Mahinda Rajapaksa being interviewed by Padma Rao Sundarji of WION’s senior international correspondent
Posted on April 18th, 2017

Sudath Gunasekara 18.4.2017.

Brilliant response by Mahinda Rajapaksa. How much Padma has tried to trap MR in this interview. But he has cleverly avoided all her attempts. His answers clearly show how matured a politician he is by now. Particularly I admire his love for the country and the people.

Even Padma has been more careful in choosing her words and posing tricky questions to MR than Ranil when she interviewed him on 2. 4. 2017 MR in this interview is leagues ahead of and much sharper than  Ranil,  who had throughout meekly given in to Padma often getting trapped.

On the other hand MR has answered every question Padma posted wittingly and intelligently

I am particularly impressed the way he had handled Questions nos. 3  4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11and 12

I see avery big difference between this and his previous interviews I have read.

I have no doubt you will surely enjoy the following interview

Mr/ Padma Rao Sundarji

Exclusive: Sri Lankan government selling the country, says ex-president Mahinda Rajapaksa

Rajapaksa spoke to WION’s senior international correspondent Padma Rao Sundarji for the ‘World Is One: Global Leadership’ series

Mahinda Rajapaksa spoke to WION at his residence in Sri Lankan capital Colombo. (AFP)

Colombo, Western Province, Sri Lanka | Apr 17, 2017, 03.28 PM (IST)

Mahinda Rajapaksa was President of Sri Lanka from 2005 to 2015. He is a human rights lawyer by profession, but has been the butt of  widespread outrage and criticism for alleged human rights violations by the Sri Lankan armed forces during the final stages of the 30-year long civil war against the armed separatist group, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), which invented the “suicide bomb”, forcibly recruited child soldiers and used civilians as human shields

In his first global television interview since his election defeat in 2015, Rajapaksa spoke to WION’s senior international correspondent Padma Rao Sundarji for the “World Is One: Global Leadership” series at his residence in Colombo.

Padma Rao Sundarji: President Mahinda Rajapaksa, it’s a pleasure to see you again. Thank you for receiving me and WION for this exclusive interview. I’ll start with India/China/Pakistan -the region. Sri Lanka is today steeped in external debt to China. The current government under President Maithripala Sirisena is under tremendous pressure. It is slated to give China up to 80% stake in the port of Hambantota and a 99-year lease on 15,000 acres of land nearby. Your critics say that it is your government that began the dependency on China, your supporters blame the present government in Colombo. Either way, India is not happy. Who is more responsible?

1 Mahinda Rajapaksa: They say we are responsible and we say the present government is responsible. Some even say India is responsible.  We had decided to consciously re-orient our countries towards Asia, which, of course, means the two power houses India and China. We did this for more than one reason. Firstly, we identify ourselves as Asians and therefore we identify our destiny as part of that of the continent of Asia. Secondly, Asia is our civilizational and cultural comfort zone. Thirdly, we look to Asia to protect us and help counter-balance pressures on our nation’s sovereignty from outside the region. We continue to hope to benefit from the economic rise of Asia propelled by the growth of its two giants, India and China.  But there was no dependency on China under my government — I must tell you that. All projects were income-yielding. Repayment was commercially feasible.  Take the Hambantota sea port. First, I went to India, and I requested them I want a harbour port here and asked whether they could please help us. But you know…the Indian way. You can’t blame them either because the private sector is involved and then there was red tape, etc. All in all, they were not prepared to accept because the (Sri Lankan civil) war was going on, not only the north and east, but even in other parts of the country. Then, I think in 2006, I went to China. There, I negotiated the port. They immediately gave it to me within that year. But it was a loan that we could afford, because we knew from the income we get that we can pay it back. We were not depending on them (China). It was a direct loan, for which we never gave them the port. After that and for the second and third phases, we negotiated with them on a Supply-Operate-Transfer (SOT) basis. But only for the terminal. not the port! And even in the terminal, they had to pay for the land. We never gave them land like this (the current government).  Unfortunately with this government, it’s their approach. As soon as they came to power, they cancelled all these contracts, all these agreements with China and antagonised Beijing.  Thereafter, of course everything changed. Now they are offering 15,000 acres – we never offered them anything like that. What they are doing now is — I would say, they are selling the country.

