In order to steer clear of the present political deadlock that resulted subsequent to the appointment of a new Premier and the Cabinet of Ministers, the only solution is to dissolve Parliament and to hold a General election to enable the public to choose the leaders on their own without further muddling the present state of affairs, so opined Dr. Nalaka Godahewa, the Private Secretary to Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa and the Chairman of Sri Lanka Insurance Corporation.
He is an active member of Viyath Maga which was formed in the intension of providing common forum for Sri Lankan professionals and academics with a sense of patriotism to influence the policy makers and legislators to align the country in a development trajectory.
In a conversation with Ceylon Today, Dr. Godahewa expressed his views on the present political plight in the country as well as the fitting solutions to overcome them.
Below are the excerpts:
Recently, the Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa and the senior members of the government obtained the membership of Sri Lanka Podu Jana Peramuna (SLPP). Doesn’t that pave way for the breakdown of Sri Lankan Freedom Party (SLFP) which has a long and a glorious history?
SLFP, founded by SWRD Bandaranaike is a party with a great history and has played a substantial role in governing the country. Nevertheless, lamentably, during the last couple of years we could observe a clear a deviation of the Party from its pristine policies and values.
When the former President Mahinda Rajapksa was holding the headship of the party, he acted upon and preserved the very values and policies of SLFP upon which the Party was based. When the Party began to veer from its original objectives, the need for an alternative political party that possesses congenial attributes was arisen.
SLPP is based on the pristine policies of SLFP and the very purpose of Late Premier Bandaranaike to form SLFP and incorporated with the latest social, economic and political trends in the country as well as the world. SLPP will cater to the modern needs of the society without losing the pristine values of SLFP.
SLPP is an evolution and extension of SLFP to cater to more modern thinking. It would also take the past mistakes into account and will move forward correcting them.
Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa navigated SLPP amidst adversities to victory. I strongly believe that SLFP too join this front in order to form a broader national alliance to contest the elections.
In the recently held Local Government Election, SLPP lead by former President Mahinda Rajapaksa emerged victorious. I feel SLPP has the inherent tendency of winning any election.
Other political parties who share similar ideologies with SLPP will join the alliance of which the leader and the name are yet to decide.
In your opinion, what could be the solution to get away with the present deadlock?
The present impasse is created as a result of 19th amendment to the constitution which was brought with conspicuous ulterior motives. The country incurred much detriment by the said amendment than the otherwise. That paved way for a constitutional crisis. At present the country has entered into a political labyrinth of which, a way out is unclear.
The best action that should be taken at this crisis plight is to dissolve Parliament and to hold a General Election.
It is high time that we let the public decide which government they need, since there is an impasse and confusion over the ruling if the country.
Certain political parties know that they would not be able to win elections and they keep on censuring the decision of the President to dissolve Parliament and to appoint new members to the Parliament and form a government with the mandate of people, which is the only solution to present stalemate.
Some are of the opinion that Presidential Election should be held prior to a General Election. What is your view?
I do not agree with that. What we need at this crucial juncture is the General Election for the public to elect legitimate representatives for the Parliament. Presidential election is secondary. First, we should get rid of the present crisis by allowing people to elect their representatives. This highly disorderly Parliamentary composition can even affect the new President and he too would be in doldrums.
Have you any idea of who will be the prospective Presidential candidate of SLPP? On the other hand President Maithripala Sirisena is mulling over to contest the next Presidential Election?
Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa seems to have certain constraints to contest the Presidential Election due to the 19th amendment to the constitution. There is another argument put forward by the legal experts that the 19th amendment does not apply to former President Mahinda Rajapaksa. So, there is a possibility for Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa to contest the Presidential Election.
There is again a possibility for a new candidate. During the last Presidential Election, people were looking for a new face. I have a feeling, this time too, the majority of the public might prefer a new candidate and it is up to the Party to decide its Presidential Candidate after all.
In the present political scenario where both the parties say that they have the majority in the Parliament, whom do you think actually command the majority?
