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We will never support racism – Mahinda Rajapaksa

Mar 17, 2018 3:06:08 PM - thesundayleader.lk

By Ashanthi Warunasuriya

Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa says the Government showed their inability to properly govern the country through the irresponsible way they controlled the communal violence in Kandy. He said the government should have carried out a proper plan based on the information they received from the security forces but not after many areas of the country were destroyed by the miscreants. Rajapaksa said that a government should not blame each other but this government is continuously engaging in the blame game.

Excerpts of the interview:

Q: What are your views of the recent communal riots in the country?

A: It happened in Ampara before Digana. It further confirmed that the Government cannot govern the country properly. Normally, a Government can gather information via its intelligence services and security sections prior to disruptive incidents take place. A Government should be able to formulate a plan based on the information they gathered. A Government, to point a finger at each other is futile after an incident wreaked havoc in the country.  This Government continuously did similar things. So I am of the view that this also shows the Government’s inability in governance.

A: What would a Rajapaksa regime do in a similar situation?

Q: Anyone who engages in such activities should be punished without considering his or her race, caste, or any other position. We will never support racism. We treat every citizen alike.

Q: The JVP accused the Rajapaksas for arousing racism. They accused the Rajapaksas of providing security for the racists and maintaining them during the former regime. What is your view of this allegation?  

A: The JVP acts like kids today. It must be recalled that in 1983, a racist group emerged in the country against J. R. Jayewardene as an answer to his attitude towards the problem in the country. Former President Premadasa blamed the JVP for racism and started another riot in the country. Now a No Confidence Motion has been brought against Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and the entire country goes against him. Even every teenager knows that what happened recently helped emerge the racism. The JVP cannot understand this trend because they helped them to come into power. So, it is futile to go against JVP attitude.

Q: Even Buddhist monks are seen supporting communal riots. How does one enforce the law against them? How do you react in a similar situation?

A: The law must be meted out against them as well. We do not think that the Maha Sangha would go against that decision. We are a Buddhist country and it is our bounded duty to protect every other person. We had such a history. The law should be enforced against a monk or any other who blemishes our prestige as a nation. It is the duty of the government.

Q: Racism is a very sensitive issue. Some claim the Government does not attempt to control any of these issues because they have a deal with you. Is that true?

A: There have been claims of several ‘deals’. The people showed the nature of this ‘deal’ at the last Local Government election. Whether we have a deal with the Government or not, we showed the country our deal by getting the top most results at the last LG elections.

Q: The Kandy incident was spoken of even at the UN Human Rights Council? Is this a bad sign for Sri Lanka? 

A: Before this, the international community even spoke of even a small communal incident. We feel that they now talk since they have to talk of such incidents. Everyone knows that foreign embassies and the international community covertly help in bringing this government into power. If they honestly mediate in this type of events, they have to make aware of the government in this regard and pressurize them some more. But that did not happen. The Prime Minister visited the places where the violence occurred only after four days from the incidents. Today the country has no leader.

Q: Beruwela witnessed similar incidents in the past. Racial allegations are levelled at your side continuously. Why did you not take steps to address such allegations?

A: When that incident happened, we instantly controlled it. We did not put the entire country on emergency law. We granted whatever was necessary for the affected people and provided whatever was needed to rebuild the damaged properties. We did not wait for the event to happen and then take remedial action. The incident did not spread because we controlled it fast. Today this Government does not take action against such events as they want to divert the attention of the people from the real problems that the Government creates for them.

Q: Is it helpful to restrict social media against similar issues?

A: No, absolutely not. Business persons, students and others who engage with the international community get affected very much due to such restrictions. This is not a solution but creating of another. When the Central Bank bond issue was spoken of, the people spoke more and more about the restrictions on social media. These are all to take away the attention of the public from the real issues.

Q: It is said that Gotabhaya Rajapaksa is the candidate at the next Presidential Election. Is it true? 

A: The people of this country should decide whether it is Gotabhaya, Mahinda, or any other Rajapaksa or someone else. I cannot decide on that. We are ready to support the candidate decided by the people.

Q:  There is a rumour that a group led by President Maithripala Sirisena has sought a discussion with you for the 2020 Presidential Election. Is it true?

A: We are not going to have any discussion with that group. They are trying to engage in a discussion with us. We do not have any hidden agenda. We will not throw away the mandate given by the people.

Q: Finally, what is your message for the people?

A: I request Sri Lankans here and around the world to get together to uplift the country and to extend their support to make the international community aware of the short–sighted agenda of the Government.