Padma Rao Sundarji: China is Sri Lanka’s largest trading partner and biggest investor. Even some Sri Lankans say that China is slowly colonising your country. You and the factions supporting you are yourselves protesting the Hambantota deal with China. And yet, your prime minister, Ranil Wickremesinghe is expected to initial the deal when he visits China in May. Colombo’s Port City Project too is steaming ahead. And through the docking of its nuclear submarines, China has already made it clear that it has larger, strategic interests in Sri Lanka and the Indian Ocean region.  Is it too late to revert this process of near colonisation of Sri Lanka by China?

2 Mahinda Rajapaksa:  There was no idea of colonisation in our time. China is a valued friend and a partner in development, that’s all.  However, there is a significant difference between our approach and that of the present government. The Chinese projects were negotiated by the last government (ours) as per the structures I described. For Hambantota, it was a Supply-Operate-Transfer (SOT) arrangement only for the terminal and the land was leased to them. So there can be no talk of colonisation as such. But this government has changed all those policies. That is why all this is happening now.

Padma Rao Sundarji: To decimate the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), against whom there was a brutal civil war for 30 years, your government received arms, training and even aircraft from China and Pakistan. Did you ask India to help at the time and if so, how did New Delhi react?

3 Mahinda Rajapaksa: But they helped us! We didn’t have to ask! Because I was fighting your war, India’s war, not my war, actually. The LTTE killed your prime minister, Rajiv Gandhi and so many other people in India and on your soil, not ours. So in that way, it was not only my war, it was an Indian war, it was a humanitarian war. India helped us in every possible way. We didn’t want to publicise it, tell the press too much.  And not only China and Pakistan, even the British and the Americans helped us.

Padma Rao Sundarji: Pakistan is a hotbed of Islamist terrorism, mostly targeted at India. The Maldives too, have been home to the maximum number of Islamic State recruits in South Asia and is being rapidly influenced by Saudi Wah’abi Islam. Bangladesh has seen IS terror and sleeper cells. Your justice minister recently said that 31 elite Sri Lankan Muslims” had joined the IS too. Given all this, it’s surely better for Sri Lanka to improve relations with India, than ignore the dangers from Islamist terrorism in the region?

4 Mahinda Rajapaksa: We believe in improving relations with all countries in our neighbourhood, this I must tell you. Both India and Pakistan have helped us as best as they can, we have traditionally been friends of both. And that friendship has not been mutually exclusive and contradictory, that is, friendship with one has not been at the expense of the other. We are mindful of the sentiments of our citizens of Islamic faith. You will remember that our former PM, Mrs Sirimavo Bandaranaike was a close friend of the Islamic world.  Of course, we have only one neighbour, India. It’s a subcontinent and where our Tamil citizens have cultural, linguistic and civilizational links.  For all those reasons our relationship and friendship with India is quite special. Even unique, I would say.

Padma Rao Sundarji: Mr Rajapaksa, you had promised to bring about a solution to the demand for Tamil autonomy in your Northern and Eastern Provinces. India insists on the implementation of the so-called 13th Amendment to the Sri Lankan constitution which Rajiv Gandhi’s government had co-authored and both parties signed in 1987. Thirty years on, is it the best solution?

5 Mahinda Rajapaksa: I won’t say it’s the best solution. If it were, the problem would have surely been solved by now. We must remember that all communities must get together to give a solution. You can’t come up with one solution only to satisfy one section or community. We have to satisfy all.

Padma Rao Sundarji: The fishermen’s issue and the Kachaithivu agreement make headlines in both India and Sri Lanka every day. What’s at the bottom of both and how can they be resolved once and for all times?

6 Mahinda Rajapaksa: Fishermen only follow the fish, they are not worried about borders. But it is our duty – that of Delhi and Colombo – to stop this, we must have the political will to do so. Indian fishermen come here and deplete the entire seabed of fish by using bottom trawlers. So this must stop. And New Delhi must have the political will to stop it.

Padma Rao Sundarji: You had accused India, specifically its Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) of engineering your election defeat in 2015. How so?

7 Mahinda Rajapaksa (laughs): You know, I don’t want to go into the past. What’s done is done. It’s a new page now.

Padma Rao Sundarji: If you were to return to power – either with the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) faction that supports you or some other new party, would you want to recalibrate your relationship to India which was very tense during your years in office?

