By Malinda Seneviratne –
Rajavarothiam Sampanthan says:
Yes, I said it. I said that I was on the LTTE hit list before Mahinda Rajapaksa. In other words, the LTTE was gunning for me before Prabhakaran decided that Mahinda Rajapaksa was a target as or more legitimate that I was. I said, and I quote, ‘I was never a spokesman, proxy or ally of the LTTE, that is completely false and I reject it without any reservation whatsoever.’
There was something I didn’t say. In the Election Manifesto of the TNA in 2001, it was stated, ‘We have consistently asserted that any attempt to draw a distinction between the LTTE and the Tamil people was meaningless’. In other words, as the leader of that political organization and as a Tamil I conceded that the LTTE was the sole-representative of the Tamil people, that I sought to be their voice in asking people to vote for me and indeed did just that after I was elected.
In 2004, in our manifesto, we ‘accepted the LTTE’s leadership’ (i.e. Prabhakaran) as ‘the national leadership of the Tamil Eelam Tamils’ and clearly accepted that the LTTE was in fact ‘the sole and authentic representatives of the Tamil people’. I agreed, with the rest of the TNA to ‘devote our full cooperation for the ideals of the Liberation Tigers’ struggle with honesty and steadfastness’. I agreed, moreover to ‘work side by side with the LTTE for the political initiatives under their leadership’.
I confess therefore that I lied to the Daily Mirror (see my interview with Hafeel Fariz). I confess that I am being cheeky and disingenuous when I told him that ‘We do not ask for power over foreign affairs, we do not want powers over defence, we do not want powers over fiscal policy in regard to the country’s finance’ because the very term ‘Tamil Eelam Tamils’ implies a separatist project. I would not take any issue, therefore, with anyone who laughs at my constant interjection of the word ‘unity’ when I talk about ‘solution’.
Susil Premajayanth says:
As the General Secretary of the United People’s Freedom Alliance, I am ashamed. On Friday the Chairman of the Yatiyantota PS was arrested by the Bribery Commission for ‘taking’. I am ashamed to say that this is not the first time that a member of the UPFA has been caught taking bribes. I am ashamed that members who have been elected to pradeshiya sabhas, urban and municipal councils, provincial councils and even parliament have been caught (on camera and otherwise) engaging in all kinds of illegal and deplorable activities. There have been instances when those elected on the UPFA ticket have assaulted rivals within the Alliance. I have promised disciplinary action, but have deliberately made sure that deed will not follow word.
It is principally my responsibility to screen applicants for party nomination. I have failed. I will not pass the buck to others. Today, I acknowledge that the Alliance needs thugs and racketeers to intimidate opponents, fatten the campaign fund and in these and other ways throw their weight around. This is the real secret of success and although I can blame the prevalent political culture for this, I will not, because we, politicians, are the creators of the context.
In short, I was negligent in the screening and incompetent in dealing with those who violated discipline. I can’t say they violated party discipline, because turning a blind eye and even encouraging strong-arm tactics and illegal activity is now part and parcel of party policy.
I ought to have resigned a long time ago. I ought to resign now. I will not. I am ashamed, yes, but the benefits of office far outweigh the shame.
*Malinda Seneviratne is the Chief Editor of ‘The Nation’ and his articles can be found at www.malindawords.blogspot.com