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Protecting country is our moral duty - Minister Ranawaka

Sri Lanka defeated LTTE terrorism which plagued our country for nearly 30 years. The LTTE was once deemed undefeatable by certain Western countries. The US has always been firm against terrorism and propagates zero-tolerance towards terrorism. Therefore, it is very strange on the part of the US and EU to fault Sri Lanka for defeating terrorism. Sri Lanka has done what no other country could do, defeating terrorism while caring for the wellbeing of the civilians who were held hostage by these terrorists, for such a long time. But instead of trying to destroy our motherland by making baseless accusations against it, these Western countries which cherish democracy should act in a more civilised manner. We must join hands to win this human rights battle in the way we won the war against terrorism, said Power and Energy Minister and General Secretary of Jathika Hela Urumaya (JHU) Patali Champika Ranawaka in an interview with the Daily News.


Here are excerpts:

Q: What do you think about the ongoing 'human rights’ crusade launched by certain EU and Western countries against Sri Lanka?

A: It is very sad and strange to see the US and EU trying to castigate us and tarnish our country's image because it was the US which put forward this idea of fighting against terrorism and they have been fighting against terrorism. We have done the same thing. We have destroyed the LTTE menace and LTTE terrorism because they were the most trained, most equipped and also the most ruthless terrorist organization on this planet. So we comprehensively defeated them in a very humanitarian way. The collateral damages were very small, the time span was very short and the cost was very low when comparing with the other countries in the world which had faced similar situations. They (US and EU) should have taken us as a role model when defeating terrorism. But unfortunately, due to various reasons they are now making various allegations and trying to destroy our country, society, economy and our reconciliation process. We have to face this challenge like we fought and won the war against LTTE terror. We have to win this human rights crusade in the same way.

Q: Please explain the role of INGOs and NGOs in 'New Colonialism’


Power and Energy Minister
Patali Champika Ranawaka

A: When the US faced a challenge from Latin American countries, they used voluntary organizations such as NGOs. Here in Sri Lanka we have voluntary organizations,such as, Mahila Samithi, Maranadara Samithi etc. We are always helpful to others and it is our tradition. But these foreign funded INGOs have their own agendas, their own philosophies and they are now simply trying to impose Western values and traditions in our society. Western countries fund them. In this way, they try to control our society and polity. This happened in Latin American countries during Che Guevara's time. Che Guevara was caught and killed because of the information collected and provided to the CIA by an NGO in Bolivia. After crushing revolutionary activities, more NGOs came with their aid package to control society, culture etc.

Q: Comment on the LLRC report and the proposed PSC?

A: My humble opinion is that the LLRC report does have some constructive recommendations. When we look at the viewpoint of the West, we can see that they have acted beyond their mandate. That is why they have discussed about devolution of power, right to information, good governance etc. It is up to the Parliament to decide these things. This is because it is the Parliament which can pass the relevant acts and legislation. Such things should not come from an independent commission. The PSC can discuss these things, devolution of power, Provincial Councils, enhancing the governing system etc. The LLRC went beyond its mandate and the US and EU may exploit this and are now trying to exploit the LLRC recommendations to humiliate our government.

Q: What will be the future impact of the JVP split and the UNP internal conflict ?

A: The JVP and UNP have changed their policies. In 2004 the JVP received about two million preferential votes and 39 seats in Parliament. But if the JVP contested the 2010 election as a single party, they would only have been able to secure a single seat. They got four seats because they contested with Sarath Fonseka. Now they have to change their Marxist ideology. The UNP should change their neo-liberal ideology to match with the current context. Only then, will they be able to play their role as a strong Opposition. This will at least help them survive in politics.

Q: Do you have any special message to the public?

A: It is very clear that the US is going to interfere in the internal affairs of this country. They can say that they are going to have human rights, democracy, peace and reconciliation for us but when they intervened in Afghanistan they said the same. But what happened to Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan? Approximately, one million civilians have been killed in Afghanistan and Iraq. Over two million have become refugees and IDPs. The entire region is now destabilized. These countries face serious socio-economic and political problems now. The countries lost stability because of US intervention.

Machine guns were given to the Libyan rebels in Benagazi by the US instead of humanitarian assistance as stated in the resolution. Libya has now become a divided and anarchist country and the Libyan leader openly stated that he cannot govern Libya and he cannot disarm the persons armed by the US.

