21 March 2018
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UNP will secure absolute majority with ease

malikIn addition to his role as the Chairman of the United National Party, Malik Samarawickrama is also a prominent businessman in the country. He is a key figure in the party at the moment as he steers the election campaign of the UNP as its campaign manager. A longstanding associate of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, Samarawickrama has held key positions in the UNP under challenging circumstances. Although he does not seek limelight, his connections with the UNP are strong and inseparable.


Samarawickrama has been nominated as a national list candidate by the UNP in appreciation of his services to the party. In an interview with the Daily News, Samarawickrama shared his views on the current election, the party’s campaign and the trajectory of a future UNP government. He added that the UNP was in a position to secure a comfortable victory at the Parliamentary election which will take place on August 17. The UNP Chairman also said that the party would invite all political parties in the country to form a national government to address key issues concerning the country and its economy.


Q: How confident is the UNP about its victory at the Parliamentary election?

A: We are confident that we will secure a comfortable victory. The ground situation looks favorable for the UNP-led alliance and we request all our voters to go to polling booths and show their support to the UNP on August 17. The UNP, as a party, is in a formidable position and our election machinery is in full swing. If we get good support from our voters, victory will not be a daunting task for the UNP.

Q: There was a widely held belief that the Rajapaksa factor had a strong support from the grassroots level. Don’t you think it still exists?

A: No. It has died down drastically after the Presidential election. There is a drastic decrease in their village level votes and our campaign has already gathered momentum. Even the UPFA is aware of this reality. People have already understood that Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe is the best person to work with President Maithripala Sirisena. On the other hand, the UPFA voters have realized that voting for President Mahinda Rajapaksa and his allies will further divide the party as President Sirisena remains in the Party Chairman’s position. This has seriously affected their campaign. The internecine struggles have crippled their election machinery. The UNP is very much focused on its victory and our election campaign is quite comprehensive.

Q: Why do you think the UPFA has lost its support at the grassroots level?

A: That’s mainly due to the success of the 100 day programme which we carried out after the presidential election. The 100 day programme was able to create a drastic change in the country. We can create a country where anyone can criticize the government without being ‘white-vanned’. The ‘fear psychosis’ has already been ended. Apart from constitutional reforms and measures towards democratization of the society, cost of living was brought down in a significant manner and that was a major relief for the general public. Soaring cost of living was a serious concern for the common man under the Rajapaksa administration and now they have realized that the UNP is capable of managing the problem.

In addition to that, our election manifesto has offered a crystal clear vision for the country’s future and it contains clear policies that will take Sri Lanka towards the next stage of development. On the other hand, the UPFA’s election manifesto is full of unrealistic promises and people can clearly see the difference.

Q: You said the new government created a country where any person could criticize the government without any fear. As a result, a lot of negative publicity too came in its way over the past few months including the controversy surrounding the Treasury Bond issue. Don’t you think this will play into the hands of the Opposition at the election?

A: People cannot be deceived and they can clearly understand the difference between constructive criticism and mere defamatory criticism. In the recent past, we saw a lot of defamatory criticism and that will not make any impact on the minds of the people. Defamatory criticism is done with malice and jealousy. But, the society at large knows where the truth lies and we do not have to worry over the matter.

Q: You said the UNP would secure a comfortable victory. Does this mean the UNP will obtain a simple majority in the new Parliament?

A: Yes. If our supporters go out and vote we will be in a position to secure an absolute majority.

Q: What is the possibility of forming a national government after the election?

A: The Prime Minister has very clearly stated that he is inclined to form a national government to take the country towards the next phase of development. There are key issues that we want to address through forming a national government. We hope some opposition MPs will join the government after the election. Some will not join the government but contribute from outside.

The Prime Minister has said that he will turn the entire Parliament into a government through Parliamentary committees. Those who do not want to join the government will be able to hold responsibilities in Parliamentary committees. This is similar to the system introduced by Donoughmore Commission in 1931. There was a necessity to reintroduce the system as we identified the need of working together – irrespective of political differences – to strengthen the country’s economy. This is the best opportunity to overcome our challenges on the economic front and the new system will present the ideal platform for collaboration.

Q: Will the JVP and the TNA too join the National Government?

A: We will interview every party in Parliament to join hands with the new government. Our duty is to invite them and they will make the final decision. If they don’t want to join the government, they can still serve the country through Parliamentary committees.

Q: What will be your role in the new government, if the UNP comes to power?

A: I haven’t even thought about it. My primary focus, at the moment, is on the election campaign of the party. Before thinking about myself and my role in the new government, I have to think about the party’s overall achievement. My role will be determined after the election.

Q: You played a key role in the party for many years. Why did you always choose to stay away from the electoral race?

A: I am a businessman by profession. Therefore, it was not practical for me to contest elections and enter Parliament while engaging in business activities. So, I opted to stay out of Parliamentary politics. But I was always committed to the UNP and did my best to serve the party. Today, I am in a position to spend four or five years to help Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe’s mission and serve the country.

Q: Controversy surrounding the Treasury Bond issue still remains unaddressed. How are you going to address this problem under a UNP administration?

A: Even on Tuesday, the Prime Minister expressed his views very clearly on the matter. Under the new Parliament, the UNP will appoint a Parliamentary Select Committee to look into the matter. The Committee will decide whether there has been an issue with the bond issue. Necessary action will be taken based on the recommendations of the committee. The problem is you cannot take action against any party based on allegations. Had we taken action based on allegations, a large number of UPFA members running for the election, including former President Mahinda Rajapaksa, would have ended up in jail. That is why there has to be a proper investigation and we will do that after August 17, under a UNP administration.

Q: After the election was announced, a section of ex-UPFA MPs, including Patali Champika Ranawaka and Ven Athuraliya Rathana Thera aligned themselves with the UNP-led alliance. How long do you think the UNP can co-exist with these coalition partners?

A: We have agreed to work towards a well-defined programme within a certain framework. So it is not a complicated process. If we stick to the agreed programme and the basic framework, we can work with each other without any difficulty. When it comes to matters outside the programme and the basic framework, we need to arrive at agreements through consensus.

Q: Investigations into Wassim Thajudeen’s murder have resurfaced after the new government came to power. You have strong links to Rugby and how do you view these new developments?

A: Recent revelations on Thajudeen’s murder came as an absolute shock not only to me but also to all Rugby lovers across the country. He was loved by all his team mates and was respected by Rugby administrators. What has been done to him is horrendous and I am extremely saddened by recent developments. I am of the firm belief that justice should be meted out to Thajudeen and his family members, by bringing perpetrators before the court of law. My thoughts are with Thajudeen’s family members.

On the other hand, this incident shows the state of lawlessness and the culture of impunity prevailed in the country under the previous administration. This was not the only murder that took place in the country when the previous regime was in power. My friend Lasantha Wickramatunga and Parliamentarian Nadaraja Raviraj were also killed under similar circumstances.

Q: Do you think investigations into Thajudeen’s death will shed light on other murders such as killings of Lasantha Wickrematunga and Nadaraja Raviraj?

A: I really hope so. Since we have restored freedom and democracy in the country I think people will speak up against these atrocities. People need to seek truth and mete out justice to families of victims.

Courtesy: http://www.dailynews.lk/

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