Regardless of whatever challenges that may come, Hambantota harbour will be re-acquired.
Posted on August 14th, 2017

It is foolish politicians who attempt to attack and wreck the AttorneyGeneral’s Department.  – Minister Dr, Wijedasa Rajapaksa

(Translated by : A.A.M.NIZAM – MATARA)

Given below is the translation of an interview given to Sunday Divayina by the Minister of Justice and Buddhist Affairs Dr. Wijedasa Rajapaksa who is to be impeached by the government. He bcame prominent in the political arena this week because of the debatable ideas expressed by him on leasing of the Hambantota harbour to China, implementation of law and order in the country, and on Bond Scam investigation.

Because of these opinions he has to got involved in a single handed fight against the other Mnisters of the government within and ouside the cabinet. It is in a background of this battle becoming very hot and having assumed a stage in which allegations are being made both ways we met him and built up this debate.

Q: Most of the people in this country do not know that the handover of the Hambantota harbour to China was the most dangerous loss incurred by this country although the hot topic of discussion is the Bond Scam.

A: Yes.  Superficially you will see that what I am waging is a solitary battle.  But within this battle there are several unseen forces.  That is the people of this country.  I have not got isolated.  It is based on facts I say that the sale of this harbour is wrong.  I say it based on arguments and with valid reasons.  I have shown the reasons. The President, the Prime Minister and all of us agreed to sign this agreement to discuss about it in the Parliament, include the points raised in that discussion as amendments to the agreement and present it in a transparent manner.  But there was no such discussion, no amendments were included, and the agreement was signed in a hurry on Saturday. I come forward to argue in this regard that it was a wrong precedent created in taking decisions on national wealth of this country….

Q: This transaction has taken place at a time in which there was no alternative other than givng the Hambantota harbour to China. What is the justifiable alternative that exists?

A: It is necessary to understand the question prior to finding an alternative.  I declared that this transactin was wrong based on facts.  I will repeat those facts if it is necessary.

The Ports Authority is not empowered to sell or lease out the harbour to anyone.  The Ports Authority is there to take decisions on sustaining the harbour, and not sell the harbour.  It can however lease out a part of it, or sell a part of it or sell some properties belonging to it for sustaining the harbour. But how the port can be sold? Then the objective of theirs has got violated.

Point No, 2 is the economy. The Colombo harbour is a financial spring that brings money to our economy. Under the leasing out of the Hambantota harbour to China, if China together with its chain of harbours and shipping companies start to make all its operations from the Hambantota harbour what will happen to the Colombo harbour? All our investments for Colombo will get washed out.  With all facilities intact in the Hambantota harbour which shipping company will come to Colombo to get te facilities they require by sailing 400 nautical miles and wasting their time? Ultimately it is Colombo that will become a swimming pool and not Hambantota.    .

Q; Some people point out that we got entrapped in a big ambush by handing over the Hambantota harbour to China.

A: It was an ambush.  Let me explain.  Habantota is a harbour we built by becoming indebted.  We lease it out to Cina for 99 years.  Colombo harbour was built by China.  They give us back this harbour built by them after 25 years.  What China will do is get all the ships coming to Colombo harbour diverted to Hambantota and give us only the trash to us after making Colombo harbour bankrupt after 25 years. They will get the future wealth.  Therefore it is indeed an ambush.  We are now globally indebted by 78 Billion U.S.Dollars.  How much of our debts will get deducted by handing over Hambantota? Only 1 Billion U.S.Dollars. After having got indebted so much if we get another 400 Million Dollars and get the remaining infrastructure requirements done we ourselves can sustain the harbour.  It seems that we have got scared because of this 400 Million Dollars. We, by blaming the past and cursing Rajapaksas give out even the remaining national wealth.  We do not think of making use of it and use them for development actitvities.    .

Q: You said that under this harbour transaction there will be a politicl problem and a security problem in the country..