8 Mahinda Rajapaksa: Frankly, I think both my government and this government and may I say even earlier governments like that of President JR Jayawardene have learned lessons in geopolitics and economics! No Sri Lankan government can fail to recognise that Sri Lanka cannot afford to antagonise the two Asian giants – China and India. We have learned our lessons by now. So it’s in our national interest to very carefully balance and maintain equilibrium between the two.

Padma Rao Sundarji: A report in The Hindu suggests that you and your brother, former defence secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa have fallen out and that Ram Madhav, Indian PM Narendra Modi’s special man for Sri Lanka, is involved in engineering some sort of a political arrangement which will include your brother and suit Indian interests. Can you comment on that report?

9 Mahinda Rajapaksa: I didn’t see the report, only heard about it.  But there has been no falling out between Gotabhaya and me in the past, in the present and there will not be one in the future either. Our relationship is based on love, mutual respect, shared patriotic values but also the dangerous shared experience during the war. Why, he had dropped in only yesterday. I really  don’t know why they make stories up like this. It’s not good for their paper, or even for the writer…

Padma Rao Sundarji: What is your personal equation with PM Modi? You have met him several times, including at his own inauguration. Would you have any anecdotes to narrate?

10 Mahinda Rajapaksa: I  regard myself a friend of your PM Modi. I admire what he has done for your country, India. And his international prestige. I really like the way he has harnessed the support of the Indian diaspora in a way I couldn’t! I admire his patriotism and his drive at modernising India. Yes we admire him, there’s no question.

Padma Rao Sundarji: Earlier this year, several former “rehabilitated” LTTE cadres were arrested for being part of a diaspora-hatched conspiracy to kill moderate Tamil leader MA Sumanthiran. Two years ago, three former Tigers including one Gobi” were chased and gunned down and caches of weapons found in Sri Lanka’s Northern Province. The Liberation Tigers have regrouped outside Sri Lanka. Does all this mean that the rehabilitation program started by your government has proved to be a failure?

11 Mahinda Rajapaksa: Not at all. Our rehabilitation effort was successful and humane. What has been a disaster is the weakening of our security forces and our safety network in the former conflict areas. Weakening them has been a deliberate policy of the present government. I fear that disaster is looming. When we released them – about 12000 people – some were rehabilitated fully, then underwent the entire course. Then there were those who had taken only half of it. Finally there were others who somehow managed to escape that rehabilitation program. The LTTE diaspora is collecting money and they are powerful. So it is essential to have a good security network. Our intelligence networks must be strengthened. Instead, they have weakened it, because they are listening to the LTTE diaspora.

Padma Rao Sundarji: But if the rehabilitation program was successful, then these stories of an LTTE resurgence are surely just politically-motivated rumors ?

12  Mahinda Rajapaksa: No, they are not. They’re probably the tip of the iceberg.

Padma Rao Sundarji: So you feel the problem is much larger?

13 Mahinda Rajapaksa: Yes, much larger.

Padma Rao Sundarji: Former Tiger Karuna has formed the Tamil Freedom Party in Batticaloa, another former Tiger the Rehabilitated Liberation Tigers Party in Trincomalee.  “Tamil freedom”, “Liberation Tigers” – surely no Election Commission in united, post-war Sri Lanka can and should accept such party names?

14 Mahinda Rajapaksa:  Well, I support and encourage Karuna. He took a personal risk by coming into the mainstream and that cost him his brother Reggie’s life – he was killed by the Tigers. Now if Karuna’s forming a political party, I wish him luck. I don’t know enough about the other party you mention. But rehabilitees must be able, free to start political parties. We must encourage them to come into peaceful, democratic, non-separatist politics.

Padma Rao Sundarji: But surely with better names?

15 Mahinda Rajapaksa: Yes, I suppose so….I think the election commissioner will advise them..

Padma Rao Sundarji: You are widely credited – even by your detractors – as the first Sri Lankan president to bring the 30-year civil war to an end. Corruption charges against your family persist now. And yet, your popularity seems on a phenomenal upswing. A new party has been formed, it is asking you to leave the SLFP and lead it instead. Either way, will the next election see the return of Mahinda Rajapaksa into the fray?