Both factions claim they command the majority. It is a matter of proving it. Ousted Premier Ranil Wickremesinghe keeps saying that he has the majority, albeit has not proven yet.
If he claims so, then prove it in a proper and acceptable manner.
What’s your notion on the No Confidence Motion (NCM) brought against the Premier Mahinda Rajapaksa and his government?
That is a complete contravention of the constitution. Speaker Karu Jayasuriya made a mockery out of the Parliamentary tradition and customs and it is a disgrace to the post of Speaker. No preceding Speaker in the Parliament behaved in such an unacceptable and unethical manner as the way Karu Jayasuriya did. Past Speakers never stood for their political party in the Parliament. They were independent. Karu Jayasuriya is not an independent Speaker but acts in accordance with the whims and fancies of his political party.
In accordance with the provisions of the constitution, the President appointed a Prime Minister and when the Parliament was reconvened this time, the Speaker spurned to accept the Premier. We should see what his motive is behind his manner at Parliament.
First, the Speaker should acknowledge the Prime Minister, in order to bring or pass an NCM against him. Without accepting Mahinda Rajapaksa as the Premier, how can he pas the NCM against Premier Mahinda Rajapaksa?
He was playing a political role in Parliament contravening the Parliament traditions and customs, constitution and the standing orders. The Speaker took a cavalier attitude and his behavior was contumely.
Although he attempted to pass the NCM twice in the Parliament in a favourable manner to his party, the Secretary of the Parliament did not record that in the Hanzards, for it was not carried out in a lawful manner.
Speaker in my opinion must resign and I personally condemn his behavior.
What we as professionals have got to express is, follow the modus operandi in bringing the NCM. If the NCM is passed in a proper manner in Parliament, the relevant party should accept it. Parliamentary democracy should be upheld in all its affairs.
During the previous Government, Viyath Maga was highly active and voiced against the injustices. It is observable that the organization is silent these days after the new government came to power. Does Viyath Maga have any political motive?
Viyathmaga was initiated in the intension of getting the patriotic professionals together to contribute towards national policy making. We have been working on this during the past couple of years, identifying the areas where the national policies should be formulated and we have been developing the strategies in consultation with the experts in the respective fields.
Viyath Maga should not be branded as a political wing of any Party. However, we understand one thing that nothing is taking place in exclusion of politics. Politics matter in every affairs of the country. It affects every aspect of the people.
Viyathmaga cannot function by excluding itself from politics. Because our organization is involved in coming up with resolutions that concern the entire country.
If Viyath Maga can produce politicians, we see it as an advantage.
Viyath Maga focuses on national issues rather than focusing on the whims and fancies of an individual political party.
Being in the closest political sphere of Rajapaksas, were you aware of the incident that took place on 26 October beforehand?
In fact, I wrote an article to Mawbima newspaper on what the history has said. My article was totally focused on President Sirisena. I mentioned in that article that President Sirisena has a historical obligation to fulfill. I am sure President Sirisen knew what that obligation is. I explained in the article what should happen and all what I have written that article took place three days later.
Do you have any idea of contesting the forthcoming General Election?
The need for professionals and academics entering politics if highly felt in today’s society. In fact, when we initiated Viyath Maga under the guidance of Gotabhya Rajapaksa, we stressed that professionals and academics must involve in the national policy formulation as well as they should play substantial role in national politics.
I was invited by the government faction to contest the forthcoming election. Premier Mahinda Rajapkasa and some of the senior members were of the opinion that some of the professionals should get involved with the national politics.
I am concerning about it at present.
There is a widespread notion that people enter politics for their own advantage and they have their own ulterior motives behind entering politics. How do you defend yourself that you are not one of them?
I have held the best positions in private and state sector in Sri Lanka as well abroad and earned sufficient money for living. I retired by 42 since I have accumulated wealth after working hard. There is nothing that I can gain personally by entering politics. But I am very much concerned of the national politics since nothing can operate without politics.
When the people and the political parties request the professionals to get involved in politics, and make request, we need to seriously consider it. I don’t think there’s anything wrong in that.