East Coast: “Best Beaches”

I wish that JVP is undivided

The Indian support to implement the 13th Amendment to solve the national problem is still in the fore mainly on platforms of the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) which is now facing with the serious internal crisis, paving the way for a party division.

Pix Thilak Perera
The Senior Presidential Advisor Basil Rajapaksa, who said that he does not have the A?a??E?remote deviceA?a??a?? to exercise control on the government, added that the government would seek the assistance of countryA?a??a??s closest neighbour India to resolve the national problem as mentioned in the A?a??E?Mahinda ChinthanaA?a??a??.

Rajapaksa told the A?a??E?Sunday ObserverA?a??a?? that the JVP has done blunders against India throughout its history and as a result, the outcome was badly affected the future of the country. A?a??A?I think another blunder by them, in this regard is in the makingA?a??A?, he said.

Talking about the JVPA?a??a??s future he said he personally wished that all JVPers be brought together as it is still a prominent force in Sri Lankan politics.

Following are the excerpts:

Q: President Rajapaksa had appointed three operational committees for the forthcomingEastern Provincial Council elections. Late Minister Jeyaraj Fernandopulle was in charge of one of these committees. How will you be able to face the election without him and who is next in line to fill the void?

A: It is a huge loss. In the Eastern Province majority speaks Tamil. Minister Jeyaraj was very fluent in all three languages and a seasoned campaigner.

He has been involved with the East for several years and more so after the liberation of the East. It is a big setback to the government. I have not been aware of as to who will be appointed the chief Government Whip but that will be decided upon by the President soon.

The President has appointed another team under the able leadership of Minister Maithripala Sirisena to handle the election campaign in the Trincomalee district.

Q: While the development projects in the East are progressing, some claim that they have been stalled with only the name boards or foundation laying ceremonies. What is your comment?

A: How can it be limited to mere name boards or foundation stones. Those who have not moved around in these areas can say anything. People are happy with the progress in the Eastern province which has been neglected for decades.

I have never seen a province like this, being neglected since the time the Britishers left. It has a sea belt of about 420 km covering a 20 percent of the sea coast of the entire country. Out of the 102 rivers in Sri Lanka, 32 of them flow into the sea from this region. One third of the main irrigation systems is located here.

The best beaches – Arugam Bay, Nilaweli and Paseekudha are pride of the province. One of the finest ports – the Trincomalee Harbour, wildlife sanctuaries including the Kumana bird sanctuary, are in the East. This province has plenty of wealth and great potential for development.

The development projects in the East are going ahead. The government has allocated money for these development projects giving top priority. The development work has commenced already but our plans are to hand over these projects to the people of the East after the elections, because people who will benefit from these projects should be partners of these projects as well.

The Centre has done its responsibility by liberating the East from the clutches of the LTTE, thanks to President Rajapaksa and the Security Forces, who had established the civil administration with a comprehensive development plan to develop the East.

These projects include livelihood, infrastructure and other sectoral development. So the Government believes that it is time for the people, who are the beneficiaries should take over. The Centre must not do interfere from then on.

Q: A massive sum of money has been allocated to these projects in the East. What is the guarantee that these monies would not be mismanaged by politicians at different levels?

A: There are lots of mechanisms adopted to monitor these activities. One is the Provincial Council. The authority to spend money on these projects will be given to them. The Councils will decide on their priorities in the province and the manner in which the allocations should be used. Then we have the local bodies which also have the right to decide what to do in their respective areas. The mechanism has already been set in place.

But that does not mean that from the day these systems are in operation there will be no corruption. You cannot bring it down to zero level. Even our religious leaders tried to stop the corruption but it still exists. The Mahinda Rajapaksa government is trying its best to stop corruption and wastage of funds, and to bring the culprits to book.

Q: Human Rights groups are criticising Sri Lanka and have categorised Sri Lanka as one with the worst human rights violations. How does the government face these allegations?

