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Thursday, November 11, 2010

Rosy speaks out

Bernadine Rose Senanayake née Ramanayake (born 5 January 1958) (known as Rosy Senanayake), MP is a Sri Lankan politician,activist, and a former beauty queen. A current member of the Sri Lankan parliament, she was the leader of the opposition in Western Provincial Council and is the United National Party Chief Organiser for the Colombo West electorate. Rosy Senanayake has served as the Sri Lankan High Commissioner for Malaysia and was a Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations Population Fund. She has been an activist on several issues and an active figure in the opposition gaining much lime light.- Source Wiki

(November 11, California, Sri Lanka Guardian) An exclusive, comprehensive interview with Sri Lanka’s main opposition United National Party Member of Parliament Mrs. Bernadine Rosy Senanayake, at the protest rally against the illegitimate incarceration of former Sri Lanka Army Commander (Retired) General Sarath Chandralal Fonseka, held in Los Angeles, California USA, on October 22nd 2010.

Interviewed By : Sunalie Ratnayake in Los Angeles, California.

Q (1) Sunalie :
As you know, there are at least 2 countries in the world, that does not hold Courts Martial at times of Peace. Namely, Germany & France. Even if you take Canada for example, significant issues are controlled by or presided over by officers from the Chief Military Judge’s independent office.

At present, Sri Lanka is also going through a period of peace, in aspects of terrorism & war. However, two Courts Martial were held, pertaining to ex-Army Commander Retired General Sarath Fonseka, even though it’s a post war period that we are going through. Moreover, these military tribunals were held in connection with a “key figure” (that’s Mr. Fonseka) who undoubtedly contributed, by and large, in terms of eradicating terrorism, once and for all from the island, after nearly three decades.

So, what are your views, that General Fonseka’s both Courts Martial were politically motivated - That both the Military Tribunals had politics involved significantly ? Can you elaborate on that ?


A (1) Rosy :
Yes, as you said, at a time like this, the country is going through peace, and the country is so jubilant that terrorism was eradicated, after three decades, which basically was such a stumbling block for the development of the nation and the people. It was a hindrance, which had taken so many lives, through the years, and there was so much destruction, for which a country as small as ours could not even comprehend. General Fonseka who basically eradicated the deadliest terrorist group in the world, and who was named, soon after winning the war “the best ever army commander in the world,” was a man who got commended, not only by the world, but also by the ruling party in Sri Lanka, the present president Rajapakse, and his government, and a man who had supported his government immensely.

Yet, since he took up politics, which is a democratic right for every human being, to be able to do what you wish to do, he was not being treated as any human should be.

That freedom, thanks to the United National Party (UNP), when it was formed in 1946, it stood for the freedom of people -The freedom of speech, the freedom of religion, the freedom of being literate, the freedom of being healthy, the freedom from slavery, the freedom from want, and so on and so forth. The UNP was able to redeem the country from the British and become an independent nation. There were so many freedoms that we spoke about. And this is (involving in politics) is one’s democratic right. And, since we are a signatory to the UN convention, we should have the right to speak, the right to say what we want, right to take up any kind of job or the freedom to do practically anything, as long as long as it’s legally binding.

So, I don’t believe that General Fonseka has done anything illegal or wrong by contesting the Presidential election this January. I don’t see why it should be wrong or unethical for General Fonseka to come on a political platform or a political party, and get a ticket to run for the presidency against the current president. I don’t see anything wrong in that. General Fonseka was commended so highly, until the point of him taking up politics. And he took up politics after resigning from his position as the Army Commander plus the commander of the three forces. It is very obvious that the government is persecuting these allegations, and these Courts Martial was simply because of the General’s political affiliations. Simply because he is not aligning himself with the ruling party or the present government.


"  I don’t believe that General Fonseka has done anything illegal or wrong by contesting the Presidential election this January. I don’t see why it should be wrong or unethical for General Fonseka to come on a political platform or a political party, and get a ticket to run for the presidency against the current president. I don’t see anything wrong in that."

