The Sunday Leader

We Did Our Best During Our Time – Keheliya Rambukwella

by Thushari Nathaniel

Former Media Minister and member of the Joint Opposition (JO) Keheliya Rambukwella said the issue of the political prisoners has to be solved in a legal process. He said that the judiciary cannot be pressurised unnecessarily or put on a timeframe as its process has to take its own course. In an interview with The Sunday Leader, the former minister further said the judiciary has valid reasons to take certain decisions and as politicians, they should get involved in that process. But all they can do is to say that there is some international pressure or if the government has agreed on something, to expedite that agreed process. Other than that, he said, they cannot get involved in the judicial matters.

Following are excerpts of the interview:

Q:  During the previous government, ex LTTE cadres and those connected with the LTTE were rehabilitated and released. How do you compare what the previous government did with what this government is doing?

A: I would stand by the last government but it is not because of political reasons. Approximately 12,000 plus LTTE cadres surrendered and about 95 per cent of them were released; some were sent for rehabilitation and others were given vocational training via so many programmes. The former government would have had valid reasons to hold these 200 people. The legal proces has to decide upon them and take action. As a government, now they can look into this issue broadly and can take necessary actions. However, we are talking about some serious criminal terrorists, and I really cannot understand if they are going to pardon them. If some people say that we are not doing the right thing or that the judiciary is wrong, that issue should be looked into. I don’t see logic in releasing 12,000 and holding 200. However, I would reiterate that the legal processes have to take its course.

 

Q: Now certain parties allege that many of these rehabilitated LTTE cadres have died and that they have been given certain injections or slow poisoning that they are systematically dying. Is this true?

A: According to them, how many have died? Is this allegation logical? Over 12,000 people, some of them surrendered and others captured, have admitted that they were LTTE cadres. Of them, why should we poison 100 people or whatever they are alleging that we are doing to them? Is there any logic in this allegation? I am not trying to defend anyone, but if anyone has done something wrong, they must be dealt with; but it doesn’t look convincing in a normal standard.

 

Q: Now they say the former government used anti-terrorism laws to arrest LTTE suspects and their supporters, and the present government has promised to repeal the PTA. What do you think of this development?

A: The present government has promised without assessing the situation; the legalities, the financial part of it, the moral values and the future of the country by large and its national security. I don’t think they have given any attention to these issues. Now the time has come to fulfill these promises and that is exactly the crisis with regard to the financial aspects. When I calculated the figures, it came to almost a Rs. thousand billion. I will tell you two things that caused this situation. One is the Rs.10,000/- salary increase for 1.4 million government servants. With that salary increase with other benefits like overtime etc. it’s an unbearable cost for the treasury.

But since they have made a promise, they increased the welfare sector by three fold which amounted to about 10,000 billion rupees – an additional 10,000 billion rupees which makes it Rs. 30,000 billion in all. When you add all these things together, it adds up to about 950,000 billion rupees burden to the treasury. They said they have ways and means of working that out; they said they will stop the waste of the government. Now they find that it is not that easy to fulfill those promises. They promised so only to woo the minority and win their hearts and votes. But they never paid any attention to how they are going to fulfill their promises. Maithripala Sirisena was the Secretary of the SLFP and within a very short period, he made all these promises and they attracted the people. But now they have realised that these promises they cannot fulfill practically. I would say some promises if fulfilled would be completely against the national security. The minority and overseas people looking into what was happening in Sri Lanka found their promises very attractive.

 

Q: When you compare what the previous and this government have done, would you say that this government has done more for the people in the North and East?

A: The interests of the minorities certainly have to be looked into. We did our best during our time and I must also admit that there were certain organisations that were anti-minority and that the government did not adequately address those issues. Some anti-minority organisations were allowed to move freely and the minorities felt their security was threatened because the government was dumb about it.

For certain cases, being members of the previous government, we had to take the responsibility but I feel the present government have made certain adjustment that would be seriously detrimental to the national security. For instance, the adjacent land near Pallali belongs to the Tamil people in the north was taken over by the previous government for practical issues. The LTTE brought down several fighter planes since they were occupying the areas right next to the territory fences. These lands have to be given back to their rightful owners, but this is a process that has to be done with rehabilitation. But now, as they do it, they neither fulfill their promises nor safeguard the national security.

 

Q: There is nothing extraordinary has been done from what had been done previously. What are your views on this claim?

A: As you already know, they were having certain fears of the Chinese interest in Sri Lanka and of the connections the previous government had with China. On the other hand, the so called West really wanted the war to continue; they didn’t want it to end. They know that the moment a country has a civil war, it will go on and the stability of that nation is at risk. That is the position they would have liked to see in countries that they have interest in for whatever reason. Even during the time of J. R, the international community interfered and they never allowed the war to end because at that time when Lalith Athulathmudali was appointed the head of national security, he did a wonderful job and nearly finished the war. But then India interfered and J. R. had to give in and the 13th Amendment came in and many things took place down the line. Any clearly thinking man could analyse the situation and take the necessary actions. If not for Mahinda Rajapaksa, we would never have seen an end to the war. President Rajapaksa took the brunt of it against Cameron, the British and French Foreign Minister and against many other international representatives. They all wanted this war to be halted at a critical point but Rajapaksa didn’t do that.

They must have thought who this man was who didn’t listen to them. There are two ways in implementing the wishes of the West. One is to get directly involved and destroy a nation which they did in Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran etc. They just got in and there were no UN resolutions, no human rights etc. The other was to get into the management/administration of a country and control it with an administrator who will accept their commands. This was the scenario for a long time and it is happening now here.

Coming back to your question as to why they were pressurizing Mahinda Rajapaksa. It was purely because he was too strong willed for them and they couldn’t manipulate him. This fact was manifested clearly at many occasions. Roberta Blake, David Milliban, Vernon Kushner all came and wanted the military action to be halted. Many people are not aware but the American Advanced Security Groups were here in Sri Lanka. They said they would settle this issue and that Prabhakaran would surrender to a third party and that they would take care of him. Fortunately, we had somebody who had the courage to stand up to them, who had one intention only -  to eradicate terrorism from this country.

By doing that and bringing solace to the people of this nation, he had to pay in different forms. On the other hand, the calculations of the entire West in changing the Rajapaksa administration worked out beautifully and their calculations were accurate up to the point of the change of government. But they realised later that the former President is a public figure, and he was one of the most popular leaders at that point even though he was defeated.

They thought they could manipulate the elections and get the result that they wanted by ousting Rajapaksa. That was a miscalculation and the public of this country reacted differently. They came more vigorously with more power to support former President Rajapaksa. That is evident now and that is something the West did not expect.

 

3 Comments for “We Did Our Best During Our Time – Keheliya Rambukwella”

  1. len

    Don’t be to hash on this guy remember he fell on his head from a hotel balcony in Down Under Australia. Luck was on his side because he landed on his head so lasting damage. Sadly he missed out on having a Peep.

  2. sumith

    tho Para jadaya,you bloody old Bastard we curse you and your generations to come
    you bloody filthy Bastard
    you go to the temple lift your stinking arse and worship B uddha,you bloody hipocrit
    you dikrty para jadaya

  3. mr Rambukwella you are wanted criminal record you and family has destroyed srilanka name in foreign service, your daughter has involved many embassy on sex with different person you were media minister SIR WHAT IS YOUR EDUCATION TO BECAME A MEDIA MINISTER, president has removed from SLFP.

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