We don’t want to argue with chithranganie
By Anuradha Samuel
Leader of the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) Anura Kumara Dissanayaka says that he will expose another mega corruption deal at the next parliamentary session.
Following are excerpts:
?: Is the new government good?
A: The government must be in line with the mandate given on 8 January. But, they appear to be going against it. We pointed out during the presidential election campaign that the government was not to be trusted. The developments highlight the need for uniting for the rights of the people.
?: What happened to the thieves in the previous government who were exposed by the JVP?
A: Thieves have crawled deeper into this government. One group of thieves is sitting in the living room while the other groups of thieves are loitering in the verandah. Investigations are underway against one group and some probes are being swept under the carpet. We have information about the fraudsters and their frauds.
?: Where are the 92 files you said are related to the thieves of the previous government?
A: They are there. I detailed one in Parliament and it is related to Avant Garde. We hope to expose another one in the next parliamentary session.
?: You have not brought anyone to book yet?
A: No. Investigations are underway against Susil Premajayantha, Anura Priyadarshana Yapa, T.B. Ekanayaka, Sajin de Vass Gunawardena, Gamini Senarath, Lalith Weeratunga, Namal Rajapaksa, Gotabaya Rajapaksa and a bunch of unscrupulous elements who were close to politicians of the previous regime. It is no more secret to people who are connected to these frauds.
?: But many of them have joined the good governance government now.
A: We tested if the previous government was patriotic or not. The patriotism was defined according to the loyalty to Mahinda Rajapaksa. Those who were loyal to him were patriots and others were not. Likewise, the loyalty towards the Maithri-Ranil government must not be a criterion either to punish the fraudsters or to immune them. But the developments indicate that the investigations are used to save the loyalists and to punish the opponents.
?: At one time the JVP charged that Johnston Fernando was an ethanol dealer.
A: Yes. He is not a minister in the present government.
?: But, the radio licence you received for VFM was sold to Johnston Fernando. Was it not bought with ethanol money?
A: Actually, VFM is not completely ours. A group loyal to us ran it. They have sold it to a minister and we had nothing to do with that deal.
?: What happened to the Avant Garde exposure? No one has named.
A: According to parliamentary privileges, the name of an MP cannot be mentioned in a debate. But, I revealed the officials and businessmen who were connected with the deal. With the details I outlined, you can understand the MPs and ministers who are connected to it.
?: We reported your statement. But how many other media reported it?
A: I don’t remember. But a large number of print and on line media institutions had not reported it.
?: Why were they not in the media?
A: It shows that Avant Garde money can buy many radical media institutions.
?: Do you mean Avant Garde bought media institutions?
A: That is the reason for certain media reporting it as lead news and some media reporting it without giving any prominence.
?: There is an allegation that Minister Vajira Abewardena was given money by Nissanka Senadhipathi to hide the Avant Garde incident. Is this true?
A: Read my statement. It has information for you to come to a conclusion.
?: Did they offer money to the JVP also to refrain from speaking about this?
A: Actually, Nissanka Senadhipathi tried to meet us via a certain person. I said I did not want to meet him and we have never spoken of money. He sent a team to protest in front of our party office. But we have never discussed.
?: The party is accused of not delivering justice to the family of Rohana Wijeweera.
A: You know how Mrs. Wijeweera and her family have been living for the past 26 years. We, as a political movement never offer her cheques for the media to see. But we have done everything we can do as humans. She may not be satisfied perhaps after 26 years. But we do not want to argue with her. She had expressed her views. We have done our duty.
?: How can the JVP win the trust of the people in a context where the party cannot win the trust of Wijeweera’s family?
A: It is relevant to the other political parties but this is not politics that go from generation to generation. Relationships are also irrelevant to us. We are bound by duties and responsibilities. We have rendered our duties. We don’t care for her statements of dissatisfaction. We have seen the behaviour of many of the leaders and their families in major struggles. Therefore, no one must think that the blood relations of the leader must be with us. The JVP is not a political party of that kind.
?: Now the government has proposed to investigate 10 major corruption charges. What is your comment?
A: There is such a discussion. But we will not allow only major cases probed and others undermined. It is good to accelerate several major cases. But we will not let the other files to be closed.
?: Are you certain that it is not a ploy to safeguard thieves?
A: Let me see. Both you and I are citizens of this country. All of us have a responsibility to prevent probes from being overshadowed by nepotism.
?: Does the JVP know who is trying to block the corruption investigation against former Secretary to the President Lalith Weeratunga?
A: We can see that various groups have acted to protect him.
?: Who are they? Why cannot the JVP expose them?
A: Actually, it is not fair to reveal names without evidence. But I can directly say that Lalith Weeratunga cannot evade arrest without such mediation. We are not ready to expose corruption in the way the newspapers break news and write columns.
?: Is Vajira Abewardena’s name connected with the Avant Garde case?
A: I have no idea.
?: The Bribery or Corruption Commission has re-commenced its work. But no thief has been arrested.
A: I also have to ask the same question from the Bribery or Corruption Commission.
?: Does the Commission appear reluctant to probe the corruption cases?
A: It is an independent institution. We must not interfere with its work. But, we have extended our support to the commission and the other units to carry on the probes. The politicians who are in charge of those institutions are responsible to activate them.
?: Who are the thieves in the new government as you have identified?
A: The Treasury bond issue of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka has caused a great loss to the country. The responsibility cannot be only with the Governor of the Central Bank. The Minister of Finance must be answerable. Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe was instrumental in appointing him through the Cabinet. Therefore he too is responsible.
?: The new government released KP, swept the Avant Garde case under the carpet and bailed out Sajin Vass. In this context, the JVP cannot be silent.
A: We directly appeared for changing the Rajapaksa regime. But we did not guarantee about the government formed after it. We must unite to fight for the rights of the people. The JVP is reviewing the government critically and with an open mind. Therefore, we must act to make the promises made in the presidential and the general election true. We have already submitted 20 proposals. They are not our proposals but the promises made by Maithri and Ranil. We must continue to pressure them to get those promises honoured. We are ready to lead that struggle.