A: I think we have faced the allegations very well. At the Geneva sessions when this came up but due to our extensive explanations put forward by our group including Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe and the Ambassador Dayan Jayathilleke we got a patient and understanding hearing. It was proved that Sri Lanka was intact safeguarding human rights.

Some of the allegations were proved to be baseless and majority of the international community gave the full backing to Sri Lanka. I feel that we should take the allegations seriously. They do not know the ground realities of our country and not have not even visited us.

They do not talk about human rights violations in their own countries. As a responsible government we are ready to face any criticism and Mahinda Rajapaksa government is always bound to protect rights of all the people in this country.

Q: However much the government tries to correct the picture, the negative messages do reach the West. Why does the government fail to counteract the LTTE backed propaganda in an effective manner?

A: I do not think we have failed because we have faced them all very effectively so far. There are two things that the government thought in counteracting these allegations. One is through propaganda where the LTTE tells the international community that the outfit is militarily strong and has the support of Tamils.

The government is taking every possible step to educate the international community on the truth through the media, especially through web sites and even at international forum. The local government election was the best example that had disproved the LTTE propaganda. It showed how much confidence the Tamils have in the government and also in democracy. People want to be free from LTTE control.

Militarily the government is going ahead crushing terrorism and will continue to defeat the outfitA?a??a??s last stronghold – Kilinochchi.

The other way of counteracting LTTE propaganda is through the media. We have powerful web sites. The Defence web site is an effective tool in this regard and it is 10 times more powerful than the Tamil Net.

But at this point I want to reiterate that instead of the LTTE, the UNP has become the voice of the LTTE. I think bulk of the LTTE propaganda is not done by the LTTE but by the UNP, for the LTTE. That is our main problem and we need to counter that. I think people have to pay for the actions of these elements.

Q: The JVP has accused the government for seeking the support of India to solve our national problem. Do you think that India has hidden agendas in trying to help us?

A: That is the JVPA?a??a??s view. The government strongly believes that India can play a very vital role in solving the national problem.

In the Mahinda Chinthanaya it is very clearly mentioned that we should get the support of India and our other neighbours. Our government has close ties with India. When we talk of India, throughout its history the JVP has made blunders which had badly affected the future of this country. I think another blunder by them in this regard is coming up.

Why should they have hidden agendas? I agree that every country has its own commercial agendas. Even we have our own, where we want to capture the market. So that is upto India to decide whether they could help us or achieving their own agendas. But as a country we are more independent in making our decisions.

Q: But President Rajapaksa has recently said that he is personally not for the 13th Amendment. The SLFP had opposed it during late President J.R. JayewardeneA?a??a??s regime. Therefore people have their doubts that this new move by the present government is just to please the international community. How genuine is the government in trying to solve the national problem under the 13th Amendment?

A: The Mahinda Rajapaksa government is totally committed to solve the national problem. It was one of the main pledges President Rajapaksa made before the elections. We do not want to please the international community.

Then, if we are not genuine why should the government take all the trouble to hold local government elections and again the provincial council elections in the East. Because the government wants the people to experience their fundamental rights in power sharing.

This government is doing its best to solve the national problem by addressing the grievances of the Tamil people. We do not have any other intentions. We have very well said that by giving power to the provincial councils is not going to be end in solving the national problem. It is only the beginning.

Q: The government had pledged to end the war before the end of 2007. But it was reported that at the recent Security Council meeting with the President, the service commanders had drawn the deadline as 2009. Why it is going to be dragged on for another year?

A: I do not know about this. I am not aware of these dates and targets. What I can say is that Sri Lanka has become a united country after several decades. The national flag will fly high in all the 25 districts and people enjoy the true freedom now. They will celebrate this New Year with total freedom. The Mahinda Rajapaksa government is confident that our Security Forces will liberate the people who are suffering in the LTTE held territories shortly. The morale of the soldiers is high. They are going ahead with military offensives in their mission to capture Wanni.

