The Sunday Leader

We Should Think Of The Country – Buddhika Pathirana

UNP Member of Parliament Buddhika Pathirana believes in working for the party irrespective of whether he receives positions or not. In an interview with The Sunday Leader Pathirana said the country under the leadership of President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has adopted an open and cordial foreign policy where all countries have now come forward to assist Sri Lanka in its development. “Not just China and other communist countries but other democratic countries and liberal and leftist states are all working hand in hand with us now under the new leadership. So under the new government we have managed to bring them all on board through our open and impartial approach and we are not favouring any particular country,” he added.

Following are excerpts of the interview:

by Thushari Nathaniel

Q: Can the UNP continue to work with the SLFP?

A: Firstly, no one can claim that the SLFP and the UNP factions within the government have any friction. Problems existed between the SLFP and the UNP in 1951, not now. From that point right until 2015 to when President Sirisena won the election these two factions have been at loggerheads. At times they even resorted to shooting each other, fought and had numerous problems and disputes.

     However, when President Sirisena assumed office and Ranil Wickremesinghe became Prime Minister, the two factions were brought together for the greater good of the country and there wasn’t a single issue since.

     Whatever problems the two parties had it was all prior to 2015 and not since. Hence there is no problem whatsoever in the UNP and the SLFP continuing to work together. 

 

Q: Why are UNP MPs like yourself side-lined despite working hard for the party?

A: As a young politician who works with dedication to my country and my party I certainly don’t think in that manner. I believe that it is because of such sacrifices that this national government could have been established and the SLFP General Secretary could have become the President and Ranil Wickremesinghe the Prime Minister. If not we would still be in the opposition. Hence, we should think of what the country gains instead of first thinking what I could gain personally.

     I am not sure if other young politicians feel saddened that they were side-lined and not given any prominent positions, but as for me, I don’t feel that way and I am quite happy to have sacrificed my personal gains for the betterment of the country as a whole. I am certainly different to the others and to me the party and country is of utmost importance.

     Even when I was in the Opposition I had the privilege of working for my community and the country, which I consider a great blessing. 

 

Q: There are many allegations of corruption against the government now. Why has the government gone back on their pledges to the people?

A: No one can accuse the government of not taking action against corruption. Even in the Treasury bond issue, the Prime Minister stood up in parliament and wanted an investigation to be conducted and proper action taken against anyone who was involved in it. Hence no one can accuse the Good Governance government of turning a blind eye to corruption or encouraging it. I don’t feel there is any basis to accuse this government of such charges. 

     The Prime Minister has no intention or desire to protect rogues or fraudsters.

 

Q: What do you think of the newly formed political party headed by Professor G. L. Peiris?

A: All I have to say is that just like so many other parties that began over the years this party too will fizzle off in a short time and what we have to do is place some flowers and say eternal rest. But as this is made up of all fraudsters, illegal brewers and ethanol rogues, we will have to say ‘Anichchawatha Kansara’.

 

Q: Is it true that the government is only focussing on the Northern Tamils’ issues just to appease the Diaspora while the upcountry Tamils’ grievances are not even listened to?

A: This question calls for an answer in two sections. Firstly in the Northern issue these deals with lands that belong to the people that have been taken over during the war and the state lands. The people in the North either live in their own lands or lands that have been allocated to them by the government. In this scenario it is easy for the government to address their needs as it’s either their own lands or lands given to them. 

     However the plantation issue in context is quite the opposite. These lands belong to estates and not ones that are privately owned by the estate workers. These estates are either private or state owned. Under these circumstances you must understand that even implementing basic infrastructure facilities such as roads or common amenities such as toilets, pre-schools, community centres, health centres, etc., can be quite long drawn and more complicated. Hence development in these regions can get delayed due to this factor.

     All prior politicians who represented the estate sector played with the lives of these innocent people and made merry with the monies made by their hard labour. These politicians never cared one bit about the living standards or problems faced by these poor people but all they did was engaged in foreign travel and led luxurious lives quite oblivious to the tears of these workers. 

     This is why those insensitive and brutal leaders were defeated by the people and now more committed leaders have been brought to power in order to address the grievances of the people in the estates who have been so far neglected by all previous governments. Today Digambaram and Radhakrishnan are doing a splendid job addressing the grievances of the estate sector and rectifying them one by one. Therefore, unlike the previous public representatives, these elected leaders are truly working for the betterment of these estate sector people.

     Further, not just the upcountry estate sector but under the community development initiative of Minister Digambaram even estate workers living and working in the Southern estate sector have been targeted and development is reaching even them. Even in my Akuressa electorate even as we speak there are 25 houses that are being built for them. Previous leaders never even worked for the upcountry estate workers but under our government, we are working to uplift the living standards of all estate sectors. Hence this allegations is not pertinent to us but to the previous government.

