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‘SL will implement home-grown solution’

The conspiracy against Sri Lanka is nothing new. It was hatched by some Western countries when the government was involved in the humanitarian operation to free innocent civilians held as human shield by the LTTE. These outside forces strongly believed that the LTTE could not be annihilated by the heroic Security Forces. They tried their best to divide the country and failed, thanks to the strong leadership given by President Mahinda Rajapaksa. Sri Lanka can be proud of the Geneva outcome, because Sri Lanka secured 15 votes with another eight countries supporting us by abstaining from voting. All this in spite of the tremendous pressure exerted by the strongest country in the world, said Disaster Management Minister Mahinda Amaraweera in an interview with the Daily News.

Following are the excerpts:

Q: How do you interpret the Geneva vote?

A: The Geneva vote is nothing new because, from the beginning we knew that some Western and European countries launched a conspiracy against Sri Lanka. We got to know this not during the Geneva UNHRC but long before, on the day we launched the humanitarian operation against the LTTE. At that time the same elements used various tactics to turn the operation back, but President Mahinda Rajapaksa did not give in to their pressures, and continued with and ended the conflict.


Disaster Management Minister Mahinda Amaraweera

Now, we have to encounter the jealousy of these countries that strongly believed the LTTE will win and the Sri Lankan Armed Forces will lose. They took the view that the Sri Lankan government should give in to LTTE terrorism and divide the country. On the other hand, Sri Lanka can be very proud of the Geneva result, because in the midst of strong pressure from the strongest country in the world, Sri Lanka secured 15 votes and another eight countries supported us by abstaining from voting.

This resolution is not a problem at all because Sri Lanka will continue to implement its home grown solution as planned. We do not act according to the demands of another country, but in our own way. It is a programme planned by the Sri Lankan government long before the Geneva UNHRC to share power and address the problems faced by the different ethnic groups. The Sri Lankan government did it with the sincere objective of solving the problem. Certain parts of it have already been implemented and the rest will continue.

Q: What do you think of a road map that aimed at assisting and supporting LTTE victims in addition to the compensation and other relief granted to them by the Sri Lankan government?

A: They all talk about the number of LTTE terrorists killed during the confrontation; but nobody mentions the victims of the LTTE which are in thousands. Many lost their lives, and families have been left without breadwinners. Some lost their eyes, limbs etc, while some others lost their entire families.

How about them? Who talks about them apart from the Sri Lankan government which paid them compensations and looked after them? What about the funds collected from the Tamil people by the LTTE Diaspora? The LTTE destroyed the lives of all ethnic groups, not only Sinhalese and Muslims.

The Diaspora should at least look after the Tamil people who lost lives, eyes, limbs and properties because of the LTTE, without trying to fund foreign politicians and INGOs to divide the country. It is their duty because the Diaspora money comes from the Tamil people.

Q: What will be the future of the crusade against Sri Lanka launched by the LTTE supporters worldwide, and their agents?

A: Even though we completely defeated the LTTE within Sri Lanka and put a full stop to terrorism, the LTTE foreign network is very much intact and active. It is clear the LTTE is raising its ugly head again at the International level. The best example is the Geneva resolution. After Sri Lanka lost the vote some INGOs and NGOs appreciated some foreign countries by presenting them with bags of currency notes and throwing grand parties. They will continue their 'project’ aimed at dividing Sri Lankan into two, like Sudan. The 'project’ will continue from foreign lands and they will try to create instability and anarchy within the country to collect more funds and get outside 'help’ for their 'operation’.

But I state very clearly President Rajapaksa will never let terror raise its head again, and the UPFA government will never let anybody grab power, using weapons. Power can only be achieved through free and fair elections. Sri Lanka is a democracy where regular free and fair elections are held. Elections are open to all, anybody can contest and win. This is a five star democracy and it is right here in Sri Lanka.

Q: How does past, present and future behaviours of the Opposition political parties make an impact on solving the ethnic issue?

A: The political leaders in the Opposition have not understood their responsibility yet. While the Geneva UNHRC sessions were going on and the crucial vote was taking place, the Opposition Leader went to the North and took photographs standing opposite the mansion of Prabhakaran. While travelling on carpeted roads constructed by the government, drinking water provided by the government and using electricity provided by the state he questioned, where is the Northern Spring?(Uthuru Wasanthaya). But the people from the South have already travelled to the North and seen for themselves the Northern Spring. He was addressing the crowd in Geneva by posing that question from the North.

Meanwhile the TNA is now trying to achieve the LTTE objectives using a different strategy because they could not do it through the war. It is a dream that will never come true. The ordinary Tamil community does not have this dream, that is why political parties break into pieces and get destroyed.

The Opposition Leader understands he will never be able to come into power and sit on the state leader’s chair. He expects to gain power through an outsider, as in some Arab and other countries. He is waiting for outside elements to bring him the 'spring’ by chasing away the democratically elected leader of the country.

