By Saman Indrajith
UNP MP Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka, yesterday, told Parliament that he had opposed fielding Maithripala Sirisena as the common candidate against Mahinda Rajapaksa at the 2015 presidential election as he had realised Sirisena’s inability to handle national security.
“I was dead against him. It was Chandrika Bandaranaike who brought this Kodivina (voodoo). I also correctly predicted that he would assume the SLFP leadership after his winning. However, it was a collective decision and we had to work for his victory,” Field Marshal Fonseka said, participating in the two day debate on current security situation in the country.
“We still have not neutralised the danger. The politicians would not understand this.
Anyone conversant with security affairs else must be aware that the danger is still lurking. The situation is still chaotic. Terrorism is not a problem that one can be eliminated within two to three weeks. Nonchalant approach is one of the serious obstacles to resolving this crisis. The politicians capitalise on this crisis to sling mud at each other and score political points.
The government needs the support of the opposition to solve this problem. For that purpose the government, too, should be genuine. The biggest obstacle to solving this problem today is the President holding the post of law and order minister. We, the government, should be given that ministry. The opposition, too, should help us secure it. That ministry should be renamed as Ministry of National Security.
I am against reopening of schools. The time is not yet suitable for that. The Minister of Education asked me for my opinion. I told him that if I was asked to make decision, I would not reopen the schools. Then the Minister told me that it was crucial to open schools for otherwise there would be delays in holding GCE Advanced Level and Ordinary Level examinations. But my opinion is that by reopening schools we will be placing our children in danger at this juncture. That decision should have been made after consulting the Opposition as well.
The Minister of Defence and the National Security Council think that the problem is over. However, what they do not realize is that the game of hide and seek is at its best right now.
According to the President the problem is now over. The NSC says that the crisis will be over in two weeks. It will take at least two years to strengthen the intelligence units and neutralise the threat. The security officials should realise this. In the meantime there is another security warning that there will be bomb explosions at Nawala, Panchikawatte, Wellawatte and Fort Railway Station on May 13. These are serious warnings. We as a government should take cognizance of them.
We cannot agree with the President’s speech in Parliament on Tuesday.
Around 50 per cent of security force members with the experience of war now have left the service. Today, the army and the police do not have the experiences of the war times. Therefore, what we can expect from these services is very little.
A presidential committee has been appointed to find a scapegoat. That committee was appointed after the President attended to all his problems. After the blasts, he had lunch at Banana Leaf in Singapore and went on shopping at Mustapha’s. That was how they reacted soon after the bomb explosions. We, too, have information on how they spent time Singapore in the immediate aftermath of the terror strikes.
Now, we are told that he summoned defence and security experts and specialists and held talks with them on how to solve this crisis. Had he invited men with qualifications we too should have been there. There is no other country that could eliminate terrorism. We are the only nation that did so. Ours is the only army which achieved that goal. According to the President’s opinion, we should not shout about the bomb explosions under his presidency because there were such incidents under the previous presidents. According to him, this country experienced a 32-year old war and, therefore, the Easter Sunday carnage is not so serious a matter.
It is unfair to send the IGP home for not delivering the letter of warning to the hands of the President. It was an insult to the entire police department. The IGP informed the President. The Defence Secretary, too, informed the President. Defence officials have told me that they informed the President of the danger 15 times but he was just looking up.
MP Wimal Weerawansa: Did you not know that when you appointed him as the President that he would lead our country to a disaster like this?
Field Marshal Fonseka: I knew. I was against him being fielded the common candidate. It was Chandrika Kumaratunga who brought this kodivine (voodoo).
“Now, there are cartoons to the effect that I am protecting Gotabaya Rajapaksa. On this issue, I ignore party politics. My standpoint on Rajapaksa has not changed. One of the ministers in our cabinet accused Gotabaya Rajapaksa of funding the terrorists. I do not think he did so. I also do not think he could do so now. We have a shortie who thinks he is omniscient. The only thing he cannot do is to extract teeth. He tried to treat me to a lecture on national security the other day.”