"No problem even if Ranil has majority in parliament ... Mahinda will still be Prime Minister" -- Wijedasa Rajapaksa
A special discussion by minister of Education and Higher Education of the the new regime and UNP member of parliament, Mr. Wijedasa Rajapaksa about the present situation in the country is as follows:
Question: Mr. Ranil Wickremasingha and UNP supporters make an allegation that President Maithripala Sirisena having dismissed the Yahapalana agreement and then bestowing the position of Prime Minister to Mr. Mahinda Rajapaksa, thus giving rise to a fresh government is an illegitimate decision 11and is anti-constitutional. What are the pros and cons of this allegation?
Reply: This allegation is not true. There is nothing to confirm anew of any illegitimacy or anti-constitution action in this case. It is constitutional. The closest example that can be quoted in this instance is the decision to appoint Mr. Ranil Wickremasingha as the Prime Minister at general elections of 2015.
What is mentioned in the governing constitution is that according to the opinion of the President, he could appoint the person who he thinks could pin faith on the majority of the parliament. Then, as soon as President Maithripala Sirisena became President on January 9th, 2015, his objective was to appoint the Opposition leader as the Prime Minister.
Till that time Mr. D.M. Jayaratna who held the position of Prime Minister of the United Peoples Freedom Alliance had 162 seats. UNP had 41 seats. Another six also joined. All of them totalled 47. It was from that 47 that the President appointed Mr. Ranil Wickremasingha as the Prime Minister. On that day Prim11e Minister D.M. Jayaratna did not give his resignations paper. He was dismissed and the government gave him the letter. That letter would still be in President's file. That was how the Prime Minister was appointed then. It is that methodology that is adopted today also. If this methodology is incorrect ... Mr. Ranil Wickremasingha's appointment of 9th January, 2015 also is incorrect. But there is a misconception among most people that the executive Presidentship was rendered a puppet with the 19th amendment. Nothing like that has happened. The executive President is actually the executive President. Only some powers have been removed and vested in other institutions. That then is the legal side to it.
Question: Can you explain it in one clause in the governing constitution?
Reply: If to explain with one clause ... it is clearly stated in clause 42 (4) till such time as the cabinet goes into effect through the Prime Minister, he could hold his position as Prime Minister. It means that when the cabinet is dissolved, the position of Prime Minister automatically become null and void.1 So the cabinet was dissolved. Apart from that a letter of resignation was sent to the Prime Minister; after that the new Prime Minister was appointed. That is the manner in which the new Prime Minister was appointed. That method is legal and constitutional.
Question: The UNP complains that a section of the Alliance party came out from the government,neither the government would collapse nor the Prime Minister undergoes a change.
Reply: That is not relevant. The President is the leader of the country. He is the leader of the government and of the cabinet. The President has powers to 1dissolve the cabinet at any time. It is not important as to in which party. So there is no point in that accusation. If the cabinet is dissolved ... the Prime Minister also becomes invalid. The President can appoint a Prime Minister or cabinet according to his wishes after that. That is what has happened now.
Question: Another allegation is that the government with the Prime 1Ministership of Mr. Mahinda Rajapaksa has no majority. What the UNP say is to call parliament immediately to show the majority. This thing called majority power is for us or the government is not such a relevant matter. like I said before, it was not a government with a majority power that Mr. Ranil Wickremasingha established on January 5th, 2015. We also can make a majority government. We also will be building up a majority power. We believ1e that another crowd from the UNP will be joining our government.
But there is no parliamentary tradition that votes can be accumulated because of confidence. A vote can be called for only when there is no confidence. problem will be that the government needs a majority to pass an act. If an act is not passed with the majority, it becomes invalid without being legally recognised. The biggest problem for the government will be passing the budget proposal draft. It is stated in constitution as to how to pass the budget proposal. If it cannot be passed according to that method ... then a parliamentary election has to be held. Those of the Alliance will give their consent for it because what they ask for is an election. If that happens, we cannot say what collapse the UNP will experience in their 105 seats.
Question: Will the budget this time be defeated?
Reply: If it is defeated ... the government will be dissolved and will go for an election.
Question: Will the government be able to show a majority when parliamet opens on the 16th?
Reply: It will be possible. Steps are being taken in that direction. But there is no tradition of showing a majority in parliament. In that case a no confidence motion has to be brought forward and party leaders should agree and go for a vote after agreeing on a date. Other than that there is no system of showing confidence in our parliament. In the case of passing an act, confidence can be displayed or by a no confidence motion.
Question: With the advent of forming a new government, foreign influences have begun to develop. Even America has asked that parliament be resumed immediately and to work according to the constitution. How does the government show their response in this respect?
Reply: It is our own people who pave the way for foreign intervention. But foreign requests are not an influence as such. We should ask whether our government is ready to do everything that foreign countries tell. When talking of the civil war ... how much of influence was thrown on us asking us the stop the war. Who is it who gave ear to them? Can they intervene in internal problems of a country like that?
Question: The economy of the country has been subjected to a serious crisis. Things like the price of the dollar creeping up; with the fuel price formula ... the cost of living of the masses skyrocketting ... will the new government be able to find a quick remedy to this situation? Is there a plan for it?
Reply: Definitely. It was the former President who was appointed as the Finance Minister of the new government. We have faith that we would e able to extricate the country from this economic crisis by getting together with financial specialists who are with him. Our objective is to relieve local businessmen from taxes burdened on them and to make a pleasant economy. We still got no time at our disposal to commence discussions, to arrive at decisions.
Question: Will there be any concession on things like the fuel price formuala which falls on the head of the public on the 10th of every month?
Reply: The fuel price formula is over. It was a stubborn decision of the former Finance Minister. We do not like it. The fuel price formula is alright with some countries. But for countries like ours with an economy like ours ... it should not be used as an adjustment.
Question: Why did you, a senior MP of UNP decide to join hands with the new government?
Reply: Even from the day I came, I was exhausted after fighting with this government ... because we could not put into practice a single policy that we spoke of. It was promised to stop resources of the country. But from the day they came, what was done was to keep selling.
Hambanthota Port was given. It had been promised by the Prime Minister to give India the Eastern terminal of Colombo Port. We had to battle it out in the cabinet. Then preparations were forthcoming to hand over Trincomalee Port. Arrangements were made to sell Mattala. When so much was given to foreigners we lose our sovereignty. It was arranged to give hundreds of acres from Hambanthota to China. Some of it was given. UNP leadership took these decisions without any feeling about the country. Our Agricultural police was brushed aside. No permission was given to manage the economy. We cannot go ahead as a country in this manner.
So what I believe is the country must be thought of before the party. Only if the country is there, Politics could be done. It was for that reason that I thought of joining this government ... because the President and the present Prime Minister are two leaders who do not have a principle of selling the country; but who think of their motherland and nation.
Question: What you say is that Mr. Ranil Wickremasingha is not suited for UNP leadership, is it? That another leader should be appointed for the UNP?
Reply: Yes. UNP has absolutely no leadership which thinks of the country. If whatever work is carried out ... they pave the way for it to be Western-oriented, betraying the Army and where foreigners come and try to rule us.
We cannot be stupid like that. Though we are poor and a small country ... we cannot be like that. According to the United Nation's Treaty, we are on equal level with any country where sovereignty is concerned. We should not get ready to surrender.
Question: Will other senior UNPers join the government like you joined joined as a UNP senior?
Reply: They already are asking ... calling. Several others are joining in the future. Definitely we will be making the majority in parliament. If not, we will go for an election. Those who still keep shouting "still it is our government" will be treated with an answer.