I have visited Silawatura, Weli oya and Mannar fronts last week. The troops are advancing steadily. People in those areas are waiting for the military to liberate them. When the soldiers went down with Chikungunya, people treated them. This shows they are in need of freedom and sick of LTTE terrorism.

Q: Once you had invited the LTTE for peace talks. How feasible is this invitation today, while the military is successfully going ahead ?

A: Military operations and peace talks are two different issues. In the Mahinda Chinthana the government had clearly mentioned our intention to solve the national problem through a negotiated settlement.

Still we are trying our best to maintain that position. However, as I said earlier the doors are open for the LTTE to resume peace talks. The problem here is the genuiness of the LTTE in peace talks.

Q:The JVP which has claimed to be the third force in the country has been divided into two segments. How do you see its future ?

A: I do not know whether it is divided or not. I do not want to comment on this issue.

But I personally wish the JVP should not be divided into fragments because it is considered to be a very prominent force in this country.

Q: Your brother, Defence Secretary, Gotabhaya Rajapaksa is keen on a ban on the LTTE immediately. What is your stance as the senior Advisor to the President ?

A: Retin-a cost without insurance I think he has made this remark considering the defence and legal aspects. But, we have to think about other aspects before agreeing to a ban. So I think the President and the government will decide to ban the LTTE at the right time. I think the LTTE too has a role to play not to force the President to impose the ban. If the LTTE continues with their violent activities the government may naturally go for a ban, in the future. It is upto the LTTE.

Q: Is there any truth in that, some UNPers will be joining the government soon?

A: I normally do not listen to these types of talks but every day someone or other is joining us. Some had the habit of going and some coming in. Yes. We have invited some UNPers but I do not know whether they will join us or not. I am not sure as yet. It is still at negotiation stage. Doors of the UPFA government are open to everyone who likes to join the government. It is politics.

Q: You had several rounds of discussions with the SLMC Leader Rauf Hakeem. What went wrong?

A: Nothing went wrong. But from the beginning we knew that Ranil Wickremesinghe and Hakeem will get together at the end. But I tried to invite the SLMC as a party and therefore met its leader. Unfortunately Hakeem joined the UNP but many SLMC members are now with the government. We do not have to worry.

Q: The TMVP is still accused of harassing and intimidating senior Tamil politicians. What are the measures taken by the government to control their activities?

A: I do not know any such Tamil political party leader who was harassed by the TMVP because all the Tamil leaders are now with the TMVP.

Those who are not with the TMVP are either in Colombo or abroad. Therefore how can the TMVP harass them?

Q: The main reason for carrying arms according to the TMVP is that they need security.

So is the government ready to give them maximum security and thereby disarm them?

A: Yes, we are ready only if they ask for more security. The government will not only provide security for the TMVP but also for other political parties who are under threat. The government is ready to provide security for UNPers if they ask for security. The other thing, other than the security forces, I have never seen a TMVP cadre carrying arms.

Q: Is that true that instead of disarming the Pillaiyan group they are allowed to build up their military camps in the East now ?

A: The important thing I want to emphasise here is that no one should call them as Pillaiyan group, because it is a recognised political party now. It is now the TMVP not the Pillaiyan group.

We do not call Bumiputhra party as Harishchandra group. It is a political party which has recorded a victory.

After liberating the East the government did not allow anybody to establish camps but there were some camps in the East before liberation. They are allowed to continue to function because of their safety.

They are limited to those areas. I have never seen them although I have gone to the East several times. But I have information about these camps.

Q: If they are a recognised political party, can the government allow them to have military camps ?

A: The government does not allow anyone to run military camps in the East. I agree the TMVP has their former camps and who is going to provide them security.

During the CFA lots of cadres laid down their arms as to what had happened. They were massacred. So who is going to give the TMVP this guarantee that same unfortunate occurrence would not happen to TMVP cadres.

Q: Will this huge Cabinet be reduced to 35 soon?