Because General Fonseka knew the difficulties in winning a war of this nature, and winning against the deadliest terrorist group in the world, now that we had victory, after gaining geographical victory he expected the government to deliver the goods, to act fast enough, to bring about a political solution to the ongoing ethnic crisis, to have economic development, because people suffered long enough, the cost of living was going up, we were told to fasten our belts, that no sooner the war is over, every thing will be hunky dory. So, he, as a brilliant General who won the war, obviously felt that the people will be redeemed of these hardships. And when he realized that it was not happening, and people were going through more difficulty, he decided to come out to redeem the people.

So, this is the only thing that I see, for him being persecuted in this aspect and it is not right.

Q (2) Sunalie :
Do you think, that the panels elected to proceed with both Courts Martial were proper, given the fact that all officers that represented both panels of the two military tribunals against General Fonseka were officers that held "junior ranks" than the person being prosecuted ? What are your views on this ?

A (2) Rosy :
I’m categorically saying that I’m not very well versed with the laws and regulations of the Army or the forces. But, as far as I know, and what has been said and written is, that it is not in keeping with law and the rules and regulations of the Army to have junior officers in this tribunal against the General. A junior officer cannot even basically taken him into custody. From the little I know about the rules and regulations on this aspect, I believe it was not correct to have had the Courts Martial being conducted by the junior officers.

Q (3) Sunalie :
Courts Martial can be severely exploited, in aspects of Military Justice, given the fact that "unlimited powers" being ruled over milirary justice by those in power, who could act "unfairly: and "cruelly."
They can exercise such powers, over Courts Martial.

Taking the most recent two Courts Martial, pertaining to General Fonseka into consideration – Do you see that these unlimited powers ruled out justice ? If so, how ?

A (3) Rosy :
It is very obvious, because the Commanding Chief of the forces is the President (Mahinda Rajapakse) and the Secretary to the Defence Minister is also appointed by the President and he also happens to be the president’s brother (Gotabhaya Rajapakse), and therefore, yes it can be.

Q (4) Sunalie :
Do you see President Rajapakse as a "capable figure" who has the ability to solve the issues pertaining to the "minorities" in Sri Lanka ?


A (4) Rosy :
I don’t know whether I should be saying whether he is capable. If he is capable, we are talking about one and a half years, more than 18 months after the war has been won, up to now, there has not been a word about solving the problem. Even though, president Rajapakse, every time when he goes overseas, he goes to one country and makes one promise, then he goes to the next country and says something else.
What we see, and what we have experienced, and what we know is that every time he goes to a country, he speaks according to what that particular country would like to hear.

So, I strongly believe that if he was capable, by now, he would have come about with a political solution. And if he is sincere, I’m not sure whether he is capable and not being sincere, for many other reasons, one only wonders why exactly he has not even come about with a political solution when the APRC has categorically, and very clearly has given a proposal, which was acceptable to all the parties that were involved at that time.

The Leader of the UNP which I represent, Mr. Ranil Wickremesinghe, and the party has very clearly stated that anything that is good for the country, and for the betterment of the people, we will definitely support, and we are supporting Prof. Tissa Vitarana’s proposals, but there isn’t any signs of the President being sincere in bringing about a political solution. Sincerity is also a key factor, once one obtains power.

The best example would be, he had a golden opportunity after this General election. He was able to muster two thirds by hook or by crook, by buying over some of the members from the opposition. He mustered two thirds just to amend the constitution, which was just patch work for his gain. Just to make sure that he can run for more than two terms, and also to eradicate the 17th Amendment. The 17th Amendment was brought upon to have good governance to establish the seven special commissions, the independent commissions, and to make sure that the country is run properly.


"  If the President is capable, we are talking about one and a half years, more than 18 months after the war has been won, up to now, there has not been a word about solving the problem. Even though, president Rajapakse, every time when he goes overseas, he goes to one country and makes one promise, then he goes to the next country and says something else."

It is very obvious that the present government is not sincere in aspects of ‘good governance,’ simply from the fact in taking away the 17th Amendment and the powers, by taking away the Constitutional Council that would have made sure that the commissions were in place, and that the people were appointed to the relevant commissions. Instead, he appoints a Parliamentary Commission, a body that gives more powers to the president - three members on his side and two members in the opposition.

