Provincial Council elections:
Applicants’ past, crucial factor in nominations - Minister
We gave nominations this time after carefully going through Police
reports of the applicants. Persons accused of various crimes, corruption
and malpractices requested nominations from us but we did not give them.
We thoroughly studied reports on each applicant’s past. We will continue
the same procedure in the future, said SLFP General Secretary and Health
Minister Maithripala Sirisena during an interview with the Daily News.
Excerpts of the interview:
Q: What are the chances of the UPFA winning the three upcoming
Provincial Council elections?
A: The UPFA will record a magnificent victory in all three
upcoming PC elections. There is no doubt about that. The people of the
Eastern and North Central Provinces feel the dawn of peace. The Eastern
Province was fully governed by the LTTE earlier. The NCP was the boarder
province to the North and East and the people there suffered just as the
people in the North and East. Now the people in NCP enjoy peace. People
never forget what they underwent.
SLFP General Secretary and Health Minister
The fastest development in the country was achieved by the Eastern
province. It achieved the fastest and greatest development after the
conclusion of the humanitarian operation. If anybody wants to see real
development, they have to go to the Eastern province. Other two
provinces also achieved significant development under the UPFA
government. The people living in the Sabaragamuwa province also enjoy
peace today. Today, farmers who grow tea, rubber, spices etc. earn a
good income and traders who sell the same products get a good income.
The economic situation in the province is satisfactory. After
considering the permanent peace and the ongoing massive development
drive, the people living in all three provinces will definitely vote for
Q: The PCs blame the central government for not granting
adequate funds for development while the public blame the PCs for not
carrying out work. Comment.
A: Although some politicians in the provinces say they do not
have adequate funds for development activities, the development work of
these provinces are being carried out. When the government governs the
country, it does not matter which institution carries out the
development work. What matters is whether development takes place in the
area or not. We do not need to create divisions in connection with this
There are certain shortcomings in the PC system. But today we cannot
reject the PC system. With the ethnic issue and the need for devolution
of power, a majority believe that we need the PC system.
We need to correct shortcomings in the PC system when it comes to
devolving power but regarding development, what matters is acting as
part of the government to develop the entire country. President Mahinda
Rajapaksa’s government has already carried out a massive development
drive in all three provinces where PC elections are held. More
development projects are in progress in these provinces.
Q: What are the main development projects in your area,
Polonnaruwa district, over the past years?
A: A special dam safety programme launched by the government
in Polonnaruwa at a cost of Rs. 10 billion covering all main tanks such
as Parakrama Samudraya, Girithale, Kaudulla etc. The project will
increase the water level of tanks and ensure safety of the future of the
farming community in the province.
The project commenced during the time I held the post of Agriculture
Minister and ensured the safety of the future of dams and farmers. All
roads in the area were developed spending millions of rupees. Health
facilities in the province developed and modern medical equipments were
provided to all state hospitals in the district. The Polonnaruwa
hospital has modern medical equipment which are not available even at
the Colombo National Hospital. Employment was provided to youths
bringing down unemployment in the area. Buildings were provided to
schools, higher education institutes etc. Today, the Polonnaruwa
district has achieved a significant development and stands out among
Q: How do you see the conduct of the Opposition at this
A: How can the Opposition talk about a common Opposition when
there is no common agreement or unity in the United National Party (UNP),
the main political party in the Opposition? The UNP leader secured his
position for six more years by amending the party constitution. This
raises questions about his ability to agree with other political parties
because he cannot agree with the members of his own party. Under his
leadership, the UNP experienced defeat, division, setbacks and
destruction. He amended the party constitution and ensured his power for
six years to block the insurgency within his party. He cannot build the
country without being able to build the UNP. According to our democratic
system, all political parties should select their leaders annually or at
least once in two years. The present Opposition leader is the only
leader in Sri Lanka who brought an amendment stating that the party
leader and officials should not be appointed in a period less than six
years. If the UNP and its leader behave like this without power, what
will they do if they get power ?
They accused the President and the UPFA government when we brought in
the 18th amendment stating it was against the democratic system. They
said the amendment was not appropriate.
The same people closed the door for the leadership of their own party
for six years for their party members. This is how they practice so
They do not have any ethical right to speak about a common Opposition
and they will not be able to form such a thing.
Q: What is the SLFP policy on giving nominations for those
accused of various crimes?
A: We gave nominations this time after carefully going through
Police reports of the applicants. Persons accused of various crimes,
corruption and malpractices requested nominations from us but we did not
Therefore, they were angry and now campaigning against us. Some of
them are now contesting independently. We thoroughly studied reports on
each applicant’s past. We will continue the same procedure in the
future. We think it is good if all other political parties can follow
the same method.
Q: How will you combat the existing drug mafia?
A: The National Drug Policy is required to offer high quality
drugs at a low price. Other countries have rules and regulations on
drugs. But the rules and regulations in Sri Lanka are not adequate to
control drug-related issues. That is why we plan to bring the National
Drug Policy. The error occurred at the Attorney General’s Department has
affected the entire country today. The relevant officials in the
Attorney General’s Department did not carry out their duties properly.
The new officials in the department are currently working on the policy.
There is a court judgement. The delay is not created by the Health
Ministry. The delay was with the Attorney General’s Department. If they
do their job on time, we can bring the policy without delay.
Q: What do you think of the approach of the media regarding
reporting crimes, national issues etc?
A: The question is whether it is politicians or the owners of
media outlets who rule the world. This situation is common to the entire
world. Today, the media can utter good, bad or lies about any
government. The media can also portray a hardcore criminal as a saint
and a saint as a criminal. The media is very strong but the advancement
of media should be used for the betterment of the people. Media plays a
vital role when it comes to development. They should play a leading role
when developing the morals of the society and social ethics. But this
does not happen today.
Today, there is less media contribution in uplifting morals and
ethics. We cannot be happy about the behaviour of the media. Media
should decide whether they give the public a good taste or a bad taste.
Today the government owns only a few media outlets. The rest are private
media institutions. Today, private media institutes have become more
popular than state owned media institutes due to the vulgar and
inaccurate content. Media should act more responsibly than this. They
need to criticize but it should be constructive criticism. Journalists
should be more educated than this. They should have a good knowledge on
the topics they handle.
Q: Any message for the public?
A: The public should be careful when making decisions. There
are no governments in the world which are 100 percent successful.
Therefore, the public should take a wise decision after carefully going
through the current socio- political developments. The current position
of Sri Lanka is extremely satisfactory when comparing with other
powerful countries which were destroyed by the world economic crisis and
various natural disasters. People have difficulties and the government
understands them. But unfortunately, a small country like us cannot
control the world economy or live alone without dealing with the rest of
the world. We cannot avoid international pressure on us. Today, all
problems are given priority with the absence of war. People need to
think wisely before making decisions.