BY CHARMINDA RODRIGO
General Secretary of the JVP, Tilvin Silva said in an interview with Ceylon Today, that many corruption inquiries were undertaken by various governments.’UNP and SLFP always conduct such inquiries only within a safe zone favourable to them.’ Excerpts of the interview:
?: JVP issued a statement back in 2015, during the election that Mahinda Stores consists of contraband commodities and at the same time no assurance could be issued on the commodities available at Maithri Stores. How do you assess the validity of this statement when you look back on the past 20 months?
A: As we said earlier, it is proven that Mahinda Rajapaksa’s was a corrupt government; this government too acts in a similar fashion. This government obtains unbearable loans for its survival; this government sells off State owned properties, this government too has started to loot public funds, this government too has misused hard earned tax payers funds, this government too has disregarded the promises that it made to the people, they have no remedies for the issues of the working class, such as farmers and labourers, no difference to the previous government.
This one is also marking time to sell education. Apart from the faces in control, there’s absolutely no difference between the two governments. What more proof do you expect to validate our statement?
?: JVP leader Anura Dissanayake once stated that no UNP and SLFP Government will do proper corruption inquiries against each other. What made him to make such a statement?
A: You see there were many corruption inquiries undertaken by various governments. UNP and SLFP always conduct such inquiries only within a safe zone favourable to them. Those investigations are not aimed at fulfilling the aspirations of the people. There are many inquiries conducted now, they have been initiated due to the immense pressure mounted by civil society, JVP and the progressive people. These organizations have provided evidence, complaints and sometimes conducted fierce protests pressurizing the authorities to undertake investigations. Police is probing into these allegations, but what has happened to the findings?
?: But there have been some arrests?
A: They have instituted legal action against a few in order to dilute the mounting pressure; but not against all. Especially the ones who joined the government seem to have walked away scot-free. Frontrunners of the previous government such as S.B. Dissanayake surprisingly have no inquiry against him, even though his name came up in many allegations. Therefore it is evident that all those inquiries have been launched creating a safe zone for those who are in the government. It is clear there is no genuine intention to probe into corruptions as the government is formed with the help of corrupt politicians.
Mahinda Rajapaksa bought over UNPers to strengthen his government; likewise, the present government has incorporated corrupt SLFPers to rule the country. How can they probe into each other when those alleged looters are sitting in their own circle? They make arrests for namesake, when extensive pressure is mounted by the people, from time to time.
?: What in your opinion is the reason behind this?
A: The UNP and SLFP have amalgamated for a common course, they have the same policies. There is no difference between them. Even the Rajapaksa fanatics in the Opposition are allusively supporting the Prime Minister and the government.
?: Leader of the JVP also played a part in the committee appointed to overlook the mechanism, instituted to investigate corruption. What have you achieved through that?
A: That committee has come to a closure after the prescribed period. We forced the government and the authorities to take prompt action on those cases. However, you may see we were engaged in many protests and poster campaigns to pressurize the government. We gave them evidence and proof that was in our possession. In fact Namal Rajapaksa was arrested after a complaint made by our member Wasantha Samarasinghe. We have done whatever we could within our reach. The government has been forced to undertake inquiries due to that. The government had plans to probe corruption from the beginning. You see, no action was taken against Wimal Weerawansa when he was caught misusing passports. The government has no real intention to probe into these allegations for the reason that the government itself is engaged in various corrupt practices. Corruption probing is taking place today, at least at this level, merely due to the pressure exerted by the JVP and the progressive civil movement.
?: Government has incorporated the office of the Missing Person’s Bill, how do you assess it?
A: It’s really good to have a legal frame work like this. This Bill states no time or geographical demarcation to inquiry. This could go back to 1971 or 1989 if one may have a case to look into. We presented amendments to the draft and they were accepted. When there is a mechanism in place like the OMP, it prevents governments from working on their whims and fancies to abduct people as they may please. Those who oppose the Bill are striving to hand over a license to the government to abduct people. This is absolutely not the right thing to do.
We should be vigilant that no ulterior motives are associated with the Bill; especially, when it comes to the earlier proposal to hand over findings of this office to a foreign third party. We opposed that proposal, so later it was removed from the final Bill.
?: The Joint Opposition (JO) says that that Bill could lead the armed forces to the guillotine. What do you have to say about it?
A: How can they enter into the pre assumption that this Bill has an effect on our brave soldiers? If they say so, they admit to the fact that they have misused the soldiers in abductions. Those who have skeletons in their closets should be afraid of such a law coming into effect. Now when they oppose the Bill they oppose inquiring the abductions of 71 and 89. Now we have seen the same gang oppose the move when establishing FCID and enforcing the CIABOC. They are the same people who were involved in abductions and looting of public funds. So it’s a natural resistance to save them from evident danger. It’s not the soldiers but the people who gave orders to act who have become so frightened by the law.
The same people who have insincere tears for our soldiers have made use of the same soldiers as slaves in their domestic chores; to do everything, including bathing the dogs and helping them get dressed.
?: We have observed some of the alleged properties of Basil and Yoshitha Rajapaksa were confiscated due to failure to provide evidence of ownership. Isn’t this a progressive step in terms of fighting corruption? Or do you see as a predetermined deal?
A: I do not know whether it’s a deal or not, but it was purely due to the mounting pressure against corruption. The alleged two properties were not claimed by Basil Rajapaksa as being his. The government should confiscate such property and establish a government institution there. The government was forced to initiate limited actions regarding the claims.
?: What is the root cause of all these? Is it after the President changed his stance from being the independent common candidate to the leader of the SLFP?
A: We told the public very clearly that we do not trust anyone. The President said he will be the independent common candidate during the campaign. But after his victory he got hold of the SLFP and started working to rebuild the party. There is a discussion in progress to study the possibility to retain the Executive Presidency without completely abolishing it. The government failed to abolish the Executive Presidency when the 19 Amendment was presented in Parliament. That clearly shows the integrity of the capitalist parties to present fairy tales during elections and act in differently when elected to power.
?: The JO organized a protest march from Kandy to Colombo. How do you see the image of the former President before and after the march?
A: Mahinda Rajapaksa lost his image when he became a Member of Parliament after the Presidential electoral defeat and also much gravely after calling himself the ‘Shadow Prime Minister’. He has no public image now. Also the whole bunch of JO has become a laughing stock among the people. Neither knew the difference between numbers, nor the direction they were heading whether it’s from Colombo to Kandy or Kandy to Colombo. Look at the following, in the march; they were nothing but drunken people who had absolutely no discipline. They got a child to recite intriguing statements about the President who is apparently their present leader. After all, it turned out to be nothing but a protest against the SLFP. JO has finally become nothing but a joke.
?: At the recent Sri Lanka Economic Summit 2016, JVP leaders along with other UNPers had expressed their views on the economy. JVP and UNP have very clear and different philosophies when it comes to economic reforms. Don’t you think that the JVP affirms their change in stance by taking part in this forum?
A: Don’t look at it in that way. This was organized by the Chamber of Commerce. The highest applause was for the speech delivered by our leader. We made it a forum to stage our voice; express our concerns; we pointed out the salient factors. That cannot be translated as a move to endorse the opinions of the UNP.
?: The government associated a western aligned stance in the beginning, but, now we see it divert back to China, momentarily. How do you see this?
A: It’s very clear. The government never had its own policy on the economy. We should always be open to the international community but with the only intention of achieving beneficial agreements for the country. We do not need to bend down in front of the Westerners, Indians or Chinese if we have proper plans in place. This is what happens when we do not have an independent economic plan for our country.