All Issues Are Being Resolved – Gayantha Karunatillake

by Ashanthi Warunasuriya

Land and Parliamentary Reform Minister Gayantha Karunatillake said all complications that the country was facing are gradually being resolved by the government like untangling a ball of knotted thread. In an interview with The Sunday Leader he said the government is steady despite attempts to destabilise it and assured that the Unity Government will carry on unhindered until 2020. Karunatillake in his interview, explained about the government’s future plans and also elaborated on what the government has done during the past two years. He said, the benefits of the government’s labour can be reaped during the next three years.

Following are excerpts of the interview:

Q. How do you see the division within the SLFP?

A. That is a problem for the SLFP and not for us. We joined the coalition with the SLFP but the segment that is divided is the joint opposition and that is going to be destroyed. There is nothing we can do about that.


Q. The President had asked the SLFP members to hold on until December. After December will the unity government fall apart?

A. No nothing will happen. Until 2020, the unity government will run together. After that the two parties may contest separately and then decide what  to do next. However, as far as I see it, there will be no separation and the two parties will work together as the unity government.


Q. There is speculation that between 17-20 SLFP members are preparing to leave the government. Is this true?

A. That won’t happen. We don’t believe these statistics. This government will somehow win the 2020 election and continue until 2025 and this unity government will not disintegrate. When the two leaders are understanding and can work together amicably, even if problems arise they can always discuss these problems and overcome them. Both parties are fortunate to have two experienced and grounded leaders. Hence it is easy to manage everything without any problem.


Q. What do you think of the sustainability of the unity government?

A. As I mentioned earlier, both leaders are understanding and they can work well together. Our government is on a very stable footing. Although some members who have joined the unity government have been making certain statements, this will in no way affect the stability of the government. We have great faith in our leaders and the government.

 Q. However, why is it that certain members of the government are showing signs of disgruntlement and making certain statements?

A. This is a sign of good governance. In the past no one dared to open their mouth and they used to bear up whatever they had to endure. Today even the media personnel can sleep peacefully. Even if they report false news they still don’t have to worry about white vans now. Everyone enjoys their freedom and they can speak freely without any fear. However, no matter what they say, no one wants to leave the government.


Q. Why did the Anti-Corruption Committee Secretariat close?

A. We have been watching its progress and the investigations have been handed over to the institutions that were doing it so far. We have taken this decision having looked into the most efficient methods. It is irrelevant which party anyone is if they have robbed they are considered rogues and the law should be enforced. Hence we conduct ourselves carefully.


Q. What is the message that is given to the country by arresting security forces personnel?

A. No one has been taken into custody on charges that they fought in the war nor have they been arrested for going against Prabhakaran.


Q. There are allegations that these arrests were made to appease the UNHRC representative who was in the country recently. Do you agree?

A. That is not true. Just because a foreign envoy comes here we cannot implement the law against anyone. However, it is when they have acted against the law that the law will be implemented against them. If they had done nothing they have nothing to worry about.


Q. Has the government found solutions for the Geneva issue?

A. It is this government that has managed to resolve most of the issues that plagued us and win their trust. Now there are no sanctions against us nor are there any electric chairs. This whole mess was like a ball of tangled thread. Now we are gradually untangling it part by part and we will soon resolve the whole issue.


Q. On the subject of the Local Government elections, why is the President and Prime Minister on two contradictory views?

A. Both parties are keen on holding the Local Government elections at the earliest. Local government and Provincial Councils are favourable for any government. Because of what Basil did the delimitation had to be done properly and that is what took so much time. Very soon all parties will be consulted and with their views being taken into consideration, we will go for the LG elections as soon as possible.


Q. This government gave a pledge to the people that a new Constitution would be brought in. What is the progress made so far?

A. This will be a Constitution that is the most democratic that we have ever had as views and opinions of the people, civil society and parliament was transformed into a Constitutional Assembly. We have appointed committees and included members of all parties to ensure transparency. This will be a Constitution that gives Buddhism its rightful place while the rights and freedoms of all other religions will also be guaranteed. This Constitution will be the first that will be passed with the approval of every segment of society.


Q. Yet why are the Chief Prelates against it?

A. The Chief Prelates have the right to express their views to any government. As a government we have met with the prelates and explained the situation to them as this is the responsibility of both parties. No one can bring in a new Constitution by trying to hide facts from anyone. We have no desire to do such a thing either. Similarly, this Constitution cannot be brought in on the whims of any individual. We have to take decisions with the best interest of the country at heart.

For the first time in the history of this country, two main parties have joined together to form a national government putting aside all personal agendas for the greater good of the country as a whole. This was a move made with the best of intentions and this cannot go wrong. Only good will come out of this alliance and things will  be good in the future.


Q. With dengue and other disasters affecting the country, there are various opinions that have been expressed. How do you see this situation?

A. The dengue mosquito knows no colour or party. Hence this issue cannot be judged based on party colour or politics. This is a national issue and it has to be dealt with and resolved accordingly. Politics had no play in this situation. The government needs the assistance of the public in situations like this. We must unite as a country and fight this dengue menace.

Due to the drought and the floods that battered the country, huge amounts of money had to be spent. We also had to deal with a huge debt that was left behind by the previous regime. We had to device plans to earn the income for the country and put money in the people’s pockets instead of taking money from the people to solve our debt crisis. However, we have faced all these challenges carefully and we are still moving forward and making huge progress. Winning the international trust was a huge victory and within the next three years, we will be striving hard to have the people reap the benefits of the work we have done so far.

Issues such as the Uma Oya and SAITM are legacies left behind by the previous regime, but we have successfully faced these challenges and just like we tackled the international issue and resolved it, we will untangle this ball of thread too. The next three years will definitely bring favourable results of our hard work.

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