The Sunday Leader

Premadasa Wants Campaign Financing System Introduced

Sajith Premadasa

Sajith Premadasa

By Faraz Shauketaly

The leading challenger to the UNP leadership, Hambantota MP Sajith Premadasa shared his thoughts on transparency and political financing. Calling for a need to introduce political campaign financing reform, he admitted to a need but admitted to not having a blueprint per se. Excerpts of his conversation with The Sunday Leader:
How do you fund your political activities?
I make requests from various well-wishers and donors alike. They support me in my various development efforts and my political programmes.
Do you also have a personal income stream?
Yes what I get from my father’s estate and the money that is accrued from those activities, yes.
How transparent are your finances? Do you keep personal funds  and political funding separate?
Yes, of course and I have done that all throughout my life. When I make requests for funding they do so voluntarily and I believe that it will serve its purpose.
Now that you have openly stated your intention of vying for the leadership of the UNP and in the past your desire to lead this country, will you bring the same level of transparency you personally practice, to your party initially?
Of course I will. I must be perfectly honest and say this, that there will be donors who do not wish to be identified precisely because they may become victimised and there may be political recriminations taking place. In fact what we need is a systemic transformation when it comes to financing political parties. In that arena we must have a path breaking, novel, revolutionary approach which provides justice both to the donors and the people of Sri Lanka.  I confess that I have no blueprint right now that ought to be implemented but I think that Campaign Finance Reform (CFR) is something that is of great importance to our country.
Do you not think that politicians from all levels, right up to the presidency, find themselves beholden to their financial backers under the present system of political funding?
I think in most occasions it is a fact of life. Embarking upon political activities and being successful at it entails having a very, very successful fund raising machinery if one is to compete and prevail. There are some occasions when donors and supporters expect something in return. There are certain IOUs involved; these are facts of life.
And how do you fulfill those IOUs – not you personally, but politicians?
I have never had occasion to fulfill as such, by and large when you have a situation with various donors supporting you they do not overtly state that they expect something in return but there are some cases when implicit intentions are there. This is where the conflict lies. How does a politician operate? If the politician has an independent stream of resources when their campaigns are financed in a transparent and public manner, something like in the USA – even in the USA there are various deficiencies and shortcomings — by and large if there is a system where there is some sort of equity created in financing political parties, then it would bode well.
The present system perpetuates influence peddling and so on?
Yes, certainly that is a fact of life even though some people don’t want to talk about it openly. As a politician myself I have been giving it serious thought. It is a very important issue.
Will addressing this be a cornerstone of your leadership of the UNP?
Certainly an important issue that needs prioritising and needs addressing in a most comprehensive manner.
With Sri Lanka listed at No. 91 on the World Corruption Index what needs to be done?
Certainly there has to be a comprehensive and overarching regime that ensures that one minimises corruption with total eradication as the ultimate aim. As a political party that is responsible for good governance both in terms of ensuring a higher standard of living for the people and adhering to a higher standard of  transparent and ethical and moral government, it is quite important that we have a good, constructive national debate and debate amongst political parties that addresses this menace of corruption.

14 Comments for “Premadasa Wants Campaign Financing System Introduced”

  1. True Democrat

    Hello Sajith,

    I am not a admirer of Ranil Wickremasinghe and would like to know, what you will bring to our party and , you have not given any alternative agenda for us , if you are electedby the party machine.

    I should not judge your performances by your late fathers ( Hon. R. Pemadas) activities, young generation may not know these activities.

    He is responsible for side lining our future leaders ( Gamini Dissanayake, Lalth Athulathmudali) and ruined our party. He had a big inferior complex and ran our party as his own property. He started a brokeaway party and worried about himself and not the party. I hope , you have learnt from his mistakes or your advisers had told you not to follow the same footpath. We paid a very high price for what he did with LTTE.

    We need a leader like Dudley Senanayke, who is willing to listen to the party memebers and ,not you or Ranil.
    We have not got anyone of that calibre in our party and , let’s pick the our leader from what we have.

    We built the party (71-74), when your father uset to criticise the party with Donald J Ranaweera and held meetings.

    Good luck with your future plans.

    True UNP supporter

    • Thanking you True Democrat. Gamini Dissanayake is good example. First he united the party. He plan to Mrs. Hema for colombo. Just blindly talking confidential things in lower stage is not exceptable. JR left with four leadership men. But Mr. Premadasa not created single man,& divided the party. He appointed Sirisena cooray as secretary,

      • dharma

        MR Gamini dissanayaka is the real democratic politicians/ the most suitable person to srilanka president , he is qulified himself srilanka aswell foreign global world. as ademocratic leader.

