-
ciety which can enforce the politicians to do
what they promised must be created.
Palamu
Peramuna
is a groupwith a lot of experiences
from almost all the political parties and we
know the tricks of the politicians.
Q
:Does
Palamu Peramuna
have any
policy frame-work agreed by its
members?
Yes. We have some common issues to be ad-
dressed soon. Educating the voter base is first
priority and then we will be working to abol-
ish this executive presidency, to have a fresh
electoral systemwhich the country really fits
into. We also want goodmannered politicians
in Parliament. The reinstatement of the 17th
amendment to the constitution is also on our
agenda.
Q
:Why did you decide to have a front
like
Palamu Peramuna
, while there
are several other organizations which are
working on the same demands you men-
tioned?
Well, I was participating in the discussions
of the
PivithuruHetak
by Ven Rathana Thera
from the inception of the organization. We
intervened in a number of issues which the
general public faces in their day-to-day life-
style. Arsenic issue is one such. We realized
that there is another group that cannot stand
with
Pivithuru Hetak
and they are waiting
and looking for a place to stand. We fulfilled
that requirement with
Palamu Peramuna
.
There are a lot of peoplewho left known polit-
ical parties after trying to change the policies
in these parties. This is the place for them.
Palamu Peramuna
is open for everyone and it
has no age, party, race or barrier.
Q
:Have you forgotten your old slogan,
the social revolution?
No. But, we have realized that fighting for
a social revolution at this juncture is very
difficult. First we have to think about a de-
veloped liberal economic concept. But, ours
is open to all the progressive organizations,
teams or members. They can be SLFPers,
UNPers, LSSP, Communist Party, JVP or any
other party. We don’t mind. We have to real-
ize that we have been trapped by the liberal-
ism and it is very difficult to think about so-
cialism under the prevailing economic and
social situations of the country as well as the
world.
Q
: - Have you brought the issue up with
the President at any time?
I have a number of development plans
and methods. I informed him and Minis-
ter Basil Rajapaksa on several occasions
in front of several other officials. But, so
far nothing has happened. And I must tell
you, when I was in the SLFP, they always
wanted to make us feel ‘neglected’. They
have completely forgotten that it was we
who did a major part to form the UPFA
government. Till 2010, they at least had
a word with the allied parties before do-
ing something. But, when the SLFP had
over 120 seats in Parliament in 2010, they
changed their behavior. The same hap-
pened in 1977 when President JR Jayewar-
dene had an extra majority in Parliament.
I strongly believe that both the major par-
ties in the country; SLFP nor the UNP
should be given power alone. They will
soon begin to follow the theory of feeding
only family and relatives. In Sri Lanka,
at any time, the government should be a
joint government. Such a government will
work for the people.
Q
: - Can you just tell me one project
you wanted to implement in your
area, Panadura?
Street lamps in a town are maintained by
the Municipal or urban councils. There are
around 3,000 street lamps only in Panadura
town. Two years ago, we had only around
2,400. I suggested them to go for CFL bulbs
instead of those power wasting bulbs. I
figured out the then cost and showed them
how much can be saved from such a proj-
ect though the initial cost is bit high. I also
cracked a joke that I don’t mind you guys
taking commissions when signing contracts
with a bulb company. But, it did not take
place and I had to manage funds available
and had to go for CFL bulbs. If it was done,
we could have saved around Rs six million
per year only in Panadura town. If this was
implemented all over the country, you guess
how much the saving per year would be. To-
day, we have to think about LED. But, have
they noted it?
I have not proposed to them to always go
for our own substitutes in place of imported
infrastructure or ingredients. I noted some of
the proposals which I sent to national Budget,
were not even acknowledged.
Q
:Are you worrying over having
worked hard to bring the UPFA into
power?
I always feel guilty. When we formed the
UPFA, we had a great team of intellectuals.
Only a handful is left there today with the
Government and we left because we were
helpless. I feel ashamed even today when I
meet them.
Q
:Is leaving the government safe?
Were you not threatened by anyone
when you left?
When I left the government, friends and
known persons told me “be careful”. Some
sent me short messages warning me to be
careful. The society has such a feeling. How
many journalists have left the country? What
happened to the commission to look into La-
santha’s killing? We heard about white vans.
Whether it is true or false, that belief among
public is beneficial for the government to do
whatever they want.
Q
:I am asking you again. Have you
been threatened by anyone in the
government?
No. I was not. But, I am telling you how
the people see and think. In 1989, my life was
saved because of the best qualities in com-
rades who I worked with and associated with.
I am a person who expects death at any time.
Our comrades had a dream and target. Even
today I livewith that responsibility and target
inmind. But, I am ready to sacrificemy life to
end this regime.
