JVP is immature" - DM
Posts and Telecommunication
Minister and People's Alliance General Secretary, D.M. Jayaratne
says those who violate the buffer zone policy should be dealt with
severely according to the law of the land. Criticising the JVP for
defying the buffer zone policy, the Minister - who has been in
politics for 53 long years - says they must be punished.
"Government laws are applied to everybody. Even if SLFPers
violate this law, they must be punished," he said. Referring to
the JVP's attempt to take a different stand on certain government
policies, the seasoned politician told The Sunday Leader this was a
result of immaturity. "The JVP needs more experience in
national politics. Marxists are never practical. They preach, but
are not practical. We have to understand them and try to teach them
how to be pragmatic in today's politics," he said.
Following are excerpts;
By Wilson Gnanadass
Q: The JVP has categorically said it
would not support peace talks based on the ISGA. How do you view the
JVP's stand which goes against the government policy on peace?
A: It is indeed a matter of
concern. The JVP has been going against the government policy and
they have gone public condemning some of our policies. But I don't
think we, as a responsible government, should get upset over this.
We are still in the process of talking to the JVP to make them
understand some of the visions of the UPFA. But the positive thing
is, the JVP is not against peace. So we are now starting from here
to convince the JVP.
We must tell the JVP that though we may
sit down to talk with the LTTE, we may not be giving everything the
LTTE asks for. We may not even agree to fulfill the ISGA the way the
LTTE wants. On the other hand, we might even give something more
than what the ISGA talks about. So you see, everything depends on
I mentioned this in parliament this
morning - that first of all we need to sit down and discuss. If we
don't have discussions, then we will not be able to identify our
problems. I think the very term ISGA is causing trouble. What if we
remove this term ISGA and replace it with something else? I am sure
the JVP will then support it. We are not giving up our aim to
achieve peace. And the JVP will also be included in this exercise
and I am sure we could convince them at some point.
Q: Does this mean if the JVP is not
convinced, there would not be peace talks with the LTTE?
A: No. The government is keen on
holding direct talks with the LTTE. The government has also informed
the Norwegian facilitators of its willingness to hold talks. We want
to know how the LTTE is going to convince us that the ISGA is going
to fulfill the aspirations of the Tamil speaking people in the north
east. We want to know what type of federal system could be suitable
to solve the ethnic crisis and above all satisfy the Tamil speaking
people who have been suffering for decades.
No two countries have the same federal
system. We need to find out what type of federal system is ideal for
the people in the north east. To learn this the government and the
LTTE must sit together to discuss. Without discussion we would not
know what the LTTE wants and what the ISGA contains. I am sure the
JVP will understand what the government is trying to do.
Q: The LTTE has also stated in no
uncertain terms it would not sit down to talk if the talks are not
going to be based on the ISGA proposals. How do you then intend
bringing these two parties - the LTTE and the JVP - with diverse
opinions together to achieve peace?
A: It is a difficult task but we
will do it. Nothing is impossible if there is a will. The LTTE too
should not be too rigid. There must be a give and take policy on
both sides. The LTTE should not only think of its own prestige but
the suffering of the people. It is easy for parties and groups to
dictate terms. But do they do so keeping in mind the untold
suffering faced by the people? I think both the LTTE and the JVP
lack understanding of the suffering of the people. After all we must
learn to live in harmony and like Sri Lankans in this little island.
Q: Considering the continuous verbal
attacks on President Chandrika Kumaratunga and the government by the
JVP, the President who lost her cool last week indirectly asked the
JVP to leave if they wished to do so. Do you also think the JVP must
leave the party?
A: We are not sure whether the
President directed her comments at the JVP. But obviously the
President must have got angry because the JVP kept attacking her.
This is why I keep telling all my party members that we must hold a
meaningful dialogue with the JVP and bring them closer to our fold.
We can't afford to push them out at this juncture. We have to wait
Q: In addition to condemning the
government policy on peace the JVP also has decided to defy the
government's 100 meter buffer zone policy. What does this mean to
A: The JVP is no better than the
main opposition, which also protests against the buffer zone policy.
As I told you earlier, it is indeed a matter to be worried about.
But what can we do? If the main opposition were doing this for its
own political mileage, I would say the JVP is also doing it for a
similar reason. The JVP is immature and needs more experience in
political life. Like any other party the JVP too is trying to become
more popular and this may perhaps be to grab power. I think it is
wrong to think of doing this when the party is aligned with another
long standing party like the SLFP.
Q: What is the course of action that
would be taken against those who violate the 100 meter buffer zone
policy in general and the JVP in particular as it is part of the
A: The law will take its own
course irrespective of who the violator is. The law applies to
everybody whether they are part of the government or not. The
government is determined to go ahead with this buffer zone policy
and it must be mentioned that this policy is adopted for the benefit
of the people. And every citizen and in particular political parties
are expected to extend their fullest support to legislation that is
beneficial to the masses. If anybody or any party goes against this
policy, they have to be dealt with in accordance with the law.
Q: The SLFP organisers at the
grassroot level had wanted Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapakse to be
nominated as the presidential candidate. Will the party do so?
A: We have really not thought of
nominating anybody for this post right now. I think it is too
premature even to talk about it. It is not the people or members who
should decide about this but the central committee of the party. The
central committee has still not thought of nominating anybody at
Q: Should not the party nominate
someone now so that the potential candidate would have at least one
year to project him or herself as the leader capable of heading the
A: Not necessary. When was
President Kumaratunga nominated for this post? Just before
nomination day. We never gave her a period of one year to project
herself as the potential leader. I don't think this is necessary
provided the candidate is strong. Take for instance President
Kumaratunga. We nominated her just a few weeks before the nomination
and I suppose she has been one of the most successful leaders in the
history of this country.
Q: The confusion about the holding
of the presidential poll still lingers. When is the presidential
election going to be held actually?
A: In 2007.
Q: Not in 2006 as Media Minister
Mangala Samaraweera says?
A: No. The term of office of
President Kumaratunga ends only in December 2006. And the election
will obviously be held in 2007 after three months.
Q: There is also a controversy about
the unequal distribution of relief aid to the tsunami affected
areas. What is the government's position?
A: The government is doing as
much as possible. True enough the government and the members of
parliament could not be the first to help the victims and we are
thankful to the private sector and the NGOs for spearheading the
relief operation immediately after the December 26 disaster. However
the members of parliament and including ministers are involved in
relief operations now.
The state media is not giving publicity
to the work done by the ministers. The state media only shows the
work done by certain selected ministers and MPs. This is unfair. I
myself took 26 lorry loads of foodstuff to Trincomalee where I even
held talks with the local LTTE representative there and took another
23 lorry loads of stuff to the south, but the state media does not
talk about it.