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Intl. pressure will continue even after LLRC recommendations are implemented - Minister Champika Ranawaka

2014 Jan 20

By Manjula Fernando

Minister of Technology and Research Patali Champika Ranawaka speaking to the Sunday Observer on the forthcoming election, the tussle between the JHU and Prime Minister, D.M. Jayaratne,the TNA's double face and international conspiracies against Sri Lanka, said India should realise that the real threat to its sovereignty is not from Sri Lanka but from those who are clamouring for a separate Eelam.

Adding that Islamic fundamentalists and Maoist terrorists are backing the LTTE remnants in Tamil Nadu he said, "Indian politicians should not be short-sighted and use the Tamil Nadu factor to get few votes in the Lok Sabha. Such actions will jeopardise not just India's security but the security of the entire region."

Q:The JHU did not fair all that well in the last round of Provincial Council Elections, what are your plans for the forthcoming elections, especially the Western Province?

A: Basically the JHU vote base more or less comprises intellectuals, professionals and academia. In previous elections we fared well in the Western Province. For example in 2004, 90% of our votes were from the Western Province. Although we have less voters in the rural areas, we expect to perform better in the Western PC election. The Middle Class which set the course of the country's political future are behind the JHU.

We have delivered our promises and adhered to our principles. During national issues we have worked with the country's interest in mind. I believe that we have not breached our voter's trust.

Q: You will contest, the Southern as well as the Western Province?

Yes we will, In the Southern Province because of the rapid development that has taken place. The Southern Province is a politically mature electorate.

I think the two elections are crucial for the Government as well as for the future of this country. We will contest all three districts in the Western Province and the two districts in the Southern Province.

Q: The JHU is often portrayed as an extremist nationalist party. As far as the votes are concerned has this particular branding been beneficial to your party?

These allegations are made by extremists parties like the anti Buddhists, anti Sinhala and anti Sri Lanka extremists and the NGO lobby. We are a moderate and professional party.

Many admire our principles and integrity. There has never been any allegation of corruption or malpractice against any JHU member or on the Ministries handled by them. We introduced international management practices in the institutions under our purview, in the central Government as well as the provincial governments.

Due to this impeccable record certain international forces and NGOs are attempting to tarnish our image. However, the public, especially professionals admire our work, because we have delivered what we promised.

Q:There seems to be a tussle between the Prime Minister and the Maha Sangha over a letter issued by one of his Coordinating Secretary' s and later some comments made by the PM. There are calls for the PM to step down. What is the JHU stance on this issue?

The JHU is not personally against the PM. Ven.Omalpe thera mentioned about the letter sent to release a particular container. We are fighting the heroin menace. It is serious. Eighty percent prisoners in Welikada prison are for the possession of about 2 grams of heroin. Almost 16,000 people were convicted in 2013 for this offence.

According to our data and the Police Anti-Narcotic Unit data almost 100,000 to 400,000 young people, mostly Sinhala Buddhists are drug addicts. This menace is sapping the life blood of our future. We are fighting this menace and our fight is not directed at the Prime Minister in person.

I think he must absolve all these charges against him by initiating a thorough investigation to apprehend the real culprits behind this menace and bring them to book. The rule of law must be protected at any cost.

Q: Does that mean the coordinating secretary must be arrested?

If charges are there, anyone should be arrested. Their positions cannot be an obstacle to implement the rule of law. This particular Pakistani national had offered various types of financial assistance to politicians, businessmen and officials. We have all the details.

Q:Would you present the evidence the JHU has in its possession if necessary?

Someday. We hope the police will apprehend the culprits in the near future, if not we will publish the information we have for the public to be informed. Allegations against all politicians must be investigated.

The Fraud Bureau should be empowered to handle technical, management and financial malpractices.

They handle only financial malpractices at the moment. Even COPE is not geared to handle technical and management malpractices. These bodies need to be given more teeth to save huge amounts of money that is being siphoned off by corrupt officials.

The JHU has set an example as far as management of public institutions is concerned. We have set an example on sound management policies and shown how to handle malpractices.

Q:There are predictions that Sri Lanka will face tough times at the next UN Human Rights Council sessions in March over war crimes and accountability issues. You have called for a diplomatic war to counter those allegations. What are the actions you propose for this diplomatic offensive?

This year our main hurdle or the political challenge is 'international containment'. The US may propose an international probe or appointment an international rapporteur to investigate so-called war crimes in Sri Lanka.

This way they could cripple our economy by imposing new surcharges or sanctions. Our economy is in a delicate state due to many reasons including the deficit of imports and exports.

To launch a diplomatic offensive we need proper economic conditions. For example 60% of our export market is in Europe. Major share of our treasury bills are held by US firms or individuals.

These conditions need to be reviewed to face future challenges or else it can be exploited by international players to scuttle the whole progressive process.

There is a voice within the country that the Government must implement the LLRC recommendations and talk to the TNA to minimize international pressure. I do not believe that international pressure can be satisfied by such action.

Sri Lanka is not a concern of the US. They are trying to contain China in the Pacific Ocean. They use Japan, South Korea, Philippines and Vietnam to encircle China. And in south Asia they use India and other countries to ward off Chinese influence in the Indian Ocean. We are sandwiched between these international forces.

By 2020 China will be the single largest economy in the world. Today it is the biggest exporter, manufacturer and the biggest dollar reserve is currently held by China. Nevertheless, we need to diversify our relations in Asia. We need to enhance ties with China and Japan.

Further, we need to focus on emerging countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America. North America and Europe are now diminishing forces.

Q: How can we convince the international community ?