With this golden opportunity, all the president has done is, having passed an amendment which would benefit him, so that he could rule the country ‘whichever way’ as he pleases. And it is a total dictatorship amendment, in my opinion, which is detrimental to the country.
So, of he is really capable in bringing about a political solution, and if he is very sincere in assuring that Sri Lanka should go forward, and be a competitive, compatible nation with the rest of the world (a globally competitive nation), I believe that president Rajapakse would have taken different measures. In fact, this is the reason that General Sarath Fonseka decided to run against him at the last presidential election.

Q (5) Sunalie :
As an MP representing the opposition, what significant measures do you see, that needs to be taken by the President to achieve that paramount necessity, regarding solving minority issues ?


A (5) Rosy :
The president first of all should be sincere, as I stated earlier. He should be committed. Above all, he is perfectly aware of the issues in the country. He knows the people’s mindsets and the temperaments. He knows what every party is asking for.
He should refrain from breaking parties and buying over members of those relevant parties, and should refrain from breaking the opposition into two or three. He broke the JVP. He has broken the Hela Urumaya. He has basically broken the UNP into three or four or five or six, as well as the Muslim Congress. Any powerful institution in the country, such as the Sangha Sabhawa, he has only divided. Therefore, I do not think that he is sincere, to begin with.

If he is a sincere ruler, instead of breaking the opposition parties and other significant entities, all he has to is to bring about a political solution that is ‘acceptable to all’ people, whether it is 13 plus plus, or whether it may be a federal system, or whether it may be a unitary system, whether we are going to have an upper house or a lower house, he needs to be sincere initially.

This is a golden opportunity for him to change the constitution, and it is not only with regards to the different nationalities, but it’s also with regards to women’s issues. I mean, women in Sri Lanka still do not believe that they have achieved equality and equity, or that they have been rightfully treated, when it comes to certain issues.
Talking about the rights of women, all this can come into the constitution. Also, bringing amendments to the electoral systems, so that we can have more women being representing parliament, at the provincial level and at the local level as well. And also to bring in constitutional changes, where women could be brought into decision making level, with regards to the corporate sector, civil society and also all the other elements.

We must not forget the fact that we are a multi national, multi religious, multi racial society. He needs to bring about a solution that is acceptable to all people. Also, he needs to realize the fact that we need to move away from being simply a 'commodity exporter' to a "Smart Sri Lanka" especially when the entire world has become a knowledge economy, or that is has become a nanotechnological (nanotech) village.
We need to look at how we could be compatible, how we could become a Smart Sri Lanka, how we should train or groom human resources to take over the challenges, how we should develop the human resources that we have, to a global environment or a global market or to fulfill the needs of global employment.

We needs to look at areas in how we could create job opportunities, how we could create value addition to the resources that we already have, instead of going around with a begging bowl, borrowing to the point where we cannot even basically pay off or comprehend the borrowings.
We need to take an account of what’s going on at the local level, the provincial level and at the national level.

If we talk about education, our education system eventually gives less than one percent to move on to higher education. And the rest falls by the wayside. So, there is a huge disparity between the needs of employment, and as if to whether we cater to the needs of employment, as far as our education is concerned.

And what is the global environment and the global needs as far as the employment is concerned, when the entire world is evolving into a knowledge economy ? If I am to cite an example, take Taiwan. Just a decade ago Taiwan was known as the Pirate Kingdom of the World. Today, when you talk about patents, it’s number 5 in the USPTO (United States Patent and Trademark Office) list. This was all because, they looked at how they could be globally competitive. They realized that in order to move forward, they needed to invest in education, and not unnecessary make investments on concrete jungles, thus stating "this is development," by doing so.

"  We needs to look at areas in how we could create job opportunities, how we could create value addition to the resources that we already have, instead of going around with a begging bowl, borrowing to the point where we cannot even basically pay off or comprehend the borrowings. We need to take an account of what’s going on at the local level, the provincial level and at the national level."

Development should start from within the human being initially. So, you don’t borrow from commercial entities from all around the world, or from the neighboring loan sharks, at a high premium interest rate, where my children and their children’s children who are yet to be born, will be paying for the next three decades.

