The Sunday Leader

“It’s Exec. Presidency That Keeps Country Together!” – Sajin Vass Gunawardena

Monitoring Minister for Foreign Affairs, Sajin Vass Gunawardena speaks to The Sunday Leader about the government campaign and the virtues of the Executive Presidency to the country’s development.

Excerpts of the interview:

By Faraz Shauketaly


Q: Your party lost its Secretary General, a senior party man. In reality how will this impact on the President’s campaign?

A: In my view there is absolutely no impact at all. It is in fact a blessing in disguise. The General Secretary that we lost was not at all an active person. His role as the General Secretary of the party was very lackadaisical. Innovation, organizational ability, etc. was not at all his strong points. Relationship building and moving amongst other Ministers, MPs and party supporters was also not his liking.

He was, as I saw most of the time, a ‘loner’ a more ‘Rebel without a cause’ but far from James Dean.  I think that his defection was the best thing that could have happened in terms of obtaining a opportunity to appoint a more robust, creative and efficient General Secretary that can muster the party together and forge ahead. We have all these qualities in our new General Secretary, Anura Priyadharshana Yapa.


Q: How worrying is the crossover scenario? How does it affect Presidential popularity at the grass roots level?

A: It has absolutely no effect at all in my view. It creates space and topic for gossip but other than that in my view there is absolutely no relativity between MPs and Ministers crossing as against the vote for the President. These are two different things. The President is embedded in the minds and hearts of the people of this country. Crossovers have absolutely nothing to do with their decision to vote for the President. Answering your question, this in fact makes the President even more popular as the people rally around him to give him strength.


Q: What do you say are the key issues for this election?

A: Stability, Economic Prosperity, Peace and the stature and ability to protect Sri Lanka and to take Sri Lanka forward in the next decade. More importantly the people look for a leader who they can ‘Trust and Depend on’.


Q: How important is Foreign Policy in the context of an election?

A: Foreign Policy does play a major role in today’s context as to keep off the negative influences and interference you need a strong leader who will foremost protect the country and its people. If you would look at the recent past, the political history of the country viz a viz the leaders that governed Sri Lanka and there allegiances to foreign forces you would see that President Rajapaksa is the only leader that did not waiver at all under the influence of the international community.

This is one of the most vital factors in any political and or election campaign. No leader hitherto can stand up to President Rajapaksa in this respect. Also the ‘Games’ that the common candidate’s band wagon is playing with the international community and the LTTE diaspora is no secret to the people.


Q: Many say that the President is personally popular and that but for the ‘interference’ and the over-bearing attitude of some close to the President they would have no real issue with the President. How in your opinion can the President stem this type of talk?

A: Criticism will always exist, when something effective and progressing is taking place there will be many to criticize and sabotage same. This is human nature. One must always expect an opposition, a fact of life.  I don’t think that the President needs to ‘stem’ this type of talk as come the 9th of January 2015, the polity of this country would have answered this in ample.


Q: What is the impact that Chandrika Kumaratunga has on this presidential poll?

A: An excellent impact, but for whom time will tell.


Q: There are 15,044,490 votes. Would you hazard a guesstimate of how much the opposition is likely to get? Plus or minus 10%?

A: No need to guess, the Common Opposition will get, in my view, anything between 35% and 37%. This is the maximum they will get.


Q: Maithripala Sirisena says he will rule from Polonnaruwa. Is this realistic and if not why not?

A: He will have to run his household from where he lives, would not he? I’m sure after the election is over, and after experiencing one of the biggest defeats in the political history of this country, he would like to retire in Polonnaruwa. Therefore in essence, he will be domiciled in Pollonnaruwa looking after his household affairs. Nothing wrong with that!

Q: In your view, will President Rajapaksa use his third term to not only consolidate the economy but also ‘win the peace’ and forge a new brand of hope amongst all the communities in this country?

A: In your question even you have accepted the fact that President Rajapaksa will be victorious. As the President has stated there are many areas that we need to look at.

During the first term we concentrated on winning the war, second term was dedicated to rebuilding and developing the much needed infrastructure of the country to facilitate and sustain the development drive that was been envisaged by our government.  The third term will be to consolidate on such development, enhance economic activity in the rural economy, bring about large social development, evolve a more disciplined society and address issues such as corruption, etc. that are common to all economies of the world.

A vital aspect also would be to look into political reform and or electoral reform. In my view what is needed is to study changes required in our electoral system and not the Executive Presidency. It is the Executive Presidency that keeps this country together amidst the many challenges and conspiracies that exist both in the national and international fronts.


Q: In as few words as possible, what would you say is the single most appealing factor that Mahinda Rajapaksa has?

 A: The Trust of the People.

7 Comments for ““It’s Exec. Presidency That Keeps Country Together!” – Sajin Vass Gunawardena”

  1. Nimal

    Sajin Vaas Gunawardena has no credibility, and a track record of failure.

    Not only in business dealings, the mismanagement of Mihin Lanka, but also as a politician.

    Of all the people, this is the the last person The Sunday Leader should have interviewed for this article!

  2. gamarala

    Sajin Vass has firstly to declare his assets and explain his wealth.
    He is the “foreign invester” for Mahinda’s illgotten wealth.
    He is a thug who assaulted a diplomat at a party.

  3. mr Vas and yaba.belong to mr rajapaska group. your answer regarding the question your answers were not right,people and voters knew better than you.foreign countries want mr Rajapaska to loose the election.he fails to lision the voters after the he want the voters,, time has voters dismist the mr Rajapaska,it is very difficult to change the mind of the voters, sinhalase catholic aganist president he was behand destoryed the churches,tamils aganist mr Rajapaska he killed the 40000 tamils and Rape all girls house by house by the army by you and brother,in 2009,the whole world knew the creature mr Rakapaska family did it.2004 tsumani money taken by Mr Rajapaska family. he killed all most all journalist, dictator.why you talk democratic, can you fool the minister wasbehand to destroyed the mosques.BBS your baby.india want uou to lost the election.communal monks are with you. not educted monks.god bye mr rajapaska,

  4. neil peiris

    uba thamai no 1 hora

  5. sandman

    Then what are you doing in Singapore these days ??????

  6. Sylvia Haik

    Has this interview been censured, because the capable Faraz Shauketaly appears not to have asked the obvious questions such as, if the President was so popular as claimed, why was the UVA polls so disastrous. Also, why are we spending so much on projects we don’t need with money we don’t have. We are already indebted to the Chinese that cannot be repaid within two generations, what will we do if there’s a war between India and China (as forever looming) and China requests a military base here.

  7. Mr. Gunawardana,
    Your Estimates here are wrong like everything you did in the past five years. Hope you have realized it after the election. Are you planing to Join the new government?

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