We must tell the truth consistently. The claims that 40,000 died or

140,000 died as calculated by Mannar Bishop Rayappu Joseph are blatant lies. The Census and Statistics Department carried out a survey in the North, it has been revealed that approximately 7946 people were killed in the last stages of the conflict, out of which 5000 were LTTE cadres.

Civilians were not targeted by the military, we have to accept that. The military freed 300,000 people held by the LTTE. These are facts. We must convince the international community by being consistent in our engagement with them.

Q: The TNA's campaign to portray the Sinhalese as anti-Tamil seems to have doubled in the run up to the March UN HRC sessions?

Chief Minister Wigneswaran is talking about 'Sinhalization' in the North, what would he say to the situation in Colombo. In 1970 the Tamil population in Colombo was 23%, it has increased to 33% now. TNA MP Sumanthiran and the Northern Chief Minister are residing in Colombo. While living here, enjoying all the rights as free citizens, they talk about shunning the same freedom to Sinhalese to settle in the North.

They are using compassion and tolerance of the people of this country to achieve their extremist ambitions. That should not be allowed.

During the Mavil Aru issue we were able to mobilise the forces to fight the LTTE to the end. I the same way we must fight international conspiracies against the country and be consistent until the battle is over.

Cuba has done exactly this, the result is an economically, politically and militarily strong state. They consistently emphasise the truth to defeat forces against the country. Similarly we must sustain our campaign. Now the world has changed significantly. The US is no more the sole super power.

They were defeated in Syria, Libya and Iraq and Afghanistan.

The country is currently burdened with its own economic woes. Also we should not let Britain worry us too much. But in the case of India I would say we need to have a close relationship. Tamil Nadu is not the only state there, so we must try to cultivate other states in our favour.

Q: Our relations are somewhat strained with India lately due to the attitude of the Tamil Nadu state. What impact would it have on Sri Lanka in fighting international forces?

The situation in India is very unfortunate. India is always trying to pacify Tamil Nadu extremist forces and to create problems for herself.

In the 1980s they were allowing MGR and Karunanidhi to fund, foster and facilitate the LTTE. The central government too, trained and armed the LTTE. What was the outcome, the LTTE killed their Prime Minister and killed over 1000 Indian peace keeping soldiers. They don't seem to learn a lesson.

The Sinhalese have never gone against India. But they try to portray the Sinhalese as being anti-Indian. But the real enemy are the ones clamouring for Eelam, their aim is to carve out South India. It was not Ali Jinna's Islamic movement but the Dravidian movement by Ramasami Naicker that was trying to disintegrate India. Later they joined forces with Jinna.

Indian politicians should not be short-sighted and use the Tamil Nadu factor to get a few votes in the Lok Sabha. Such actions will jeopardize not just India's security but the security of the entire region.

We know that the LTTE remnants are now training and arming themselves. They are collaborating with Islamic fundamentalists.

Kashmir terrorists attended a celebration in Tamil Nadu and made speeches on the LTTE's so- called Mahaveer day. The Maoist movement is also backing the LTTE. Islamic fundamentalism, the Maoist movement and the Dravidian movement are the real threat to India's sovereignty, not Sri Lanka. The Indian politicians are playing a dangerous game with them.

A third political force in India is emerging where the Middle Class voice is being heard. It may change corrupt politicians in the Congress as well as the BJP. I think India's attitude towards Sri Lanka should change, if not the LTTE factor coupled by Maoists, Islamic fundamentalism and the Dravidian movement will create more problems for them. These forces are trying to disintegrate India.

Indian politicians should know that Sri Lanka would preserve its identity. For the last 10,000 years we had been successful in preserving a Sinhalese identity despite living under the shadow of a big country.

Q:With another crucial round of UN HRC sessions fast approaching shouldn't Sri Lanka have more cordial relations with India?

The Indian government, the main parties, the BJP and the Congress are playing politics. They think the 39 seats in Tamil Nadu are more important than the country's future. This is the issue. We should cultivate our relations with other countries. India is not a single country it is a federal state and someone in Gujarat or Kerala is not bothered about the politics in Tamil Nadu. We need to cultivate new political and social connections with these forces and try to change the Indian opinion about Sri Lanka.

Q: The US sent its war crime representative to Sri Lanka on a fact finding mission. The US has also been identified as the biggest threat to world peace in an on-line poll. How do you see this visit in this context?

Steven Rapp was responsible for the prosecution of the Liberian President. He is trying to cook up a similar case against our President and the leaders of the armed forces.

But we have not signed the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. To fight the challenge posed by Rapp we need to tap our allies, China, Russia and Japan.

Rapp did not want to meet JHU representatives. He met the anti-Sri Lankan lobby and the NGOs.

His was a set mission. We must cultivate African and Latin American countries which oppose US suppression. Brazil and Argentina who voted against us in Geneva should be won back.

Q: You met the Japanese Special Envoy during his last visit to the country recently. What was the focus of your discussion?

Japan can understand our problems more than the Americans.

Due to the Senkuku Island issue, Japan is in a delicate situation with China and the US is tying to exploit the situation. Japanese Special Envoy Yasushi Akashi has been visiting Sri Lanka for decades and he is in a better position to understand the political dynamics here.

JHU representatives explained to Akashi that the Grade 5 scholarship examination in the Tamil medium is administered in almost all 25 districts, whereas the Grade Five paper in the Sinhala medium is given in just 16 districts.

It goes to show that Tamils live everywhere in the country whereas the Sinhalese cannot.

This is the same case with University admissions. Sinhala students need to get more marks to enter University whereas Tamil medium students go to University with a lower margin. So who is really being discriminated?

We explained to him that the real issue in Sri Lanka was not discrimination of Tamils but rather Tamil racism.


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