So, after winning the war a little over an year ago (May 2009), we have the golden opportunity put everything right, by amending the constitution, by making the constitutional changes, and the president has the powers as the executive to bring in all parties under one umbrella, and use every bit of resource and the knowledge that he has, to bring about a solution, and also to eradicate terrorism not only through means of fighting a war.
Geographical victory is not the end. We need to eradicate it through a political solution. And we need to eradicate it internationally as well.


Q (6) Sunalie :
(i) - Instead of the government eternally running away from severe "internaional allegations" leveled upon the Sri Lankan Government, especially, with regards to the manner, in which operations may have been conducted during the "final phases" of Eelam, especially, pertaining to "civilian casualties" - Do you think it is wiser to face internaional panels of investifation and sort out or heal the wounds with a direct dialogue ? - Perhaps with Compassion & Prudence.
Because, this in fact had become a significantly controvertial dialogue as of late ? What views do you hold on this ?

(ii) - And – what have we lost as a nation – by trying to run away from facing these allegations ? Do you see Sri Lanka gradually alienating from the rest of the world ? - How crucial is it ?

A (6) Rosy :
First of all I would say that no international community has the right to interfere into internal affairs. We should not allow any nation or international entity to interfere into our internal affairs. We can manage our internal affairs. But, after saying that, on the other hand, if we have nothing to hide, we should not fear facing anybody. However, it’s a matter for the state to decide, as if to how we should be facing this entity.

In a war situation, especially when you are fighting a guerrilla war, anything can happen. It’s not going to be easy, there will be casualties. No war is won in a perfect, clean manner without any casualties. Therefore, the government should take a firm standing, defending the war heroes, and defending how we won the war. A successful and intelligent government should be able to do that, and still handle the international community.

On the other hand, since we are a signatory to the U.N. convention, according to the U.N. convention, no entity, nor the U.N. can interfere into internal affairs, and take the government into international courts, unless the existing government would give the approval to do so. That would never happen, so we do not have to fear any panel coming in and asking to basically do some ground work to advise perhaps the head of the U.N. or some other entity. A right thinking, responsible government should defend the actions of the people who faught the war.

But the government should have good "foreign policies," because we need to deal with democratic nations. We have to first take an account of whom do we need to have good relationships with. We still survive on our apparel industry, our tea, the migrant woman worker who goes overseas, and tourism. These are the four main foreign income earners. And these four, except for the migrant woman worker, who may go to the middle east, and that the middle east is heavily aligned with the U.S. and Europe, due to the trade that they do, all the other three, we deal with the U.S. and the European Union (E.U.) So, in that case, we should make sure that we have good relationships with these nations.

Our foreign policies need to change, where we need to have good foreign relations with our neighboring country India, because India is an absolutely important element t as far as foreign relations are concerned. Because, India will be one of the next Super Powers. And Asia is going to be a Super Power, where India is going to play a key role. So, India is very smartly aligning themselves with the U.S. and working hand in hand. Therefore, we too need to be very smart in how we make our foreign policies, how we strengthen our bilateral relations with the countries that are important to us.

We need to be able to come out clean and respond, if someone is making an allegation against us. Hiding away is not going to make matters easier, because the issue or matter is not going to be eradicated by doing so. If we are clean and if we have not done anything wrong, we should come out and respond to those allegations in a responsible manner. These allegations maybe fabricated, they maybe wrong, so, I see no reason for Sri Lanka to fear these allegations. So, we as a nation should stand up to it and face up to it. However, I’m stressing it over and over again that no nation or no entity has the right to interfere in our internal affairs.

"  Our foreign policies need to change, where we need to have good foreign relations with our neighboring country India, because India is an absolutely important element t as far as foreign relations are concerned. Because, India will be one of the next Super Powers. And Asia is going to be a Super Power, where India is going to play a key role."

Q (7) Sunalie :
On a daily basis, we witness, mostly by means of government propaganda, that numerous projects are being carried out throughout the island, in the name of "post war rehabilitation."
The new harbour project in Southern Sri Lanka is significant amongst those.
What are your views, as per the government's handling of post war, especially in terms of "development" and "economila growth" ?

A (7) Rosy :
If I am to talk about the Hambantota Port project, initially I would say that it was a project that was brought about by the UNP when we came into power in 2002. Of course it is a good project, but we were not able to even get started with the project, because we went out of power.

