The SLFP Cannot Be Reunited – Arundika Fernando

by Ashanthi Warunasuriya

Arundika Fernando, with Udayanga also in the picture

Several photographs of Deputy Minister Arundika Fernando and Sri Lanka’s former Ambassador to Russia Udayanga Weeratunga were published recently on social media and it sparked widespread controversy. Tourism and Christian Affairs Deputy Minister Arundika Fernando however said there was nothing controversial about the meeting with Weeratunga who is wanted in Sri Lanka and has an international warrant issued for his arrest. He also said that he feels the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) cannot be reunited.

Excerpts of an interview with The Sunday Leader:  


Q: What is this controversy about you meeting Udayanga Weeratunga in Japan? Was it accidental or was the meeting pre-planned?

A: It’s really like this. When I went to Japan there was a reception planned by the Sri Lankan community there. There was another event planned at a temple in Japan. Udayanga had come for these functions and I met him at these functions quite accidently. I have not been a person who had associated very closely with Udayanga. However, in 2005 it was Udayanga Weeratunga who was the coordinating Secretary of the former President Mahinda Rajapaksa for the Puttalama District, which happens to be my district. Hence I have met him and known him since then. Thereafter I met him at these functions in Japan. Now they claim that Udayanga has an international warrant issued against him. However, my question is, if that is the case, how did he come from Ukraine to Japan?


Q: Why did you meet Mahinda Rajapaksa in Japan secretly?

A: I don’t need to go to Japan and secretly meet with Mahinda Rajapaksa. On that previous Saturday, I met Mahinda at a wedding and it was just the two of us there for about three hours. I am not like the others who try to remain in the government and conspire with others to topple the government. If any day, I feel that I cannot be with the government, I will notify the government directly and leave. Unlike others I will not pretend to be loyal to this government and engage in under hand work. I came into politics because I truly believed that I can serve the people. But, if I feel that being a minister in this government, I cannot serve the people, then I will resign. But, I will not go by conspiring and working out underhand deals and dirty games. I am a person who does things straight. Another factor is that I have not stolen a single cent from this government. In fact, I have engaged in political activities in the Puttalam district with my own money. I have not joined in with rogues and have certainly not protected them. I will never stoop down to that level.


Q: Does that mean that there is no red alert issued on Udayanga Weeratunga?

A: I don’t know if that is true or false. But my question is, if it so, how can he travel freely without being detained at these foreign countries? Then he may be using some other method of traveling without being caught.


Q: Didn’t you think that by publishing these photos with him on social media, it would spell trouble for you?

A: The pictures that were published were taken by someone when I attended a function on a ship. I was trying to take some selfies when someone else had secretly taken these pictures of us. He nor I were posing for these pictures together. It was then published in one of his web sites, which is wrong.


Q: What was the reaction of the others in the party?

A: Some feel that we are engaged in some conspiracy together with Mahinda Rajapaksa. However, I don’t have such an agenda. Moreover, If Udayanga is a wanted man, then it is the duty of the law enforcement officers to arrest him. I have no ability to arrest him and bring him to Sri Lanka.


Q: You are serving as a minister within this government. Yet what sort of relationship do you have with Mahinda Rajapaksa?

A: I came to parliament because of Mahinda Rajapaksa. Yet in 2002 at the parliamentary elections, when I could not stand with Mahinda, just like the others I had to go home. Yet, I have my gratitude towards him, as it was because of him that I came to parliament. I don’t say that everything Mahinda did was correct. Within that government, we too had our shortcomings and wrongs. That was the reason we lost the election. But still, we must be grateful for what he has done for us. We are still trying to unite Mahinda Rajapaksa and President Maithripala Sirisena, because we love the SLFP.

I came to parliament through my uncle, Godfri Fernando who shed his blood, sweat and tears for the party, and eventually gave his life for the party. We truly love this party and don’t want to see it divided. We don’t remain in the party and engage in under hand work to break up the party. I am not like that.


Q: Do you honestly believe that the party can be reunited?

A: There was a time I believed we could, but now I feel it is not possible. Now the party is being manipulated according the personal agendas of some. Now the disputes and issues have gone beyond repair and it is splitting the party up.


Q: Don’t you think that the reason for the party break-up is more due to the actions of party members rather than the activities of the UNP?

A: Definitely. For instance, we cannot blame the neighbors for the disputes within our own homes. We cannot blame the UNP for the problems we encounter within the SLFP. We should be strong enough as a party to resolve our own issues. However, now the issues have snowballed and it is at a very volatile juncture.


Q: What do you plan to do in the future?

A: I will still keep trying to unite the party. If we fail what will eventually happen is like in 1977 when we lost and had to remain in the opposition for 17 years. The same will happen if our leadership does not think straight and take the necessary steps to re-unite and strengthen the party. The government is here to serve the people and I still feel we can fulfill our promises to the people. I will remain with the government for as long as I can, but if I can’t do it anymore, I too will join the people.


Q: The agreement between the two parties to join together will end this year. Do you think they should remain together or should they part ways?

A. Well, there are still several Poya days before that happens and let’s hope something good will happen!


1 Comment for “The SLFP Cannot Be Reunited – Arundika Fernando”

  1. dharamapala

    SLFP leader is presient mr Srisena SLFP not reunion former president has no place but he is facing ten cases but attorney general department holding for not take action, election promised was lies ,prime minister and justice minister are playing double game all most all against president, president

Comments are closed

CG Colombo Gazette

Photo Gallery