An Interview with Hirunika Premachandra by Hafeel Farisz
Q:There were many “pretty faces” that spoke on different issues with the same venom that you have in the recent past like for instance Anarkalee, Upeksha, Malini Fonseka etc. What makes you different from the rest? Do you have anything beyond a “pretty face”?
All of them are actresses and I’m different from them. My main issue is to speak on behalf of my father and three people who were killed with him. I represent everyone who have been killing in this manner.
How I differ from the above is that they have come into politics on the popularity that they have earned through their performance. The reason that jolted me into the limelight was the death of my father. I had no popularity before that. Also clearly I have set principles and a political vision; I have studied and also have a political background. That I believe is how I differ.
Q:On what basis did you first join the UPFA stage and urge the people to join the government.
Before I answer this question I believe it is only right that I go back in history and remind you certain facts because a lot of people don’t seem to comprehend the historical context. My father got involved in politics in 1979 and was an ardent supporter of Vijaya Kumarathunga. It was with him that my father formed the Sri Lanka Mahajana Party. At the time it was the most popular party in the country. Then my father was elected to Parliament and joined the SLFP again on the invitation of President Chandrika Bandaranaike.
Basically he was a leftist all along. He never moved from left to right but from left to left. My father faced a lot of obstacles and challenges to get a party that he represented into government. Personally, I also have leftist ideas, but if you look at any of my interviews I have never said that I would join the opposition or called for a common opposition. My father also faced a lot of injustice within the party but he never left it.
I became a member of the SLMP a few months ago. It is a constituent party of this coalition. I don’t think many people know that. What I have told the people all along is that I’m a leftist and never have I said that I would join the UNP, JVP or Mr. Fonseka’s party.
The fact that I shouted a lot after my father was killed must have raised many eyebrows. I don’t think this case would have gone this far if I didn’t. I have never said that I was against this government, but I’m against certain personalities who were a part of it. I’m against Duminda Silva because he is a person who joined the government for his personal benefit and didn’t respect seniors of our party.
Many of the seniors were saddened by my father’s death but they can’t speak out. What I have to say is that I have always been a part of this government as a member of the SLMP. But I am independent and will always speak out against injustice. I will continue to be a part of this coalition and try to steer it in the right direction. That is what my father did and I will continue to do so.
Q: When you say you are against personalities within the government don’t you think these personalities are from the same government that you stand by, hence, what is the rationale behind still being part of it?
Yes true, it is them who make the government. It is clear that this government has its failures. The problem is that many don’t speak out against them. My father spoke about the failures and at the end of the day he was killed. I will also speak against this. There is nothing that is perfect but I will continue to be a part of it and try and steer it in the right way. None of this would have happened if the government gave nominations after doing a comprehensive background check on the potential candidates. The rationale is that if there is waste on the floor and I have only that place to keep my feet on, I have to remove that waste by remaining there. I can’t move to some other place and remove that waste.
Q: Do you believe that after your father’s death members of this government sided one party?
Yes I believe that they did. I’m not afraid to speak the truth. A lot of people would tell you that my father didn’t have the power of money. What he had was the power of the people. The people were always with him. These are the people who tell me that my father’s death was planned and some others say that it wasn’t so. I wasn’t there but what I know is that my father was killed and Duminda Silva was there together with drug lords and underworld figures. The fact of the matter is that the main suspect of this killing is still a freeman and I think most definitely there is an invisible hand behind that. I don’t know who it is or what it is but I know that if this was the other way around my father would have been jailed. I will continue to seek justice from courts because there is nothing else I can do.
Q: Well, I’m yet to understand the basis of your support for the government after admitting these things?
My father went through a lot to bring his party to what it is. He faced a lot of injustice within the party when he was living and I used to ask him why he wouldn’t leave it.
He told me that he had principles and that the few of them could stake the biggest claim to the party because they went through many a hardship to bring it to the level that it is. You can’t bring up a child and then throw it away. That is my stance as well. I believe that I have a claim to this government as much as anyone else and I don’t have to leave it. I will fight for justice from within. I have lost my father and there is nothing else for me to lose so I will continue to shout. Why should I be the one leaving the government that my father toiled to bring into power? It is not me who should leave but the others.
Q: Didn’t you understand the public gallery’s claim that your only fight was the fight for justice for your father’s death? Now hasn’t all of this taken a different turn? What is your political ambition?
Yes, I have to clear this out. I don’t intend to enter politics exhibiting the body of my slain father. My entrance was hurried because of the death of my father but I always wanted to do politics. That is why I studied law and studied political science for A/levels
Q: You mother is now a presidential advisor, isn’t this something that will satisfy you all?
My mother is a Presidential coordinator and I don’t think that she has ever gone to office. The reason this post was given to her was to help us keep this house and the vehicle that was given to my father. We are still building our house in Kolonnawa. That is the reason behind this appointment.
Q: What do you think about President Mahinda Rajapaksa?
I don’t know him as the President. I know him as Mahinda uncle who was like a brother to my father. He was very close to all of us. He was in and out of our house and has been with us through good times and bad. Our families associated with each other as one. But as a citizen of this country I’m honestly not very happy with certain things that are happening. There are problems in the education sector, the health sector and others.
Q: What are your views on Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa?
I believe he played a vital role in eradicating terrorism from this country, just like every citizen of our country believed. But after the death of my father, people told me different things and that’s the stance I take now.
Q: Your views on the former Army Commander Sarath Fonseka?
I think what happened to him was clear injustice. I believe that he was a very good commander of the Army. However, at certain times I think he fell victim to traps laid by politicians. I think he did politics from his heart but I understand that it was difficult to do politics that way. I hope now he understands his faults. Having said that I must make it clear that I won’t ever join him in his political endeavours or be a part of the joint opposition.
Q: Do you approve of the way your father did politics?
Like I told you before my father did politics from his heart. His style of politics suited Kolonnawa because it is different from any other place in this country. We had an open house where any man could walk in at anytime. But I can’t do that because I’m a woman.
Q: That wasn’t my question. People believe that your father was a ‘Chandiya.”Do you approve of that style?
I don’t regret him being that nor I am ashamed of it. My father never trampled the poor and showed his might. He was always on the poor man’s side and if he ever felt there was injustice he would intervene. That is the way politics had to be done in Kolonnawa. We aren’t a very rich family, we grew up in a middle class environment and my father never gave us a luxurious life just because he was a politician. I think is it because of this upbringing that we are able to face everything that is happening to us now.
Q: Do you believe that justice would prevail in the issue of your father?
I know what the end of all this would be. But since it’s before courts I can’t say anything about it. There are various stories that have been said about the main suspect. His parliamentary term has been continuously extended. But he can’t hide all his life and will have to return to this country at some point. When he does arrive the law requires that he be arrested. And if he isn’t arrested I think the real fight will begin then. courtesy: Daily Mirror