Any project that we are doing, we have to look at the feasibility of the project. Where are we getting the funds from, how are we getting the funds, are we borrowing it, at what interest rate, is it going to hurt the nation, is it going to hurt the people, are the people going to be worst-off than they are at present, can we bare the cost, likewise, we have to weigh the pros and the cons initially. We have to do a proper feasibility.

Just because there were projects outlined by the UNP, when they went out of power, you cannot borrow money from somewhere at high premium interest rates to execute those projects. It’s very well known that once the loans are borrowed, one third of it or a portion of it is already in somebody’s pocket.
40.16% of the population still live in under U.S. $ 2.00 wage per day. This is just Rs.250.00
Can you buy even a packet of milk, if you have an average of three children, and you are sending them to school ? You have to pay rent, electricity bills, water bills, you have to provide cloths for your children and food. We are still there.

And the cost of living is rising by day. The unemployment issue is rising by the day. The government has not found a way in increasing people’s income. But it has found a way in increasing their cost of living. So, what I’m saying is, it is good to do projects, we need projects done and the harbour project is absolutely a brilliant project. But, if it was a smart government, it would also look at the feasibility of doing such projects.
Five coal bar projects, so many airports, do we need all that right now ? Or do we need to develop the human resource we have ? Are we developing the people of the country ? That’s my grievance.

It is obvious that there are so many development projects, whilst the people are starving, mothers throwing their babies to the rivers, child trafficking and child labourers increasing by the day, children being sold to prostitution. This is a very sad state of affairs and it's taking place every single day in Sri Lanka.
Moreover, the youth that are educated and graduated are unemployed, parents are mortgaging their homes, pawning their jewellery, people are going through such difficulties and as a result of that, the brain drain is enormous. Give them half the opportunity, everybody would flee the country. The consecutive governments or this present government that has been in power for almost 1 ½ decades, it’s nearing two decades, 17 years is not a small period of time.

Earlier, I spelt out four main income resources for the country. These were brought about by the UNP. I’d like to question the present government, what new income project did they bring into the country, except for making the people debtors to the rest of the world ?

We have borrowed so much, that the debt component per person is more than Rs 250,000 and it is increasing day by day. And for the fact that we have borrowed from the IMF is a clear indicator. IMF is not an entity that would give loans for the development of the people or projects. IMF is an entity that give out bailout packages. When your foreign reserves are down, when you cannot pay your foreign loans, the IMF would step forward just to bail you out. So, the fact that the IMF is lending to us, means that the country is in a very poor state of affairs. As far as the economy is concerned. So, we cannot take pride. That is the reality. Truthfully speaking, the country is in a sorry state.

Even though some of the government ministers would throw parties, stating that we have got a “huge” IMF loan, so therefore, it is something to celebrate, I cannot understand who would celebrate when they have to borrow to bail themselves out. But that’s the kind of propaganda that this government carries out and mislead the public for their petty political gains. I’m very sad upon the manner in which Sri Lanka is moving.

Q (8) Sunalie :
Recently, just a few of days ago, at a university clash on certain disagreements, a bunch of Media personnel were severely attacked by the Police, even while they were presenting their media identities to the Police.
The Police attacking civilians in the most inhumane manner, has become quite a common site in present day Sri Lanka.
There have been instances in the most recent past, even where death has taken place, due to same, and in most instances, the victims being ordinary civilians.
What are your views with regards to the high handed and uncivilized behaviour of police officers, whenever they clash with civilians, including media personel ?

A (8) Rosy :
The Police, as a law abiding or protecting institution, should be protecting the civilians, and safeguarding the interest of the civilians. If they get orders from political sources, to do what they are doing as of late, it is very sad indeed. I condemn it totally.

I mentioned that the 18th Amendment to the constitution is detrimental, and these are just the initial signs of what we will be facing in the future, which would be even worst situations, simply due to the 18th Amendment. Now that the government has the green light, and the police also comes under the president, there is no Public Service Commission anymore, you are going to see worst things than this, very soon.
Because, when the cabinet takes decisions with regards to ‘appointments’ of the public servants, when they take decisions with regards to ‘promotions’ of the public servants, when they have been given a green light to ’transfer’ public servants, every public servant is going to align him or herself with the ruling party, simply for their personal gain & survival. Not that they want to, but because that’s the only way that they could survive.

