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
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
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
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.