16 Mahinda Rajapaksa: Mahinda Rajapaksa never left the fray. As long as my country, my nation, my people are in danger and need me, I remain in the fray.

Padma Rao Sundarji: So whether as PM or President, you will come back, in whichever role?

17 Mahinda Rajapaksa:  I must tell you that patriotic politics is not a job. It is my life’s vocation.

Watch

17 Responses to “Mahinda Rajapaksa being interviewed by Padma Rao Sundarji of WION’s senior international correspondent”

  1. ranjit Says:

    Great answers by a great leader. We need a leader of that caliber not a spineless leader like the current one to lead our nation. All citizens should rally behind this great leader to save Motherland from the current evil regime before it’s too late. I hope and pray maha sanga will help this great leader to continue his good work which the current evil government put a full stop when they came to power. May lord Buddha protects him and guide him in the correct path to bring our motherland back to glory.

  2. Christie Says:

    Padma is nothing more than an Indian vermin. Once I met another one like her and she was the South Asia woman for Time a US based mag. I don’t know what this fake factory is. These Indian vermin will never give up

    The Time mag vermin said Gota is the worst of all human rights violators in Ceylon. You can see what India is doing and who India is after.

  3. Hiranthe Says:

    MR is the best ever this country can produce as its leader.

    Christie, These Indian vermin are testing the ground for another interference. Now they are fed up with their babes of Yahapalanaya since they are exposing the country to China.

    Yet, they are better to India than MR when it comes to Trinco. India has to decide if they prefer having Trinco for them or getting rid of Chinese domination and choose between MR and the Yamapalana team.

    I like this answer on 13A “I won’t say it’s the best solution. If it were, the problem would have surely been solved by now. We must remember that all communities must get together to give a solution. You can’t come up with one solution only to satisfy one section or community. We have to satisfy all.””

    Hope he is into getting rid of the PC system and to go for a Grama Sabha once come to power. However to come to power he need the Grass root level support which is now stuck with the provincial council system

  4. Dilrook Says:

    [Quote] A report in The Hindu suggests that you and your brother, former defence secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa have fallen out and that Ram Madhav, Indian PM Narendra Modi’s special man for Sri Lanka, is involved in engineering some sort of a political arrangement which will include your brother and suit Indian interests. [Unquote]

    I sincerely hope Gotabhaya will not fall for this Ram Madhav terrorist, the next Indian meddler after JN Dixit and Ajit Doval. He should not be allowed to divide the Rajapaksa family.

    He is the BJP general secretary and a well known Hindu ultra racist trying to split Muslims and Christians from Buddhists in Sri Lanka as well. No one can win an election without Muslim or Christian votes. Even in 2010 presidential election Mahinda won 68% of the Sinhala Buddhist vote which alone would not suffice to win (71% is needed to win solely with Buddhist votes).

  5. Christie Says:

    Hirantha and Dilrook thanks for your comments. India has been involved in our politics since 1927 or before. 1927 is the year that Mahatma Gandhi (Mohandas Karamchand) visited the island nation.

    People have to understand that there are millions of Indian Colonial Parasites who are living in former British Colonies. These are in fact British Indian colonies. I have met natives as well as Indians from these colonies like Mauritius, Malaya, Burma and African colonies and Fiji. The natives are like us under privileged and low self esteem. Indian Colonial Parasites are all well to do and has an ultra ego.

    What we need is to stop fighting among ourselves and unite and stand up to Indian Colonial Parasites and the Indian Empire. Me, you, M R, Sirisena, Ranil, we all are subjects of the Indian Empire.

  6. Senerath Says:

    “I won’t say it’s the best solution. If it were, the problem would have surely been solved by now. We must remember that all communities must get together to give a solution. You can’t come up with one solution only to satisfy one section or community. We have to satisfy all.”

    Does’t sound good. Does it ?

    Where the hell “satisfy all ” leading to ? No way !
    Back to MORE POWER SHARING nonsence. Back to 13 Plus !

    How come no partior can see this ?
    Hiranthe , Dilrook , WAKE UP !

    Where is Ananda-USA ?
    Where is Lorenzo ?