So, the entire system is going to be politicized, because of this horrible, horrendous 18th amendment, and sadly the people do not see it. But ultimately it's the people themselves, who will be suffering further from same.

Q (9) Sunalie :
(i) - As a noteworthy activist, throughout the past decades, especially as a Women's Rights Avtivist in Sri Lanka, you must be quite familiar with this area – Is there a Domestic Violence Law in our country and what is your opinion on it ?


(ii) - Can you elaborate, as if to, whether the present laws and their implementation are satisfactory OR if not, what areas need to be changed, both, in terms of existing laws, as well as their effective implementation ?

A (9) Rosy :
Yes, the Domestic Violence Bill was first drafted during the UNP’s governance, between the period of 2002 and 2004. It was presented and it was referred back for amendments. In 2005 it was passed. So, there is a Domestic Violence Act in place, which is commendable. I would like to thank the then Women’s Affairs Minister Mrs. Amara Piyaseeli Ratnayake of the UNP, and the present minister of Parliamentary Affairs Mrs. Sumedha Jayasena who was the minister at the time, when the bill was passed from the present government. Collectively, the Woment’s Caucus and the women parliamentarians faught for this, and it was approved.

Even though there is an act that would protect, up to date (I’m talking about five years down the line, from 2005 to 2010) some of the line agencies and the line ministries who are supposed to implement the bill are not aware of the law. And the public is still not fully aware of the fact that there is a law to protect them. This act applies to both sexes, the women, the men, as well as chilren. There is gender equality and equity in this whole entity.

So what I’m saying is, passing Acts and Bills are fine, but you also have to make the public aware of same. And also, if you don’t have the line ministries, line agencies and the necessary forces, such as the police and all other entities to be accountable, and have not trained them and made them aware of all the laws that have been in place, it’s not going to help, especially in terms of starting the necessary work that needs to be done.

Also, “safe houses” are required for people who would come with issues, as once they come and lodge complaints against their family members, they need to be protected. The present government had not created the necessary infrastructure for this bill to be implemented. I also must emphasize that we should be thankful to the UNP, for initially bringing this bill, as the women’s movement and other voices have been significant and strong, as per women’s issues and other various issues. There was also a women’s rights bill, which was drafted, but we haven’t even seen the light of it after the UNP went out of power. There was going to be an Independent Women’s Commission, which would have given more powers to handle women‘s issues on an independent manner, including safeguarding the migrant woman worker, apparel worker and much more.

It is sad that the Independent Women’s Commission and the other anticipated entities did not come into place, as a result of the Women’s Rights Bill not coming into being. What I’m saying is, it’s nice to have Bills and Acts brought into parliament, but in the implementation, there should be a follow up, and the infrastructure has to be created for same. Five years have passed, and the present government have not done enough to even make people aware of their rights.

Q (10) Sunalie :
Now, getting to the present situation of the main Opposition Party in Sri Lanka, the United National Party, you, as a significant member, and as part and parcel of the party, what are your views and opinions about the present situation of the party ? - Do you admit that there is an ongoing crisis within the party ?

Caption : UNP MP Rosy Senanayake with Journalist Sunalie Ratnayake in Los Angeles, CA during the interview.

A (10) Rosy :
I won’t say that there is an ongoing crisis, but there is a voice, a feeling and concerns with regards to re-organizing. People are looking for a viable change, because the people felt that the party could not win, for obvious various reasons. And people wanted the party constitution changed and amendments brought to the constitution.

People are also looking for a successor to Mr. Ranil Wickremesinghe. No one the party wants to see Mr. Wickeremesinghe out, but they want to see him groom, so that in the next Presidential election we would have a strong candidate to put forward. Therefore, a vast majority of the public and the UNP members are asking for Mr. Sajith Premadasa.

So, me as being a strong UNP activist, UNP member and being in direct politics for the last 20 years of the UNP, I like to see these amendments and reforms brought in as fast as possible, without any delay, because we are going to face another local election soon.

