The Sunday Leader

“Cannot Condone Government Attitude” – Sunil Handunnetti

By Camelia Nathaniel

The JVP has on several occasions expressed their displeasure over the lethargic attitude of the current government to bring those responsible for corruption in the previous regime to book. Almost 50 days have gone by since this government assumed power, but so far no one has been charged although this government made a huge hue and cry regarding fraud and corruption by the previous regime. The JVP however has warned that they would take to the streets with the people if measures are not taken to investigate and prosecute those who have committed such fraud or corruption.  Speaking to The Sunday Leader JVP parliamentarian Sunil Handunnetti said that his party had served the people honestly and stood up for the rights of the people. However he added that in order to create a greater impact the JVP needs a stronger representation in parliament and said that this can only be done with the support of the people.

Excerpts of the interview:

Q. The current Maithripala/Ranil government has come under severe criticism for not delivering on the promises made before the elections and for yet not being able to bring any of the previous regime’s fraudsters to book. As the JVP what is your view on the current situation?

A. Over the years the people were severely disgruntled over the corrupt and fraudulent Rajapaksa regime. This is why the people voted him out and instead brought in Maithripala Sirisena. The people wanted a stop to the large scale corruption and misuse of power. During the election campaign President Sirisena also on several occasions promised the people to cleanse the political system of this country and bring those who had committed fraud or corruption to book. The people voted for President Maithripala with great expectations that he would honour his word. Hence we too cannot condone with this government’s lassitude in delivering on their promises.


Q. While the government makes excuses regarding the parliamentary process in bringing in laws to implement their promises, under these circumstances do you think that the government will be able to keep to their promises within these 100 days, especially reducing the powers of the executive presidency?

A. Yes they certainly can but we are uncertain whether they will do what they have promised. For instance the reduction of powers of the executive presidency does not require the participation of the entire country, but only involves the 125 or so parliamentarians. If the 17th amendment could have been passed in parliament, if the previous president could have introduced the 18th amendment in a day and if the former Chief Justice could have been removed from her position in a few days, then there is no reason as to why they cannot do what they have promised.


Q. The people have now begun to feel that the JVP is the only party that can stand up to corruption. Does your party feel that you could capitalize on the current political situation and what measures have you taken to face the upcoming elections?

A. Yes the people have faith in us to stand up to corruption or raise a voice to prevent injustice to the people. However in spite of that, the votes do not support the people’s faith in us. We have so far delivered on all our promises to the people of this country, but if we are to do more politically, then we need to have a greater representation in parliament. For that to take place the people too have a responsibility to vote for us so that we could take up their issues or grievances in a more forceful manner. Hence we expect the people to assist us to have a greater representation in parliament, so we could pose greater pressure on the government to resolve all issues.


Q. Do you see a friction between the parties in the current coalition?

A. Well no but one thing is that we did not assist in the removal of the former president and his bandwagon of thieves, so that these people can put in another group. This Ranil/Maithree union has many opposing views and opinions. But that is to be expected when different parties with opposing views come together, and that is why we have stayed away from such alliances.

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