By Siri Gamage –
I have listened to various interviews given by Anura Kumara Dissanayake in the past. However, the interview given to Sudaththa recently provides better insights about the JVP and NPP thinking. It displays the wisdom, experiential knowledge that leaders like him have gathered through decades of political engagement and practice with the people on the ground, political class and the machinery of government plus the insights gained about the political process and where the country is heading? Instead of quoting selectively, a full transcript like this can give the reader a comprehensive picture about the issues that matter to a leader like Anura Kumara and the path his party has mapped out to solve the changes facing the country. This is not an authorised transcript. Translation is purely my own.
Key Points made:
The crisis is not due to natural causes. It is brought about by the political class. Foreign debt is not due to Corona. While the country became poor, rulers have become rich. If the crisis is created by politics, it can be solved by politics too. It can be solved collectively. How strong are we economically? Our resources are given to Multinational corporations. Rule of law is broken down. People’s hopes have been dashed. Look at Singapore-the size of our Western province. How they have developed? They don’t lease their ports and airports to others. We have to change the economic policy. A revolutionary transformation is necessary in the political, economic and social fields. People learn through living experiences. They know how governments failed them. They know that they need a new path. This new path requires two things: 1) Strategy for acquiring power 2) program to develop the country.
Changing the people in the parliament (Olu Gedi Maruwa) is not going to work. There are examples from around the world where corrupt regimes have been expelled by people. If people are ready to come to the road, we are ready to lead. Ours is not a plan with violence or conflict. If people are oppressed, they have a right to come to the road. E.g. the farmers, trade unions, common people. Our plan is to go for an election. An early election is possible. People shouldn’t wait anymore. At present we can’t send dollars for students learning abroad. Can’t even send dollars for an urgent operation in India. Cost of living and consumer goods high. Yet those in power travel in private jets. Ministers are holidaying abroad to spend time with their children and entertain.
Chaura Walalla (circle of thieves): Rulers earned money and let their friends also do the same. This circle includes some politicians, bureaucrats or public servants, some policemen, and dealers who are not industrialists or businessmen but those who are there to earn commissions. When governments change, this corrupt circle unsettles but it continues. We have to break this circle. An incorrupt circle has to be bro8ght in.
What will Anura’s party do to these thieves and stolen wealth?
We will not take revenge. The wealth should be there for building hospitals, providing nutrition etc. We will get it back. Already there are three strong Acts: money laundering act, Bribery and corruption Act, Crimes Act. Then we have various institutions to monitor and find those who are corrupt such as attorney generals department, judiciary. But those who are corrupt jump through such institutions. Independence of the judiciary in the case of politically significant cases is questionable. We have to remove politics out of these institutions. Janatha Varama (people’s mandate) is more powerful than any of these institutions. We can meter out punishments to corrupt people only if we are not corrupt. There has to be an incorrupt movement. We will strengthen the institutions. I am not corrupt (Mama dushithayek Nove). Crime takes place when the ruler becomes corrupt. At present, parties give nominations, minister posts to corrupt politicians. We have not stolen a cent. Examine is. We are there not to earn. We are people from remote areas. We know the problems of people and their aspirations. We will punish whoever engage in corruption including our party members. WE WILL SEEK A PEOPLE’S MANDATE TO PUNISH THOSE WHO ARE CORRUPT.
Majority has been denied a good life to live as a citizen. We have seen the destruction brought about to the country. We will provide basic needs such as a house, income, health, education, transport network, and mental freedom to the people. Rulers have houses in developed countries like USA, UK. At the same time common people (Podu Janaya) have been subjected to a calamity (vyasanaya).
Citizens earn wealth through their initiative, knowledge etc. We are not against it. We like to see the citizens live happy life. We are not against parents sending money for their children to learn abroad. However, we are against when people’s wealth/property is stolen. Look at the privileges given to former presidents? Look at the guards given to politicians? Anura gives examples. A minister is given 8 back up vehicles with guards. An MP is given 2 policemen for security? The politicians protect each other. This reflects not a problem of security. It shows a problem of the mind/mental problem. Our aim is to bring about a development (Pragatiya) better than this sorry state. I don’t want aropana(impositions). We will take away all the privileges of former Presidents (If we come to power). The house given free to DB Wijetunge was used by his daughter until her death. Now it is used by the wife of another former President. Current PM has Temple trees as the PM and another house as former president. The president has several palaces (mandira) throughout the country. Anura lists them. Each one has 100-200 guards. Under the JVP government, we will jeep the one in Colombo as it is necessary to meet and greet foreign leaders. All others will be given either to the Tourist Board or turn into libraries. This is not an empty promise. If we fail to do this, send us home next time.
Q. How will you utilise the skills of those in other countries? We will rule the country under socialist principles. Re-building the country is not the responsibility of one party. All sections of society have to get together. For this we will need new knowledge, wisdom, capital. There are entrepreneurs who live abroad. Those who work in companies, researchers, education experts. They expect our country’s development. We invite those who are in the Tamil diaspora that do not support armed struggles like what the LTTE did.
We will introduce an economic system tied to people’s lives.
1. People’s participation in production. At present 36% are from the Western province. Only 6% from the north central province.
2. Distribution of income has to be fair (Sadharana). There can’t be disparities. If the economy is good for the citizens it will be good for the entrepreneurs.
3. Fair tax system. At present it is all over?
Investment have to generate an income. Waste is not good. E.g. Suriyaweva road with several lanes each way.