Q (11) Sunalie :
What do you see, as the main issues that exist, that does not have proper solutions, as far as the UNP is concerned ?


A (11) Rosy :
It was the “Reforms” that the members were asking for. The present leader had agreed, and has appointed a “Reforms Committee” to look into the issues. The reforms committee went into the grassroots level, interviewed, heard the voice and obtained the opinion, petitions and suggestions of thousands of people, and they came up with a proposal, which was accepted by the working committee. Of course there were a few amendments to be put in. I brought in two proposals ;

(i) - To have 30% of women in the working committee. 10 % in every decision making body of the UNP. For example, the nomination body, political bureau etc.,
(ii) - 25 % of women to be given nomination in every election. (That was accepted, but it was not in the reforms report. I put this forward to the reforms committee. However, it was rejected initially, as they felt that it was not important. But I was able to voice this out at the working committee. The present leader accepted it, and got the working committee to approve that, so that will go to the reforms)

Now we need to work out in the modalities of how we are going to have so many people in the working committee, such as to accommodate 30 % of women.
The reforms committee report, which was accepted by the working committee was given to the lawyers to do the draft and to make the necessary changes. That draft is now ready and has been translated into English and Sinhala. At the next working committee sitting, it will be brought in and approved.

Then we go to the convention before the end of the year. The executive committee at the convention will ratify the reforms.

"  Wickremesinghe is ready to leave and handover. I also think that Premadasa can also learn quite a bit from Wickeremesinghe and it is Wickremesinghe’s duty now to train and groom his successor, to nurture and help him to cultivate a sound political background so that he can take on the challenges and make the UNP come back into power."

Q (12) Sunalie :
(i) - And, what do you see as the major cause for the ongoing issues within the party ?
** Do you consider that a change in the present leadership should take place ?
** If so, is sooner better than later ?
** And whom do you see as a potential leader or leaders, that could lead the party to where it should belong ?


A (12) Rosy :
I personally don’t think that the present leader should leave. If we are to talk about a party that could actually change Sri Lanka for the betterment and make Sri Lanka a globally competitive nation and take Sri Lanka to a first world nation, it would be the UNP. And in order for the UNP to do that, if there is a leader with a vision, with the experience of over 30 to 35 years, who is smart enough to have good international relations, and have the right formula to make Sri Lanka globally competitive, and make it a sustainable nation, it is non other than Mr. Ranil Wickeremesinghe.


On the other hand, Mr. Sajith Premadasa is a leader who has evolved to be hands-on at the grass roots. Also, his experience of studying overseas, a U.S. degree in economics etc, had given him a huge edge and know how, even though he may not have the experience that Mr. Wickremesinghe has.

So, taking the above facts into consideration, I feel that we have the best combination. Ranil Wickremesinghe - Sajith Premadasa combination is an ideal combination to take our nation forward.

Wickremesinghe is ready to leave and handover. I also think that Premadasa can also learn quite a bit from Wickeremesinghe and it is Wickremesinghe’s duty now to train and groom his successor, to nurture and help him to cultivate a sound political background so that he can take on the challenges and make the UNP come back into power.


Q (13) Sunalie :
Is Mr. Wickremesinghe willing to do that ?


A (13) Rosy :
That of course you may have to ask him, but all I can say is that he (Wickremesinghe) is going through the normal process of going through the convention and bringing on the reforms, one step at a time. True enough, people would like to see these things happen faster, but also there is a process of how one should work.

Q (14) Sunalie :
(I) - The UNP has been out of power for the past 16 years. Having had a strong history as the oldest single democratic party in Sri Lanka, how do you see today’s party, in comparison with it’s glorious history ?
(ii) - And, what direction will the UNP move on initially, what areas will the party tap on, if back in power, especially in aspects of bringing Sri Lanka into a significant situate in the world map & to make it a compatible nation amongst the rest of the world, or at least in the ever progressing Asian region, and to eliminate the enduring complexities faced by the vulnerable average citizen ?
Can you elaborate on this aspect ?