Q: What are the responsibilities of the Sri Lankan government and the general public on protecting the motherland from various types of invasions?

A: The Sri Lankan government is acting most responsibly and the issue has been discussed in the Cabinet, during the meeting of government MPs, the SLFP Central Committee meeting, etc. The government is educating the public on the issues and its future strategy.

The public should shed all petty differences and join hands with the programme. There is no election scheduled in the near future. The public can express their wish during the election, but right now all Sri Lankans should get together and push forward our home grown solution without letting outside elements to interfere in our internal affairs.

Q: What is the responsibility of the Sri Lankan mass media in finding a solution to the ethnic issue?

A: The mass media has a very big responsibility. We have to thank the media for the support extended by them during the humanitarian operation because it accelerated the victory. But the conduct of some media is not acceptable.

They supported the West and Europe. Their action encouraged some countries to vote against Sri Lanka during UNHRC, Geneva. We are aware that some media institutions have their own political agendas.

However, as regards the safety and dignity of the motherland, they must act accordingly without thinking about their political goals. The government needs a strong Opposition, an opposition media to point out the government’s shortcomings. Constructive criticism is necessary. But the Opposition and the media should not act against the motherland. They should put the country first.

Q: In what level is Sri Lanka’s ability of facing natural disasters, at present?

A: The country is now achieving fast development after the conclusion of the humanitarian operation. The main hazards against the rapid development process are the numerous natural disasters occurring suddenly and from time to time, in the form of floods, droughts, landslides, lightning, etc…The government and the Disaster Management Ministry has already established a mechanism to face natural disasters and manage them.

My main objective is turning this ministry into an idle ministry in the future by strengthening the prevention of natural disasters.

All possible steps will be taken to prevent natural disasters such as floods and landslides. We have already implemented a floods prevention programme in the Colombo city at a cost of Rs. 8,500 million. The project was launched with aid given by the World Bank, in coordination with the Defence Ministry. This year Jaffna, Dambulla and Panadura will be covered by similar projects. With the completion of these projects floods can be prevented in the future.

Cabinet approval has already been granted for a 50 million US $ project for landslide prevention. With the completion of this project we can protect the hill country area prone to landslides.

Q: What have you to say about the various insurance schemes available for the public on natural disasters?

A: We are holding discussions with Insurance Companies to let the people insure with us and obtain the claim from the company and give it to the people when natural disasters strike and destroy their homes and properties.

The government is focused on assisting the needy and not the rich who own enterprises. Some people tell us natural disasters totally destroyed their factory, office etc…but it is up to them to obtain insurance cover because they are capable of paying high premiums. They are not like the poor who cannot afford to pay the premium.

Sri Lanka is one of the countries in the world with the least number of insurance. There are very few life policies because our health service is free of charge and of high quality. In other countries health services are not free of charge and the public have to pay for health care services. In Sri Lanka anyone can get admitted to a state hospital free of charge and obtain treatment. We have to educate the people on how to spend less money on insurance policies and get the maximum benefit.

Q: Why do you consider dengue as a natural disaster and how would you assist to control dengue?

A: This ministry or any other ministry cannot work alone. We have to work together as Cabinet ministers. The President is the leader and we all work as a team and hold equal responsibility. We cannot ignore issues saying they do not come under the purview of our ministry. I identified dengue as a natural disaster and decided to contribute maximally towards the Health Ministry’s dengue control programme. We have already issued instructions to all our officers throughout the country to support the programme and provide required resources.

Dengue took away many precious lives and has become a major threat. My ministry will continue to support the Health Ministry’s dengue control programme.

Q: Do you have any special message for the Sri Lankan public at this juncture?

A: The Sri Lankan public should not fear the Geneva resolution. There are no economic sanctions, or the arrival of foreign armed forces, etc. because of the Geneva resolution. Recently people feared a possible end of the world in 2012 and started to lead a joyful life thinking the world will end by 2012. But it is not true. Similarly, Sri Lanka has a very clear programme and we will not let outside elements interfere in our internal affairs. The US and some other countries carry out these conspiracies because of their knowledge of future economic trends. By 2021 the Asian economy will lead the world and Sri Lanka will be in the forefront. This has been predicted by US economists.

China has progressed and so will India. But in the West and in Europe, there is no economic growth. They record minus economic growth and are facing a financial crisis. But in Asia, we have plus economic growths and do not face any economic crisis. All Asian countries record beyond five percent economic growth. This is why the US wants to attack Iran.

Asian countries buy oil from Iran. All Asian countries have realized this. We, the Asian countries should be united and strong. Then the world will be ruled by Asia and not by US or the West in the future.

Therefore we request the people not to listen to or believe rumours spread by evil elements, and join hands with the government to push the country forward.

We have to minimize our imports and maximize exports. We have to develop our family, village and country without listening to the Opposition which tries to fish in troubled waters.

 

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