A: Yes.  When we give Hambantota to China, India is asking for the Trincmalee.  Both these parties are attempting to make it their power bases by getting hold of Sri Lanka.  Is it good for Sri Lanka? And the other thing is that in this question, the United States, India, Europe, Japan and powerful countres in the world are all with one view. Because they know that it was in this manner that China got hold of the African harbour Dibouti and built a military base there. It is a dangerous example.

Q: A Minister responding to this argument of yours says that you are attempting to show a non-existing ghost.  He said that in a background of giving American contracts to China and giving Chinese works to America that the fear being espoused by you is only hilarious.

A: America is a large country. It’s 50 States is like 50 countries.  Therefore not only giving one harbour to China, America will not feel about it even if 10 harbours were given to China.  What is Sri Lanka to compare with America? Who are we? Yes.  When I expressed my opinion some Ministers who think that they are intelligent said it was a tribal opinion”.  That means only tribals who think about the country and the others do not want a country.

Q: What is the latest status of this harbour agreement?

A: In the legal sector the opinion that this agreement is wrong is prevailing now.  There is also a Court Case against this transaction.  We argue that the Port can sell a property of it’s for the welfare of the Port, but how can the port sell the port itself? The Government Trust can sell a land belonging to the government.  But can the Government Trust sell the Government Trust itself.  That is the argument.

Q: We saw you isolated in the Cabinet as well as outside of it when discussing about this matter.

A: Yes.  I got isolated.  I have the strength to speak about the right thing even by being isolated.  This strength is lacking in other Ministers.  That is my speciality. It was only I:who opened my mouth during Mahinda’s government when these rebellious Ministers remained completely silent and unable to open their mouths. That was for the right thing.

Q: Some people say that even if you are isolated you are carrying a big struggle because there is a powerful strength backing you.  Some even say that the President is behind you.  Some people say like this also.  That in the next government that wll be established amidst all these troubles that you will be the Prime Minister.

A; I will give a fitting reply to that.  But do not think that this is a boasting to build up my image.

The strength I have is nothing else but the ability to stand for the right thing, defeat the fallcy and deception and the strength of making the right thing and the truth victorius.  I am a person who has fought solitarily for these things.  I have saved the wealth and resources of this country that were belongng to the people of this country worth more than 1000 Billions.  That is my strength.

Q: On what you are talking about?

A: I will tell a few incidents.  In 2003 the SLTB of the Central, Sabaragama and Western provinces, the 3 provinces were sold with its mobile and immobile assets to Ravi Wettasinghe for a sun of Rs. 865 Million.  If this sale took place Sri Lanka will not have the SLTB as well. The employees went to Courts.  The Court cases were dismissed.  The cases were defeated.  After that I came forward independently and filed a case in the Supreme Court.  There were a bunch of Presidents Counsels who appeared against me.  I was alone. I proved that the agreement was wrong. Ultimately the then Chief Justice, Mr. Sarath N.Silva said that all you Lawyers appeared as defence lawyers were talking for green colour currency notes.  (It is only during that time that the green colour Rs. 1000 currency notes were issued)  But this Lawyer was not talking for money and he talked on behalf of the country.  He said so and issued a historical verdict.  He annulled the SLTB Sales Agreement.  At that time the land of Pettah Bus Stand was worth more than 860 Million? The value of the whole country was more than 1000 Billion. Who has given such a victory for the country? Have any of those big politicians who talk so much has given even a thing equivalent to a stalk of a mustard seed to the country?

I am not talking about the SLTB. I came to the COPE.  Mahinda forcibly gave me the post of Minister in charge of Banks.  During that period I recovered 4000 Million for Bank of Ceylon and the People’s Bank.  When I carried out a solitary fight in the COPE I received death threats.  My house was surrounded by 82 STF personnel.  I unearthed robberies amounting to 300 Billion.

At that time the Insurance Corporation which was worth 125 Billion was sold to 6 Billion.  A perch in Vauxhall street was valued at Rs. 17,000.  A brand new vehicle was valued at Rs. 15,000. These were the valuations of P.B.Jayasundera and Milinda Moragoda.  We told the government that it was a national crime.  Don’t do it.  But it was sold.  We went to Courts against the sale and got the Insurance Corporation rescued.  In the Court verdict the judges have made a special note about the service I rendered..  When we re-acquired the Insurance Corporation it had wealth worth more than 200 Billion. It is because we re-acquired the Insurance Corporation we got the Apollo Hospital with it.  We re-acquired Shell Gas by local currency.  We also re-acquired 8% of shares of the Banks.