A (14) Rosy :
I think today’s party has some very smart, young members. If the UNP is to come into power, Mr. Wickremesinghe will be having to deal with some young ministers. They are young, brilliant, educated people who are committed and sincere. They are people whom the country can accept.

Sincerity is also a must, as I stated earlier. You need to have a passion for your nation, and a passion for what you are doing. One should never come into power for one’s own personal gains. One should come into power to deliver what the nation needs.

If you look at parliament, today’s UNP members are not only educated and young, but also exuberant, bright, brilliant people are in the party today. For example, there are people like Harsha De Silva, Harin Fernando, Buddhika Pathirana, Eran Wickremeratne etc., etc.,
Within the party, there are people with a vast knowledge on global issues, those who know how to look at the resources that we have in Sri Lanka, how to use these resources to add value to it, and showcase it to the world. That’s all we need to do.

We don’t need to go with a begging bowl to any of the lending houses, whether it’s the World Bank, or EDB, or whether it’s some other country. We don’t even have to get bail out packages from the IMF, if we only identify the resources we have within, such as the minerals, tea, water etc.,

We are a beautiful island that has a history and culture that goes back to 2500 years, with only 20 million people, which is not a lot. When we talk about tourism, we don’t need to have numbers, we don’t need thousands and thousands of tourists, but all we need is the up market, if we can tap into it.

Know the resources we have, market Sri Lanka as one of the top most tourist destinations, where we target the up market. Whether it’s eco friendly tourism, or boutique hotels, look at the Maldives, which is thriving. Our loss has become their gain. We need to reverse it back to us.

The war was over 1 ½ years ago. But what has the government done to even tap into that ? Nothing.
We are just talking about concrete development and borrowing at a rate, not realizing the repercussions. The biggest resource we have are our human resource. If we can tap into the BPO industry of India (12 % of the BPO industry is in India), just 2% of that will set us right.
In order to tap into the BPO industry, we need to revamp our education system. We need to move towards intellectual property. We need to move towards looking at a knowledge economy, because we have a high literacy rate. So, it is not that difficult.

I have been talking about these factors emphatically during the past two or three years in my political career, and it’s only now, people like S.B. Dissanayake and them are picking on it. Now they are talking about nanotechnology and I’m glad about it. There are a few intelligent ministers too in the government, and I’m only hoping that the vast majority would not boo them down in doing what is right, at the end of the day,

Q (15) Sunalie :
What measures are being implemented, in terms of the UNP getting back into power, and what role do you play in same, as a UNP MP, especially with your vast popularity in your electorate ?


A (15) Rosy :
Yes, of course, I will never lose my electorate. If you take the last general election, provincial council election and also the presidential election into consideration, my electorate won with the highest percentage. My electorate is an electorate that would never lose. I’m very grateful to my constituency, because they know the value of the United National Party.

We are working at the grassroots level. We are doing the reforms, revamping and at the next convention, we will come up with proper, suitable people into the decision making body of the UNP, of course with the leadership of Mr. Wickremesinghe.

But unfortunately, issues like that of General Sarath Fonseka has arisen. It is our responsibility, because he came on our ticket as the presidential candidate this year. Even though other parties may point the finger at the UNP and say that the UNP is trying to capitalize this issue, but that’s not the case. General Fonseka today is in this mess because of us. So, we (the UNP) owe it to him. These issues are bit of a stumbling block. So, we need to make sure that General Fonseka is fine, along with the rest of the matters, that need to be resolved at the fastest possible.

At national level, there is so much that is happening that is not correct, and things that will hinder the betterment of the people. We are concentrating on such issues at the moment. We are re-organizing and before long we will be in power, simply because, as per the direction that the present government is heading, people are beginning to realize that things are not occurring in favour of the nation. It's more a matter of personal agendas being fulfilled of those in power.

Since the government is not doing the right thing in many aspects, after the people have put their trust in the government, and having given them a golden opportunity to solve the issues, they are not solving the problems. Instead, they are making matters worse. And now people have begun to speak about the UNP, making statements such as “only if the UNP was in power, we would not have had to face this.”
So, hopefully we will be in power very soon.

The Journalist who conducted this interview with UNP Member of Parliament Mrs. Rosy Senanayake can be reached at : sunalie.secretandbeyond@yahoo.com

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