  2. Saradiyel

    No “Blue Print” says he. It also means a slippery eel has been caught. We have seen this usurpers extravagant focus on himself when the father was in power. This even included destroying jungle habitats for the young Price’s picture taking needs called the “Sajith Wala (hole)”. There are also fingers pointing towards artifacts and treasures. The rouge is simply craving the moment that he can flaunt the resources of this country and its people to splurge on himself and his cronies. So, People, just remember the past. You forgot “Helping Hambantota” with the incumbent and see where it got us. Do we want to fall from”The Frying Pan To The Fire?”

  3. Hora Mottayah

    What Sajith says is factual I guess ..But this present Boss and Govt have gone to real extremes to milk the country dry and fatten a few people’s purses and pockets.
    I think if these politicians pocket 10 percent and untilise the balance 90 percent on the people and development, it will be a gppd start.
    At present , the percentage going into the pockets of these corrupt polticians and Govt is way too much and hence the country and the ordinary man is hit badly.
    Çome on UPFA…be reasonable…


    These are the words of a man on the threshold of power. Inside the next 12/14 years we will definitely see Premadasa as President, there’s no doubt. Only then will his true colours shine. He will be more autocratic than President Rajapaksa. Premadasa has fiery tendencies and a fiery temper. He is used to getting his own way and it is all his way and no way else. He in my humble opinion will be no better or no worse than CBK or Mahinda R. He will be better than Fonny but worse than JR. And as for him answering calls from the People thats just a dream. If his probity is as good as his claims he should punlish a list of all donations received – leaving out only the names but not the figures of those who wished for annonymity – and a list of all the political work he has done. If he has practised this all throughout his life he should be able to punch a few buttons on his computer and generate the report snip snip fashion – rather like the hairdressers at his wife’s salon.

  5. dharma

    srilanka had have very good educated people for the democratic political party governemnt.. unfortunely srilanka has bad to worse in democracy, the most of the politicians are not sinsecer to the people and the country.they are very opportunities for the name and fame corruption. and family politics. they never look forward towards the country future younger generation future . no real democratic they come to politics not work for the country but for their kit and kin. whow to make money and use power to send the children to live and study in westran suits to global world. srilanka under going very bad time in economic. education, health sector, food colth. cost of living is in skyrocket. even culture .

  6. padmini batuwithage

    Aiyo not another Premadasa for me. Had enough trouble with the father Aney. Now this one.

    • celina luvihare

      Aney padmini, the old man gave you also trouble? i always though you is a clever girl and know how to control these naughty, naughty men.

  7. JG

    “Set a thief to catch a thief” where did your Father get his money? How many politicians can account for their riches? Before you talk of CFR lets start with declaration of assets, this is well legislated, but never policed. The bottom line is the vote of the masses who don’t have the basics of food, shelter, education and don’t care if their (minister) accumulates riches as long as they have a finger in the pie.

  8. sudhu kolla

    Instead of talking about a campaign financing system he should be thinking about appointing a commission to look into the brutal crimes committed against humanity during his fathers term

  9. Ape Rata

    Your father make your family very rich , Who’s money ? from where you get all this money you distributing to temples and trying to corrupt buddhist temples to get support to you . YOU MUST BE STILL HAVING TREASURE HUNTING MONEY !!!

  10. konda bande sarath

    See whose talking . Wish he concentrated on controls for illegal treasure digging and wildlife poaching instead of controls for finace campaigning..

  11. Sarath.Wijemanne

    The son or daughter is not responsible for what the parents do. Sajith is a young budding politician who has learned from many mistakes of the past leaderships and let him get on with it. Only thing is that he must not be in a haste to get to the top but work and gain more experiance in the political arena. It’s not an individual effort but should be a team work, as a team you would win but as an individual you will loose. So Ranil and Sajith should move parallel hand in hand if the party is to benifit. When Hon premadas was handed over the leadership of Srilanka there were two torches burning in the country. One in the Nourthh and the other was in the South. He managed to bring back law an order to the country where the ungrateful ctizans conveniantly forgoten what he did. My advice to Sajith is don’t look back, learn from the past mistakes and march Wish you good luck.

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