(COLOMBO, LANKAPUVATH) –No room should be given to the “ghosts of the previous regime” to defeat the mandate of the coalition government using a strategy in the guise of a no-confidence motion, Finance and Media Minister Mangala Samaraweera said at a special interview yesterday said.
Minister Samaraweera pointed out that the No-Confidence Motion is not a move against Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, but a ploy against the Yahapalana government that succeeded the previous regime which thrived on tyranny, corruption and family bandism.
Minister Samaraweera expressed his confidence that a majority in Parliament will stand with Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe to defeat the no confidence motion (NCM) against him. Referring to the no-confidence motion as yet another “storm in the tea cup”, Minister Samaraweera said that the country should not be dragged back to the darkness it was in, from its journey towards a brighter future.
The UNP has taken a decision to unanimously rally around PM Wickremesinghe to defeat the NCM. Minister Samaraweera said: “I am not aware of the JVP’s opinion on this. However I believe they are not ready to return to the corrupt regime we had earlier. I am sure that the Tamil National Alliance despises the ethno racist approach taken up by the previous regime. Thus, I believe all these parties will want to defeat the NCM,” he said.
Minister Samaraweera made these observations at a special interview held at his official residence yesterday morning.
Minister Samaraweera observed that individuals, who toil for the Rajapaksa backed NCM, are the persons who are frightened by the government’s slow but sure approach in rounding up the culprits responsible for many crimes and corruption prior to 2015. He further observed that their prime target has become Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe who is dedicated to the present coalition government.
Speaking further Minister Samaraweera pointed out that the NCM is a part of the larger movement against Yahapalana government, launched by the very people who were involved in crime and corruption with the blessings of the Rajapaksa rule. “On January 8, 2015 the Yahapalanaya government began a new journey championing democracy, development and reconciliation. But the persons, who were prospering under the previous corrupt regime, started scheming against the new government. They come up with all sorts of strategies to bring this government down,” The Minister added.
The Minister also observed that the origin behind the NCM is the same source behind the recent disturbances in Kandy.
“Investigations into crime and corruption cases under the previous regime have recorded much progress by now. These crimes and corruption could not have been unearthed for years, but now we are successfully presenting evidence against the culprits involved in these cases. So, these people have become anxious about this progress. They want to come back to power and reestablish the corrupt regime they maintained prior to 2015. The latest strategy to topple the Yahapalana government is this no confidence motion against PM Wickremesinghe. The supporters of the Joint Opposition and the JO minions in the government itself are trying to use this NCM as a backdoor to come to power,” Minister Samaraweera pointed out.
Asked on an alleged clash between President Sirisena and the government, Minister Samaraweera completely denied the allegation. “There is no clash whatsoever between the President and the government. Representatives of both parties respect President Sirisena very much. He is a pleasant person who lends an ear to everybody. However, President Sirisena is challenged to maintain the balance between several groups in his party. Some people who made indecent remarks on President Sirisena when he was the common candidate later joined this government seeking ministerial portfolios. President Sirisena has to strike a balance as the leader of the SLFP among all these groups who hold different opinions,” Minister Samaraweera explained.
Speaking further, Minister Samaraweera said that PM Wickremesinghe should be given the well deserved recognition as the key figure that revived the bankrupt economy taken over by the coalition government. “We had trillions of rupees to service debts in the coming years. We paid more than a trillion to service our debts last year. Next year, we have to pay around 4 trillion. We have passed important milestones in our economy thanks to the economic plan launched by PM Wickremesinghe under the guidance of President Maithripala Sirisena,” he pointed out. People will reap the benefits of these development initiatives in the coming years, he added.
Minster Samaraweera also observed that PM Wickremesinghe was selfless when extending his fullest support to the common candidate at the 2015 Presidential Election. Samaraweera pointed out that, giant political figures such as former PM Sirimavo Bandaranaike was not willing to give up her privilege to compete in an election by giving an opportunity to a common candidate, as proposed at the 1988 Presidential election.
Referring to the allegations on the Treasury Bond issue, Minister Samaraweera pointed out that the government has taken all necessary steps to recover the loss incurred by the questionable bond sale. “We have frozen the accounts of all perpetrators of the bond issue, so that we can recover every penny. It was Prime Minister Wickremesinghe who first called for an investigation on this issue. If we followed the steps of corrupt Rajapaksa regime, we would have appointed a henchman of our government as the Chairman of the COPE committee. Premier Wickremesinghe also bowed down to the Presidential Commission appointed to look into the Treasury bond issue. He even volunteered to give evidence before the Commission. There have been trillions lost in bond scams under the purview of the previous regime. Now they are bringing in a NCM against the PM who introduced a system to apprehend these scammers and curb corruption in the relevant institutions,” Minister Samaraweera also said.
Asked on criticisms against the present government, Minister Samaraweera agreed that there have been several criticisms leveled against the government. He said, that the government will take all measures to deal with these criticisms.
“In all honesty, the main criticism against the present government is that we isolated the forces that brought us into power. We are criticized for sliding away from the policies we were supposed to implement. Even though Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna recorded a victory at the recent Local Government Election, they cannot obtain a majority at a General Election,” Minister Samaraweera said.
“The majority of this country is opposed to the previous regime just as much as they were in 2015. However, we are losing their confidence. So the first step following the no confidence motion is to go back to our vote base and provide facilities to our poor innocent citizens. Parallel to such a welfare approach, we need to create an economy that can compete in the global market. We also need to defeat ethno religious tensions created by the same sources that has brought in this NCM. I must agree that the police responded slowly to the tense situation at Kandy recently. We will have to take strict action against incidents such as these in the future to ensure reconciliation among all the ethnicities. We will not allow anybody to drag us back to the corrupt era we were in,” Minister Samaraweera further said.
Denying the allegation that the PM is protecting Rajapaksa family, Minister Samaraweera pointed out that the NCM presented to Parliament contains several signatures of Rajapaksa family members who are parliamentarians. “If the PM is protecting the Rajapaksas, would they have signed the no confidence motion?” Minister Samaraweera questioned.
Minister Samaraweera also said that the progress achieved by the government will not be hindered or reversed by the no confidence motion. He pointed out that the government is confident that the NCM will be defeated on Wednesday, hence there will be no such hindrance to the operations of the government.