Controversial Minister Palitha Thewerapperuma hails the decision to take disciplinary action against him but claims it would have been more appropriate if he was stripped off the Ministerial post or Parliamentary seat.
“That would alert politicians who misbehave in the House and stop them from acting in such an irresponsible manner in the future,” asserts the Deputy Minister of Internal Cultural and Wayamba Development, in an interview with the Daily FT.
“What I did was wrong. And it should not happen again. Taking strict action would be the only way to end this. Nobody wants to lose power, but I am ready to sacrifice my positions if it puts an end these unfortunate incidents.”
Following are excerpts from the interview:
A: Actually during the past week I had more time to carry out my social service activities. Social service is something I enjoy doing. Even when I attend Parliament I somehow find time to work for my people. But this one week I considered as a holiday given to me to be with my people and help them.
Q: Do you think it was correct to take disciplinary action against you?
A: This was done purely to show the world that they have taken action against Parliamentarians who misbehave inside the House. I think it’s a good decision but I do not approve of the way they did it.
On the day this incident took place, the Speaker was present, there were senior Parliamentarians. As shown in the footage, I assaulted MP Prasanna first. I am not denying that. But if they have taken the decision based on video footage, MP Piyal Nishantha must also be suspended because he kicked me and disciplinary action has to be taken against MP Zoysa too.
I assaulted Prasanna because we had an argument. Piyal Nishantha and Zoysa do not have a single reason to assault MP Randeep. We lodged a Police complaint that MP Piyal Nishantha kicked me in the face and it is on tape. Why haven’t they taken any action against him?
Strict action needs to be taken against senior MP Dinesh Gunawardena. He is the one who started meddling with the Mace. He was trying to pull the Mace. So action needs to be taken against him too. I strongly believe MP Prasanna should not have been suspended. He was not involved in this brawl. He didn’t assault anyone. Anybody can view the footage if they need proof. No one has complained about MP Prasanna either.
I don’t have anything against the decision suspending me from Parliament, but MP Prasanna should not have been suspended. That’s my point. I feel such incidents should never take place in Parliament again. I am ready to face a bigger punishment if it would stop similar incidents taking place in future.
Q: Are you disheartened by the recent incidents?
A: No I am not. I am a strong man. I have experienced situations that were much worse. I was never disheartened. You don’t know who Palitha Thewarapperuma is. The only time I felt discouraged was when I lost my son. These are just ordinary things. I have faced death threats. My vehicles were damaged. But I never took a step back. I didn’t assault Prasanna over a personal matter. I don’t want a license to open a new bar or approval to start a new casino. I am not in politics to achieve personal goals. I attacked him because they were insulting us.
Q: You do agree that you behaved in an irresponsible manner?
A: What are you talking about? Is that a question to ask? Even a small kid will say we have misbehaved and that is not acceptable inside Parliament. What I did was wrong; you can’t attack people like that, especially inside Parliament. But what I want to ask is why people who criticise my actions are keeping mum about Dinesh Gunawardena’s behaviour.
Once Gamini Lokuge assaulted Vasudeva Nanayakara and dragged him along the floor. Mervin Silva did something to Kolonnawe Thero that we cannot publish in this paper. None of those acts are acceptable. These fights, this type of behaviour is nothing new in the Parliament culture. It has happened many, many times before, not only in Sri Lanka but in countries around the world.
But failure to take any action against such MPs will only encourage them. Some MPs think they are gods and they cannot be sent to jail. But if action was taken before, we would never have acted in such an irresponsible manner.
I am happy that they have suspended Parliament for a week. I wish they had taken a tougher decision like stripping off my Ministerial post or taking away my Parliamentary seat. If such a move alerts the rest of the MPs and stops them from acting irresponsibly inside Parliament in future, I am ready to sacrifice any position I hold.
Q: Are you the ‘Mervyn Silva’ of the ‘Yahapalana’ Government?
A: During a political show on television, a presenter called me a ‘madhaviya’. That is alright. Call me a thug; call me a gangster. But I am not any of what you are trying to say I am. Visit my Facebook profile. People are happy that I sometimes act in a slightly irresponsible manner. They have openly commended what I did. My supporters in England, Germany, France and Italy called me and praised me. They all said what I did was correct. I personally think it’s wrong to assault anybody but some people think otherwise.
Minister Ajith Silva has openly criticised me and my behaviour and he spoke very fondly about MP Randeep. But let me tell you something; when MP Randeep was assaulted and put on the floor, nobody came to help him. It was I along with a few other MPs who took him to the doctor. We first took him to the Parliament medical officer and later to the hospital.
Ajith Perera talks about ethics, once he was assaulted by another MP and I still remember how Perera chased that MP. I intervened and stopped Perera assaulting the other MP. Ajith Perera talks as if he has not done any wrong. Once during a function held at Raja Samaranayaka’s house in Bandaragama, Perera started a brawl and assaulted Samaranayaka and his guests. Perera has built a restaurant and a petrol station on a filled land.
His name is Sangarange Ajith Perera. But he doesn’t like to use that because then people will question his origin. Why does he have to hide his name? How can Perera come to conclusions about my behaviour? People in Kalutara know who Palitha Thewarapperuma is. People know I get into brawls easily. People know I am short tempered. They know I have been in prison. They voted for me knowing all that. How can Perera comment about my educational background? Nobody can call me uneducated.
Q: Early this week you tried to forcefully enrol a child into a school. Why do you always go against law of the country?
A: What is this nonsense you talk? There is nothing called law and order in this country. Can you name one Government officer who works like that, a Pradeshiya Sabha member or a Parliamentarian who respects law and order?
You know what actually works in this country? Remember how the JVP ruled the country with a simple piece of paper. The entire country obeyed instructions on a small piece of paper and didn’t dare to go against them. You remember how Prabhakaran’s bombs ruled the country? How scared and vigilant we all were? That is the only way to discipline this country. Ranasinghe Premadasa and Gotabaya Rajapaksa knew this art. They were good leaders and people respect them. The entire country obeyed Gotabaya Rajapaksa. There wasn’t a single cartoon in a paper against him.
Q: Do you feel your party recognises and appreciates you?
A: There are some who appreciate me and there is a handful that cannot stand my existence. These are the few so-called gentleman politicians who don’t know how to work with the party grassroots. When members in the grassroots level appreciate us, they feel threatened. Then they criticise us.
Q: Is it true that you were offered a ministerial post to prevent crossing over to the Opposition?
A: Why should I cross over? Why should I leave the UNP? My party is my religion. If I am to leave the party I would have done it earlier because I have gone through much worse situations. These positions we hold are temporary. I don’t care much about the positions. But I can guarantee I will never leave the party. During the worst times of the UNP we remained with the party. Why should I leave now?
Q: What is the clash between you and Mahinda Samarasinghe?
A: He is a loser. He betrayed the party.
Q: Or are you threatened by his popularity since you both are from the same area?
A: Popularity? What makes you think he is more popular than I am? He got only 32,000 votes whereas I secured 118,000 votes. Samarasinghe robbed the people’s money and misused State property. People like him are the real rogues. Unfortunately they have become prominent members in this Yahapalana Government. I may have threatened or assaulted someone and for that been criticised by everyone, but there are others who engage in much worse crimes.
If he is such a gentleman with excellent education and a respected politician with over 26 years of experience, why he can’t honour the verdict of the people and stay at home? People didn’t want him in Parliament; why is he so greedy to be in power?
– See more at: http://www.ft.lk/article/541599/-What-I-did-was-wrong-#sthash.kXgRjFNy.dpuf