(Text of a media release issued by former President Mahinda Rajapaksa on January 21st 2018 headlined “The role of the yahapalana opposition”)
There is a yahapalana government as well as a yahapalana opposition in this country. After the August 2015 parliamentary election, the UNP Speaker refused to recognize the Joint Opposition which had over 50 MPs as a part of the opposition, and gave the opposition leadership to the TNA which had 16 MPs. The JVP which had six MPs was given the position of chief opposition whip. Hence, we now have a situation in this country where the Joint Opposition which votes against the budget every year and opposes the government both inside and outside parliament, is not considered by the UNP Speaker to be a part of the opposition, while the TNA which always votes with the government at the budget and cooperates with them both inside and outside parliament is considered to be the main opposition party.
The TNA and the JVP were included in the all-powerful National Executive Council which was formed over and above the Cabinet to run the country immediately after the 2015 presidential election. When an Anti-Corruption Committee was formed under the leadership of the Prime Minister for the purpose of persecuting and jailing members of the previous government, the JVP and TNA were once again given prominent roles in this set up. For example, the Urgent Response Unit of this Anti-Corruption Committee was placed under the personal supervision of JVP leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake. In the first days of the yahapalana government, JVP cadres took over the functions of the police and raided various government and private premises searching for evidence of wrongdoing by the previous government.
When this operation was formalized in the form of the FCID, the leaders of the JVP and TNA continued to function in the Anti-Corruption Committee which controlled the new police unit. While masquerading as opposition political parties, the JVP and the TNA have supported every anti-democratic action taken by this government in the past three years. In August 2017, they helped the government pass a new local government elections law in contravention of the Constitution and the standing orders of parliament. A whole new elections system was introduced as committee stage amendments to a Bill that had been introduced in Parliament to correct some technical errors in the then local government elections law. For the first time in parliamentary history, the Bill that was passed at the third reading in Parliament was not the Bill that was debated at the second reading.
It was the JVP that praised and defended the new local government electoral system before the public. In September 2017, the JVP once again helped the government to postpone the Provincial Council elections by providing the two thirds majority required to get a Bill passed in parliament to change the provincial council elections system. In this instance too, committee stage amendments were brought to a Bill that had originally been meant to increase female representation in the provincial councils. Just days ago, when the yahapalana President tried to get his term extended from five to six years, neither the JVP nor the TNA made representations in the Supreme Court against it thus showing where their loyalties lay. It should be borne in mind that the yahapalana President was elected to power on JVP and TNA votes.
Since 1971, the aim of the JVP has been to destroy the state and the country and to create the confusion that will enable them to seize political power. In 1971, they tried to overthrow by force of arms a government that had taken office just nine months earlier, reportedly resulting in the deaths of 10,000 youths. Though the JVP caused the deaths of an estimated 60,000 people in 1987-89 in an insurgency against the introduction of the present provincial councils system, today, they show no opposition the proposed new constitution which will divide Sri Lanka into nine semi-independent federal units. It may be the case that they feel that the anarchy resulting from the breakup of the countrywill be their ticket to power.
In their failed bids to seize power in 1971 and 1987-89 through armed rebellion, the JVP banned elections and murdered voters who went to the polling booth. They killed hundreds of minor government officials such as gramasevakas to disrupt the functioning of the government. They killed hundreds of transport workers in an effort to disrupt the transport system. They killed policemen in a bid to bring law enforcement to a halt. They attacked army camps in the South to collect weapons for their campaign of terror when the entire Army had been mobilized for the Vadamarachchi operation to dislodge the LTTE from the Jaffna peninsula in 1987. They killed members of the armed forces and police in their bid to capture power and even went beyond the LTTE by murdering family members of armed forces personnel as well.
During the JVP’s second insurrection in 1987-89, its main leaders were not hiding in the jungles like most leaders of guerilla movements but living a comfortable life disguised as a prosperous planters and businessmen with the money and gold looted from banks and money extorted from businesses. Yet today, JVP parliamentarians stand before the people as the most incorrupt, innocent politicians ever to be born in this country. The TNA for its part supported the terrorism of the LTTE until the latter was destroyed by my government.
Organisations like the TNA and the JVP may excel at talking but are failures in administration. In 2004-2005 the JVP held four powerful portfolios in the Chandrika Kumaratunga government one of which was the Agriculture, Land, Irrigation and Livestock ministry run by Anura Kumara Dissanayake with BimalRatnayake as his deputy. It was Minister Dissanayake who presented to the Cabinet paper No: 05/0036/039/002 dated 4 January 2005 to initiate the Uma Oya project. My government later implemented this project which had been under discussion by various governments for more than fifty years.
At the end of December 2014 just days before my government was voted out of power, water began seeping into a tunnel being constructed as part of the Uma Oya project. The incompetent government that assumed power after me, failed to take remedial steps in time and the water seepage increased and caused a depletion of ground water in the entire area resulting in damage to buildings and crops. When problems arose in the Uma Oya project the JVP dived under their beds and while concealing from the public their own role in initiating the Uma Oya project, they tried to lay the blame for everything on my government saying that all these problems had been caused by my attempt to divert up-country water resources to the south.
If the JVP is unable to stand by and defend or even acknowledge the role they played in the only large scale development project ever initiated by a JVP minister, and they dive under their beds at the slightest sign trouble, how are they to carry out any kind of development work? When tunnels are being constructed, the ground water above it naturally seeps into the passageway. This has to be controlled by sealing the tunnel as the drilling proceeds. The Uma Oya contractors have now brought down the necessary equipment and the water seepage has been contained. In implementing development projects, problems do emerge and they have to be solved – that is what administrators are supposed to do. The JVP does not have what it takes to deliver results. This is why over 70,000 young people lost their lives in the JVP’s armed insurgency misadventures. One cannot expect failed rebels to become effective administrators.
In 2002, the JVP won the Tissamaharama Pradeshiya Sabha after they linked up with the Chandrika Kumaratunga government in 2001. They won the Tissamaharama PS again when they were supporting my government in 2006. But after they stopped working with us in 2011, they lost the Tissamaharama PS and went down to third place. Political parties like the JVP and the TNA are parties of agitators and can never be successful administrators.
The JVP’s administration of their four ministries in 2004-2005 was similar to the TNA’s administration of the Northern Provincial Council. The voting public should understand that what we have in this country is an incompetent yahapalana government and an equally incompetent yahapalana opposition – both of which should be rejected by the people.
Former President of Sri Lanka
21 January 2018