A: No, I do not know. But why should we reduce the Cabinet while the Ministers are doing a good job.

Q: Some people have fixed the tag A?a??E?remote controlA?a??a?? of Mahinda Rajapaksa government to Mr. Basil Rajapaksa. Is that true ?

Cheap acivir 800 A: If I can control the government as simply as they think why should we have a big Cabinet. I am not controlling the government but I only advise the President in certain areas.

Who is Basil Rajapaksa …

He still recalls nostalgic memories of his childhood, where as a A?a??E?gangA?a??a?? of six boysA?a??a?? and three girls, they spent their holiday mischievously in their ancestral home at Medamulana, Weeraketiya, the residence of State Councillor and Deputy Speaker Don Alwin Rajapaksa.

Their father, one of the freedom fighters, did not want his A?a??E?small army of little boysA?a??a?? to be politicianA?a??a??s sons. Rajapaksa brought up his children just as ordinary children who have tough skins to face any challenge in the future.

The Rajapaksa brothers lost their father when they were young; the fifth boy was studying for his Ordinary Level Examination at Ananda College, Colombo at that time. A?a??A? We had a very happy and enjoyable childhood. We were fortunate to have very loving parentsA?a??A?, reminisced Parliamentarian Basil Rohana Rajapaksa.

Hardly getting a chance to spend a day with the whole gang, the six boys were never seen at home together.

When one of them was at home, the others were engaged in some activity or other somewhere. A?a??A?It was very rare for all of us, especially the boys to be seen at home together in a given day. Someone is out all the time A?a??A?, Basil, who is one of the busiest Parliamentarians today, said.

A?a??A?Be down to earthA?a??A?, that was the finest lesson that the young Rajapaksas learnt from their father who always tried to find solace in simplicity.

He shared his time with ordinary farmers in a kamatha (paddy field) or at one of their houses.

A?a??A?He visited every house in our village and used to have tea or coffee with them. He was a simple and ordinary man. Our father wanted us to be normal children not as children of a politicianA?a??A?, he said.

Yet to complete his learning from his big brother – the President of this country – Basil said that he has a lot to learn from A?a??E?lokku aiyaA?a??a??.

Calling his A?a??E?aiyaA?a??a??, a man of courage and a tolerance, Basil said the biggest lesson that he learnt from President Mahinda Rajapaksa is his tolerance. A?a??A?He was harassed by lots of people, especially the SLFP leadership. Though he was the youngest MP of the party then he became the Assistant Secretary of the party 10 years after me, in 1989A?a??A?, he said.

Among the six boys – Chamal, Mahinda, Chandra, Gotabhaya, Basil and Dudley – guess who the naughtiest was?

According to the Senior Presidential Advisor, the mischievous and naughtiest was the young man Mahinda.

With no specific aim in life to become the Prime Minister or the President of this country, he said that he had to fulfil all his goals with his childrenA?a??a??s education. The only wish now on his cards, as he said, is to be his big brotherA?a??a??s advisor and help him to develop this country and to bring peace.

The most unforgettable incident in his life …guess ! Being sworn in as an MP amidts pandemonium in the Parliament, delivering the maiden speech as an MP or being appointed as the Presidential Advisor to his brother. None of these.

A?a??A?It was the day I met my fiancee, Pushpa. I will never forget that dayA?a??A?, recalled this tough looking MP.

The dream wedding was cancelled with the death of George Rajapaksa and later the couple had to go to the RegistrarA?a??a??s office with late Minister Jeyaraj Fernandopulle as one of the attesting witnesses at the betrothal.

Some of the Rajapaksa brothers took to the family tradition of wearing the earthy-brown shawl – kurahan satakaya- representing kurakkan cultivation in their village.

Basil Rajapaksa strongly wants to be A?a??E?BASIL RAJAPAKSAA?a??a??, the farmer in his own home garden when he is relieved of all his official duties.

Basil r


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