The Sunday Leader

Public Fed-Up With Both Parties – Sunil Watagala

By Thushari Nathaniel

Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) Western Provincial Councillor Attorney-at-Law Sunil Watagala says the UNP and the SLFP both, having governed the country at various times, have failed to address the people’s issues. He charges that they have both engaged in politics for personal gain. In an interview with The Sunday Leader, he said the investigations into the affairs of corrupt politicians are being delayed simply to safeguard the ministers within the unity government. “We asked them to establish a separate court to hear the cases of financial fraud and corruption. This would quicken the process. However, they are reluctant to do it because they think that they too will get caught up. They simply try to safeguard themselves and their government members,” he added. “The people are fed up with both these parties, and they want a party with clean politics. The JVP is now ready to take on this challenge and steer the country,” he said.

Following are excerpts of the interview:

Q: It is alleged that the development under the good governance has slowed down considerably. What is your view on this allegation?

A: We too see a slow progress. This is happening because the relevant ministers try to negotiate commissions from development projects. So, the delay certainly does not benefit our citizens, but them to get benefits.

 

Q: The government came into power promising to eradicate corruption and to promote clean politics. Do you see this happening?

A: Compare the first year of the former regime with this Yaha Palanaya, and you will see this government is way ahead of frauds, corruptions and so on. So, they have now cast aside the promises they made prior to the elections. They have now taken the same path the Rajapaksas have been following. This government came into power highlighting the family corruption, but with their initial 100 day agenda itself, the coal fraud took place. The Central Bank governor says that there was a fraud of Rs. 1,803 million; the Auditor General says the tender could have been given to a lower bidder, instead of awarding the coal tender to a higher bidder that resulted in this massive loss to the country. The country’s most respected people made these allegations. This government is no better than the previous one; it is perhaps even worse.

 

Q: What option do the citizens have if both main parties are equally corrupt?

A:  This so called good governance regime has just completed a year and the people are already fed up with their actions. After independence, either the UNP or the SLFP governed this country. This is the first time both parties have joined hands to form a government. People have now got fed up with both these parties. This resulted in creating a huge political void that only the JVP can fill in. We are the only party that stood up for the people’s rights. So, only hope for clean politics is the JVP. We are ready to take on that challenge.

 

Q: What is the reason for the increase in crimes now?

A: There is a huge increase in financial crimes. The investigations into 18 files have already been completed and are ready to be handed over to the Attorney General. Why are they delaying it? So many files are at the FCID. They do not take any action on these files. This government too is holding onto these files, just to use them to manipulate their opponents. These petty political games will jeopardise the country’s future.

Even President Sirisena said in Hambantota that he possesses certain politicians’ secrets and their frauds. Rajapaksa also said the same thing and manipulated the politicians. This bullying should stop.

This is why we called for a separate court to hear the money laundering cases. However, the Justice Minister Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe said that it was contradictory to our Constitution. But their manifesto boasts a separate court. How come they did not realise then that it would go against the Constitution? They lied to cheat people just to fill their pockets.

They are reluctant to establish a separate court because the process will then be quickened. Then it will not only affect the former regime ministers, but it will also affect many who are in this government. The delay in justice is jeopardising the people’s sovereignty.

 

Q: It is alleged that the international bodies now interfere in our national affairs more than they did earlier. Do you agree with this allegation?

A: In 2009 post-war period, we could have turned the country to a proper direction. They could have used the victory to gain the trust of the Tamils. Instead, the Rajapaksas used it for gaining their political stability. It resulted in increasing the religious tensions in the South. Had we maintained a proper balance and took measures to address the issues of the Tamils in the North, we would not have left any room for international meddling.

We ourselves did harm our sovereignty. The government should provide the requirements of the Tamil people, such as schooling, employment, roads, water and so on. Had the government provided their needs, the international community would not have interfered in our affairs.

The JVP voted for the Missing Persons Act because of this reason. This is something that they should have done soon after the war. The delay has left room for international bodies to interfere in our national issues.

 

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