 

Q: The Joint Opposition claims to have begun a public campaign to expose the ‘Top Ten’ corrupt personalities in the Sirisena-Wickremesinghe government, and all the relevant documentation is being presented to the Bribery Commission. What is your view?

A: These claims are mere jokes. If they have a document that contains evidence of such crimes then why are they holding it back without handing it over to the Bribery Commission and taking action? Surely if they do have such evidence it would be in the best interest of the country to expose these fraudsters and take the government to task.

     What I have to say to them is don’t get ready to cast stones from inside glass houses. They will only be exposing their nudity if they do. 

     Moreover, there is no need for anyone else to point out corruption or fraud within the government as the President and Prime Minister have already vowed to punish anyone found to be involved or engaged in such activities irrespective of what party they belong to. Legal action will definitely be taken against them.

     Previously these rogues were given positions and more power to engage fully in these corruptions. Therefore, my advice to them is to stop trying to point out the little speck in another’s eye while having a rafter in theirs.

 

Q: What is your view on Sri Lanka’s current foreign policy and strained relations with China?

A: Our foreign policy has certainly changed. In the past only a few foreign leaders visited our country and our leaders too only visited a selected few countries. 

     However today our state leaders are visiting the world’s most powerful countries like the US, UK, India, Japan, etc. Today we are dealing closely with the European Union and all other powerful countries which had shunned us in the past due to our leaders’ arrogant ways.

     Our country was also viewed as an uncouth country and was sidelined by many of these powerful countries. However, today they have once again accepted us and are dealing closely with us. This is all thanks to the efforts of the President and Prime Minister.

     Not just that, China is still assisting us in the development of Hambantota and the Colombo Financial City and India is helping us develop the Eastern sector. In addition the Light Rail Transit (LRT) and the new Kelaniya bridge is being constructed by Japan.

     Therefore not just China and other communist countries but other democratic countries and liberal and leftist states are all working hand in hand with us now under the new leadership. So under the new government we have managed to bring them all on board through our open and impartial approach and we are not favouring any particular country. Today due to our cordiality with all countries we have benefitted as all of them are coming forward to assist us and we have not angered any country by favouring another.

 

Q: There are allegations that the government is blatantly using laws which are intended to suppress terrorism to penalise intelligence officers. What is your view?

A: This is a blatant misinterpretation of what is happening. These parties are trying to make it look like we are deliberately targeting these security personnel and trying to stop these investigations from progressing. 

     A good example is that this is like a lorry transporting illegal cattle but is adorned on the outside with religious posters, etc. To the outside it looks like a lorry carrying legitimate goods being owned by a very religious party. However when it is investigated only that one finds out that despite the very clean and religious exterior appearance of the lorry, it is in fact one that is carrying cattle illegally for slaughter. 

     This situation is similar to the above story. Not all military or intelligence officers are being targeted arbitrarily. Just as much as the intelligence units did a yeoman service to the country during the war, if any wrong has been committed against anyone that is unjustified, then these crimes cannot be ignored simply because they sacrificed or worked hard for the country during the war. What is wrong is wrong. No one should be allowed to hide behind the military or the uniform and get away with any crime they commit.

     Not every intelligence officer or military officer is being targeted or investigated. The ones who had not been involved with such crimes during the past are not worried as they have nothing to fear and have had no involvement in any of these crimes. However, the ones who are howling the most are those who in fact have committed wrong during the past and they know it. Now they are afraid of having to face the consequences and that is why they are trying hard to hide behind the war hero label. If these parties have done nothing wrong then there is nothing to worry about. All this noise is made by those who are frightened by these investigations because they are guilty. 

     It is not relevant if the person is an intelligence officer, doctor or government servant. What should be considered is that if that person has committed any wrong during his or her service. Then they should be brought before the law irrespective of who the person is.

 

Q: As an active and young politician, how do you see your political future?

A: Even during the period I was in the opposition I worked in three areas namely as a parliamentarian, as a party member and have worked for my constituency in the Matara district to my utmost capacity utilising funds from my social service foundation. Unlike others I never worked for the party expecting kickbacks and positions. Nor have I supported any leader with the aim of getting positions within the government or for personal gain. I was like a three-wheeler in the beginning but now have progressed to a car.

As for me if anyone wants to contact me, I am always contactable either personally or through my office and I am ready and committed to serve the people always. I have entered politics to serve the people and I am totally committed to this duty and I will do everything in my power to make sure that I give out my best to the people as that is the reason I have entered into politics, to serve the people of my country.

 

1 Comment for “We Should Think Of The Country – Buddhika Pathirana”

  1. Dave Goonawardena

    Hurrah.
    I agree totally and you politicians must set the example by putting the

    Country and people first .

    What I see is you guys get elected do hardly anything and reap what ever benefits you can
    Dave G

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