I have the fame of these things.  It is by going to Courts we rescued the Lanka Marine Services Institution.  I have an honest happiness about it.

I only have the strength of mediating for rendering such national service.  I do not have the strength of anyone else.  I would like to say today that as I got the above referenced national wealth back to the country that I would reverse the sale of this harbour as well.  This agreement is faulty.  I would re-acquire this harbour from China and vest it with the country.  It would be done definitely. I have a programme for that.

Q: You have another serious allegation against you.  This government came to power by making a pledge to the people that thieves and robbers will be apprehended, they will be taken to Courts and punishments will be instituted againsted them.  But even after two years of coming to power the government did not apprehend those said thieves.  No punishment has been given.  People like Ajith Perera directly accuse you for these lapses and delays.  They say that these Court cases are getting delayed because of you.

A: People who do not know even a matter worth of banana flower say such things just to show that they are knowledgeable.  The stupid ignoramus guys attempt to show that they are erudite by telling such stories to the media.  How can a servitude become an erudite? It is sheer lack of knowledge.

It is true that before we formed the yahapalana government we pledged to the people that thieves, robbers and corrupt will be pulled by their ears and will be punished.  But it was not according to whatever those people say.  As per the yahapalana policies cases will be filed and punishments will be meted out after the allegations were proved.  But punishments will not be meted out on the basis of personal rivalry, jealousy and on matters like business rivalry.

These activities are being carried out today on the basis of rules and regulations applicable to the Police and institutions such as Attorney General’s Department.  Some peiole are impatient.  Because some people want to urgently avenge people they hate, they envy and they dislike. What they want is to interfere with the work of the Police and the Attorney General’s Department and order them to take up this case prior to that case and do things like that.  They may be able to control the Police but they cannot do that with the Attorney General’s Department.

There is a Minister and a Ministry not to contol the cases belonging to the Attorney General’s Department.  The Attorney General’s Department is an independent entity.  It is true that some who cannot understand this reality blames me.

Q: Not by few people. We saw that you were isolated in that question as well.  We saw Ministers attacking you even in the Cabinet.

A: No it is wrong.  Even the President accepts my point of view.The Prime Minister clearly said in Hatton recently that no one can interfere in the work of the Attorney General’s Department. They are in my stance.  Only a few are shouting.  And the other thing is that I should remind those people about the past. I remember that in 1994 a Commission was appointed to apprehend thieves.  They abolished the Bribery Department and aappointed the Commission to investigate Bribery or Corruption. It was said that this commission will be empowered to enquire with retrospective effect to include the past 17 years in order to catch the thieves of those 17 years.  But when the Act was brought in, it was effective only for the future.  Commissiiners were appointed with very high salaries.  From 1994 to the year 2000 they enquired only one case for that period of 5 years. It was relating to a teacher admitting a student to the Anula Vidyalaya by taking 5 cups and saucers.  It was the only bribe they were able to find out.  See the results.  It was so even after that.  The people remember that two COPE reports brought by me were strategically made to lapse by these people.

When I became the Minister of Justice I corrected all these mistakes.  I stopped political interference with these commissions.  Today no one can control the Attorney General’s Department.  That is why the Bond Scam enquiry is beautifully going ahead day by day.  What they say is to halt this enquiry, and allow them to take control of delaying the cases and bring forward whatever the cases they want.  As per the yahapalana policies these things will not happen.

Q: I am asking that question once again. Are you the next Prime Minister of this country?

A: Do not create unwanted stories and help them get publicised.  In tge same I am not a person who carry out my work in anticipation of perks and privileges.  As long as I remain I will serve the people by safeguarding the honour and dignity of the positions.  Otherwise I will go home.  I do not have dreams.

Discussed by Bulitha Pradeep Kumara of Divayina.

(niz)

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