Now the Libyans have realized that when Gaddafi was there at least they had food, water and security. Now they have nothing. This kind of thing can happen to Sri Lanka as well if the human rights crusade goes on in this manner. We have to protect our motherland, the hard won peace, the sacrifices made our heroic Armed Forces and especially our President who took a serious risk to defeat terrorism. It is our moral duty to protect our commander-in-chief, our Head of State who defeated terrorism because of his brave actions. Now he and his entire nation is going to get punished by Western powers for defeating terrorism. We have to unite to defeat the intentions of Western powers and we definitely will.

Q: How do you see the past two years of President Mahinda Rajapaksa's second term in office?

A: In 2010 and 2011, we have achieved an economic growth rate of approximately eight percent and reduced the poverty and unemployment rate. Rural areas got roads, electricity, telephone and all the other infrastructure facilities. Underprivileged rural people were empowered. We can achieve much more, if we can have a centralized plan and economic system like in China, India, Japan, Korea and Taiwan. We are not late. We have to have a concrete plan to face oil shocks, restrictions etc.

Q: What are your plans in 2012 for the Power and Energy Ministry to push forward Mahinda Chinthanaya - Vision for the Future?

A: There are three types of plans, short, mid term and long term plans. We stipulated a 10 point programme under a short term plan. It is basically to address financial issues and the electrification programme. We redefined our electrification programme, Vidulamu Lanka to electrify the whole country by 2012. Earlier, the target was set for 2016. We accelerated and advanced it. We have identified two main problems. The first one is geographical and environmental problems. We introduced Grama Shakthi to address those issues. We introduced wind, solar and mini-hydro power generating schemes to provide electricity for families (approximately between 60,000 to 100,000) which unable to obtain electricity through the national grid. The second problem is people do not have enough money to obtain the service.

The cost is between Rs. 15,000 to Rs.30,000. We have arranged a loan scheme through Samurdhi Banks for them and they can re-pay the loan through their electricity bill. We call this programme, Viduli Athwela.

We have introduced a hot-line, 1987 to facilitate our customers and our current customer base is around five million, 1910 for LECO breakdowns. The ministry can be contacted over 1901. We later plan to use the same information to measure efficiency. We couple this with 5S programme which is now underway.

By September this year we will transform all our depots, area engineers’ offices and custom service centres into efficient offices. We will introduce e-cities, modern custom service centres. We will reduce our costs, technical loses etc through this. By 2020, 20 percent of the electricity will be generated through wind, solar and mini hydro. We are now establishing solar and wind parks. All those come under our long term plan.

We have three main priorities this year. The first priority is to have a 24 X 7 power supply. This is a very difficult task because of sudden breakdowns of machines etc. It is the same all over the world. In Japan many parts faced blackouts due to Fukushima incident which took place after the tsunami. In Pakistan, there is a 16 hour power cut. In Tamil Nadu there is a six to ten hour power cut. In Bangladesh and Nepal there are long power cuts. Sri Lanka is the only country in the region that has 24 X 7 power supply.

In 2011, we faced a big difficulty due to the lack of rain. We gave priority to this issue because power outage (one unit) costs a loss of 10 units to the national economy. While the CEB looses one rupee, the national economy loses Rs.10. This is why we have to supply power at any cost for the consumers.

Our second priority is to provide the right that all people have the right to electricity. This has also become an issue now because we have planned to provide electricity to 1,000 villages with the assistance of an Iranian loan worth US $106 million. Because of these new sanctions, we face problems now.

The third priority is cutting down on the CEB's heavy losses. From 1995 to 2010, the CEB experienced heavy losses. Now we are trying to transform CEB into a financially viable institution. We are not going to make any profits but we have to stop loss making because it is a key institution with a Rs. 218 billion budget. If the CEB become bankrupt, the whole economy of the country is going to be affected. This happened in Pakistan and in Japan during the tsunami. We need to avoid similar damage. We are facing a very serious problem with the coal power plant due to its location, technology, design, unfamiliarity, etc. We will overcome those problems. This is one of the main reasons behind the huge lose of the CEB. This year, we will be able to connect the Northern power supply with the rest of the country. In future, consumers will be to able to pay bills via their mobile phones. Our main objective in 2012 is launching a energy conservation programme, Heta Wenuwen Ada.

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