Q. How will you take Hambantota port back?
It is only when we strengthen the economy we will be able to take them back. Oil tanks, Keravalpitiya etc. In about 3-4 years we will be able to take them back. However, to build a strong economy it will take 7-8 years. While we are seeking help from India to import Dhal (Parippu) we can’t ask them help in other fields (e.g. fund our economic enterprises or help to meet foreign exchange reserves). We have strong resources such as natural reserves, resources, international relations. Mrs. Bandaranaike paid 2.5 million pounds and got back our oil tanks. What we need is a transformative policy.
We released a small booklet (Draft)recently about our policies to address the current crisis and re-build the economy and society.
Our current plan is to form a government.
On the National List MP System
As it is commonly accepted, we are not against it. However, we will not ask future candidates to have a degree. There are many who could not enter universities due to various reasons.
Muslim Extremism, Minorities and reconciliation
Muslim and Tamil extremism do not arise from the community. It emerges within a given culture. We have to rescue politicians from such extremisms.
We accept the equal rights of every citizen for their religion, language. Any changes to the law have to be by respective communities not by us. We shouldn’t impose changes on them.
Anura prefers if there is a Sri Lankanness instead of various ethnic categories.
The danger for the rulers is if we unite at the bottom levels of society. Among the upper levels they are united. Those at the higher levels try to divide us. To change this system, we need everyone to awaken. We have started our political project in all areas. We will be able to secure power if we get the support of Sinhala, Muslim, Tamils and all.
There is to be a conference of monks in march. We expect a large number to attend. We will not mix politics with religion. However, monks have a huge responsibility to change the current form of politics. Buddhist temples were the centres of resistance against the British colonial rulers. Our country was built on the basis of Buddhist culture. After the arrival of Rev.Mahinda education, dhamma, economy etc were built. In the construction of our civilisation thus the Sinhala culture made a huge contribution. Temple is a centre for us. Through Sinhala, Catholic and other cultures a person’s consciousness(adhyatmaya) is formed. But the rulers smuggle it. However, responsibility of the government is to make people’s secular life comfortable. Then the inner self will be nurtured. When the rulers cannot solve the real problems, they poke fingers on the consciousness by saying we are coming to save Sinhala Jatiya. We know that they don’t even follow the five precepts.
Q. Will you strengthen the Sangadhikaranaya (court for the Bhikkhus) and allow it to function independently? Anura accepts its authority to function independently. Buddhism is based on non-violence. But when we look at the way some Bhikkhus behave, it is a disgrace.
Q. Is he prepared to formulate an economic plan suitable for the next 30 years? Until now the country has been going without direction/on a slow path(ibagathe) based on the President’s or the Minister’s concepts. When he was in charge of agriculture in a previous government, he prepared a plan for milk production in consultation with stakeholders and experts. They found that small and medium producers of milk did not enter the production process. One dimension identified was to increase the production of cows already there. Another was to increase the number. The rulers we appoint do not know what to do in each sector? If our short-term plan is implemented it will help to formulate the long-term plan.
Q. If you are planning to save the country, how will you do that? Rajapaksas are not going to give up power so easily? They had more power earlier. For example, in 2015. But they were defeated. Went home. A leader can’t keep going in government with only money and dividing the rest. We won Thissamaharamaya before. We lost it in 2010. We lost the capacity to govern (api deshapalanayen vatuna). Today Rajapaksas are politically fallen or unpopular(vatila). They can’t win by distributing money or by oppressive actions. The key is whether a party or coalition is politically at the top or down?
Q. Can the JVP secure power alone? Are you willing to join with others? We need a change. There is no point in joining with others to travel on the old path (Parana purudu pare yanna). Therefore, we cannot move forward by joining with other parties. But there are individuals who are not corrupt and want to develop our country. We invite them to join with us. That’s why we formed National People Power (NPP). This is not our private work. This is something we all have to come together,unite and launch. There are some who want to join us opportunistically. We are not political babies. We can distinguish those who are opportunists from those with genuine desire to develop the country. We can join with the latter.
At this time, our aim is to build Jathika Jana Balavegaya (NPP).
Q. Nagananda says he wants to join with you but you don’t talk to him? The way we function in such cases is that we appoint a small committee of 3 from the party to liaise and correspond. Then the party makes a common decision on each individual.
Q. How will you spend money on education under a JVP government? Human resource is the main resource we have. Therefore, we plan to develop it. Develop children with three qualities 1. nanavath(wise) 2. Nirogimath (healthy) 3. Courageous. We aim to spend 6% on education. But we will not be able to spend this much initially but progressively.
Today 30,000 children a year leave school. Among those who are addicted to drugs, 72% have not completed SSC. Among those in the prison, 80% have not done so. So, poverty and lack of education go together. Education is fundamental. It is the responsibility of the government. Not parents. We will take that responsibility. We have a plan. Education is the path for development.
Q. How many ministers will be in the cabinet in your government? Only 25. And another 25 deputy ministers. It will be the maximum. Under us, there will not be that or this minister i.e. state minister, project minister. We will give only one vehicle for an MP for the duration of his/her term. Today MPs get a license to import a car worth $65,000. But we in the JVP got double cabs worth $17,000.
Q. Bar licenses given to MPs and ministers? We will remove them. But those not in the parliament will be able to keep bars. We will not ban alcohol.
Our aim is to create people’s representatives with responsibility and discipline.
Today, parents try to educate children and prepare their future. But many leave the country. Parents tell children that this country is not suitable for you. We have a duty to correct this.
We don’t need to wait 3 more years. We invite people to join us to change this system. It is our generation that has to come forward and change.
අනුර කුමාර සමඟ සජීවී සංවාදය | Talk With Sudaththa | Sudaa Creation Live Stream