Q
:Most claim that bribing the poli-
ticians is a known practice in Sri
Lanka. Have you been a victim of such an
experience?
I don’t think that the government has
enoughcourage tobuyme over. I amsure they
are aware of my policies. I amnot a politician
to betraymy principles for money. I also want
to stress that I have some important points in
my resignation letter to President Mahinda
Rajapaksa and I would like if they can con-
sider those.
Sudat Pasqual
The normally intransigent Tamil Na-
tional Alliance has suddenly started acting
as if they care about presidential politics in
Sri Lanka. The president, deputy president
and at least one of the deputy secretaries of
the TNA have been making coy statements
about who the Alliance will support if a
presidential election were to be held next
year. Wow, the TNA seem willing to take
their subservient attention away from their
diaspora mafia, however briefly, and actu-
ally consider acting in the best interests of
their constituents in, get this, SRI LANKA!
Praise is to Lord of Land and Police Pow-
ers.
Maybe the TNA feels neglected by all
the hoopla and attention about a common
candidate. Not many observers have paid
much attention to the position of the TNA
vis a vis a presidential election. Or, the
TNA may be getting a whiff of Rajapaksa
blood in the political air and is jostling for
a place at the trough. Separate and equal.
Slurp, slurp.
But, before you start waxing eloquent
about candidate X or Z Mr.Sumanthiran et
al, just chew a bit on the following, will ya?
For starters, your track record on acting
in the best national interest (FYI, Eelamist
interest does not count as National inter-
est) is not exactly stellar. One day you are
for Eelam, then when Praba got his ass
whacked you said we will be part of a unit-
ed (but not necessarily a unitary) Sri Lanka,
then thought you might be able to resurrect
the Eelam nightmare again through your
pal Navi Pillay of the United Nations and
now you are not sure whether that is realis-
tic and would like to see if some one desper-
ate enough to agree with you on the Thimpu
principles will get elected and carve up the
island.
Really, how do you fellas decide on policy
matters? Schizoid doesn’t even begin to
describe your behavior. It is like you guys
dropped some acid (a hallucinogenic drug
that distorts perception of reality) read Ma-
chiavelli’s Prince and said; “YoNiccolo, you
the man”. The only problem is you got your
wires crossed and confused the interests of
drug peddling, human smuggling and arms
dealing Tamils living in foreign countries
with the best interests of Tamils living in
SL. Really?
Many non-Tamil Sri Lankans have this
issue about trusting you. I am not talking
only about the Compassionate One’s Saffron
Skin-Head Army and supporters; I am re-
ferring to the average Sri Lankan, even the
ones who dislike Mahinda Rajapaksa.Only
the most obtuse will deny that the Tamil
people have valid reasons for distrusting
the Rajapaksa regime and their ham fisted
approach to post-war rapprochement, but
a sizable chunk are uneasy about your dal-
liances with sleazy foreign elements. Your
behavior and obsequiousness to anything
foreign, indicates that you are seeking to
recreate your special relationship under the
British Raj with no regard to the welfare of
the country.
By the way, the British Raj is gone. Kaput.
They can’t even win a Cricket World Cup.
Let me ask you this; you may be amongst
us and physically with us but are you of
us?
If youarehonestwith the answer to above,
you will not be surprised if the candidate of
your choice is reluctant to embrace you in
public.
I think the time is ripe for you to wean
yourself off the diaspora/foreign teat.
Get on Milco.You should like it because
you don’t have to bend over and you don’t
need to carry a bowl.
And then lets meet again.
ShhhhhhMr.Sampanthan, not so loud please
I have a number of
development plans and
methods. I informed him and
Minister Basil Rajapaksa on
several occasions in front
of several other officials.
But, so far nothing has
happened. And I must tell
you, when I was in the SLFP,
they always wanted to make
us feel ‘neglected’. They have
completely forgotten that it
was we who did a major part
to form the UPFA government
Former Chairman of the
Panadura Urban Council
and first Chairman of the
United People’s Freedom
Alliance (UPFA) Nandana
Gunathileke was the first
notable figure to resign
from the ruling UPFA
Government states that
many irregularities were
taking place and they were
unattended by the party
leadership. The veteran
politician began his politics
from the Janatha Vimukthi
Peramuna where he ended
up as the General Secretary
of the Front
we need
An active and well-informed society
Nandana Gunathileke
(file photo)
From left: Suresh Premachandran, MA Sumanthiran, R Sampanthan and Mavai Senathirajah
1,2,3,4,5 7,8-9,10,11,12,13,14,15,16,17,...76
Powered by FlippingBook