Amendments Aimed At Making MR Family Rule Forever – Vijitha Herath
- Govt. gives economic bribes to foreign countries to overcome pressure
JVP Propaganda Secretary and parliamentarian, Vijitha Herath, said the government is engaged in an attempt to strengthen the family rule and has failed to address the crises faced by the people. “The government has only temporary solutions,” he said, adding that whenever the international community raises issues the government tries to silence them by giving economic bribes. Herath observed that the government was only concerned about its survival and that the JVP would build a strong people’s movement to bring about a change in the current system.
Following are excerpts of the interview:
Q: How do you view the government’s recent actions from the impeachment of the Chief Justice to the extension of the detention period of persons arrested without a warrant and the sudden Cabinet reshuffle?
A: The government is going down day by day and it does not have solutions to the problems faced by the people. When the government cannot address and solve the issues faced by the people, it resorts to anti-democratic acts to establish a dictatorial rule in the country. The first step was to tame the parliament by artificially creating a two-thirds majority. It was created by bribing and offering perks to parliamentarians. The second was the impeachment of the Chief Justice, which was a move to take control of the judiciary. The recent Cabinet reshuffle was also aimed at taking control. Although the government tried to take control of the judiciary through the impeachment, it backfired and members of the judiciary and people lost confidence in the government as a result. Apart from people in the country, even the world saw the government’s dictatorial frenzy. The Cabinet reshuffle last week was mainly aimed at paying gratitude to the persons who had supported the dictatorial moves. Pavithra Wanniarachchi, who handed over the impeachment motion against the Chief Justice to the Speaker, was appointed as Power and Energy Minister and Anura Yapa, who headed the government’s committee to probe the impeachment charges was appointed as Petroleum Minister, which are two key ministries. These two ministers were promoted due to their actions. The government is engaged in an attempt to strengthen the family rule and has failed to address the crises faced by the people.
Q: What do you see are the crises faced by the country and is the government addressing them?
A: The government has only temporary solutions. When the government mooted the impeachment process, it did not think about the implications it would have. However, after the matter has now become an issue and the UNHRC sessions are to commence in Geneva, the government is now looking at finding a temporary solution for that as well. When the government carried out the impeachment process and increased the detention period of a suspect arrested without a warrant, it forgot about human rights and the UNHRC. Now Minister G.L. Peiris has made a sudden visit to India and signed various agreements with them. He has said the government is committed to implementing the 13th Amendment to the Constitution. All this has been done with the aim of getting India’s support during the UNHRC sessions. We don’t know what more would be offered to foreign countries in future. In a similar manner, the government has given acres of lands in the country to the US Dole Company. Whenever there are issues raised by the international community, the government tries to silence them by giving economic bribes. When the UNHRC sessions are getting closer, the government would continue to offer economic bribes to members of the international community at the cost of the nation. The government during the impeachment said that there was separatism in the judiciary, but in fact, separatism is now in the Cabinet. The government is now trying to remain in power at the expense of the country.
Q: Why has the opposition failed to pose a formidable challenge to the government to prevent its arbitrary actions?
A: The Rajapaksa Government started its second term by passing the 18th Amendment to the Constitution. The government did not want to develop the country or post-war Sri Lanka, its only aim was to sustain its survival. After creating a two-thirds majority in parliament by offering perks and privileges to MPs, the government passed the 18th Amendment that did away with the independent commissions. The media was also attacked with media institutions and personnel being attacked and killed and media institutions being brought over by the Rajapaksa Government. The people were unaware of all these issues because the government misled them and those affiliated to it. But people are now beginning to realize the truth and now rallying around the opposition.
Q: The JVP at one time was well-known for its people power. Has the party lost its touch?
A: The JVP has firmly stood against issues when the country was faced with crises. When the 18th Amendment was presented, the JVP carried out a massive protest campaign inside and outside parliament. During the impeachment process and the university lecturers’ issue, the JVP provided its maximum support. But we accept that there was a setback at one point due to the government’s election mechanism and the false propaganda that was launched against the party. Even internal issues in the party posed a challenge to move forward. However, the party has now successfully defeated all the internal and external issues. People have also come to realize in the past few months that the JVP has been firm in its stances right throughout. The JVP will continue in its path.
Q: The President has spoken of constitutional amendments. Is there a need to introduce new amendments to the Constitution?
A: It was said during the past few days that it was the issues in the Constitution that caused problems in proceeding with the impeachment. But it was not so. Nevertheless, the government is now trying to change the Constitution for its survival under the guise of introducing amendments for the betterment of the people. It is important to note that any attempt at amending the Constitution is aimed at enabling the Rajapaksa family to remain in power forever. The government is aware that it would not be able to form a two-thirds majority again and that the people are beginning to rise against it. The government is also trying to show pressure building against it at the UNHRC to avoid holding elections in the country. Without holding elections, the government is trying to work its way towards holding a referendum instead of a general or Presidential election. The government is trying to do what J.R. Jayewardene did through a referendum. The government is looking at this strategy since it cannot do what it has done in the past. Some of its past actions have now come to haunt it. Some of the ballot papers that were mishandled during the 2010 General Election have been found recently and inquiries are being held as to how they have been smuggled out.
Q: External Affairs Minister, Prof. G.L. Peiris, has told Indian Premier, Manmohan Singh, that the Sri Lankan Government was committed to implement the 13th Amendment. How do you see this development?
A: In the past, the LLRC (Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission) had recommended that law and order be established in the country and the independence of the judiciary be protected. However, the government did not do so. Instead, suppressive laws were passed. The US has said it is going to present another resolution against the government’s actions in Geneva. The government knows that India would not support Sri Lanka at the Geneva sessions when the resolution is presented due to its recent actions. India did not vote in favour of Sri Lanka during the previous resolution in Geneva as well. The government is therefore looking at the 13th Amendment to the Constitution as a bribe to satisfy India since the amendment was a creation by the Indians.
Q: The US has said it would present another resolution against Sri Lanka at the UNHRC sessions in Geneva in March. How do you think it would affect the country?
A: It will not be beneficial to the government. The government after committing to implement the LLRC recommendations has only given action plans on how it plans to implement the recommendations. On the other hand, inmates of the Vavuniya Prison, Delrukshan and Nimalaruban were killed while inmates in the Welikada Prison were also killed under the guise of a prison riot. The government instead of implementing the LLRC recommendations has added more issues to the list of concerns. All these would have a bad impact on the country. The country lost the GSP Plus facility due to these reasons and many garment factories have had to shut down as a result. There have been some garment factories that had even advertised in the newspapers saying they were shutting down due to the loss of the GSP Plus facility. It would therefore have an economic impact on the country. Also, it would pave the way for members of the international community to call for an international committee to probe human rights concerns in Sri Lanka by pointing out the breakdown in the law and order situation in the country. In such a scenario, the government would kneel before the international community and offer more economic bribes to please them.
Q: How do you see the country’s future? What role would the JVP play?
A: Neo-liberalism is suffering a breakdown in the entire world. Everyone knows that a country cannot continue with neo-liberal policies. Even the Pope in his New Year message has said that neo-liberalism cannot solve issues faced by the poor in the world. Therefore, the production process has to be developed in order to salvage the country from its current situation. The country needs a new model in place. It needs to be able to build a just and fair society. The whole world is looking at such a model. The JVP stands for this change and will continue to build on it together with the people.