Q. There were reports that the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) was critical of you and your supporters. What do you have to say about that?
It is highly ridiculous. Firstly, the report has not been made public yet. It is still with the President and he will be tabling it in Parliament once he goes through the contents. Once the report is out I am ready to challenge the newspaper.
Q. However, there have been many allegations levelled against you and the EPDP in the past with regard to several acts of violence in the North. Some of the recent incidents such as the assault of Uthayan News Editor were also attributed to you and your members. Are you denying those allegations?
A. I am not saying that we have not done anything wrong. We might have made mistakes in our political career. We have gone through several phases in our personal and political lives. The important thing is that we have learnt from these mistakes and have rectified them. I am a person who would accept whatever wrong that is pointed out and rectify it. If they prove our mistakes I will definitely take action against our members and rectify the issues.
Q. If you say that, why are you accused of such incidents?
A. It is because of our political views and stance.
Q. So what is your response to the allegations levelled against you in the recent times?
These allegations are levelled against us by Tamil political parties who have their political agenda and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) who do it for their survival. NGOs talk of human rights for their survival. I speak of human rights because it is my principle.
Q. It has been more than two years since the war ended. Why is it so difficult for Tamil parties to work together for a common cause or for the people?
It is because they work for their own political benefits. We did try to work together by forming the Tamil Political Parties Forum (TPPF). We did have many fruitful meetings.
Q. Why did it fail?
Well, it was disrupted by the TNA when the elections came up
Q. The government has been holding discussions with the TNA on several issues including finding a political solution. Would this effort yield the expected outcome?
The TNA is a party that thrives on problems. The party needs problems for its survival. They will not want to solve the problem but will want it to persist or make it worse. That is the difference between us and them. We do politics to solve the problem. They do it to make it worse
Q. On what basis do you say that?
You look at the past and you will realise that we had several opportunities to solve the problem. The LTTE threw it away for its own benefit and the EPRLF misused it for its benefit. The likes of Premadasa and Chandrika Kumaratunga came up with frameworks to find a solution. All these efforts were opposed and thrown away by the Tamil politicians. I am talking about the post Indo-Lanka accord period. Not what happened before that. It was the Tamil politicians who missed or avoided the opportunities that could have brought a permanent solution to our longstanding ethnic question.
Q. You mentioned that that these parties had vested interests. What are they?
They do not want the problem to be solved. The necessity for an understanding between the Tamil parties is not a thing that was realised recently. It has been there for the past many years and there have been moves to address this issue. There were instances where Tamil political parties merged to form alliances. Armed movements also got together to work together. All these efforts failed because they worked for their own benefit and not for the people
We formed the TPPF based on the experiences we gained in the past
Q. Is the government genuine in finding a permanent solution to the ethnic question?
What is important here is to what extent the Tamil parties are genuine. Finding a solution solely depends on how genuine the Tamil parties are. I am talking about what happened after the Indo-Lanka peace accord. The Sinhala government failed before the Indo-Lanka peace agreement. But, it was the Tamil political leaders who failed after the agreement was signed in 1987.
Q. You, or your members have been accused of indulging in illegal sand mining. Your response?
Again, these are allegations levelled to bring disrepute to us and our party. The sand mining is done legally through the organisation, Maheshwari Foundation. We have the approval of the Geological Survey and Mines Bureau.
Q. A lot has been said about the proposed Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC). You have also expressed your support for the move. Why are you in favour of the PSC? Are you confident that the PSC would be effective in finding the much needed solution?
The government cannot come to a solution by discussing with the TNA alone. As I said earlier, the TNA’s intention is not to find a solution. It wants to sustain or aggravate the problems. The other reason is that the PSC gives a chance for the participation of the opposition parties.
Otherwise, the opposition would oppose the government’s move. Therefore, it will be better if the opposition members are made part of the PSC.
This government came into power with the support of the Sinhalese people. It also has the two thirds majority, a luxury which the likes of Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunge did not have.
The other important thing is that the President is now open for negotiations with all parties and therefore trying to bring everyone together.
Another aspect is the lack of obstacles due to the likes of the LTTE. The previous peace process broke down because of the LTTE. Today the government cannot use the LTTE as an excuse. The international community is also closely monitoring the process. Therefore, the Tamil parties should use the
opportunity. courtesy: The Nation