  7. vyasan Says:

    Mahinda Rajapakse is the one and only leader I admire, respect and love in Sri Lanka. His answers surely show that he is a matured and patriotic leader which we cannot see in anyone on the opposite side. I fervently hope that he become the executive head of the government of Sri Lanka once again to lead the country in the right direction. Sri Lanka has never seen a leader like him since the independence and I doubt, will see in the near future as well. Therefore, the Sri Lankans should gather together to support unreservedly for Mahinda Rajapakse while he is all available for us to lead the country. May God bless this gem of a leader and the true son of the soil!

  8. Fran Diaz Says:

    President Mahinda is the proven sincere, practical and mature leader.

  9. Ananda-USA Says:

    This Indian journalist tried to corral Mahinda Rajapaksa and fore him onto the defensive.

    He FAILED ABJECTLY in that effort; Mahinda gave forth right answers defending Sri Lanka’s rights and interests on all questions.

    As Vyasan said, Mahinda is the only TRUE LEADER of Sri Lsnka that we Patriots can be proud of.

    Long Live Mahinda Rajapaksa; may he lead the Patriots to victory again!

  10. Ananda-USA Says:

    Let us get this WADA-BARI UNPATRIOTIC Yamapalana AANDUWA it’s marching orders into the nearest DUSTBIN!

  11. Sarath W Says:

    I too like the answer to the question about the 13th amendment. If it is not the best solution, then what is ? Mahinda had all the time and every opportunity to come up with a lasting solution for these bogus Tamil grievances. It is time he spells out his plan to shut up these ungrateful Tamil crooks and win the confidence of all those Sinhala voters who left him. We need this patriotic leader to stand up now and show the nation he is ready to dispose these bunch of traitors and guide us to safety and prosperity.

  12. Lorenzo Says:

    Senevi,

    “Where the hell “satisfy all ” leading to ? No way !
    Back to MORE POWER SHARING nonsence. Back to 13 Plus !”

    OF COURSE!

    It proves my point that ALL our politicians are BENDING BACKWARDS and COMPETING WITH ONE ANOTHER to SATISFY Tamils. They are in politics to satisfy Tamils.

    Did you watch Namal’s new year message in FB? It is in Tamil (and Singhala). ALL SL politicians have made SL an EXTENTION of TAMIL MADU.

    SL must be liberated from the DIYAWANNA shitthouse. Only the MILITARY and the SANGHA can do it. They are the only PROVEN saviours of SL ALWAYS.

  13. Dilrook Says:

    @Senerath

    I agree with the former president that a solution must satisfy all. Surely, it does not mean all will be satisfied. That will never happen. It only means an attempt to have a solution that is fair by all. It does not necessarily mean more power sharing or 13 plus.

    He should be commended for telling this to the face of an Indian because Indians are only concerned about Hindus (85% of Tamils are Hindus).

  14. Hiranthe Says:

    True… Dilrook, I totally agree with you. Indians are only concerned about Hindus (85% of Tamils are Hindus). That is the reason of the true love they have towards our Tamils. Otherwise, in India the North Indians do not like Tamils.

    But they prefer Tamils more than Sinhelas. Indians will not hesitate to destroy all of us to favour Tamils.

    As Christie always say, same thing is happening in Fiji and other places where Indian slaves were brought by the colonial masters. Natives have no place…

  15. Ratanapala Says:

    රටේ සම්පත් විකුණනවාට පොදු විපක්ෂයේ විරෝධතාවය – ආවට ගියාට!

    මෝඩි එනවා එන මාසයේ ත්‍රිකුණාමලය ලියාගෙනයන්න. ඒ ගැන තිබෙන සූදානම කුමක්ද? මැයි දිනයේ කොළඹ ඉඳන් කෑගැහුවාට වැඩක් නැහැ.

    මෝඩි යන තුරු රට පුරා විරෝධතා පැවැත්විය යුතුය. හම්බන්තොට ඩීල් එකටත් එසේම විය යුතුය!

  16. NAK Says:

    India and Pakistan has been great friends of Sri Lanka but Pakistan has never betrayed Sri Lanka like the Indians! and that’s what Mahinda should have told.

  17. Fran Diaz Says:

    Self Reliance as far as possible is the best way to go !

    For that we have to have PATRIOTISM from all Lankans. This ought to be taught to all school children even at this late stage. Neighborhood Watches by Senior Citizens needed to report trouble before it becomes big time issues.

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